La La Land, Emma Stone

Emma Stone Opens Up About How Fame Affected Her Anxiety: ‘It Terrified Me’

Emma Stone recently shared her past experiences with anxiety, a problem with which she still has to cope. At a time when many celebrities are stepping forward in an effort to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental illness, Stone is adding her voice and sharing what affect anxiety has had on her life. Emma reveals a lifelong struggle in learning to deal with anxiety and says the problem hasn’t improved with age or with success. In fact, sudden fame contributed to worsening Stone’s condition, even leading to extreme panic attacks.

La La Land Star Emma Stone Says Acting Has Been A Curse And A Blessing

Emma Stone, anxiety
Emma Stone shares her experiences with anxiety. [Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

According to NME, Emma recently shared that she has always suffered from anxiety, and, as a child, her parents had tried everything to help her cope with her anxiety, but nothing seemed to work. Ultimately, they discovered that Emma was most at ease, feeling happy and satisfied, only when she was acting. Stone says acting became a therapeutic outlet for her anxiety.

A change in location also helped Ms. Stone. She moved from Hollywood to New York City. Stone says she was overwhelmed by how pervasive the entertainment industry is in the Hollywood area, commenting that it seemed to be the only thing people wanted to talk about. Emma says it was a suffocating experience, so she hoped the East Coast would feel a little less claustrophobic.

It worked well for her, until people started to notice Emma Stone in 2010’s Easy A.

“Losing my anonymity after [2010 teen comedy] Easy A, it was like being 7 years old all over again,” says Emma. “It terrified me.”

Emma says her anxiety again reached a peak in 2014, when she was filming Birdman. She blames the pacing and timing of her Birdman shooting schedule, as she confesses that she had a meltdown. Stone says she felt as though she had almost lost her mind, though the attack was short-lived and ended before she really snapped.

Ms. Stone says even interviews can act as anxiety attack triggers, if she doesn’t properly prepare herself in advance.

“Before any interview, I have to sit with myself for five minutes and breathe and get centered because I get so nervous,” Stone says. “Interviews are kind of like therapy, except all your answers are being written down and printed. I always want to be on the other side of it. I don’t want to be deconstructed for millions. I’d rather do the deconstructing.”

Emma Stone Discovers The Theater And Finds A New Outlet For Her Anxiety

Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Emma Stone shares how she came to star opposite Ryan Gosling in ‘La La Land.’ [Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]

While in New York, Emma found her way into two films that would raise her star power that much more, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Help, but, as she tells the Hollywood Reporter, it wasn’t her film success that brought her the most joy. Ms. Stone made her way into theater, debuting on the live stage in Cabaret. As it happened, while Emma was singing and dancing on the stage, Hollywood director Damien Chazelle was in the audience.

At that time, Chazelle was still struggling to get casting completed for his upcoming La La Land, and watching Emma perform on stage in Cabaret, he felt he had found his leading lady. There was just one problem: Emma Stone had had her fill of musicals.

“I was very sick,” Stone recalls of the meeting with the La La Land director. “My voice was gone, and I was struggling to get through the shows — I was still doing Cabaret — and the idea of doing another musical was like, ‘You’ve got to be out of your mind.’ After Cabaret, I wasn’t sure I would ever sing or dance again.”

Chazelle was persistent, however, and very determined to cast Stone in La La Land. He hounded her with detailed production notes, ideas about how he hoped to film each scene, and the clincher: Ryan Gosling would be her leading man. Emma and Ryan had previously worked well together, starring side by side in 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love and 2013’s Gangster Squad.

Eventually, Ms. Stone caved and agreed to star in La La Land, which has gone on to become another huge success, both at the box office and with critics. Now, Emma Stone faces a new anxiety trigger, as La La Land is rumored to rule this year’s Academy Awards.

“That kind of stuff is amazing and an honor and very crazy, but it’s something that I can get into too much of a tizzy about,” says Emma Stone. “Although I did have a day in October when I got myself really freaked out …”

[Featured Image by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]