Since making her big screen debut in 2007, Emma Stone has become one of Hollywood's biggest stars. From comedies like "Easy A" and "The House Bunny" to the box office magic that was "The Amazing Spider-Man" and critical darlings like "Birdman" and "The Favourite," Emma has proven her versatility as an actress — even winning an Academy Award for her performance in the hit musical "La La Land." To celebrate her 32nd birthday on Nov. 6, 2020, join Wonderwall.com as we look back at Emma's most memorable movie roles…
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Emma Stone made her film debut in the 2007 hit comedy "Superbad." The actress stole the show as Jules, the object of affection for inept high schooler Seth (played by Jonah Hill) who invites him to a party at her house. Seth and best friend Evan (played by Michael Cera) spend the rest of the film overcoming endless hijinks to get to Jules' party and impress her. That is, before Seth memorably headbutts his crush at the main event. The role proved to be a major breakthrough for Emma, and the movie grossed more than $170 million at the box office.
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Emma Stone's run of slapstick comedies continued with 2008's "The Rocker" — this time with an added musical element. Emma starred as Amelia Stone, one-third of a high school rock band in danger of not playing their high school prom if they can't find a new drummer. Luckily, a fading rock star (played by Rainn Wilson) comes to their rescue and helps the band get signed to a new label and reach new heights. The film was a box office flop, but Emma's strong performance ensured a slew of hit comedies to come.
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Emma Stone found box office success again with 2008's "The House Bunny." She played Natalie, a nerdy and socially awkward sorority sister desperate to keep her sisterhood from being kicked off campus. Help soon arrives in the form of retired Playboy bunny Shelley (played by Anna Faris), who provides the Zetas with makeovers and the confidence they need to recruit a ton of new pledges. Starring alongside fellow breakouts Kat Dennings, Katharine McPhee and Rumer Willis, the comedy became a surprise summer hit that grossed more than $70 million and proved Emma's range as a comedian.
Not one to shy away from a good costume, Emma Stone made waves with her supporting part in the 2009 romantic comedy "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past." The actress played Allison Vandermeersh, the titular spirit who visits an eternal bachelor (played by Matthew McConaughey) to show him all the mistakes he's made with his previous relationships. Matthew and Jennifer Garner were the film's stars, but it was Emma — costumed in full 1980s teen dweeb attire (plus a wig!) — who caught the attention of audiences. "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," which raked in more than $102 million at the box office, proved to be another hit for the star.
Emma Stone next stepped outside of her comfort zone and took on the 2009 horror-comedy "Zombieland." As Wichita, one of the few survivors of a zombie apocalypse, the actress was handling weapons and fighting numerous undead with her physical prowess as well as her quick wit. Starring alongside Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin, Emma had to take on a number action scenes for the first time, and the work paid off: The film was a hit with critics and delivered another $100 million achievement for Emma's resume.
Emma Stone's first starring role came in 2010 with the teen comedy "Easy A," which featured the actress as Olive Penderghast, an average high school student who falls victim to a vicious rumor spread around campus. The film featured an all-star ensemble that included Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Thomas Haden Church, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Aly Michalka and Malcolm McDowell and proved that Emma had become quite the box office draw: It brought in $75 million in ticket sales. "Easy A" also earned critical raves and even nabbed Emma her first Golden Globe Award nomination, revealing her as a true actress on the rise.
Despite an all-star cast that included Steve Carell, Julianne Moore and Kevin Bacon, it was Emma Stone who stole the 2011 romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love." As Hannah Weaver, the actress resists the advances of womanizing Jacob (played by Ryan Gosling). Having never been turned down before, Jacob begins feeling genuine emotions for the first time and makes every effort to woo Hannah — including recreating the famous "Dirty Dancing" lift. The romance made the hearts of audiences flutter and the film grossed $145 million and earned Emma both People's Choice and Teen Choice Awards for her work. It also jump-started one of modern cinema's favorite romantic pairings — Emma and Ryan — who would team up again for two more films.
The summer of 2011 proved to be a winning season for Emma Stone, who was also featured in the acclaimed drama "The Help." The film marked quite the turn for Emma, who traded in her usual comedic antics for a period drama for the first time. She starred opposite Oscar winners like Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Allison Janney and held her own. Her work as Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a rich socialite intent on becoming a legitimate journalist by exposing the racism plaguing domestic workers in 1960s America, turned the heads of critics who weren't certain Emma could tackle such heavy material. Based on the bestselling book of the same name, the hit crossed $200 million at the box office and won the actress her first Screen Actors Guild Award.
Superhero films are a rite of passage for almost every acclaimed actress, and Emma Stone made her first high-budget foray with 2012's "The Amazing Spider-Man." She ditched her famous red locks for the role of Gwen Stacy, the love interest of Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man). It doesn't take long for romance to blossom between the pair, or for Gwen to find out about Peter's web-slinging alter ego. The actioner was a huge hit that took in more than $750 million, plus many critics praised the chemistry between Emma and Andrew. Sparks flew both on set and off: The two began dating during filming and remained a couple until 2015.
Keeping her flirtation with action, Emma Stone next took on the period crime thriller "Gangster Squad." Featuring stars like Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte and Anthony Mackie, the actress had to hold her own as the film's sole female presence. The role of Grace Faraday gave Emma a chance to play a 1940s femme fatale for the first time, and she left an air of mystery with every move as the LAPD investigated her mobster lover. It also reunited the star with Ryan — Grace betrayed her significant other as she fell for the actor's police officer character. While the film opened to mixed reviews, it still earned more than $100 million in ticket sales.
Emma Stone made her first animated movie appearance in the 2013 prehistoric hit "The Croods." The actress stretched her vocal talents as Eep Crood, a teenage cavegirl who questions her family's sheltered lifestyle as she grows curious about the outside world. The film won over the hearts of children and adults alike, making more than $580 million worldwide and earning both an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for best animated feature. "The Croods" also kicked off a franchise: A Netflix series ran from 2015 to 2017 and a movie sequel is on the way. Emma and co-stars Ryan Reynolds and Nicolas Cage are all returning for the second film, fittingly titled "The Croods: A New Age."
Speaking of sequels, Emma Stone and then-boyfriend Andrew Garfield reunited for more heroic adventures in 2014's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." The second film in the rebooted Spidey franchise found the star's Gwen Stacy more involved in the action as she ultimately met her fate at the hands of Spider-Man's arch-nemesis, the Green Goblin. The emotional ending left the superhero questioning his future in tights and gave Emma much more challenging material to work with than she had in the first film. Unfortunately, the more dramatic turn didn't quite meet expectations and the sequel became the lowest grossing "Spider-Man" film to date. The action flick marked the end of Emma and Andrew's time in the Marvel universe. A short while later, their real-life love story also met its demise.
Emma Stone returned to her comedic roots with the 1920s-set "Magic in the Moonlight" in 2014. The film gave the actress, who played clairvoyant and mystic Sophie Baker, her first opportunity to work with controversial writer-director Woody Allen as well as Oscar winner Colin Firth. Colin's Stanley Crawford has been hired to debunk Sophie's powers — that is, if they don't let their budding romantic feelings get in the way. Despite the acclaimed names attached the film, it received a mixed response from critics, with some calling it Woody's worst film to date. The comedy did gross more than $50 million at the box office, but that was a far cry from Emma's bigger hits.
Emma Stone's comedic comeback was short-lived as her next turn was in 2014's dark dramedy "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)." The actress played recovering drug addict Sam Thomson — the daughter-turned-assistant of fading actor Riggan Thomson (played by Michael Keaton), who's best known for his work as a movie superhero. The trouble is, Riggan believes he's losing his mind as he has episodes making him think he truly is a crime-fighting superhero with the ability to fly. The film was a massive hit with both critics and audiences that grossed more than $100 million and won four Oscars including best picture. The role proved to be Emma's most challenging to date and earned the star her first Academy Award nomination as well as a second SAG Award.
A rare misstep for Emma Stone came in the romantic comedy "Aloha" in 2015. The movie, which co-starred Bradley Cooper and Rachel McAdams and was directed by "Jerry Maguire" mastermind Cameron Crowe, looked to be surefire hit upon arrival, but it ended up as a disappointment. The actress played Allison Ng, a wide-eyed Air Force pilot who is taken under the wing of Bradley's experienced officer. Despite all the talented names attached to the project — Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray and John Krasinski also co-starred — the film didn't win over critics or make much of a dent at the box office. Emma's casting also came under fire when the film was called out for for "whitewashing" a character written as a woman who's half Asian. Emma later said she regretted letting herself be miscast.
Emma Stone reteamed with writer-director Woody Allen for the 2015 mystery "Irrational Man." She starred as Jill Pollard, a college student who begins a romance with one of her professors, played by Joaquin Phoenix. What Jill doesn't know about her new lover is that he's also a serial killer… until she slowly starts putting the pieces together, looking for a way out before she becomes the next victim. Despite premiering at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, the drama got a mixed reaction from critics and a fairly muted response from theatergoers. It also ended up being one of the final films the director made before he was called out amid the #MeToo movement in 2017.
Emma Stone's lull remained brief as she hit new creative heights with the 2016 musical "La La Land." The star played Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress in Los Angeles who falls for a jazz musician played by Ryan Gosling. The romance follows the ups and downs of the pair's relationship as they figure out how to navigate their respective careers while creating a life together through song. Emma got a chance to showcase her singing and dancing abilities while also pushing new boundaries with her dramatic skills. "La La Land" became one of the year's breakout hits, raking in $446 million in tickets sales and receiving a record-tying 14 nominations at the Oscars (it won six). Emma was met with glowing reviews for her work and went on to win her first Golden Globe and first Academy Award. The film also marked the third reunion of Emma and Ryan, proving their chemistry could take on any genre.
Dropping the musical numbers for tennis rackets, Emma Stone did a full 180 from "La La Land" for her first post-Oscar role. Emma played real-life tennis champion Billie Jean King in the biographical sports film "Battle of the Sexes" in 2017. The drama documents the famed 1973 match between Billie and rival champ Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell), which found the female player scoring the win at the end. The role marked the first time Emma had played a real-life person, and she scored with her transformation. The film received rave reviews, with numerous critics declaring it the actress's best performance to date. Despite less-than-stellar box office results, Emma nabbed an additional Golden Globe nomination for her work.
Emma Stone continued her run of period films with the dark comedy "The Favourite" in 2018. In the movie set in 18th century Great Britain, she played Abigail Masham, a baroness competing to be the intimate companion of Queen Anne. The movie saw Emma returning to her comedic roots too only with a much darker, period-costumed twist. "The Favourite," which made $95 million, also proved to be a winner with critics: Many praised Emma's performance as well as those of co-stars Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards — including a best supporting actress nod for Emma.
The zombie apocalypse had a second coming with 2019's "Zombieland: Double Tap." Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin all returned for the sequel, which marked the 10th anniversary of the first hit horror-comedy. The film finds the crew exploring more of the outside world in a hunt for more human life while still bloodily battling the expected onslaught of the undead. While the movie didn't receive as glowing a response from critics as the original, it still managed to out-gross the first movie with $122 million in box office sales.
Next up for Emma Stone is a new take on one of cinema's most iconic villains: "Cruella." The actress dons her best Dalmatian styles in the upcoming origin story of Disney favorite Cruella de Vil. The live-action prequel to "101 Dalmatians" follows Cruella as a young fashion designer in 1970s London as she becomes dangerously obsessed with the skins of Dalmatians and transforms into the terrifying legend we all love to hate. Glenn Close's portrayal of the character in the 1996 live-action film received universal acclaim, so Emma has a lot to live up to. That said, it proves the actress is fearless in her film choices.