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If there’s some of Michael Keaton’s past as a former big-screen superhero in the DNA of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, there’s also a bit of Emma Stone’s future.
In the film, out in limited release Oct. 17, Stone plays the daughter and personal assistant of Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thompson, a former movie superhero taking a stab at Broadway in a play he adapted and directed and stars in — and sparring with a formidable theater critic named Tabitha. But the actress now finds herself in a similar position, a movie star preparing to make her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles in the musical revival Cabaret starting Nov. 11. (For what it’s worth, Keaton explained in EW‘s current cover story that he was “both as connected to Riggan and as disconnected from him as you can possibly be.”)
During a press conference today following a New York Film Festival screening of the film, Stone was asked whether she was worried about or had faced “hostility” in making the transition from movies to the stage. “Well, you know, I did write the character of Sally Bowles, and I am directing the production,” joked Stone, who’s replacing another movie star, Michelle Williams, in the role. “No, of course, this movie brings up a lot of horrible fears of coming into the Broadway community and having Tabitha be your reviewer.”
More seriously, Stone said that shooting Birdman was apt preparation for Broadway; Iñárritu had noted the “extreme rehearsals” required for the technically challenging production, which is packed with long takes and tricky camera moves. “Making this movie, and what we had to contend with as actors… needing to rely on each other the way that a company does, is incredibly helpful now going into theater,” she said. “We all operated as a unit, and on a lot of films its not that way at all. It’s a very separate experience.” As for her Cabaret performance, Stone added: “Yes, I’m nervous as hell. I’m terrified.” Willkommen to the big leagues!
Have other Birdman stars set their sights on the Great White Way? Edward Norton declared that costar Zach Galifianakis’ popular web series should be considered “serious theater,” which prompted Galifianakis to deadpan: “We’re bringing it to Broadway, Between Two Ferns.”