After emerging from a crowded fall festival season as the current Best Picture frontrunner, the cast and crew of La La Land are offering an extended look at the upcoming musical in a new behind-the-scenes featurette.
Director Damien Chazelle gushes about his lead actors, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, in the clip, which also gives audiences an extended look at performances by supporting cast members like John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Finn Wittrock.
“When we were casting up the movie, part of the appeal to me was that [when you see] Ryan and Emma, [you know] they are going to be a couple,” Chazelle, an Oscar-nominee for penning the screenplay for his 2014 feature Whiplash, says in the video. “You can see them and imagine them together. It was like a Fred and Ginger or Bogart and Bacall — a classic Hollywood screen couple.”
Stone, who plays Mia, a struggling actress who falls for a musician similarly wrestling with rejection in Hollywood, says she was excited by the energy of the film, particularly the chemistry she shared with the character and Gosling as an on-screen partner.
“The idea of this really modern story of two struggling artists and dreamers became something really exciting very quickly,” she admits. “Living in a musical world where when you’re filled with joy you can spin down the street or burst into song, I loved that.”
Chazelle also reveals he put Gosling through an intense pre-production period to enhance the authenticity of his skills as a musician and as a dancer for the film’s grueling musical numbers.
“Ryan was very game to take on what was an insane challenge,” Chazelle says. “We were not going to chop up [the editing], we were going to film in long takes proving that it was in fact him playing piano.”
According to Stone, dance rehearsals (with choreographer Mandy Moore) reportedly took place every day for almost three months prior to shooting the film — a demanding schedule that paid off in the end, impressing festival audiences (the film won the TIFF People’s Choice Award in September) and her peers on set.
“In my musical theater days we talked about people who were a true triple threat. Emma and Ryan have a rare combination of great singer, great dancer, great actor,” says Simmons, who won his first Academy Award for his performance in Whiplash.
Producer Marc Platt agrees: “You have two actors [here] who have an onscreen chemistry that, I think, is one for the ages.”
La La Land opens Dec. 9 in limited release before expanding on Dec. 16.