In anticipation of the MTV Movie Awards (this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET), the network has been hosting week of sneak peek screenings in Los Angeles of five upcoming summer films, including the highly anticipated adaptation of the best-selling novel The Help. At the film’s Thursday screening, EW caught up with two of its stars: Emma Stone, who plays Skeeter Phelan, the plucky heroine, who strives to interview African-American maids in 1960s Mississippi; and Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Hilly Holbrook, the queen bee of her town’s social life who’s also a virulent racist. The young actresses discussed handling material’s ugly bigotry, what it was like to film in the Deep South, and the serendipity that both have taken on the role of Spider-Man love interest Gwen Stacy — Howard in 2007’s Spider-Man 3, and Stone in next summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man. Check out the interview, and the audience’s reaction to The Help, below:

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