Why Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone Were Worried About La La Land at First

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Toronto International Film Festival

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are the ultimate onscreen couple—their recent turn in Damien Chazelle’s musical dramedy, La La Land, marks the pair’s third time starring as love interests. Though the two high-caliber actors are used to working together, they didn’t feel incredibly comfortable when they started on their latest film. Stone, Gosling, and director Chazelle sat down with InStyle at the Toronto International Film Festival to discuss their early concerns during the shooting process.

Gosling admitted that he worried about how La La Land’s characters would transition between musical numbers and dramatic scenes. “I think what worried me the most was just losing track of the characters… that they’d somehow feel like different people because they were singing, and then go to back to being who they were in the scenes,” Gosling said.

Stone’s concerns were based on her understanding of the film’s tone. “I think at the beginning, I was really trying to nail down exactly what the tone was going to be,” Stone said, “and I couldn’t fully understand what was going to be anamorphic and what was going to feel a bit more grounded and realistic.”

The musical nature of the film presented difficulty for both the actors and the director. Chazelle explained, “Musicals are a hard sell for today’s audiences—that kind of full-fledged idea of people breaking into song because their emotions inspire them to… The challenge of this movie was to try to make that feel accessible and relevant.”

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Chazelle went on to praise La La Land’s talented leads: “I think Emma and Ryan were the perfect actors for the roles. I think it’s their emotions and their behavior that really just carries an audience through the movie.”

Watch the video above for more behind the scenes insights—including how Ryan Gosling’s character shifted from the initial vision and Emma Stone learned to love dancing—and be sure to stay tuned for more exclusive TIFF 2016 coverage from our portrait studio.

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

That's actually the thing that gets me into myself each day. [LAUGH] [MUSIC] I think what worried me the most was just losing track of the characters when the musical numbers came in. That somehow, they'd feel like Different people because they were singing and then go back to being who they were in the scenes. I think at the beginning I was really trying to nail down what the tone was going to be. And I couldn't fully understand what was going to be anamorphic and what was going to be a bit more grounded and realistic I think that Damien balanced that incredibly well. It's sort of bridging that gap and making sure that the people singing those songs were the same people in the scenes that you saw before hand and that you didn't lose track of these characters and their Relationships, that that was in service of the story and not vice versa. Musicals are a hard sell for today's audiences. That kind of full fledged idea of people breaking into song because their emotions inspire them to, is something that I love, but not everyone loves as much as I do, so The challenge for this movie was to try to kinda make that feel accessible and relevant. You know, initially my character was younger. We changed him to being someone that was more, or maybe it was once an optimist, but not had become cynical, and was really on the verge becoming a bitter person. But the finger of fate intervenes, and he This love that he finds kind of keeps him from becoming the worst version of himself. Going to dance rehearsal each day was really wonderful, and Mia's not a dancer, she's an actress. But I think physically it did something that was kinda freeing and got me out of my head, even though it is so technical. So it's one of those Sort of this because it's very technical but you're trying to sort of let go and be free within it. Nice work, by the way. What? With this? Yeah, doing that. I've actually been practicing that for a very long time. [LAUGH] It's pretty effortless. Thank you. Well, I think Emma and Ryan were the perfect actors for the roles. I think it's their emotions and their behavior that really just Just carries an audience, even an audience that is not normally into musicals, through the movie. So, it's a huge burden on their shoulders to, like, create that through line, but that's what I need, and that's what they did. One, two, three. [IN UNISON] Thanks Damien. [LAUGHS]
 
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