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‘La La Land’: Emma Stone, Damien Chazelle on Fighting Cynicism, Perks of Working With Ryan Gosling

Stone on Gosling: ‘Once you’ve learned to ballroom dance with someone, you’ve learned everything you need to know’

Damien Chazelle Emma Stone Venice
Maria Laura Antonelli / AGF/REX/Shutterstock

At the Venice Film Festival Wednesday, “La La Land” star Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle talked about Ryan Gosling, delivering a modern take on old-fashioned musical, chasing your dreams and letting go of cynicism. The film, which opened the festival, received warm applause at its first press screening.

“It’s wonderful to work with somebody you know, trust and respect so much. He’s my buddy,” Stone said about the film’s co-star Gosling, adding, “I knew he could sing and dance. Once you’ve learned to ballroom dance with someone, you’ve learned everything you need to know.”

An homage to Los Angeles as a city of dreams and the Hollywood musicals of the Golden Age, “La La Land” stars Gosling as a jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own club, and Stone as a barista on the Warner Bros. lot who dreams of making it as an actress.

“The whole idea of the movie was to link the magic of an old-fashioned musical but make it about real life today … in real life when things don’t always work out,” Chazelle said.

In that, “La La Land” was closer to some French New Wave musicals that did channel real life than classic Hollywood musicals, he added.

What distinguishes “La La Land” is its hopefulness, joy and beauty, Stone said, adding that it was “about dreaming, and hoping and working to achieve something.”

That sentiment prompted her to put in a plea for young people to “let go of cynicism.

Young people have fallen into a lot of cynicism, making fun of things and pointing out flaws in everything. This movie is anything but that. This is what I hope young people will do,” she said to applause.

For Chazelle, “La La Land” was always a musical, even when people weren’t breaking into song and dance. “There are non-musical parts that still feel musical, for example, in the way the camera moves,” he said, praising how classical Hollywood movies “choreographed” their camera movement.

He added: “Emma and I talked about the rhythm of her speech patterns as much as her singing.”