Emma Stone as Bella Baxter in Poor Things.
(Searchlight Pictures)

Tony McNamara Knew How To Make Emma Stone Shine in ‘Poor Things’

A movie like Poor Things works because it has Emma Stone at the heart of it. The Yorgos Lanthimos film is a Frankenstein-esque take into the world of Bella Baxter (Stone), a woman who has the brain of a baby in the body of a fully grown woman.

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In talking with screenwriter Tony McNamara, I asked him about his process of working with not only Lanthimos but specifically Emma Stone, who he has collaborated with multiple times, on The Favourite as well as the film Cruella. I asked how much of his work is tailored towards Stone as a performer and what is built into the script after he sees what Stone is doing with a character, and McNamara was very honest about his work with her as an actress.

“I think with Emma, I’m lucky because I think our sensibilities are pretty close,” he said. “Her acting is always grounded in the truth, always. And she’s so good with language and with comedy, her timing’s so good, and that is sort of how I write as well. Everything’s from character. Everything’s grounded in a truth. And then I kinda go for funny. So I love language and she’s so good with language. I think we have all that in common as well. We have a bit of a sensibility around the world that’s quite similar. I don’t usually, usually I have a voice in my head that isn’t the actor. Cruella I obviously knew it was Emma.”

He went on to talk about how they would tweak things to fit how Bella’s language evolved in Poor Things. “We did a bit of tweaking and shaping because her language evolved all the time,” McNamara said. “How she spoke had to change a lot as she went through. And so it was like me creating a kind of dialogue for her that would evolve and then her or us working together with Yorgos and her kind of hearing it and going, ‘Do we need another contemporary word here? Or do we need her to make a mistake here?’ And us just shaping our way through it. So it’s a bit of a working together thing.”

You can see our full chat here:

Poor Things is in theaters now!

(featured image: Searchlight Pictures)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.