Emma Stone has been basking in all the praise she has been receiving for her latest critical hit, Poor Things by Yorgos Lanthimos. But this is not out of the ordinary.
Stone seldom gives performances that are weak or unenjoyable. Her character choices are also fascinating. When speaking about Maniac, series creator Patrick Somerville’s psychological black comedy-drama, Stone had made an intriguing observation right off the bat.
As per IndieWire, Maniac director Cary Joji Fukunaga remembered, “I do remember one of the first things, you [Emma Stone] saying, having watched the trailer for the Norwegian show, is ‘I don’t wanna be the therapist to some guy.’”
Fukunaga, who was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women since the release of Maniac, continued, “I remember the first conversation when we ever met, years ago at the hotel, we talked about the magical pixie dream girl—I had never even heard of that character before, and I knew we were not gonna make [Annie] be that person at all. Her story would be her own story, and she wouldn’t be the foil for the male character of the story.” This goes to show how much Stone brought to her role.
The show, loosely based on a Norwegian series of the same name, was envisioned as a unique and surreal journey through the lives of Owen (played by Jonah Hill) and Annie (Stone). These two damaged souls cross paths within the context of an extreme drug trial promising to solve their myriad problems in a mere three days. What sets Maniac apart, however, is the deliberate avoidance of the traditional romantic subplot.
For Emma Stone, this was a breath of fresh air. As she delved into the scripts, she couldn’t help but notice that her character, Annie, didn’t have a love interest throughout the entire ten-episode arc. It was a departure from the norm, and Stone appreciated the fact that the series allowed her character to stand on her own.
Annie’s character, unlike many female counterparts in similar narratives, wasn’t defined by her romantic relationships. Instead, she grappled with her own trauma and embarked on a path of self-discovery. The bond between Owen and Annie in the show is a sincere and profound friendship devoid of any romantic undertones.
For her, Maniac offered a powerful takeaway—the importance of acknowledging and sharing one’s struggles before expecting to be healed, “You can do that through connecting with others and being honest about it. I think that’s a pretty powerful takeaway, at least for me.”