Emma Stone was delighted to grant Eddie Redmayne a retroactive wish on his birthday candle, since he forgot to make one when he blew it out.
“Is that allowed?” the actor asked, 33 to the day, a recent Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee as best actor for his portrayal of the physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything.” He won a Tony Award in 2010 as best featured actor in the Broadway play “Red.”
“Absolutely!” declared Ms. Stone, 27, a film actress best known for her roles in “Easy A” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” franchise. She made her Broadway debut last year in “Cabaret,” in which she continues through Feb. 15, and is also nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actress in “Birdman.”
But she drew the line when Mr. Redmayne floated the idea of a second wish.
“You can’t make them all day,” she said.
Over a late lunch at Angus’ Cafe Bistro — a croque-monsieur for Mr. Redmayne and truffle fries (“without the truffle, please”) for Ms. Stone — the pair discussed their childhood ambitions, propensity to worry and the young actor’s life.
PHILIP GALANES: Millions of little kids see “Annie” and “Les Miz” every year. And lots of them turn to their parents and say, “Mom, Dad, I want to be an actor.” But no one takes them seriously.
EMMA STONE: Can you imagine if your kid said that to you?
EDDIE REDMAYNE: I’d say, “Under no circumstances!”
ES: I would punish mine.
PG: So, how did you get away with it?
ES: I made a PowerPoint presentation for my parents when I was 14. I asked them to let me move to L.A.
ER: On a computer?
ES: Yeah, all about why I should be an actor. I never wanted to do anything else, from 7 on. It wasn’t a flight of fancy. I asked to be home-schooled in a different presentation when I was 12. That was on a clipboard. I’m not kidding. I make presentations because when I feel strongly about something, I cry.
ER: You cry?
ES: When I feel really passionate, I get overwhelmed, and it makes me cry. I learned early on to be more logical and make presentations.
PG: Eddie’s parents took a leap, too. They let you mooch around the house after your degree from Cambridge, letting you try to break into acting, right?
ER: I got the bug when I was 12 and did a production of “Oliver” that Sam Mendes directed. Not that I ever met him. I was Workhouse Boy No. 40 in a cast of 800 children that changed every week.
ES: And you loved it?
ER: I got to leave school early and go into the West End. I got into the grubby artifice that created this extraordinary thing, so I kept at it. My dad works in finance, so he kept giving me the stats: only one in a hundred actors makes it. He’d ask, “Have you thought about producing?”
ER: I am.
PG: Emma, I read that you had panic attacks as a kid. Do you think part of your parents’ support of acting was that it took anxious kids and made them a little less anxious?
ES: Yes, I’m sure that’s why they were so supportive, not that they identified with the calming aspect of being onstage. But they saw how soothing it was for me.
ER: I draw and play the piano badly. But when I’m doing those things, I’m concentrating so hard there’s no room for worry. I find that onstage, too.
ES: Once you lock into a role or improv, it’s like flying. When I’m trying to make a point, in life, I put a lot pressure on myself. I’m sure that’s related to the crying: the perfectionism, the need to communicate in the right way. It made me really, really anxious. All I wanted to do was sit in my bedroom and worry, but instead, acting threw me into situations where you just have to go with it. And it was good for me. Like the shy kid on the debate team.
ER: I don’t know about you, Ems, but I find that more onstage. You’re in place for a more extended period. In film, the takes start and stop, and the anxiety kicks back in. People say: “How can you do a play for six months? The same thing every night.” But you never get close to getting it right, and every night, you get to go back and try again.
ES: That’s exactly the way I’m feeling in “Cabaret.” When Eddie came backstage after seeing it, I launched into a million things I should have changed. But there’s still that chance to go back and do it again and again and again.
PG: Neither of you mentioned the attention. I’d think child actors would be big on that.
ES: I started out doing comedy. And there was a satisfaction that came with the laugh. And now, interacting with the audience in “Cabaret,” I really appreciate them. But no, the audience wasn’t why I became an actor.
ER: Alfred Molina told me his dream is just to rehearse and rehearse, then give one performance because that’s what underpins the energy in rehearsal. I completely agree. What I love about acting is trying things and screwing up, then trying again, all in this protected little bubble. That’s living the dream.
PG: You’ve both crossed over now: Eddie, from stage to screen; Emma, from screen to stage. Interesting differences to explore?
ER: On my first film, I was playing this psychopath opposite Toni Collette, and we were doing this “Silence of the Lambs” scene. After an hour, she said, “Come and watch the playback.” And thank God she did! My eyebrows were up to here, and I was projecting to the back of the room. Suddenly I realized why I’d never gotten a film job before.
ES: When I first started trying for roles in L.A., this acting coach told me, “Teaspoons, not buckets.”
ER: It’s helped my stage acting, too. People can see closer than you think.
ES: And then in “Birdman,” [the director] Alejandro [Iñárritu] wanted performances that were so theatrical and big that it reinvigorated everything.
ER: Those challenges are amazing. I also found it in Hawking, where toward the end of the film he could do so little, but as an able-bodied actor, you’re doing the most extreme facial expressions ever. I was terrified I was on the borderline of being offensive.
PG: There’s a parallel between “The Theory of Everything” and “Birdman.” They’ve gotten so much press for technique: for Eddie’s bravura performance of illness, and “Birdman’s” appearance of being shot in a single take. But the stories are so moving.
ES: If I even think of Eddie’s last scene too long ——
ER: When Hawking tells his ex-wife, “Look what we made” ——
ES: I can fall apart.
ER: When I got the script, I expected a Stephen Hawking biopic. But what I got was this scrutiny of love: young passionate love, family love, the boundaries and failing of love.
PG: If I asked you — as two young people in young relationships — is it scary or inspiring to think that you could love your partner so much you’d let them go?
ES: Inspiring, definitely.
ER: And constantly changing. I had one idea making the film, and then this whole other narrative comes as you hear other people’s opinions and weave them together with your own. But even as my own feelings shift, this film is grounded in something that feels very human.
PG: Does that idea resonate with you and “Birdman,” Emma? You probably don’t need to have an absentee father to feel as jagged and angry and tender as your character is.
ES: Sure, I’ve felt the way Sam, my character, feels — not about my father, but in life. And I can relate to what Eddie was saying about the way narratives change over time. Playing a character, you identify so completely with her. I know Sam’s struggle, the pain she’s in. But now, when I watch the film, I see it more as an audience member.
PG: Let’s talk about your own lives and growing fame. Do nosy strangers play a big role?
ES: You mean paparazzi or people with phones?
PG: I mean the pictures I just saw of Eddie and his wife in the airport.
ER: Pictures in airports tend to be paparazzi. I don’t have much experience. But it’s usually Los Angeles Airport, and it’s always when you’re coming off a plane. As long as you don’t think about it too much — like: Who told them I’d be here? — it doesn’t really matter.
PG: But doesn’t it matter a little, now that there’s a wife having her picture taken, too?
ER: It’s definitely more complicated when someone you love, who has nothing to do with the business, is dragged into it. But Hannah and I do red carpets together; she wants to support me. So that was a discussion we had.
PG: How do you feel about it, Emma? It happens to you and your boyfriend, Andrew Garfield, a lot.
ES: It’s uncomfortable to have photographers outside of your home. That’s never going to feel good, and I don’t think that’s O.K. Yet there’s also a goal to live life normally. So, if they photograph you walking to the same restaurant every morning, like you do when you live in a neighborhood Honestly, I try not to think about it any longer than when it’s happening.
PG: Do your parents look at the pictures?
ES: My dad once saw an article about me with mean comments, and he got so angry that he decided not to read that stuff anymore.
ER: When I was doing “My Week With Marilyn,” someone asked Michelle Williams what the difference was between celebrity in Marilyn Monroe’s time and now. And she said, “One word: Internet.” But you can’t let it get to you.
PG: Still, you have to be protective of yourselves, as people, so you can disappear into your roles and we’ll believe you in them.
ES: Someone said to me, “How do you keep your skin thin?” I thought that was a great way of putting it.
ER: Because it’s got to be translucent.
ES: Our emotional landscape is what we deal with all day. So you have to find this fine line between making sure you maintain who you are as a person, so you can act, without becoming violently protective of your privacy, which can make you shut down.
ER: You can’t control a lot of it: how many movie posters you’re on, whether you’re on the poster, at all.
ES: And some people are totally comfortable with billboards. They’re great at being movie stars. Smiling and thumbs-upping and taking pictures with every person they come across.
PG: How about modeling? Were you nervous about saying: “I’ll be a celebrity and let Burberry or Revlon into my life”?
ER: That one was simple for me. I’d been working as an actor for eight or nine years, and I was earning 350 quid a week doing “Richard II.” Then Burberry came along. They support young actors and musicians. And Christopher Bailey is a wonderful designer. So when he asked, I said yes right away. I probably should have thought about it more. You do sell a little part of yourself, but I was O.K. with it.
ES: Same with Revlon, the timing was right. My mom had just gotten over being sick, and Revlon has given so much money to women’s cancers that the tie-in felt organic. Obviously, it’s been a while now, and there are ebbs and flows to an extended relationship with a brand.
ER: There’s always been a relationship between the film world and fashion. But since we’ve started working, it’s gotten crazy. I almost feel sorry for young actresses now, heading up two industries.
ES: I don’t know that fashion would interest me if I wasn’t going to these events where you dress up. But I am. And designers lend you clothes for free that you wear for one night and then give back. It’s creative and fun.
ER: And what’s amazing is being introduced to the artists who make them.
ES: That’s when you begin to see fashion as art.
PG: Let’s end on the intersection of actors’ lives. Swooping onto a film set for a few months, making great friends, then scattering. You’re always in the honeymoon phase, no?
ES: Ah, the birth of the “location-ship.” But many of them fall apart because of that very thing. Honeymoons end. It’s like being at summer camp over and over.
ER: And some sets are volatile places, so you can see the most extreme versions of people. There’s this great line at the end of “My Week With Marilyn,” when Kenneth Branagh turns to me and says, “So, are you happy you joined the circus?” It is circuslike.
ES: Until May, I spent the last two years feeling like a cloud that was floating through the universe. I didn’t live anywhere. At the beginning, it was nomadic and exciting; you’re in these amazing locations. But when you don’t have somewhere real to springboard from, these three-month circus experiences start to feel ——
ES: Exactly. I don’t want to feel like that anymore.
PG: It’s important to have a through line in life.
ER: That’s exactly what I wanted, a through line. I needed a home, a place to invest in emotionally. Where you can close the door and all the things are yours.
PG: Do you have it now?
ER: I do.
ES: Yes. Shout it from the rooftops!