With a dismal box office haul of just $20 million, Cameron Crowe’s “Aloha” (which isn’t great, but deserved a little better) seems destined to become a footnote in the otherwise-mostly-glittering CVs of the writer/director and its stars Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone. If it’s remembered for anything, it’s likely to be for the controversy that sparked from the film over the casting of the very-much-white Stone as a part-Chinese, part-Hawaiian character.
Sony defended the movie as the chatter reached a peak, saying that the film “respectfully showcases the spirit and culture of the Hawaiian people,” but Crowe was more abashed, offering a gracious apology and saying that “I have heard your words and your disappointment, and I offer you a heart-felt apology to all who felt this was an odd or misguided casting choice,” before explaining that the character was based on a real person, a “super-proud 1/4 Hawaiian who was frustrated that, by all outward appearances, she looked nothing like one.”
Now on the publicity tour for “Irrational Man,” Stone has weighed in as well, and suggests that like Crowe, she’s listened to and learned from the criticism. Stone tells Australian site News.Com.Au “I’ve become the butt of many jokes… I’ve learned on a macro level about the insane history of whitewashing in Hollywood and how prevalent the problem truly is. It’s ignited a conversation that’s very important.”
She’s not unrepentant, echoing Crowe’s defense that “The character was not supposed to look like her background, which was a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese,” a nuance that was perhaps lost on some critics, while also not coming across as effective on-screen. It’s good to hear that Stone has not unthinkingly rejected the heat that came about from the project.
Similarly, the actress addresses some recent talk about the prevalence of older men romancing younger woman on screen, something that was the case in both “Irrational Man” and her previous film with Woody Allen. “It’s rampant in Hollywood,” she says, “and it’s definitely been that way for a long time, both culturally and in movies. But in ‘Irrational Man,’ the film is contingent upon the age difference; the movie is about that disparity. And when I did ‘Magic in the Moonlight‘ Colin Firth and I talked about the gap which was huge, absolutely, because he was born the same year as my dad.”
“There’s a lot of conversation about how we want to see people represented on screen,” she continues, “and what we need to change as a business to reflect culture in a clearer way and not in an idealised way. There are some flaws in the system. My eyes have been opened in many ways this year.” Good to hear, Stone. “Irrational Man” opens today.