Emma Stone Opens Up About Struggle With Childhood Anxiety: “I Could Barely Get Out The Door To School”

emma stone
Rolling Stone

Emma Stone is overflowing with confidence on this month’s Rolling Stone cover, but there was a time when she was a self-proclaimed anxious child who could barely leave the house.

It’s hard to imagine that the confident actress who found her niche as a goofball girl-next-door ever needed reassurance, but when she was little her anxiety was so bad she would suffer from panic attacks and stopped seeing her friends.

“When I was about 7, I was convinced the house was burning down,” she said. “I could sense it. Not a hallucination, just a tightening in my chest, feeling I couldn’t breath, like the world was going to end. There were some flare-ups like that, but my anxiety was constant. I would ask my mom a hundred times how the day was gonna lay out. What time was she gonna drop me off? Where was she gonna be? What would happen at lunch? Feeling nauseous. At a certain point, I couldn’t go to friends’ houses anymore — I could barely get out the door to school.”

To help combat anxiety, Stone would visualize it. She would imagine a “little green monster” on her shoulder telling her  “all these things that aren’t true.”

“…Every time I listen to it, it grows bigger. If I listen to it enough, it crushes me,” she said. “But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing — let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs — then it shrinks down and fades away.”

Stone, who got her start in theater and improve, used acting as a way to calm her anxiety. Focusing on her character — the fictional scenarios and worlds she was helping portray — stopped her from worrying about her real life.

“You have to be present in improv, and that’s the antithesis of anxiety,” she said.

Since her days as an anxious child, the 28-year-old actress has starred in major films like Easy A, Superbad and Spider-Man. She’s also a front-runner to win an Oscar for her role in the critically acclaimed La La Land .

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