Its theatrical release isn’t until December, but “La La Land” is already surrounded by award season chatter. The film stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in singing roles and they likely had their eye on a prize when they signed on to the project. On Tuesday night, one of Stone’s friends — that would be Jennifer Lawrence — hosted a screening and after party for the musical film at Rainbow Room, where Academy voters and fellow actors — Mark Ruffalo, Dakota Johnson, Malin Akerman — put in face time.
“I literally met her [Lawrence] tonight, but she’s friends with Emma and I’m just so stoked that she’s hosting the party. I didn’t know her before, but I do now,” director Damien Chazelle said of Lawrence’s presence.
Expectations for Chazelle’s sophomore feature are high. His first, “Whiplash,” raked in awards, including an Oscar for J.K. Simmons. Given the positive reaction since “La La Land” debuted at the Venice Film Festival, it may be on a similar track. “It’s been rewarding, but I’m a professional neurotic,” Chazelle said of the response. “I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop so I’m never in full celebration mode. But it’s certainly been wonderful.”
Lawrence and Stone may have been the starring pair of the night, but Stone and Gosling were really the match-up being celebrated, despite his absence at the party. “They’ve worked together before so they have this chemistry built in,” Chazelle said of his leads. “I just had to not get in the way and give them an environment that worked for them. But they rolled up their sleeves, they took a gamble. You know, a lot of people are scared of doing a movie like this, and they were willing to just jump in.”