Hester Prynne, the Puritan heroine of the classic novel The Scarlet Letter, was forced to wear a red ‘A’ on her clothing, signifying her status as an adulteress. Pregnant, but lacking a husband, Prynne is viewed with scorn by the local townspeople.
Olive, the female lead in the new comedy Easy A, also wears that same scarlet letter, but to Olive, it is a symbol of female empowerment. In Prynne’s world, the letter was a brand of shame, but to Olive, it becomes a way to change her reputation and make a profit at the same time.
On September 8, Associated Content participated in a conference call with Emma Stone, the up-and-coming actress who plays the key role of Olive in Easy A. Like most high school students, Olive reads The Scarlet Letter in class, but she discovers a way to use Hester’s predicament to her own financial advantage.
In return for compensation, Olive pretends to sleep with guys who need to improve their social standing in high school. Additionally, the relatively clean cut Olive earns a false reputation as a bad girl, even though she hasn’t actually had sex with anyone.
When asked what Hester Prynne would have thought about Olive’s scheme, Emma Stone said it is hard to tell. “It’s just like we say in the movie. Hester decided to be silent about what was going on, and Olive is wildly outspoken and lying the entire time as well,” Stone said. “Olive doesn’t actually sleep with any of these people. It’s kind of almost the reverse problem in a way, even though they’re both being ostracized. So, it’s very interesting.”
Stone also said that a big part of the influence of The Scarlet Letter is in that idea where when you’re young and you read something or you watch something, you kind of tend to apply it to your life. “The first time you read a book that you really, really loved and you felt like you were that character or that character-finally, someone understood you,” she said.
In many ways, Olive also is inspired to take Hester Prynne’s journey and go even further with it.
“I think since she’s reading that (The Scarlet Letter) in class and she sees these kind of eerie similarities, I think it almost pushes her to go further with it because she’s reading the book, but I don’t know that it’s necessarily an update of that story because their stories are so different to me,” Stone said.
Easy A, rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material, opens in theaters on September 17.