I heard your trademark raspy voice came from a childhood malady?
I have a hiatal hernia, which is a hernia that you’re born with, and I had terrible stomachaches the first six months of my life, so I screamed myself hoarse every day when I was awake. To this day, my mom is sent into violent shudders if she hears a baby crying like that! I gave myself nodules before I could talk, so my voice was at this pitch as a toddler.
Not a lot of people know you got your start on The New Partridge Family.
It was totally, 100 percent a reality show. My mom had never pushed me to audition for anything, but she saw a commercial on TV for it and said, “You look like Susan Dey a little, and just dyed your hair brown ... Why don’t you give this a shot? I have a weird feeling.” I did it and ended up winning. I don’t regret it for a minute.
How were you cast as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man (in theaters July 3)?
I worked with Sony on Superbad, Zombieland, and Easy A, and they had talked with me about Mary Jane originally. When it came back around to Gwen Stacy, they asked if I’d audition, and Andrew [Garfield] had already been cast [as Spider-Man]. I looked into the saga of Gwen Stacy and it was stunning—a huge slice of pop-culture history.
Director Marc Webb told me your chemistry with Andrew from the first audition was electric.
I could feel there was something there, and we were able to do improv in the audition, which was great. As an actor, too, my go-to thing between takes is to sit there and self-flagellate, say things like “Oh, that was f--king terrible ... I’m so sorry you had to see that!” But he instantly had this great way of knocking me down for doing that.
Is it that back-and-forth that makes you two work off-screen as well?
I don’t know what you’re talking about! [Laughs]
You’ve also got The Gangster Squad out in September, marking your second go-around with Ryan Gosling.
He challenged me a lot on The Gangster Squad because we sort of goofed around on Crazy, Stupid, Love. It was fun to do something set in the ’40s because we secretly both wish we were from that era.
Have you poked fun at him for any of the Ryan Gosling Internet memes?
I haven’t! But there was one really amazing picture I saw called “Cholafied” where they added lip liner and eyebrows on his face. That guy. Why do people put so many memes on Gosling! I think it was The Notebook that started it, and before our movie he had the “Hey Girl” memes.
Were there any things you geeked out on as a kid, like comics?
I was a huge computer nerd. I built websites! I would go on online forums, had a bunch of Internet friends, and would build free websites for people because I was trying to teach myself HTML. I had an online newsletter called Neptune, which was an e-zine for girls 12 to 18 where I made up the advice column and wrote articles. I thought I wanted to be a journalist for a long time. I still kind of do.