"There's something about the immediacy of acting," the actress explains in a new interview. "You can't afford to think about a million other things"

By Jacqueline Andriakos
Updated June 17, 2015 06:55 PM
Credit: Venturelli/WireImage

Known for her quirky charm and sense of humor, Emma Stone usually appears completely at ease in the spotlight.

But it took some time for the actress to find her peaceful place.

The actress, 26, opened up in a new interview with The Wall Street Journal about growing up battling anxiety and panic attacks – and how acting became her solution.

“It was really bad,” the Irrational Man actress told the paper. “The first time I had a panic attack I was sitting in my friend’s house, and I thought the house was burning down. I called my mom and she brought me home, and for the next three years it just would not stop.”

She continued, “I would go to the nurse at lunch most days and just wring my hands. I would ask my mom to tell me exactly how the day was going to be, then ask again 30 seconds later. I just needed to know that no one was going to die and nothing was going to change.”

The Aloha actress remembered that her parents took her to see a therapist, but soon after learned that participating in shows at the local youth theater was the real remedy.

“There’s something about the immediacy of acting,” Stone said. “You can’t afford to think about a million other things. You have to think about the task at hand. Acting forces me to sort of be like a Zen master: What is happening right in this moment?”

Stone also addressed some of the reasons she is very protective of her personal life, including the Sony hack in December – during which her name surfaced in emails – and when her personal information was recently published on the web.

“I did one of the worst things ever, which was react really quickly,” she said. “I was getting all these emails and texts from people I didn’t know – ‘Hi, I’m Joe from the U.K. I like your movies’ – and I was so overwhelmed that I went to my in-box and I deleted all my emails.

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“In about a 30-second span, I hit ‘Select All’ and ‘Delete Forever,’ and thousands of emails, like six years of emails, are now gone forever. I was just so freaked out that someone was in there,” adding that she cried for an hour.

Another piece of her private life that she prefers to keep to herself is her relationship with her Amazing Spider-Man costar Andrew Garfield, 31.

She told WSJ that she stays mum because all of the information out there is “all so speculative and baseless.”

Stone went on to say that their relationship is “so special to me that it never feels good to talk about, so I just continually don’t talk about it.”

The Academy Award nominee also revealed she plays coy with the paparazzi when feeling rebellious – like the time she was photographed carrying a paper bag with Garfield’s name on it.

“There’s probably some rebelliousness that comes out in me after all these stories and people texting you for weeks about something that, for the most part, is not true,” she said. “But even when it’s false, I would rather just let it be false.”