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posted: 8/2/2014 5:30 AM

Colin Firth, Emma Stone riff on working with Woody

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  • Director Woody Allen, center, works with actors Emma Stone, left, and Colin Firth on the set of "Magic in the Moonlight."

      Director Woody Allen, center, works with actors Emma Stone, left, and Colin Firth on the set of "Magic in the Moonlight."
    Associated Press/Sony Pictures Classics

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Colin Firth had been hoping for decades to get a call from Woody Allen.

Emma Stone, at only 25, hadn't been waiting nearly as long -- but she notes her family dog IS named Alvy, after a classic Allen character, and she can keep up with Firth in a spontaneous recounting of the bank robbery scene in "Take the Money and Run."

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The two stars of "Magic in the Moonlight," opening Friday, were both working for the first time with Allen, and they sat down recently to recount what it was like.

"I was incredibly nervous," said Stone. "You don't get to know him first, there's no rehearsal, you don't see him before shooting."

As for Firth, he had a quick and somewhat strange phone call with the 78-year-old director.

"I thought he'd asked for the call, and it turns out he thought I'd asked for it," said Firth. "Cate (Blanchett) told me the same happened to her with 'Blue Jasmine.'"

The call, needless to say, was quick.

"It wasn't of the 'Welcome to the film!' variety," says Firth. "It was just sort of, 'Cut to the chase.'"

Firth plays Stanley, a cynical stage magician who seeks to unmask Sophie, a young American medium, as a fraud.

But Firth points out that magic tricks aren't his strong suit.

"I was called upon to perform a simple card trick. That was the only time I saw a hint of impatience from Woody," the actor laughs. "He was just sighing." The scene was eventually cut.

Firth had been waiting for years to work with Allen. "This person's work had such a specific role to play in my whole relation with movies," he said. "To suddenly be invited to join the narrative a bit is thrilling."

Both actors said a number of stories they'd heard about Allen turned out to be myths.

"There are a lot of stories," said Firth. "He doesn't really direct, don't expect him to make jokes on the set, that sort of thing. No. He directs, and he was funny."

Firth, 53, is an obvious fan. Asked his Allen favorites, he replied: "Different ones at different ages. 'Bananas' was the first. Brilliantly judged silliness. As was 'Take the Money and Run.'"

At this point, Firth basically re-enacted the bank robbery scene, with the famous illegible stickup note. Stone chimed in with her own memories.

"I remember watching that with my grandparents," the actress said.

While Stone's already working with Allen again -- shooting in Providence, Rhode Island -- Firth doesn't think lightning will strike twice.

"It's taken him 50 years to ask me the first time, so by the current rate I'll be 104 by the time he asks me again," he quipped.

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