Outside of a certain franchise, confident Kristen Stewart continues to work outside the box, whether she’s an underage hooker in "Welcome to the Rileys" or her ferocious portrayal of Joan Jett in "The Runaways", both of which premiered at Sundance.
Paul Fischer caught up with the actress in a Park City hotel room where they discussed "The Runaways", bloggers and a certain eclipse of the sun.
Question: Kristen what did you see in Joan Jett that made you want to do "The Runaways" and do you see parallels between the pair of you?
Stewart: Yeah, I guess there would be. We have been professional at a young age, which is hard, but her in such a different way. For me the biggest adversity I face is like bloggers, while she had people throwing bottles in her face and saying like "Sit down, you ugly loud mouth". To see how assured she is now and to know that she wasn’t always like that, actually took a lot.
What she has now is actually a really, really, really thick developed armor and you see that happen in the movie hopefully, or at least that’s how I felt. That’s what I wanted to do. It’s like – hardened but it’s like she's not very in tune with herself. I think she’s really cool. She’s really honest and it’s a self-preservation sort of a thing, she's a survivor. At the same time, she demands to live her life the way she’d like to. She’s just a very smart inspiring person.
Question: Talk about working with the guitar in this, because there are specific moves that Joan has, and a way of working with her instrument.
Stewart: We all had two weeks that we had band practice, where all the girls came in and they played the song that we recorded. I think that there were five or six songs that we did, that we had to have down. They played them over a speaker, but then we were actually trying to play as a band to it.
Question: Was it hard?
Stewart: Yeah. It’s exhausting, especially with the guitar, but it was fun. I mean there’s an okay amount of footage that you can see them and their performances, but there’s not an abundance and they’re all sort of fuzzy.
Question: Now the sexuality of this film is very important. Was it difficult for you two to recreate the tone of that sexuality which was particularly unique to that period?
Stewart: Sure, but, while there was a sexual revolution going on, it still has had an effect on us now and so people feel much more comfortable at a young age doing stuff like that. But these girls, they really were, like, the ones to rebel first. Like, it wasn’t normal for girls to be sexually aggressive in any way. For instance, like in "Thirteen", when they kiss and they’re not in love, but they’re friends it is a completely different thing. It’s just a different thing to watch.
Question: The director was saying that the love scenes weren’t challenging. It was just, there were a lot of rules when you guys were shooting that, that she said were kind of annoying. You know, just in terms of placement. Can you speak to that at all, was that frustrating? Was that distracting at all, or did you just kind of power through it and get it done?
Stewart: Well It was always pretty subjective – even after the roller rink. You don’t know what they’re doing in the rink, they’re just sort of like, together. It was never written in the script, like, 'Hard core sex scene'. It’s like – "Well, Dakota’s 15, and we can't do the hard core sex scene. Shit".
Question: Now you and Dakota have been growing up on camera and I wondered if you met before, if you were paying attention to each other’s career before working together?
Stewart: She’s always been, like, the one – there’s sort of no one else that levels up, so, yeah, definitely. I met her a couple times before.
Question: You mentioned earlier that today it’s the bloggers that are the big problem, as opposed to what happened 30 years ago. Do you think that that’s taking things to extreme, and that’s really causing a lot more problems for actors like yourself? I mean given the fact that the internet has become so much more pervasive now, and that success and fame seem to go hand in hand with what people seem to be writing about on-line. Does it bother you? Do you get pissed off about it?
Stewart: No, because I mean, it’s just more of the same thing, you just have another outlet for media. Hearsay is sometimes really awesome, and it’s sometimes really very destructive but whether it’s gonna be typed in on a computer screen, or like take us back 50 years when you actually had to speak to people, people hated rumors then, people hate rumors now, whether they’re really huge or really small. I don't care.
Question: I’ve known you before you became this big sort of star, I guess. You don't seem to have changed that much. How have you been able to just handle dealing with all that crap, and just focusing on all this work that you’re obviously busy doing?
Stewart: I don't know. I don’t actually know how to answer because, it’s weird that you can just get anybody’s opinion sort of at the click of a mouse, which is weird. It’s just not something we’re used to. But it’s not that the opinions haven't always been there. People are just able to get them out.
Question: But do you read them? You go and check what they say about you?
Stewart: Well, I mean, I don’t really sit – "Oh my god!"
Question: You don’t Google yourself, do you? No.
Stewart: Google alert.
Question: Kristen, how is the responsibility different in playing a real-life person who’s also on set every day, versus a beloved literary character, as you did with Bella? And that’s a responsibility too, to the people who love that series. How is it a different responsibility?
Stewart: Probably just personally, because and also, Bella’s effect on the world wasn’t necessarily as great as Joan’s, obviously. Plus I never got to meet Bella. [LAUGHTER].
Question: But you know what I’m getting at, right?
Stewart: Yeah, no. Totally. No, no. It’s completely different.
Question: It’s a beloved character that people have an investment in.
Stewart: Yeah, yeah. No, I know.
Question: Though she’s fake. Even though Joan is real, people have an investment in her.
Stewart: Right. So, like, all of those people who have investments in these women, that’s awesome for them, and I’d love to make cool movies for them. But when it becomes personal and it’s my responsibility to not destroy what people are going to take from the most important part of my friend’s life Joan has become really a big part of my life and she’s awesome. I really, really love her. And if we hadn’t told the story right, people wouldn't know who The Runaways were. I mean, people don’t know The Runaways in our generation, so, because they’re gonna see them through us, it is a much different experience than just making an original fictional story.
Question: Did you know who The Runaways were originally?
Question: Now I guess the third Twilight’s gonna be out in the summer. This is a really interesting director that you’re working with. He’s very different from the other two. Is it a very different style, tonally? Or is it still very close to the tone of the first two?
Stewart: I don't know what the tone is gonna be like. I haven't seen the clips, but he’s a very technical director. Very, very. And he is very thoughtful. What I think is gonna be cool for Twilight, shot-wise is that he’s very conceptual. Like, he really, really takes a lot of time think – you’re not gonna see, like, a bunch of Steadi-cam. It’s very deliberate.
Question: He’s incredibly visual, isn’t he?
Stewart: Yeah. It’s really deliberate, which is cool. It gives you more time to think about what you’re doing. But I don't know, because I haven't seen the movie.
Question: Now, what are you working on at the moment? Are you still working with your Mom on this project? Is that still happening?
Stewart: It’s like, really on the rocks. It’s just hard to get a movie made. so, that’s all.
Question: You’ve been talking to me about that for a while.
Stewart: I know. I probably should have, like, held onto that.
Question: What are you doing next, do you know?
Stewart: No, I have a clear horizon, which I haven't had in years.