When Kristen Stewart signed on to play Bella Swan, the female lead in the “Twilight” franchise, the 19-year-old actress had no idea she would be at the center of excessive media attention, screaming adoring fans and constant scrutiny from everyone watching her every move. Stewart, however, has learned to cope with her rising fame and walked into a crowded press conference promoting The Twilight Saga: New Moon more confident than ever and talked to the room full of reporters about how this character has changed her life.
Q: A year ago when we talked to you, you seemed to be a shy, sensitive young actor. How has this past year been for you in terms of this nonstop thing on “New Moon” and you and Rob Pattinson?
Kristen Stewart: I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with talking about myself and knowing that what you say people are really going to take into consideration and that always intimidated me so much that I minced every word that came out of my mouth. I couldn’t finish a sentence because I was so concerned about how it was going to sound. I didn’t want to come across insincere about something that I really love to do. So I realized that instead of refraining from saying I’ve put my heart and soul into this thing and I love it, that’s what I should’ve said instead of, like the really logical, over analytical reason why I love it. You just do. I’ve gotten more comfortable with. The whole rumor, tabloid stuff, it’s so obviously false to me. Look, even before I became a part of it, once I sort of became a star… it’s like a show. It’s like a ridiculous show.
Q: A soap opera with your name in it?
Stewart: Exactly. With false realism like a soap opera that seems real but you’re not quite sure. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t take it personally. Luckily, because I’ve had so much experience it’s gotten easier to talk about the work.
Q: What about the work on this one?
Stewart: I had a really good time on this movie. It was intense. Just because of the nature of the story it goes in a completely different direction. We undermined the first. We establish a very ideological of love and basically tell our main character, our main protagonist that she was wrong and it’s like, “Where’s our story?” You’re going to be left if Edward’s not there. What I really love about “New Moon” is that you see this girl build herself back up and by the time she makes this sort of rash decision to spend eternity with a vampire she’s in a position where you actually believe her. You’re like, “Okay, you’re old enough, your mature enough to know. You’ve lived life.” She grows up. I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore.
Q: What has been like working with Bryce Dallas Howard?
Stewart: Really good. Bryce is scary. She’s really oddly sweet as well. So it’s funny to see her switch back and forth, but Victoria for Bella is like an ever present fear. Even when Victoria isn’t around she’s scared that she’s coming back. Bryce is such a good actress and it was easy to be scared of her.
Q: Can you talk about breaking in your new director? How did you work with Chris Weitz?
Stewart: Chris has everything. I think to be a good director you have to be a good person and you have to care about people. I don’t know a more compassionate human being. I couldn’t have done this unless I had such a believable environment, a comfortable and safe environment to be so vulnerable in. He provided that tenfold. He’s one of the coolest, one of the smartest and funniest guys I know. He really loves the project as well. He wasn’t just jumping on the next big thing. So it wasn’t about breaking him in at all. He only helped make everything better. He made everything what it is. He’s incredible. I love him.
Q: Did he give you guys any guidance when he came in? How did that work?
Stewart: Chris did a very different thing that I’ve never had a director do. He put together, it’s like a syllabus almost of what we were supposed to achieve and how he was going to make it easier for everyone, sort of an introduction to how he likes to work. It didn’t only introduce the idea of collaboration, it was like inviting everyone onto this project and saying, “Please, everyone love it, and please, everyone be invested and work hard.” It was very encouraging. It also had technical aspects of how he was so sorry that so much of the movie was going to be CGI stuff that we were going to have to react to but that he was always going to make us aware of what we were acting with, that he was never going to leave us high and dry. A lot of the FX movies are hard to do because you don’t know what you’re reacting to. So he had a full rundown of how he planned on making the movie. Most directors are like, “Have you put together notes for our meeting?” It’s like, “No. That’s your job.” So he’s amazing. I love him.
Q: Taylor Lautner is emerging from this movie as a huge star. If you could wipe the slate clean and made a decision do you really think that she wouldn’t have gone with fine, old Jacob?
Stewart: I know, trust me. I feel you completely.
Q: Can you talk about working with Taylor because he did an incredible job in the face of controversy going into the movie?
Stewart: I think that controversy has probably been like made bigger than it was. We needed to be sure that whoever played Jacob was going to be Jacob in “New Moon.” He’s such a different person. He becomes a man. There’s an entire [thing]. It’s not just a physical transformation. He really becomes an adult. I mean I always knew that Taylor could do that but we just needed to make sure because it was so important. So once he actually proved himself which wasn’t hard to do, even seeing him walk around on set was like a different experience. He’s literally become a different person. He’s just grown up. He’s so confident and the nicest guy that I’ve ever met. I know that I’m using this grammatically incorrect but he’s the funnest guy I’ve ever hung out with. So he’s great. I’m so proud of him.
Q: These films have come out so fast, one after the other. Can you talk about the intensity of that and also if you think you’ll remember all of it in five years?
Stewart: There’s already a lot of stuff that I have to say, “Okay, Kristen, be here. Experience it. Make sure that this isn’t another fleeting situation that you’re going to barely remember.” You have to force yourself to sort of be present but I feel like the fact that I have the opportunity to pick and choose moments that I want to remember and I have to focus on remembering cool moments, that only tells you that I literally have an influx of them. I’ve had the coolest two years and I’m so lucky.
Q: What’s it like to work in Vancouver since you’ve been there for a while now? Do you have a home, favorite hang outs, what do you like to do there?
Stewart: I love Vancouver. When we’re doing the “Twilight” series there I don’t get to go out as much as I’d like to. I’m also sort of a boring person. I really don’t go out to bars and stuff a whole lot unless it’s an event. It’s a beautiful place to be.
Q: What are your favorite spots in the city?
Stewart: I just like being outside there. I don’t have favorite spots. The climate is so different from what I’m used to. I don’t really have any favorite spots. I really don’t.
Q: Did you actually get to ride the motorcycle and if so were you into it and how do you feel about the bike?
Stewart: I’m definitely never going to be a biker. The idea of riding, I mean I’m scared of cars so the idea of riding a motorcycle is just never going to be something that I’m into. I was towed ridiculously. I was on the back of this truck and I probably looked funny doing it. Taylor rode motorcycles really well. There’s this one part that’s sort of undeniably him. He rides up and skids. I left that to him. I wasn’t about to do that. I don’t even think that they would let me necessarily. They would have more faith in Taylor to do that.
Q: Would you ride on the back with a guy though?
Stewart: Yeah. I did that. I did that and I didn’t like it. It’s so precarious. I don’t know if you’ve been on one but it literally feels like you’re going to fly off of it. I’m not into that.
Q: What do you find the most rewarding part of being involved in something so popular and what are some of the challenging parts of that?
Stewart: I think my favorite thing about this is the fact that I can keep it personal. It’s still something that if the franchise, if the saga didn’t become a franchise and it was literally was just a series of movies that I had done they would mean just as much to me. That’s also the best part of it, the fact that it isn’t like that, the fact that so many people are affected by it and are invested in it just as much as me if not more. Like I said about Chris, if you don’t like people and if you don’t want to make movies because you care about people then you probably are just wanting to be just rich and famous. So the fact that this is so important to so many people makes me so happy. That’s it. I think that’s it.
Q: Having such an avid fan base where and how do you draw the line between what the public wants to know about your private life?
Stewart: Right. I don’t know. I don’t think that anyone can get a handle [on that]. It’s like as soon as I stopped trying to control everything that came out of my mouth and every picture that came out, that’s when I became so much happier and it was so much easier to deal with. It wasn’t like it was a turning point. I’ve just grown into not having to care so much and to not try to think that I’m going to be able to plan out the way that everyone perceives me. There are no false impressions. Everyone’s impression of you is going to be what it is in that isolated moment. It’s people not considering where you are in that moment when you give that impression. I’m fine with that. I’m going to own what I’m going to own and literally… I should just stop trying to control what’s coming out of my mouth. I’m always going to keep what’s important to me in mind and I completely understand considering that we’re playing characters that are so coveted by so many people so I get why they want to know more about us and they want us to be together and all of that. I just sort of have to not think about it.
Q: How did filming in Italy add to the romance of your character?
Stewart: The fact that we didn’t have to be on a set and we were really in Italy, it makes it so much easier to immerse yourself in this world. It was so cool that we got to go to Italy and that we didn’t have to fake it. I think it really did add I’m totally taking Chris’s words right now a scope to the film that wouldn’t otherwise be there. To go from Forks to Italy is such a stark contrast and romantic just in the idea of it. So then to be there and feel it, of course it helps to have the real environment.
Q: Can you talk about the breakup scene with Edward and how emotional it was to do that?
Stewart: That was the scariest thing. I was almost as worried about messing it up than I was about what I actually should have been thinking about which was the issues that Bella is dealing with. Reading it, it’s so iconic. There’s nothing like that moment in reality even. It’s not even like a normal breakup scene. I know what’s it like to get broken up with but I don’t know what it’s like to get broken up with by a vampire who I’ve now been physically and chemically altered by. Suddenly you take an addict, you take whatever they’re addicted to away from them and there’s withdrawal. So that was the most intimidating scene in the entire movie. I don’t know how to explain how I did it. Chris really helped me out. It was just about talking. I don’t know. It was just about talking to him and reading the book and I had no other actors play off. I mean, the breakup scene that I did with Rob, that’s not where it happens yet. That’s not where I was intimidated. That was still, like she doesn’t even believe it yet. It’s when he goes, the absence of him that I was scared of. I was like, “How am I going to by myself in the woods with a hundred guys standing around me, filming me, die?” Basically, literally having the equivalent of like a death scene but stay alive and get up and keep walking. It was hard. It was really intimidating. I still don’t know. I’ve seen the movie. I really like the movie but I don’t know if anyone ever really would’ve been able to bring that to life the way that Stephenie [Meyer] writes it.
Q: Other than that were there any other challenging scenes or moments for you?
Stewart: This for me is the most difficult, I won’t say hardest… I want to define it a little bit more. Bella is so sure all the time and this is the one movie where she’s actually baffled and totally like, “I don’t know.” It’s weird to play Bella like that because she’s so not like that. That was difficult. I can’t think of a particular scene. It was really hard to go back and forth because you don’t shoot a movie in sequence, obviously. I had to do stuff with Jacob where I was alive and happy and out of this depression thing and then after lunch go back and scream in my bed for six hours. So that was difficult.
Q: What’s the craziest thing that you’ve had happen to you with fans since starting this?
Stewart: The funniest thing in the world just happened to me in Brazil. I’ve had a lot of really varying experiences. Some absolutely touching and overwhelming and daunting. Some just like crazy. Then sometimes they’re really funny. I was in Brazil and me and Taylor went to Latin America this time and Rob was in Japan. That’s just how it goes sometimes. We’re sent all over and it means nothing who we’re with. This guy was chasing after us. There was a huge crowd anyway but this one very persistent fella was like, “Where is Robert! Where is Robert!” I couldn’t stop laughing and I felt really bad because he was distraught and emotional and I was like, “It’s just Robert.” It was really funny. I found that funny. Sometimes you get letters that are sort of reassuring when everyone is saying one thing about you. You have one person say, “Look…” and it’s funny when you can actually relate to the fans on a human level and it happens all the time. People assume that’s impossible. So when that happens it’s a cool thing.
Q: Anything scary happen?
Stewart: Scary? No. I’m scared of crowds but individually no, of course not. Just personally I’m sort of intimidated by a lot of people.
Q: When it was announced that Chris Weitz was going to direct, Stephenie Meyer was quoted as saying, “Lets see how a man does with movie.” Did you have any trepidation when Catherine Hardwicke departed? Also, do you see Bella as a role model for young women?
Stewart: I think that Bella is such a good character for girls to look up to because it’s not looking up. The fact that she’s normal, and I think the most typically relatable thing is that she’s awesome and she doesn’t know it and she’s very sort of confident but also not arrogant. It’s a weird thing to be. I think she also has a lot of really innately female qualities that for a character in literature I think it’s awesome that so many girls can look up to her because she’s fickle and unabashedly. It’s like, “I’m allowed to make mistakes and I’m going to do it and I’m going to do it right now and I’m not going to be ashamed of it.” Bella is very much like that. I think she is a good example for a young girl. I think the director thing, everyone is different. I’m not smart enough to sit here and analyze whether or not a female would’ve been more in touch. Both characters that the protagonist deals with are men. Everyone approaches relationships differently and I can’t really think of an answer.
Q: Do you appreciate it when fans want to relate you to Bella, can you understand it?
Stewart: I totally understand why people have a hard time separating ourselves from our characters. It’s also just sort of the way our world is going. People are obsessed. There’s an incredibly large group of people that spend most of their time considering other people’s lives. It’s strange to me. Like I said, I can’t have anything to do with it or else I step in and mess it up for myself and I can’t even do it in a way that’s complete. I just let it sort of fall by the wayside and it doesn’t really affect me.
Q: You’ve talked about living in the moment, enjoying it. Is there a memory from the set that you’ll always take with you?
Stewart: The one moment that really [stands out], throughout the filming of “New Moon,” we wrapped in Italy. The last thing that I did I was running through a square through a bunch of people just around this corner, one little part of that montage where I’m running through there. There were so many people around and there was so much energy. You could feel everyone was expecting the done date, that we were almost finished. I can’t turn off, I need to fully and completely on up until that very last moment. I remember the second that we wrapped. I said at Comic-Con that my favorite moment of “New Moon” was when we wrapped and people took that the wrong way. It wasn’t like I was so glad to be done. It was the most memorable moment for me because I literally fell apart. I literally went [gasps]. I almost couldn’t handle it. It was the coolest experience that I’ve had on a movie. One of the coolest experiences I’ve had on a movie so far. Chris was there and it was something that we had together really. I just felt really good and that’s the most memorable experience.
Q: How attached have you become to Bella since starting this project?
Stewart: I’m very protective of her. I feel a shared ownership. It’s weird. If you were to talk about the character in a way that was not at all thought out or flippant I would be right there to say that you didn’t know what you were talking about. I’m so defensive of her. So, yeah, I feel like I like her a lot. I think I can just say yes.
Q: Can you talk about a moment that stands out about making the next movie and what the third director is like?
Stewart: Yeah, “Eclipse” is such that just like “New Moon” it sort of starts and becomes a completely new movie. Just as soon as you think you’re going to get the same story it’s sort all of a sudden that it completely changes. Bella is much more back to herself. She’s content now. She’s comfortable and self-assured in a way that she wasn’t in “New Moon.” I think what I really love about “Eclipse,” what was interesting for me to explore was different levels of love and acknowledging that the ideals that you maybe had a little while ago aren’t true. Bella is innately honest. That’s something that I feel she is. In “Eclipse” she lies to herself and she lies to everyone around her about the fact that she’s in love with Jacob, just not as much. It’s not that extra thing that you can’t really even describe. I loved watching the three of them. I loved playing with the three characters together. There’s literally a scene where Edward and Jacob who are mortal enemies are in a tent with a sleeping Bella in between them. It’s a ridiculous circumstance to find yourself in. We had so much to work with. Then the FX as well were even more. There’s a big battle that happens and that was more than we had to deal with on “New Moon.” So it was cool. I’ve always gotten to do things for really short periods of time. To follow a character this long surprises me every time. I can’t wait to do the fourth hone because I’m sure that I’m going to come in and say that everything I said this time was wrong, that I actually know Bella more now. And actually we have such established dynamics. The way that I know Bella deals with Edward, you sort of can’t mess with that. I know how she deals with him. I know how she deals with Jacob. I know how she deals with Charlie, her dad, and to have people come in and help that process out is only cooler. You always get a different perspective. So working with David [Slade] was like, “Okay, lets see what you’ve got,” because he came up with a lot of stuff that I would’ve never thought of and he’s quite good at the whole technical aspect of movie making which is so completely over my head. So I got to feel safe that he had that handled and me and Rob and Taylor just sort of did our thing.
Q: Have you heard of a start date on the fourth film and I’ve heard it rumored that it might be two movies? Is there any truth to that?
Stewart: I don’t know.
Q: How do you relate to the idea of being immortal?
Stewart: I can only relate to that as Bella can because she is still human. I think that’s an interesting question for any one of the vampires because they actually [deal with that]. The way that I consider immortality from both my perspective as Kristen and my perspective as Bella is that it’s so completely unknown but that given the right motivating factor I’d be willing to explore it. She’s very willing to acknowledge that she doesn’t know but that she’s willing to give it a chance because of Edward, because she’s willing to sacrifice anything for him basically. A big thing for Bella is change. She’s so terrified of change because she’s been thrust into this world. It’s not a necessarily healthy way of looking at things because nothing is going away. I should be at work right now talking to Chris. This is ridiculous. Basically if you’re facing something that is completely unknown but you’re willing to take everything that is hard about it because of what you might get, that’s hope. That’s people. That’s why we get up everyday. Immortality is almost more scary in our story than mortality. To live forever seems on the surface like a really cool thing but in our story it’s terrifying and in our story that means taking your soul or at least it does to Edward. Like the lines of personal belief and literally theology and your faith, what you think is going to happen after you die, these are things that we think about incessantly in the movie and things that Edward and Bella even argue about. I know that was really everywhere but there you go.
Q: How did you balance playing Bella and then playing a character like Joan Jett?
Stewart: I can only play characters that I feel like are real people and in a complete way and in such a whole way that if I fake any aspect of it I will have failed them and literally they’re slaughtered. It’s like these characters, they don’t exist anymore unless I do it. So in terms of approaching parts thank God I don’t have to do that. It just happens. I got to know Joan not only as her now but I feel like through footage and just through the script and the story, everything, I feel like I got to know who she was in such a whole way that it’s not about imitating even though I was really concerned about details being right, gestures and stuff. I really wanted to do a good impersonation but I also didn’t want it to be imitation. I wanted it to be natural. Playing Joan Jett had nothing to do with Bella. It was a small period of time that I had to do it but it was an opportunity that I jumped on and it was going to go away [if I hadn’t]. I would’ve liked more time but like I said about walking on set, seeing all the characters and Rob and Taylor, it’s instantly easy to get right back into the right mindset. That’s vague but what I do is so vague. Literally, what I do is so oddly ambiguous.
Q: You talked about Bella being a good role model for young girls, and yet she seems willing to sacrifice everything for Edward. She gets depressed about a love affair that goes flat and becomes an adrenaline junkie who’s trying to kill herself in a way. Are you worried about twelve or thirteen year old girls watching this and getting a terrible idea of what’s that like?
Stewart: It’s a very extreme story. I think people who take to this story need to be a little bit more mature than that. I think the only reason that they take to it is because they are. The only way that I can justify that, and maybe I’m an immature girl as well, I really feel like if you feel you need to do it then you need to do it. It being anything. Then after you’re told that you’ve made a mistake and that you’re wrong, if you’re willing to say that you made a mistake and that you were wrong and that you’re going to try the next thing there’s nothing to be ashamed of there at all. Be extreme. Go for it. I think that’s the point. I know this is a movie about immortality but you live once. I’m also not preaching to anybody. I’m just standing behind the story. That’s what I think.