The 1970’s all-female rock band The Runaways launched lead guitarist Joan Jett into stardom and forever changed the way people saw women musicians. While the rebellious Southern California teen group may have been short-lived, the stories from that time in music continue to live on and will now be told in The Runaways. The film is a coming-of-age story that follows Jett’s struggles with her career and personal life and shows how Jett and her best friend and singer of the band, Cherie Currie, became rock ‘n’ roll legends.
It was important to Jett, who served as executive producer on the film, to have actors around the same age as the girls in the group when they started, which was around 15 years old. Kristen Stewart was cast a couple of months after Twilight hit theaters and Jett was pleased with the casting choice. Dakota Fanning, who is transitioning herself well into more adult roles, plays Currie – the sexy lead vocalist who battles with addiction and family issues.
Both girls had strong commitments to this project, which required them to really sing, play the guitar and change their appearance to look like the ’70’s icons. ComingSoon.net talked to the young actors in Los Angeles about what it was like playing Jett and Currie:
Q: What did you guys think of the wardrobe and hair and makeup, all of it?
Dakota Fanning: I loved it. I was really excited that I got to keep it.
Q: You did?
Fanning: Yeah. I got keep pretty much everything and everything became like really important to me and I was really protective of my clothes. I was real excited that I got to have them forever.
Q: Including the lingerie?
Fanning: Oh, yeah, that’s what I loved the most.
Q: That was a great scene, marvelous.
Fanning: Oh, thanks.
Q: Were you nervous about doing that?
Fanning: I was nervous right before the take started but I had been looking forward to it. It was the second to last day of filming and that’s what I was most excited to film.
Q: Joan talked about the hair and you told her that you were going to really cut your hair which showed a certain level of commitment on your part.
Kristen Stewart: I love how that’s her thing. She really holds on to the hair thing.
Q: You’ve always had signature hair so did you find cutting it daunting?
Stewart: Did you just say that I had signature hair?
Q: Kind of. You’ve had a certain look over the years.
Stewart: Yeah. I mean I had short hair when I was little but that’s just sort of something that…
Fanning: It’s this thing that’s the signature part? (touches her wave of bangs)
Stewart: Yeah. Anyway, I needed to feel sweat dripping down my face. I would’ve felt like a fraud if I’d had a wig on. I’ve worn wigs in the past. They can look great. A lot of actresses won’t work without them. Dakota’s wig looks amazing. She literally would be like, I don’t know, you worked really well in it. Sometimes they’re serious problems. But there you go.
Q: Did the hair help you become your character?
Stewart: Yeah, definitely. God yeah. There were a few levels of that. When I first met her I hadn’t even done “New Moon” yet and we were still a couple of months away from doing “The Runaways” and I did not feel, or at least what I thought her perspective of me must’ve been, how could she think that I was the right person to play her? She’s so different from me really or certainly she was. I don’t know. But I needed [it]. With the wardrobe and the hair and once you get on set with everyone else it’s like it slowly becomes a reality that you can believe and you sort of think that it’s this huge job, like, “How am I ever going to approach this,” and then as soon as you get there it all sort of comes together. I can’t really bring myself to do anything until I’m on set. Like the dance, we didn’t see her do “Cherry Bomb” until we shot it and we were all literally floored. It was so cool.
Q: Were there old videos of the band that you got to watch, them performing and things like that?
Stewart: Yeah, it’s on YouTube.
Fanning: Yeah, there’s so many, like “Live in Japan.” There’s a lot of footage of them performing.
Q: What attracted you to this role, Dakota, and what excited you about the script?
Fanning: When I first read it I wasn’t familiar with who they were and who Cherie was. I had heard of Joan Jett and was familiar with her music but not really The Runaways. So I did look up their old videos and pictures of them and when I saw her perform “Cherry Bomb” I knew that I really wanted to do that.
Q: Did being 15 years old while you shot this movie and the actual age that Cherie was during this period of time help you to connect with her?
Fanning: I think it did. I really liked that it was authentic and because of the subject matter I didn’t want people to think that I was trying to be older than I was or something like that and to be authentic to her age was important. I think that it just worked out and the timing was perfect.
Stewart: It’s such a Hollywood thing to hire older actresses to play younger parts and especially with this it would’ve totally erased the impact of what it was to watch girls that age behave like that.
Q: Who are you both inspired by musically?
Stewart: I was thinking what an interesting question that is for a musician yesterday. It’s weird that you say that because I was thinking, “What would my inspirations be if I made music?” I don’t know. I fiddle around with guitars but I don’t really make music. I don’t write songs or anything like that. So I don’t have that.
Fanning: I know. I wish I did.
Stewart: I have a lot of music that I like but I don’t have an inspiration. I really don’t.
Q: What about a favorite artist who has a show that you just have to go to?
Stewart: Yeah, I do. I have a couple but they’re interchangeable as well. The problem with actually saying these things in these interviews is that they follow you around and it’s really fleeting, the things that you’re into at the moment. It’s not that it can’t be, like, “Yeah, I liked that then,” or whatever but I always end up going, “Why did I say that?”
Q: Now the two of you have done a batch of projects together and now the press tour, aside from the work itself what’s bonded the two of you and how has your friendship grown and evolved?
Stewart: It’s weird to talk about your friends when they’re sitting here.
Fanning: Very weird.
Stewart: We’ve been doing it in interviews all day. Go.
Fanning: Throw me under the bus a little bit. I think that especially with this experience, it’s hard to describe but doing it, working this closely with someone you can’t help but really become bonded with them and it really helps when you actually like them and actually get along really well and you can become really good friends. I haven’t really done a lot of movies with people close to my own age to have a good friend like that. So I was excited to do that and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to do it with.
Q: And you guys got to get extra specially close during the filming of this movie. How was that?
Stewart: Extra specially [laughs]. I got the other one. You’re blushing a little bit. Okay, I’m sorry. It was cool. I didn’t mind it. No. The way that it happens in the script is so just a sort of moment in time and fun and natural and sort of impulsive and they don’t have that type of relationship, like, “Ooh, they’re closer than normal.” They’re just best friends and it was just that time. It was just sort of like that. So doing it was…
Fanning: It was just another thing.
Stewart: It was just another thing.
Q: Kristen, any looks from the movie that you could adopt or something that could turn into another trend?
Stewart: I think there are so many things that would be cool to come back. Not just the Joan cut, like the shag is really awesome. Her sort of shaggy type thing is really cool. The makeup is really dramatic and people made statements. People don’t really anymore. People used to have haircuts. People don’t do that anymore and they freak out if you get one. It’s weird if you don’t have long locks.
Q: Why do you think that Floria Sigismondi chose that opening scene?
Fanning: I think that it shows her innocence. Cherie was living in Marie’s shadow her whole life and she was not it shows her innocence. It shows that she’s not some…
Stewart: Plus, it also opens the movie and it’s like, “15!” That’s the first thing that you need to know, that these girls [are 15].
Fanning: And it’s like something in the end of the movie when you see how worn she is, how tired she is and how much she’s been through and you think that just a few months ago she was getting her period on the sidewalk freaking out. It brings it all back to the fact that inside she’s still so vulnerable and so innocent.
Q: Do you feel like at the time when Cherie decided to leave the band that Joan should’ve pushed her more to stay in it?
Stewart: Especially the way that their relationship was, they’re very independent people and they know themselves. I think it’s a really cool thing to watch two very different people choose the paths that are ultimately going to make them the most happy because it’s not a cop out what she’s doing. It’s not like, “Try harder to do drugs. Try harder to do something that’s not making you happy.” Joan would never do that. I really don’t know how that went. What we did in a scene sort of happened over probably a couple more occasions. I think it’s a really cool thing to see, actually.
Q: This movie goes a long way to breaking you both out of any preconceived public images and shows off your range as actresses. So beyond the whole “Twilight” phenomenon how do you foresee your professional and personal lives evolving and will you miss the “Twilight” period when it’s gone?
Fanning: I’m not a huge part of that. I’m just in a few scenes. But I’ll be sad when I don’t get to wear red contacts anymore.
Stewart: Yeah. As an actor, it’s the only opportunity that I’ve ever had to do something so concentrated and something that I love. I feel like I could go back to any character.
The Runaways opens in limited theatres March 19 and will open wide April 9.