In March, we revealed Kristen Stewart as our June Cover star: Twitter went wild. The next day, we shot her, met her got to know her. Now its your turn.
So what’s driving Kristen?
Kristen Stewart is not sullen. Not for the duration of our interview, is she withdrawn, reluctant to speak or wearing a pained expression. No nerves seem to be affecting her, making her appear on edge or keyed up. She is not hiding behind her hair nor looking longingly towards the exit. In short, Kristen Stewart is nothing like I had led to believe.
That Kristen is all surprising is, well, surprising, this is a 22 year old woman whose every hairstyle, musical preference and favoured brand of trainers are pored over, disclosed and dissected by millions. If she mentions an album she’s listening to iTunes will see a serge in downloads.
When we tweeted from the shoot in Los Angeles, the hashtag #KristenELLE became the number-one worldwide trending topic. The intimate details of her likes, dislikes, loathes and movements are considered public property and shared accordingly. All of which means that when it comes to Kristen, you could be forgiven for thinking we know everything there is to know. But has she been holding out on us?
Some things are as you’d expect. Today she’s dressed exactly like every other ‘off-duty’ Kristen paparazzi image you’ve ever seen: vest, hoodie, blue jeans and bright yellow plimsolls (the ones she wore as Alison or Mallory in Welcome to The Rileys). And physically she is instantly recognisable from her on-screen persona: not skin-and-bones thin, but so petite that the high backed chair appears to dwarf her 5ft 6in frame; long, shampoo-advert-worthy hair raked casually to one side; she’s very pale, and freckled; it’s all set of by her eyes so clear and assessing I have to shake the idea that I’m the one up for inspection.
During the day she hangs back from all the hoopla of photographers and assistants, but she’s at ease, she goes through the rail of clothes ELLE has brought, enthusing over the Miu Miu satin cropped top and skirt on our subscribers cover.
She is described as fiercely private with tedious regularity, mostly because she doesn’t want to- alright, won’t – talk about Robert Pattinson, who is probably her boyfriend but who knows for sure – because – remember? She doesn’t like talking about it. She’s been explicit about her reasons for not discussing it, saying “I’m selfish. I’m like ‘that’s mine!’ ”But she has also said, ‘Come on, guys, its like so obvious.’ And, between the public displays of almost affection at premieres and the grainy camera-phone shots of the pair out and about together, looking scruffy and beautiful and young. It kind of is.
But, still, she’s not going to talk about it, so lets shift our gaze to what is talked about less often: What is it that makes her, well happy? What is her all consuming passion? What does she really love?
The answer explains perfectly why she considers the downsides of this modern Hollywood life worth wile. Because what she really, really loves is her job. It’s a physical thing. She says passionately, without a moment of hesitation. ‘I F***ing love everything about [acting]. I love movies. I love what they do. I am just so fueled by it like nothing else in my life.’ (Pattinson, its worth noting, seems sweetly in awe of Kristen’s professional drive. ‘[She] is very focused on being an actress,’ he has said. ‘I mean, that’s what she is…. she’s an actress, whereas I just don’t know.’)
Kristen made her Hollywood debut in 2002’s Panic Room. She still cites working with Jodie Foster on the movie as one of her favourite experiences. ‘I was really lucky, Jodie’s incredibly professional but she’s not too professional because she’s so cool. She’s another member of the crew. I love that and it’s completely influenced me.’ It’s not hard to imagine that’s exactly the kind of career Kristen wants to have; it’s not hard to imagine her achieving it, either.
But it’s her ultra-normal background that she claims really motivated her career choice. ‘I’m really boring; things I would want to read about have not happened to me. But that’s the reason you read those books and watch those movies. This job is just crazy, different step forward from be able to watch a movie. It’s like I’m truly walking in to someone else’s shoes, I get to live there. And I want to do that because I’m pretty sure I have something to learn each time. Even if that’s learning how to f***ing ride a horse in Show White.’
Snow White and The Huntsman is Kristen’s latest release. And despite the twilight behemoths, this blockbuster registers as an unusual choice: outside vampire romance, character-driven roles in lo-fi productions have been more her style. After the first Twilight installment – which she signed on for when it was a low budget, low expectations affair – she took the role of a teen runaway-turned-prostitute in Welcome to The Riley’s. Her other credits include parts as a turbulent teenage in Adventureland, an acclaimed performance as a young Joan Jett in The Runaways and a still to be seen Marylou in Jack Kerouac’s classic on the road (this is one you can sense she enjoyed the most. Just turning up and looking pretty isn’t going to secure Kristen’s services, so what was it about Snow White and The Huntsman that made her turn in to a princess? ‘It’s a war movie and an identity-crisis movie,’ she explains. ‘Basically, she goes to jail when she’s seven and gets out when she’s 18. She’s so stunted that essentially she’s still a child, even though she’s already a woman. When she comes out she’s got to save people, but she hasn’t experienced anything like they have. She’s very isolated, She has all these feelings she doesn’t really know why yet, and I can relate to that.’
Reliability might just be the secret to what Kristen does so well. Making complicated, contradictory characters seem understandable is her skill. Even classic lovelorn teen Bella presents a quandary – is she prepared to die for a boy, a killer, she’s just met? – but Kristen makes each dilemma seem real. Welcome to the Riley’s sex worker is tougher to sell, but the actress took pleasure in curve-balling her Twilight audience with that choice. ‘I think it’s a great I did a movie that a whole load of young girls wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. I knew they were going, “S**t, she’s playing a f**king prostitute!” But I think now everybody probably looks back and goes, “It’s f**king cool she did that”.’
Does the responsibility of being a role model weigh heavy on her shoulders? ‘I don’t apply it to the choices I made,’ she says. ‘I feel like a role model is not necessarily somebody you want to imitate, just someone you admire. I look at characters I play sometimes and think, “F**k, I would like to be like that.”’ Like Joan Jett? ‘Exactly, it makes sense to me why other people don’t just look at that person, they look at me. Anyone who happens to choose to look up to me it’s like, ‘But I’m literally you, I’m looking up to the characters you’re admiring me for choosing”.’
But it’s not just about her roles. She herself has been a positive influence on many. The way she would rather feel comfortable than wear the typical Hollywood starlet uniforms, both on and off the red carpet, is a worthwhile message. A Yigal Azrouel dress with Converse All Stars was her outfit of choice for an early premiere, and though the dress for Breaking Dawn’s London screening two years later was a Roberto Cavalli affair, she still made no attempt to hide the moment she changed from her heels in to trainers. I think she can take credit for showing a generation of young women that it’s OK to be different.
She nods, considering the idea. ‘It’s weird, at school I was torn apart for not wearing a certain brand of jeans,’ she says. ‘It nearly killed me. I was so embarrassed and so insecure, but I knew I could never put them on, I would look ridiculous’
Kristen’s early start in acting meant a standard education was impossible. I bring up a comment she made about certain teachers failing her. Her clear eyes roll. ‘When I said they literally failed me, I meant they literally failed me. As in, I got F’s!’
Does it bother her, being misrepresented? ‘You grow callouses,’ She shrugs. Which might account for the impression people her of her being slightly guarded a touch of cool. She will concede that there’s something to the image, though. ‘I don’t say I’m not magnetic to try and sound self-deprecating,’ she says. ‘I’m just not. I’m pretty good at….’ Repelling people? ‘Yeah. Though actually I love people. I would like to meet more people. I know no one.’
Well, not no on – though it’s clear her friends come mainly through work, the unifying factor being they are all people who inspire her in some way; talent s what turns her on. Rupert Sanders, director of Snow White and The Huntsman, for example won her adulation because, ‘Considering how young and fresh he is it’s like f**king awesome he’s got such balls.’ And then there’s her new fashion friend, Balenciaga’s, Nicholas Ghesquire (who seems to have a knack of collecting cool women around him; he counts Charlotte Gainsbourg, Irina Lazareanu, Jennifer Connelly and Francoise Hardy as muses alongside Kristen). She’s at a pains to explain there is more than just a paid-face-of-the-fragrance relationship. ‘I didn’t have to go to Paris [for the Balenciaga show in March]. I really love Nicholas,’ she says. ‘We’re buds now, I love being around him.’
Kristen has sat front row not only at Balenciaga but also at Burberry and Mullberry, though fashion is a world she carefully chooses when and how to enter. ‘It makes me excited because of how little I’ve had to do with it,’ she says, enthusing about the ‘unbelievable’ Balenciaga archive Ghesquire shown her on a previous visit. Her natural style is ‘not experimental’, she admits. ‘ I just wear very functional clothes. When i’m in London I feel so dressed down and young Californian. Even if I try to look nice when I go out for dinner, I just don’t have a thing. I will always wear no socks and be like, “F**k, it’s freezing what am I doing?”
That’s not to say she’s forced in to her red carpet outfits. “I know a lot of people who are able to take it in to their lives, people who are quiet chic all the time. For me it really is like there’s a time and a place – I love doing it but it fits in to a particular part of my life.’ Parts of her life like the ELLE style awards in 2012, where she wore a Pucci dress with a jacket by LA Label 1020 by Nicole. She works with a stylist for promotional tours, but says she is ‘incredibly picky. I know as soon as I put something on, “OK, I will wear this.’
At some point will we be seeing Kristen Stewart the director? ‘I want to direct movies. Sometimes I think, ‘God, I want to do that, I want to do that next.” But then I work with someone who’s great at what they do and I think, “I’m not there yet”.’ I ask whether she wants to escape for a while but despite acknowledging a breaking would be a good idea, she dismisses it.
Is there something apart from the thrill of a new work challenge that drives her? When is she really happy, I ask? ‘In my car with the right friend – I like to drive, I like to be in LA, it feels like “Ahhhhh.”So I would say if the right song came on, Windows down that’s a great feeling. To just be excited to be moving, to be like, “Here we are”.’
Final question, I promise as the evening turns chilly: how would you describe yourself? ‘I don’t know,’ She hedges. ‘I was going to say that I really like what I do. I really love what I do. I think the most interesting part of me, literally, Is what I do.’
Scans & Transcript thanks to KStewartUK | via chloelouisea, RKbubbles & Alice_InTwiLand