Los Angeles — Not all child actors succeed in gaining momentum in their careers as adult actors so Kristen Stewart is a rare gem who did.
Now 30, Kristen started at the age of 12 as the daughter of Jodie Foster in “Panic Room.” She hit it big as Bella Swan in “The Twilight Saga” film series and today, the American-Australian actress, who is considered one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses, has done a variety of films and roles proving her mettle in drama and action.
And now we have her doing an LGBT holiday romance film opposite 33-year-old Canadian actress, Mackenzie Davis, in the Clea DuVall-helmed movie, “Happiest Season.”
We talked to both Kristen and Mackenzie and they revealed how they plan to celebrate the holidays, and how they prepared for their lesbian roles in their latest film.
Below are excerpts of our conversations with the two talented actresses:
In this film, the parents have no clue their daughter is gay. Can you share with us what it was like coming out to your parents?
What I do love about this movie is how it advocates for the variation in the coming out stories — that everyone has had a completely different experience doing it.
Mine was pretty unique in that I don’t think I really dealt with it. I don’t want this to come out the wrong way but I didn’t really care how it was going to affect everyone and I also never had a moment that I actually came out. I just fell in love with a girl for the first time.
It wasn’t like this unburdening feeling; it really was more surprising. I felt like my life was opening up in a way that I never really considered realistically. So rather than saying to my parents, like ‘hey I want to tell you guys, I hate to break it to you, (laughs).’
I didn’t think of it in those terms because I am lucky as hell, because I just didn’t think it was a bad thing. So, I was just like there is this new person in my life. Then having said that, I haven’t skirted all discomfort in terms of like identity and sexuality. I mean growing where I grew up, in the time that I grew up, I think you would have to be under the age of 20 and living in a city in the United States to ever really feel. I think you have to be like 15 years old and living in New York or Los Angeles or a metropolitan city in order to have felt truly untouched by judgement and really like negative leering judgement.
I’m positive that I grew up thinking it would be not what I would have chosen, to be a lesbian, that’s like harder, it’s gross and weird. People think it’s gross and weird. People in school think it’s weird. There’s no way around that.
So, I can relate to the feeling of being different and in the movie, standing tall within that, because I think that Abby really knows herself and she really wants to help Harper destigmatize this feeling.
But at the same time, it’s a really fringe feeling to feel as comfortable as I felt and I know what it feels like to talk to anyone who feels differently. It’s rampant and I’d say optimistically half the country doesn’t feel that way. (laughs)
So it’s hard to say that I haven’t had a hard coming out story, while still living in the world that we live in, but I was totally fine.
I told my parents I had a girlfriend; I was in love with her and it was a new thing and I really felt like this cool next step to my life where not only, it just opened up. It didn’t feel like I had realized something and unloaded.
In this film, you are ready to propose to your girlfriend. Have you ever thought of marriage? Is that something you would consider?
Yeah. I like traditions, I guess I like declarations of any kind. I love a grand statement. Like it’s funny, the best thing in life is to know something, because it never really happens and it’s such a rare feeling when you feel sure about something and sticking a stake in the ground on that level is something that I do find attractive.
Having said that, I do have complicated feelings about this sanctimonious nature of it all. I would say I would get married in my own way, but I wouldn’t necessarily do it. Look, you can promise yourself to someone in front of a bunch of other people and not have to do it in the way that it’s been presented my whole life. But I still am really inspired by the commitment of it.
Does the marriage include children? A traditional home?
Four walls, a strong door, a fireplace to keep you warm. (Laughs) Yeah of course. Of course, I want a family, yeah absolutely. I want all the things that all normal people want.
Coming out was not a big deal for you or your parents but was it a big deal for your business partners? Did you have to calm them down?
I don’t take personal credit for that moment. It really was me as an individual growing with the times and I just felt like there was no way in hell that you could – first of all, I wasn’t really living in the closet. I was always like holding my girlfriend’s hand in public and I told my parents and bla bla bla — but I don’t like telling people in interviews deeply personal things because it just feels as though they’re going away with them and selling them for money.
I’m like excuse me, that is mine and so only when I looked up and realized that it is. It was a life-changing thing to say it and I didn’t realize that I hadn’t said it even though I hadn’t, do you know what I mean like I felt so indignant too. I was like, I’m fully out. I make out with my girlfriend on the street all the time. People take photos of it every day. I’m obviously gay but there was something about saying it and knowing that it was being heard and set on a platform like that, so it’s amazing and if that encourages anyone to dip a toe in the pool of incredible, I’m out like it does feel great.
The director sees this film as a Christmas film, not so much as a gay film. So how do you celebrate Christmas? What are your traditions?
I haven’t lived at home since I was 17 but I’m obsessed with having the tree because when I was younger, if I hadn’t made the tree happen, it might not have gotten decorated until Christmas Eve, which I know is the tradition for some people. But I want to see the tree decorated for a month. I want to sit around it and enjoy it for longer than one night. So, I was always the one that decorated it, made it happen.
So now I got the Christmas decorations from my family. They live at my house because I’m the one that’s obsessed with the tree. I love putting up my own. If I had to go to Rite-Aid and get a bunch of bobbles, every single thing I put on my tree I have grown up with. I’ve had them since I was a very little kid. That’s my favorite part, that’s me ok. Christmas has started and I like a month of it.
How do you plan to celebrate this year?
Every Christmas I go and eat Thai food because I live right next to Thaitown and that’s the only food that’s really open on Christmas.
To be honest, my plans this year are strange because you can’t see anyone but I’m going to go and see my mom. We’re going to get tested before because there are ample testing sites in Los Angeles right now. It’s probably going to be tough that weekend but I’ll go sit in line and do that.
My family’s a motley crew. We’ll stand in the kitchen and eat food and maybe exchange a gift. It’s really not about gifts anymore it’s just like if we’re all in the same place at the same time, we just get together and say hey.
It’s funny what makes Christmas feel different. It’s literally just this thing you wake up and you go, oh my God it is Christmas, it actually is Christmas right now. And it makes the day feel different, every step of the way. Small things that make it feel special. Even though they’ll be different this year, they’ll be there.
What do you think is your higher calling?
I want to be a filmmaker; I want to make movies. There’s really been a pretty fanatical direction to my life and I can’t really imagine swaying from telling stories through cinema but at the same time, those experiences always led me to the most cathartic personal experiences that I have had and led me to everything that I have discovered in my life has been through filmmaking. I really do want to keep doing that, but who knows where that will take me.
And what do you do to improve your wellness and say goodbye to bad vibes?
I really love kickboxing. I love my dogs. I’m a pretty optimistic person, like I’m a pretty positive glass half full person naturally. Obviously, it’s not always easy, especially recently, the fear that’s gone into this year has been like so consuming and I found it really interesting how my body has reacted to it. I had more anxiety when I was younger. I didn’t sleep very well. I have been sleeping very well. I feel lucky to be in such an admittedly, horrifically intense time. I feel great personally. I say that with the full awareness of the world in which I am saying that in.
What were your Christmas traditions and how do you plan to celebrate it this year?
I grew up in a very Christmas heavy household. We did the full laying out of snacks for Santa the night before. My father would put his boots in coal. There was a lot of mythology about Santa Claus living in my house. My parents really labored to keep it alive, which I appreciate.
Then we had really specific traditions at our house. We’d have to wait at the top of the stairs in the morning. My dad would take a picture of both my sister and I at the top of the stairs before we were allowed to go downstairs to see the tree. Then at a certain point, I guess when I went to university, we all agreed to just stop giving each other presents and we started spending every Christmas together but there was no tradition left. I’m making it sound sad but it’s actually quite nice.
It’s this really un-stressful time of the year that I know I’ll be with my family that I don’t normally get to see more than once or twice a year. There’s none of that attendant anxiety about getting Christmas gifts and having lots of people in your house. It’s evolved into this really peaceful loving just family time with no grief really.
This year, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I was feeling really anxious about it because I’m in London now and my family’s in Vancouver. But luckily, I have work bringing me back to Canada so since I’m going to be back there for six months inevitably, I can justify getting there two weeks early and being with my family. But I was really broken up about it for a while. It just didn’t feel like an ok thing to do this year.
And working with Kristen Stewart? Did you help each other?
I think I’m just so lucky that Clea (the director) cast the movie the way that she did. There was full of joy on set every day. Kristen and I just got each other. We really got along and were interested in each other right away. We just built this really immediate friendship and affection for each other.
So, it just felt so supported and loving and also challenging. Kristen’s an incredible actress and she’s so present and engaged that it really pushes you to not phone anything in, which hopefully you’re never doing (Laughs) anyways. But she’s beyond engaged so you feel this extra push to never go light on yourself. I just loved working with her; I admired working with her so much and I think she’s such a funny wonderful person.
What did you do when you found out that Santa Claus was not for real?
What I’m about to say (Laughs) makes me sound like a just child psychopath. I knew for a couple years before I ‘fessed up to it. I remember the year that I really knew and got it and being just a little liar actress.
I really wanted this…do you remember Dr. Dreadful? So, there was this Dr. Dreadful like home laboratory where you’d make jelly candies in the shape of scorpions and vials would overflow with green goo. To this day, there are very few things I’ve coveted as much as the Dr. Dreadful kit and I wanted it so badly that Christmas that I kept the lie up. My parents also knew, like we were all aware of what I was doing but I just committed to it to get the Dr. Dreadful kit. I got it and it was great.
What is the biggest secret you had to break to your parents?
I mean anything I am going to say is so pathetic compared to the story. You know, when I was 18 or 19 my friend and I branded each other with hot knives and we have these scars on our hips from it and it healed very badly for me and was quite a disgusting scar. I had to hide it from my parents for about 10 years. When I was 28 or 29, I finally got them to see me in a bathing suit when we were all on holiday without hiding my legs because I felt that they would be very worried about me and my choices. But then I was like it’s okay, I’ve proved. I’ll be okay and then they can’t worry about now. But they were still very alarmed so there’s nothing on the scale of hiding my true identity.