What a difference a year makes. During the press train for “Twilight” 12 months ago, Kristen Stewart looked increasingly ill at ease whether she was doing a one on one interview, appearing on a TV talk show or making a public appearance to promote what became one of the surprise blockbusters of 2008. With the sequel “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” part of the media spotlight since production was announced soon after, Stewart hasn’t gotten much of a break from the public eye. That sort of pressure could drive many actors to become even more distant and cold with the press, but imagine this, the opposite seems to have occurred with the 19-year-old better known as Bella to most “Twilight” fans.
As she appeared at a press conference at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles on Friday, Stewart was calm, confident, energetic and almost at peace with the 24/7 spectacle her life has become. Most of the journalists who have covered Stewart over the past year from “Twilight” to “Adventureland” through Comic-Con weren’t just pleasantly surprised, they were a bit dumbfounded at this new and improved Stewart.The much in demand actress went into many “New Moon” details including working with director Chris Weitz, her love of playing Bella, the responsibility she feels to the fans, how proud she is of co-star Taylor Lautner’s performance and eloquently explaining her “controversial” comments from Comic-Con that got some franchise fans in a tizzy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Moreover, Stewart brought the contrasts between “New Moon” and the just completed third installment, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” into focus for fans by noting, “what I really like about ‘Eclipse’ what was great for me to explore was different levels of love and acknowledging that the ideals that maybe you had a little while ago aren’t true. Bella is innately honest and that’s something I feel that she is. And in ‘Eclipse’ she lies to herself and everyone around her about the fact that she’s in love in Jacob just not as much.”
And she may have also remarked on just how scary Victoria will be played by Ms. Bryce Dallas Howard.
You can read the complete transcript of the press conference below, but at the end of the story you can also listen to the complete audio of a confident and cool Stewart taking on those pesky entertainment journalists. As one “Twilight” fan remarked, “it looks like our little Kristen is all grown up.” Indeed she has.
Q: How has this year been with so many stories breaking on ‘New Moon’ all the time?
I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable about talking about myself and knowing what you say people are really going to take into consideration. That always intimidated me so much that I minced every word that came out of my mouth because I was so concerned about how it was going to sound and I didn’t want to come across insincere about something I really love to do. So, I realized that instead of refraining from saying, ‘I put my heart and soul into this thing and I love it.’ That’s what I should have said instead of, y’know the really logical, analytical reason why I love it. you just do. So, I have gotten more comfortable with it. The whole rumor and tabloid stuff is so obviously false to me even before I became a part of it that I was sort of the star — it’s like a show. It’s like a ridiculous show.
Q: A soap opera with your name in it?
Like with false realism. A soap opera that seems real, but you’re not sure quite sure. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t take it personally. Luckily, since I’ve had so much experience it’s gotten easier to talk about the work.
Q: What about the work on this one?
I had a really good time on this movie. It was really intense. Just because of the nature of the story it goes in a different direction. We undermine the first. We establish a very ideological idea of love and basically we tell our main character, our protagonist, she was wrong. And it’s like where is our story going to be left if Edward’s not there. What I really love about ‘New Moon’ is that you really see this girl build herself back up and by the time she makes the sort of ‘rash’ decision to spend eternity with a vampire she’s in a position that you actually believe her. OK, you’re old enough, you’re mature enough to know, to have lived life. She grows up. And yeah, I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. (Laughs.)
Q: The scenes with Victoria are really harrowing in this. I’ve been wondering what it’s been like working with Bryce Dallas Howard in that role in “Eclipse”?
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 she’s not around she’s scared that she’s coming back. So, Bryce is such a good actress and it was easy to be scared of her.
Q: Can you take about breaking in your new director? How did you work with Chris?
Chris has everything. I think to be a good director you have to be a good person and you have to care about people and I don’t know a more compassionate human being. I couldn’t have done this unless I had such a believable environment and comfortable safe environment to be comfortable in. And he provided that ten fold. He’s one of the smartest, funniest guys I know. And he really loves the project as well. He’s not just about jumping on the next big thing. So, it wasn’t about breaking him in at all. He only helped make everything – he made everything what it is. He’s incredible. l love him.
Q: He gave you guys guide books when he came in? How did that help you?
Chris did a cool thing that I’ve never had a director do, he put together like a syllabus almost of what we were supposed to achieve and how he was going to make it easier for everyone and introduction on how he liked to work. And it covered not only — it didn’t only introduce the idea of collaboration it was like inviting everyone on to this project and saying, ‘Please, everyone love it and please everyone be invested and work hard.’ You know what I mean? It also had technical aspects of like how he was so sorry that so much of the movie was going to be CGI stuff we were going to be reacting to, but he was always going to make us aware of what we were acting with and he was never going to leave us high and dry. A lot of effects movies are hard to do because you don’t know what you are reacting to. So, he had a full rundown of how he planned on making the movie. And most directors are like, y’know, ‘Have you put together notes for our meeting?’ ‘Uh, no, that’s your job.’ So, yeah, he’s amazing. I love him.
Q: Taylor is on the verge of becoming such a huge star and obviously we know how the books are going and how things are going to unfold. However, if you could just wipe the slate clean do you really think she wouldn’t have gone with fine, old Jacob?
I know. Trust me. I feel you completely. (Laughs.)
Q: Can you talk about Taylor? Because there was such a controversy of being in the movie and he does such an incredible job.
Totally. Yeah, I think that controversy has probably been made bigger than it was. We needed to make sure that whoever played Jacob was going to be Jacob in ‘New Moon.’ He becomes a man, it’s not just a physical transformation. He becomes an adult. And I always knew Taylor could do that, we just needed to make sure 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 different experience. He’s literally become a different person. He’s so grown up. He’s so confident and like the nicest guy I’ve ever met. And I know I am using this grammatically incorrect, but he’s like the funest guy I have ever hung out with. He’s great. I’m so proud of him.
Q: Filming on these have gone on so fast. Can you talk about that and do you think you’re ever going to remember any of it in five years, etc.?
Right. Um, there is already a lot of stuff where I have to say, ‘O.K. Kristen. Be here, experience.’ Y’know what I mean? ‘Make sure this isn’t just another fleeting situation that you are going to barely remember.’ You have to force yourself to sort of be present. But I feel like that — the fact 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 have an influx of them, so I’ve had the coolest two years. I’m like so lucky.
Q: What is it like to work in Vancouver? Do you have any favorite hangouts?
I love Vancouver. When we are 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 do you like about it? What are your favorite spots in the city?
I just like being outside there. I don’t have favorite spots. The climate is so different from what I’m used to and 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?
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 motorcycles is just never going to be something I’m into. I was towed ridiculously. I was like on the back of a truck and I probably looked ridiculous doing it. Taylor rode motorcycles really well. There’s this one scene which is undeniably him. I left that to him. I wasn’t about to do that. I don’t think they would let me necessarily. They have more faith in Taylor to do that sort of stuff.
Q: Would you ride on the back with a guide though?
Yeah, I did that. I did that. And I didn’t like it. It’s like so precarious. I don’t know if you’ve been on it, 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 parts of being so phenomenally popular and what are some of the challenging parts?
Um, I think my favorite thing about this is the fact that I can keep it personal. It’s still something that if the saga didn’t become a franchise and it was literally just a series of movies that I had done they would mean just as much to me. And that’s also the best part of the fact it isn’t like that. The fact that so many people are affected by it and invested in it just like me if not more, that only makes it more — like I said about Chris if you don’t like people and you don’t want to make movies because you care about people you probably are just wanting to be rich and famous. So, the fact that this is so important to so many people makes me so happy. And that’s it. I think that’s it.
Q: Being a celebrity today seems so much crazier than it was 5 or 10 years ago. I’m curious, you guys have such an avid fan base. How do you draw the line between what your fans want to know about your private life?
Right. Um, I dunno. I don’t think anybody could get a handle. 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 so much easier — it’s not like it was a turning point. I’ve just grown into being able to not care as much and to not try and think I’m gonna be able to plan out how everybody perceives me. There are no false impressions. Everybody’s impression is what it’s going to be in that isolated moment. It’s people not considering where you at that moment when you give that impression. Um, and that I’m fine with. I’m gonna own what I’m gonna own and this sort of sounds like — what I’m talking about is what I’m talking…(Laughs). I should just stop trying to control what is coming out of my mouth. I’m always going to keep what is close to me mine. People are always going to want — and I completely understand since we are playing characters who are so coveted by so many people and I get why they want to know more about us and they want us to be together and all that and I have to just not think about it.
Q: Hi Kristen. How did filming in Italy add to the romance of your character?
The fact we didn’t have to be in a set and we were really in Italy, it makes it so much easier to immerse yourself in the world. I mean it was so cool that we got to to go Italy and we didn’t have to fake it cause I think it really did add — I’m totally taking Chris’ words now — a scope to the film that wouldn’t otherwise be there. To go to forks to Italy is such a stark contrast and romantic just in the idea of it. So, then just to be there and feel it. Yeah, of course it helps to have the real environment.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the break up scene with Edward and how hard it was to do that? I know a lot of young girls in the audience were crying watching that.
Oh, that’s good. (Laughs.) Um, that was the scariest thing. I was almost worried about messing it up as I was about what I actually should have been thinking about which was the issues that Bella is dealing with. Reading it, it’s such an iconic — there’s nothing even like it in reality. It’s not like a normal break up scene because I know what it’s like to be broken up with, but I don’t know what it’s like to be broken up with by a vampire who I have no been physically and chemically altered by. It’s like suddenly you take an addict you take what ever they are addicted to away from them. It’s like there is withdrawl. So, that was the most intimidating scene in the entire movie and I don’t know how to explain. Chris really helped me out. It was just about feeling like — it was just about talking. I dunno. It was just about talking to him and reading the book and I had no other actors to play off. The break up scene that I did with Rob that’s not where it happens yet. That is not what I was intimidated by. She doesn’t even believe it yet. It’s when he goes. It’s the absence of him that I was scared of. How am I going to, by myself, in the woods, with 100 guys standing around me ‘die’? Basically, literally have the equivalent of having a death scene but stay alive and stay up and keep walking. It was hard. I mean, I’ve seen the movie and I really like the movie, but I don’t know if anybody would be able to bring that to life the way Stephenie writes it.
Q: Other than that were there any other challenging scenes or moments for you?
Um, yeah. This for me is the most difficult, hardest, I want to define it more. It’s the most emotionally conflicted. Bella is so sure all the time and this is the one movie where she is actually baffled and totally ‘I dunno.’ And it’s weird to play Bella like that because she’s so not like that. And, um, 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. I had to do things with Jacob where I was alive and happy and out of this depressing thing and then after lunch and scream in my bed for six hours. So, that was difficult.
Q: What’s been the craziest moment you’ve had with these fans so far?
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 and some just like crazy. And then sometimes they are really funny. Like I was in Brazil and me and Taylor went to Latin America this time and Rob was in Japan and that’s just how it goes sometimes. We are sent all over. It means nothing like who we are with. And this guy was chasing after us. I mean, there was a huge crowd anyway, but this one very persistent fella was like ‘Where is Hobert? Where is Hobert?’ And I couldn’t stop laughing because I felt very bad because he was distraught and emotional, but I was like, ‘It’s Robert.’ And it was really funny. I found that funny. Sometimes you get letters which are reassuring when everybody is saying one thing about you. If you have one person say, ‘Look’ — it’s funny when you can actually relate to the fans on a human level and it happens all the time and people assume that that’s impossible. So, when that happens it’s a cool thing.
Q: Have you ever been scared?
Scary? No, I am scared of crowds, but individually no, of course not. But just personally I’m intimidated by a lot of people.
Q: Kristen, I have two questions. When it was announced Chris Weitz was directing, Stephenie Meyer was quoted as saying, ‘Let’s see how a man does with the movie.’ And I was wondering if you had any trepidation at all of changing from changing from Catherine Hardwicke and a woman’s perspective to a man’s perspective. And second of all, do you see this character at all as an example for young women because Bella sort of is in control of a lot of her decisions. So, do you see her as an example?
Great. I think that Bella is such a good character not for girls to look up to. It’s not looking up. The fact that she’s normal and 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 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 gonna do it. And I’m gonna do it right now. I’m not gonna be ashamed of it.’ You know what I mean? And Bella is very much like that. Yeah, so I think she’s a good example for a young girl. And the director thing? Everyone is different. I’m not smart enough to sit here and analyze whether a female would have more in touch. Both characters that the protagonist deals with are men, so everyone approaches relationships different and I can’t really think of an answer.
Q: How do you feel about people relating to you in real life and Robert too. How do you take it?
I totally understand why people have a hard time separating ourselves from our characters and it’s also just sort of how our world is going. People are obsessed with it’s such a — there is an incredibly large group of people spending 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 because I step in and mess it up for myself and I can’t do it in a way that is complete. So, I just let fall by the wayside and it doesn’t really affect me.
Q: You talked about trying to enjoy the film. Is there a memory from the set that was particularly fun that sticks with you?
The one moment that really — throughout the filming of ‘New Moon.’ We wrapped in Italy. The last thing I did I was running through a square around this bunch of people. And it was just this one little part of that montage where I’m running through. And there was so many people around and there was so much energy and you could just feel that everybody was just expecting that the done date like we’re almost finished. And I can’t turn off. I need to be fully and completely on up until that last moment. I remember the second we wrapped and I said at Comic-Con that my favorite moment of ‘New Moon’ was when we wrapped and people took it like the wrong way. It wasn’t like I was so glad that we were done, it was the most memorable moment for me because I literally fell apart. I literally went like, ‘Auuugh.’ It’s like I couldn’t handle it and it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had on a movie so far and Chris was there and it was something we had really. It just felt really good. And that was the most memorable experience.
Q: How attached are you to playing Bella?
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 at all not thought out or flippant. I’d be right there to say [you were wrong]. I’m so defensive of her. So, yeah, I like her a lot. I think I can say yes.
Q: Can you tell us any moments that really stand out about making ‘Eclipse’ and what David Slade is like to work with?
Yeah, ‘Eclipse’ is just like ‘New Moon’ sort of starts and becomes a completely different movie, so is ‘Eclipse.’ Just when you think you’re gonna get the same story all of a sudden it just completely changes. Bella is much more she is back to herself. She is comfortable and self assured. In a way that she wasn’t in ‘New Moon.’ And what I really like about ‘Eclipse’ what was great for me to explore was different levels of love and acknowledging that the ideals that maybe you had a little while ago aren’t true. Bella is innately honest and that’s something I feel that she is. And in ‘Eclipse’ she lies to herself and everyone around her about the fact that she’s in love in Jacob just not as much. It’s just not that extra thing that you can’t really even describe and I loved watching — I loved playing with the three characters together. There is literally a scene where Jacob and Edward who are mortal enemies with a sleeping Bella in between them and it’s a ridiculous circumstance to find yourself in. So, the story was — we had so much to work with. And the effects themselves, there is a big battle that happens and that was more than we had to deal with on ‘New Moon’ so it was cool. I have always gotten to do things for a really short time. To follow a character this long is like it surprised me every time. I can’t wait to do the fourth one, because I’m sure I’m going to come in next year and say that everything I said this time was wrong. I mean, ‘I actually know Bella more now, blah, blah.’ And we actually have such an established dynamic. The way I know Bella deals with Edward, you 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 to come in with that process you always get a different perspective. So, OK, so let’s see what you’ve got. He came up with a lot of stuff that I’d never have thought of. And he’s quite good at the whole technical aspect of moviemaking which is so over my head. So, I got to feel safe that he had that handled. And me and Rob and Taylor just did our thing.
Q: Speaking of a fourth film, have you heard of a start date? And I’ve heard rumors it might be two movies? Is there any truth to that?
I dunno. (Laughs.)
Q: How do you relate to the immorality when you…
How do you relate to it when it’s nothing any of us have ever..? Right? O.K., I can only relate to that as Bella can because she’s human. I think that’s an interesting question for any one of the vampires because the way I consider immorality because I’m Kristen and my perspective as Bella is that it’s so completely unknown, but that given the right motivating factor I’d be wiling to explore it. She’s very willing to admit she doesn’t know, but she’s willing to give it a chance because of Edward. Because she’s willing to sacrifice anything for him basically. But, a big thing for Bella is change. She’s so terrified of change because she’s been thrust into this world. And it’s not necessarily a very healthy way of looking at things because nothing is going way. I should be at work right now talking to Chris. (Laughs.) Basically, if you are facing something that is completely unknown but you are wiling 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 scary in our story than morality. To live forever on the surface seems like a really cool thing, but in our story it’s terrifying. And in our story that means taking your soul or at least to Edward. So, the lines of personal belief or theology like you’re faith or what you think is going to happen when you die, these are things we think about like incessantly in the movie and even things that Bella and Edward argue about. Sorry, there ya go.
Q: How do you balance playing someone who is so introverted like Bella and then playing someone like Joan Jett who is real?
Right. Um, I can only play characters that I feel that they are real people in a complete way, in such a whole way that I fake any aspect of it I have failed them and they are slaughtered and 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 through just her now, but through footage, through the script and the story and 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 gestures being right, I really wanted to do a good impersonation I didn’t want it to be an imitation. I wanted it to be natural. Playing Joan Jett has nothing to do with playing Bella. It was a small period of time to do it, but it was an opportunity that I jumped on because it was going to go away. I would have liked more time, but like I said about walking on set and seeing all the characters and Rob and Taylor, it’s instantly just get me right back in the right mindset. It’s vague, but what I do is literally so vague it’s so oddly ambiguous.
Q: You talked about Bella being a good role model for good girls, but she seems to do anything for Edward, but when she gets this depression about this love affair she becomes this adrenalin junkie who is trying to kill herself in a way. And I’m just wondering aren’t you worried about 12 or 13-year-old girls who are obsessed with this thing seeing this stuff on screen and really getting a terrible idea to kids?
It’s a very extreme story. I think the kids who take to the story need to be a bit more mature than that. And I think the only reason they take to it is because they are. Um, the only way I can justify that and maybe I’m an immature girl as well is that I really feel that if you really need to do it, you need to do it. And ‘it’ being anything. And after you are told that you’ve made a mistake and you’re wrong? If you’re wiling to say you’ve made a mistake and ‘I was wrong and I’m going to try the next thing’ there is nothing unadmirable — there is 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 immorality/morality, but you live once. So, I mean I’m not just trying to preach to anybody, I’m just standing behind the story, but that’s what I think.