Somewhere along her up-up-and-away path to stardom, Kristen Stewart acquired a certain blogosphere rep for being aloof, sullen, and allergic to smiley faces. None of that’s actually true, but listen: If you like your K-Stew with a dash of sulky self-possession, you’ll want to see Still Alice. The emotional A-bomb of a film stars Julianne Moore as an academic seized by early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and Stewart as her middle child, a moody, struggling actress flanked by two straight-A siblings. (Kate Bosworth plays the eldest, a lawyer, and Hunter Parrish is the youngest, a med school student.) In the film—which just nabbed a Golden Globe for Moore’s outstanding performance—Stewart is by turns selfless and bratty, fiercely stubborn and sweetly insecure. By the end of the movie, you’ll have loved her, hated her, wept with her…and probably obsessed about her perfect mess of hair, too.
But if you’d like to meet the real Stewart—or at least, a small but candid piece of her—scroll down. We sat with the Twilight mega-star in Manhattan’s Crosby Street Hotel to talk about Oscars, liars, and how to not pose for photos.
Thank you. It’s such an important film—people need to be talking about this issue—but it also made me paranoid as hell. Anytime I can’t think of a word, I get nervous that it’s a symptom. Last week, my dad couldn’t think of a word. That’s fucking terrifying.
I got “dub step” and “Diplo” confused today…
That’s not terrifying. That’s just hysterical.
You’ve spoken in the past about wanting to work with Julianne Moore. Did you say “yes” to this movie immediately?
There was a very narrow chance I would say ‘no’ to a film that Julianne was already attached to. At the same time, there’s always a chance that you read something fantastic and absolutely worthwhile in every way, but that does not mean that it’s in you to play [the part]. And so I was incredibly relieved once I read the script. I was like, “I can so play her daughter!” It’s always nice to not have to force things.
What’s the best part about working with her?
Working with Julianne Moore is a reason why I love making movies… People see a film like this and say, “Oh, Kristen’s so good in this movie!” and I’m like, “Yeah, I was good because I was acting with someone good! Someone that I couldn’t lie to!” And that’s just straight up what it is.
So great actors inspire great performances, and bad actors make everyone around them suck?
Well, the reason an audience is feeling something is because we the actors are feeling something, too. There has to be some honest connection between you and the character, or it doesn’t work. I mean, nobody’s that good of a liar! Well… I guess there are a few actors that are great liars…
I bet there are.
It doesn’t matter, we don’t need to get into that!
In this movie, you and Kate Bosworth—who plays your big sister—have a pretty nasty fight. And it’s so funny, but it’s so mean!
You know, that scene was mostly improvised. We made up that whole thing. Alec [Baldwin, who plays our father] decided when he would break us up. And there were a couple of takes where he just stood way back, and he was like, ‘Okay girls, let it go!’ And we couldn’t stop until he came into the scene, and we were really fighting.
What’s the best insult you threw at her?
I loved calling her an asshole. If you call a girl an asshole, it’s really serious.
Because we’re all ‘bitches,’ right? All girls. ‘Oh, she’s a bitch, you’re such a bitch, I’m being a bitch,’ we’re all bitches, so what? But if another woman looks at you and says, ‘You know what? You’re a real asshole!’ That’s powerful, and it really hurts. I think it’s even worse than ‘shut the fuck up’ because it’s not just about something you said, it’s about you. All of you.
In the movie, your character refuses to go to college. You won’t go either, right?
The funny thing is, I wanted to go to school! I ultimately just didn’t because I got distracted and caught up in other stuff. If you were to tell my younger self, ‘Oh, Kristen, you’re going to miss that boat; you’ll never go to college,’ I would have been like, ‘What?! Kristen, get your shit together!’
And what would your current self tell your younger self?
I would say, ‘Listen, you’re good. You’re entirely stimulated and surrounded by amazing experiences that let you grow and learn. You’ll have everything that you could have wanted out of college’—[laughing] and I’m saying that as someone who has no experience with school. So who the hell knows? I’d probably love college. But I’m happy now. And I’m lucky because my parents never said, ‘You have to go to school or else.’ They were really supportive.
Wait, how old are you?
That’s funny. When I was 24, I thought I’d have everything together…
Isn’t that ridiculous?! I can relate to that feeling! As a teenager, you think your [early 20s] will be great, but it’s like, you get progressively less impressive because you’re no longer young, precocious, and special!
Uh, you’re still pretty young. And pretty special. Didn’t Forbes say you were Hollywood’s highest paid actress?
Those lists are just bullshit, to be honest with you. I can tell you, honestly, that information is not true. It’s made up. I would know!
Do your friends call you K-Stew, or just the tabloids?
My friends totally do! All the time.
Was that your nickname before you were famous, or have they just adopted it?
I can’t even remember. I’m also “K.S.” a lot, but K-Stew, sure, people I know call me that. They’re making fun of me a little bit, but I don’t fucking care. I think it’s hilarious.
I think it’s hilarious that you were in a Gap ad.
Oh my god, that was a long time ago! That was the first [fashion] thing I ever did! I was like, 15.
And now you’re a Chanel girl… but you seem to really hate smiling in photos. Why?
I don’t hate smiling! Not at all. I just… it doesn’t feel natural to me. It never feels right in the moment. And I don’t want to be fake.
That’s fair. What’s your favorite song right now?
Let me think…You know when your music gets stale? My music is so stale right now. And when that happens, I revert back—way back. I love Blink 182. I love, love, love them. And that line “One more time with feeling” is pretty appropriate for me, too. I’m always like, “Okay, one more time, one more time, one more time!” I’m gonna do this for the rest of my life.
You never want to just move to a farm on Montana or something? Totally disappear?
I’m not down with that. It’s not happening. I’m going to be doing this for a fucking long time.