Let’s begin by making things clear: Kristen Stewart is not, at the age of 24 and with 33 film credits in the past 15 years, quitting Hollywood.
But Stewart has been carving out her own career path since graduating from the Twilight series, focusing on such smaller, independent features as Camp X-Ray, Clouds of Sils Maria, and, most recently, in Still Alice, where she plays Lydia, a daughter who must care for her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother — played by the Golden Globe-winning, Oscar-nominated Julianne Moore.
Stewart, however, wants to keep things unpredictable and is always willing to take a chance. Like, perhaps, a blockbuster Marvel or DC film. “I love watching those movies,” she tells Yahoo Movies. “I would love to show people that I can do more than just be ‘Kristen Stewart’ in a different movie, in a different circumstance.” She notes her past role as Snow White in the big-budget fantasy adventure Snow White and the Huntsman could be a jumping off point for a superhero role. “I’m sure I could get on board with Captain America, you know what I mean?… It would just have to be the right thing.”
In a wide-ranging conversation, Stewart also discusses her deep admiration for Moore (“She’s a genius”) and a moment in Still Alice that makes her cringe (“I look f—ing ridiculous”); explains why her Clouds co-star Juliette Binoche “drives me f—ing crazy”; and offers more details on her directorial aspirations (“I want to start at the very bottom”).
What drew you to Still Alice?
I’ve known Julie [Julianne Moore] for a number of years. Without harping on the very common complaint that there aren’t very many good roles for girls, when one is quite good and undeniably real, it sticks out like a flint rock. You can’t help but fall over it thinking, “Oh God, I hope I don’t break my face so I can play this part, because I’m floored by it.”
I knew that she was going to knock it out of the park and it was important. I grew up thinking Alzheimer’s was an old-timer’s disease, too. Most people do. I just wanted to make sure that she was supported. I would do anything. And that’s kind of what Lydia is doing.
So it was Julianne Moore who flagged the role to you initially?
She was very much a part of orchestrating all of this.
You play an inspiring actress in the film. Did you read all of the plays your character references?
No, but I did go to Lincoln Center and I watched — because I have to do a scene from Three Sisters and I haven’t read much Chekhov. I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never been on a stage in my life.” So yeah, I watched it, and did the best that I could. Oddly enough, that was the scariest part because it was such a stretch. … Even now I’ve seen the movie a couple times… oh God, everything’s going so well, you’re so in it, you’re so with them, and then all of a sudden I’m on a stage, I look f—ing ridiculous. I still can’t even think about that.
Since you completed the Twilight Saga, you’ve appeared in a spate of indie films, and looking at your filmography and what’s coming out, that’s not changing any time soon. Are you purposefully shying away from big-budget movies?
Every time I read something and I’m willing to sign my name on the dotted line, promising that I’m going to fulfill this part and not just destroy it, kill it dead on a page — I really am like a crazy person, I have to feel like this thing’s real and if I don’t do it, then I destroy it.
I felt that way about Twilight. I felt that way about Snow White. I never expected Twilight to even be a series, and we didn’t even know we were going to do a sequel. So I would love another big movie to come along. It’s definitely not something I’m avoiding. I was 17 when we started the whole Twilight series. I was so excited to do a teen movie. Everything I had done was like kind of heavy and I was really into it. I was just enthralled by it, and that’s what I need. I want to do big movies. You get to play with more stuff and there’s so much more at your disposal. You get to do it on a larger scale, you get to connect with more people. I am all about that. I just want to do it for the right reasons.
It must be nice that these smaller films you’ve been in lately, for the most part, are being warmly received. How does that make you feel?
So excited. I’m so stoked. I’ve done a lot of indie movies from the time I was really young, and some of them don’t get released for years. It’s weird because you still love them. I don’t love everything that I’ve done in a way that is self-congratulatory. It’s literally just you do something with people and the result is something that you’re going to look around and go, “Dude, we did something worthwhile.” It really feels good when you’re not alone in that and when you have more than just the handful of people that made it to feel that way. God, we just devote our whole lives. It becomes this obsession and you feel crazy if people don’t agree. You’re like, “Wait, what? But I just got it, put everything I had into this, how can you not feel it?”
What are your thoughts about the Oscar buzz around Julianne Moore’s role?
I’m so proud of her. I am there, wherever she needs me, whatever, wherever she wants me to go to. It’s funny because she’s already delivered performance after performance after performance that she could have won for. … She’s a genius. I really hope that she’s acknowledged for that because it’s about time.
What did you learn from her?
I feel good around her. I feel confident. I get affirmation from her and that gives me strength. I learn so much it’s just so hard to put your finger on. She’s never sat around and spouted off advice to me. She wouldn’t do that. But just being around her — it confirmed something for me on a technical level.
I worked with Juliette [Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria] and I knew she achieved this greatness by a means that I did not understand. And she perplexes me and she drives me f—ing crazy. She’s the type of actress that she does so much emotional prep and groundwork, and then she gets there and she doesn’t want to know where the camera is. She very much is this person. It’s not Juliette. She can’t think of it like that.
She approaches it so differently, whereas I worked with Julie, with Julianne [Moore] — she is a technician, the soulful surgeon. She can deal with this technical prep and she’s smart. Her mind is so vast that she can multitask to such an insane extent that she collaborates with the D.P. [director of photography], the director, every other actor, works on the script, does all of this technical work, and then is somehow able to get there and transcend all of it and bring it all together and not get hung up on any of it.
We never stop talking to each other. … We never left each other alone. And I just felt really, really good about working with someone that great and that talented, who had the same approach as me, because typically I’m like, “Oh man, I can’t get out of my own… I want to know where the f—-ing camera is!” And finally I met someone that was like me, too.
I didn’t feel alone with her. I hate feeling alone with other actors when there you are over there on the other end of the room doing your job. Can we do it together?
You’ve said you want to direct some day. Is that day coming soon?
I wrote two shorts that I really am championing right now. I just need to pull the trigger on [them]. I want to start really small. When I was a kid I was like, “I’m going to be the first director under 18.” I wanted everything immediately. The older I get and the more I work, I realize that I want to do it right, that I want to start at the very bottom. I definitely don’t want to jump in because of grandiose ambitions and expectations, like I want to be something. I don’t want to be something, I want to do something and I want to do it right. So, yeah, hopefully I’ll be at some weird little festival with a short soon.