The “Twilight” star talks about media insanity, her unbelievable career arc and her role in “On the Road”
December 18, 2012 in SALON
I met Kristen Stewart somewhat unexpectedly. And I really liked her! I mean, she’s a cagey, cautious person; you can feel her sizing you up while she decides whether you’re an idiot or a nutjob and discerns how much she should stick to polite, neutral remarks. You might be like that, too, if you were 22 years old and the highest-paid actress in the history of Hollywood, and if you had seen an ordinary domestic spat with your boyfriend – the sort of thing a whole lot of 22-year-olds go through, if I remember correctly – become an international front-page tabloid story.
I did not ask her anything about Robert Pattinson or the current state of her love life. Because it’s not my business, and I really don’t care! So if that’s what you want to read, you might have to look elsewhere. But even in a brief and necessarily superficial conversation, I got a few flashes of real personality: Stewart is a young woman with a mischievous wit and a penchant for murmured, foul-mouthed asides who is enthusiastic about her work and also aware that her rocket-like ascension from the little-known indie ingénue of “Into the Wild” and “Adventureland” to a huge superstar has been an incredibly strange story.
Earlier this week, the virgin-turned-vampire of the just-concluded “Twilight” series was in New York for the premiere of a vastly different sort of film: the long-brewing adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” from Brazilian director Walter Salles (of “The Motorcycle Diaries”). A passion project that Salles has been working on for five years – and which he inherited from Francis Ford Coppola, who once hoped to make the film with Brad Pitt and Ethan Hawke in the starring roles – this “On the Road” is decidedly a mixed bag, visually lovely and packed full of music and atmosphere, but only sometimes capturing the syncopated, drug-fueled effervescence of Kerouac’s prose.
Stewart has been working hard to promote the film since its Cannes premiere in May, which is remarkable considering that she plays a supporting role and that it seems unlikely “On the Road” will attract much of a mainstream audience. (Her scenes were actually filmed more than two years ago, just before she shot the next-to-last “Twilight” film.) Her character, known as Marylou in the book and movie, is based on a real person named Luanne Henderson, who was the on-and-off partner of Kerouac’s charismatic, bisexual pal Neal Cassady, who became Dean Moriarty in “On the Road.” (Dean is played by Garrett Hedlund in this movie’s real star-making performance.)
One of the virtues of Stewart’s post-“Twilight” position, as she reflected in our conversation, is that she gets to do whatever she damn well pleases in a business and an era where most working actors have limited choices. She may or may not return to the role of Snow White in a sequel to the darkish fantasy “Snow White and the Huntsman,” and although she’s been cast opposite Ben Affleck in a screwball comedy for “Crazy, Stupid, Love” creators Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, that movie hasn’t begun production. In the meantime, her publicists suggested (with about 12 hours’ notice) that she might be willing to chat for a few minutes in her New York hotel before the “On the Road” premiere.
Although she was photographed later that night in a lacy, sheer and leggy designer dress and alarmingly high pumps, when I met Stewart she was dressed more anonymously, almost tomboyishly, in a pinstripe shirt, tan pullover and slim-fitting blue jeans.