|In Thursday, April 2, 2009|
|Kristen Stewart: Some people think they know her, but …|
|Posted by and filed in: interviews|
By Anthony Breznican, USA TODAY
You could leave home, disappear from the radar, have different circles of friends, and spend that hidden time figuring out who you are. Now, every move, every mistake, every shift in personality is Twittered, Facebooked, MySpaced, texted and tracked via an elaborate network of cellphones and websites.
That’s how Kristen Stewart sees it. She became entrenched in the electronic babble when she became a superstar last year playing lovelorn good-girl Bella opposite smoldering vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) in Twilight, the blockbuster adaptation of the best-selling novels.
The actress, 18, gets to explore what her life might have been like laying low a generation ago in Adventureland, opening Friday. The coming-of-age comedy about a girl and a guy who fall in love while toiling for the summer at a run-down amusement park is set in 1987 — three years before Stewart was born.
The teenage characters drink, smoke weed, lie to everyone (especially members of the opposite sex) and try their best to avoid abstinence (usually a reason for the lying).
“Movies like Adventureland remind you of a time my parents talk about when they were younger, when it seems like they were so much more independent,” says Stewart, sitting in a beachside restaurant, her back to the ocean. “My dad was living on his own when he was 18. My mom was out (of the house) before she even graduated high school.” Sometimes she wants to ask them: “God, do you guys realize —”
Her folks both got into show business, working behind the scenes. Her mother, Jules Mann-Stewart, is a script supervisor, and her father, John, is a producer and stage manager. She also has an older brother, Cameron.
Parents today, she says, “are incredibly hands-on.” Then she is quick to clarify: “Not that my parents are overbearing or anything. … Now it’s a little different because I’m getting older, but a few years ago, if my parents didn’t know where I was at a given time, that’s sort of unacceptable. And it’s very easy to track you down, considering.”
It’s not just ever-present parenting that makes growing up harder. It’s your friends — and yourself, she says. Everyone is complicit in their own surveillance, especially young people, who chronicle their lives obsessively, maybe seeking validation, which is still no easier to find.
‘Everyone knows who you are’
“You’re so connected to people and they all know how to get to you, and everyone knows who you are, so explicitly. They think they know you. It’s like, ‘You really think you know me? I don’t know me! How do you know I’m not different around someone else?’ ” Her voice gets a little loud, and she slumps back in her chair.
“It almost makes the secrets more important, those few things you actually do choose to keep to yourself,” she says quietly.
Right now, Stewart may be Hollywood’s only real teenager playing girls who are moody, reckless, cautiously sexual but still awkward, and more self-reliant than many parents would like to acknowledge.
Other stars her age tend to fall either into the fantasy realm of the squeaky-clean Hannah Montana/Jonas Brothers variety, or play teens who seem more like they’re established jet-setters, as with the campy-fun Gossip Girl.
Stewart has earned both praise and criticism for being a kind of sulky girl on-screen — the kind you can see sleeping until noon, getting into a fight with her parents and running away, only to try sneaking back in just past curfew.
Crooked games, misfit friends
In Adventureland, she’s a bit of a rebel playing Em, a quiet but tough girl who works one of the crooked games at the theme park. Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale) stars as uptight James, a fellow lost soul and minimum-wage slave who tries to work up the courage to win over Em as they both grapple with fractured families, misfit friends and hostile parkgoers.
As James draws closer to her, he discovers that there are as many different Ems as there are giant stuffed pandas in his games booth. “For Em, no part of her lives are connected,” Stewart says. “She is a different person in every one of the circumstances.”
Adventureland was written and directed by Greg Motolla (Superbad, The Daytrippers), who based it on his own experiences working at a theme park of the same name on New York’s Long Island.
He says the girl in the story “needed to be complicated and needed to be truly conflicted. We needed an actress who can convey a really believable sense of strength,” he says. “I knew with Kristen that character wouldn’t just be a brat. With Kristen, you can’t dismiss her that easily. She’s no pushover.”
Em maybe isn’t much of a role model, but the actress says there is something true about her, and beautiful, in a way the character doesn’t even realize. “They are both unaware of how cool they are; they don’t feel worthy,” she says of the main characters. “I feel like it’s a pretty common thing.”
Stewart could be a case study. Feeling worthy of media attention appears to be a struggle. At the start of the interview, she says she’s bad at this — talking about her movies, and herself.
“Really, I’m incredibly disjointed and not candid,” she says. “Just in general, my thoughts tend to come out in little spurts that don’t necessarily connect. If you hang around long enough, you can find, like, the linear path. But it will take a second. That’s why these interviews never go well for me.”
It’s why she has been slammed by some reporters and why she had what some considered a disastrous interview with David Letterman for Twilight.
She has a reputation of being cranky, or a bit aloof. But over the course of about two hours, she reveals a kind of insecurity. She tries to say something, thinks it’s coming out wrong, stops and starts again, then finally gets frustrated — and clams up.
Another thing that makes her stop in mid-sentence: teenage girls. A group enters the restaurant, and Stewart abruptly shuts up until they pass. She apologizes, a little embarrassed, and whispers: “If those type of girls saw me talking about Twilight, you don’t understand. If I said ‘Jacob’ too loud, they’d be like —” She makes her eyes wide and sticks her hands out like claws.
“More than three girls of that certain age — run away,” she says, laughing as the threat settles in a distant part of the patio. “Girls are scary. Large groups of girls scare the (crap) out of me.”
She says Pattinson gets it worse. “They covet him. I think half of them are so jealous that they hate me,” she jokes.
It doesn’t help that many Twilight-ers want her and Pattinson to be a real-life couple. She’s actually dating Michael Angarano, 21, whom she co-starred with in the 2004 drama Speak.
“It doesn’t make my relationship harder. It’s not like, ‘Maybe I should be with (Pattinson) to make them happy and it’ll make me more popular!’ ” Stewart laughs, adding that her real boyfriend “is totally not a threatened guy. But, dude, it sucks.”
Why the adoration?
But Stewart is mostly grateful for Twilight — though she doesn’t think she did anything special.
“I’m really proud of Twilight. I think it’s a good movie. It was hard to do, and I think it turned out pretty good. But I don’t take much credit for it. So when you show up at these places, and there’s literally like a thousand girls and they’re all screaming your name, you’re like, why? You don’t feel like you deserve it.”
One person who thinks Stewart did contribute a lot to Bella is Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. The character is regarded by some as overly passive, letting her vampire paramour take control, but Meyer says Stewart, currently shooting series sequel New Moon, gives the character an inner forcefulness.
“Kristin does a version of Bella that’s very strong. And you can see that what she’s doing is maturely thought out,” Meyer says. “In a lot of ways she’s a little bit impetuous, but you get the sense that she’s very adult about what she’s doing. She comes across as a girl who’s very serious and who happens to know what she wants.”
That also describes Stewart as she navigates her way to adulthood, on-screen and off. Unlike her Adventureland character, she’s not able to hide any of it.
Contributing: Carol Memmott
Source/Credits: USA Today