Kristen Stewart: these days is it even possible for a young woman in Hollywood to have a hard-driving career and still avoid the speed traps? If the road map offered by Kristen Stewartso faris any indication, the answer is “yes!”
She is the girl we all want to be–super self-confident without being cocky, deeply appealing without compromising herself, entirely natural in unnatural situations. Call it what you will–talent, grace, joie de vivre–but whatever it is, Kristen Stewart comes off 100 percent natural. Entirely absent of affectation, she could be almost any kid growing up in California, except that she’s growing up to be a movie star. During the heat of late summer, she and I spoke from our respective East and West Coast outposts about life, her work on the film Into the Wild, and, um, school.
A.M. HOMES: So I’m speaking to you from out in the middle of nowhere–at the very end of Long Island, New York.
KRISTEN STEWART: That’s near Montauk, right? I’ve been there.
AMH: Yeah, it’s my version of Into the Wild. Tell me a little bit about the film, which came out earlier this fall.
KS: I think anyone who has read the book [written by Jon Krakauer, about Christopher McCandless, who at the age of 24 went to live in the Alaskan wilderness, where he ultimately died] or heard anything about McCandless’s story has to relate to it, although I have had people say to me, “I read the book, and I was so frustrated with this kid–I just didn’t get why he would do some of that stuff.” The great thing about the movie, though, is that after you watch it, there’s no question–you are so behind all of his convictions. The film is done really sensitively and is very insightful.
AMH: Is the desire to go off and have that kind of experience away from the world something you could see yourself doing?
KS: Not to such an extreme. I definitely share Chris’s urge to travel and see the world, though I’d want to do it in a different way. They made a point of putting his love for people in the film, and meeting people from places that I’ve never been to is definitely something I’d like to do as well.
AMH: Do you think the film comments on our relationship to the environment and how the relationship is changing?
KS: Yeah, though not in a heavy-handed way.
AMH: Are environmental causes something you feel passionate about?
KS: It’s certainly something I’m aware of. I was just in New Orleans, and driving through the Ninth Ward will make you cry. There are still houses that have been carried blocks away from where they stood originally, only now there are “devastation tours.” I know the big argument is that tourism will help the economy there, but that just seems completely wrong to me. It blows my mind, everything Sean [Penn, Into the Wild’s screenwriter and director] is doing, though–he’s the bravest.
AMH: To prepare for our conversation I’ve been reading about you, and one piece said you stopped going to school in seventh grade. KS: Yeah, I started homeschooling because my teachers were failing me. I think it was just resentment–I made more work for them. But homeschooling is great; you can study what you want, which allows you to get more excited about what you’re doing.
AMH: Do you think being the youngest of four siblings, and the only girl, helped shape you?
KS: Yeah, I’m sort of emphatic about the fact that girls who grow up with brothers have more solid roots. Most guys don’t cut their sisters much slack, so girls with brothers generally learn to be a little more confident.
AMH: What part of your job tends to blow you away?
KS: Probably working with people that I’ve put on a pedestal. What really freaks me out, though, is launching a creative endeavor with a team that’s just been presented to you, because you don’t know that it’s always going to turn out. With acting, every story is different, and you’re constantly playing different people, so you’re never sure if you’ll be able to pull it off. At the end it can be like the greatest thing in the world, but you have to second-guess yourself a little.
AMH: Though isn’t being open and vulnerable to each role part of what makes it work?
KS: Oh, yeah. It absolutely makes you step to it.
AMH: When you were younger, did you ever think, When I grow up, I want to be famous?
KS: I know that when I did The Safety of Objects , everybody was like, “Oh, this kid is so confident; she’s such a little star.” But I never wanted to be the center of attention–I wasn’t that I-want-to-be-famous, I-want-to-be-an-actor kid. I never sought out acting, but I always practiced my autograph because I loved pens–I’d write my name on everything.
AMH: The Safety of Objects was actually based on a book of stories I wrote a million-and-a-half years ago, when I was in high school and college.
KS: I know–that’s so cool!
AMH: I think you were about 2 years old then. Anyway, what do you like about acting?
KS: It just feels good. I find I want to do a movie because I love the script or I love the story. You have these themes in your mind, and you think about them incessantly, and then it’s time to shoot the scene and you’re like, “Okay, you’re going to be done with this in 15 minutes, so you’d better do it right.” When you’re finished, it can be the most frustrating thing in the world. But sometimes you have an experience where it’s like, “1 wanted to do that so bad, and I just did it!”
AMH: Your parents also work in different parts of the film industry. Are they helpful to you in terms of thinking about what you want to do next and how you want to do it?
KS: My whole family is, though we don’t give it so much thought. We haven’t really overanalyzed my acting career or even my academic career. It’s totally up in the air, which I think is the best position for me to be in right now. It’s just sort of like, “We’ll see.”
AMH: So how would you describe yourself to people who don’t know you?
KS: I typically don’t describe myself for people who don’t know me.
AMH: But say you were lost, and the police were trying to find you.
KS: I would probably give a brief physical description. I’m slightly uncomfortable with the size of my ears, so I’d say, “If you see a girl walking around with …”
AMH: With her hair over her ears.
KS: Yeah, exactly. And I’m sort of lanky, and I’ll be in jeans and a white T-shirt or a white tank top.
AMH: What about your mood? Are you a moody lanky person?
KS: I don’t think so. I feel like I’m pretty chill.
A.M. Homes’s most recent books are The Mistress’s Daughter, a memoir, and This Book Will Save Your Life, a novel, both published by Viking Press.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Brant Publications, Inc.
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