“I never wanted to be this famous. I never imagined this life for myself.” — Kristen Stewart

It’s her birthday today.

“Really, I’m incredibly disjointed and not candid. 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 the linear path. But it will take a second. That is why these interviews never go well for me.”

Some people have fame thrust upon them. This has been the case with Kristen Stewart, one of the most interesting and unique actresses to come along in a long long time. There are others who have more “range”. There are others who may are more skilled, technically. But nobody has what she has. It’s her own thing. It’s charisma. It’s movie-magic. This charisma movie-magic does not show up in interviews (as she is well aware of – see above quote) – but interviews are irrelevant. Put the camera on her and something happens. She understands the camera. And the camera understands her. She does not have to work at that part of it. It’s the ineffable weird thing that cannot be explained about her. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders and she picks interesting non-commercial projects.

She was launched into the public eye with the most commercial of products – a franchise geared towards teens – and she cringed her way through every interview and red carpet event. Those movies were sneered at. I know I am a broken record but let’s say it again for the cheap seats, as well as the mostly-straight mostly-male film critics who think they should be the ones to tell other people what is good or worthy: When you ignore the ecstatic screams of teenage girls, you basically announce “I want to be out of touch with the zeitgeist. I am okay with missing out on what will be the Next Big Thing.” By sneering at Twilight, by mocking Kristen Stewart’s awkwardness on red carpets, by expressing baffled surprise that anyone cares about this no-talent young actress (and actor – too – let’s not forget) … you show a dismaying lack of curiosity about WHY teenage girls were so ENRAPTURED. And when teenage girls get enraptured, the whole world can hear. They are often the first wave. They were the first wave with Elvis. With the Beatles. With Zac Efron. With so many others. Ignore the raptures of teenage girls at your peril – particularly if you are a film and/or cultural critic.

Who has the last laugh now. Look at what Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have chosen to do with the fame that was thrust upon them before either of them even knew who they were or knew what they wanted to do. Look at what they have done with this amazing opportunity. They have worked steadily in odd-ball non-commercial high-art projects, and they have two of the most interesting careers in Hollywood.

The teenage girls knew. They usually do.

So. I’ve written a lot about Kristen Stewart. Here’s a link-dump:

This was my first attempt to get at the whole Kristen Stewart “thing” – because it’s not easily explainable or pin-down-able.

I elaborated further in my Film Comment column.

I didn’t think Lizzie was a particularly good movie but my Ebert review gave me a chance to discuss Stewart’s almost eerie gifts.

One of my favorite things I’ve ever written was one long in the making – since I was, say, 11 – a piece about the Tomboy Golden Era (1970s movies). In discussing where the tomboy “went” in pop culture, Kristen Stewart comes up.

I wrote about Personal Shopper for Ebert’s 10 Best Films of 2017 feature.

I wrote about the fascinating dream-like short film she directed, Come Swim.

I wrote about her performance in Clouds of Sils Maria for a feature on Ebert about the Best Performances of 2015.

And here, I wrote about Clouds of Sils Maria, a movie which affected me so much I haven’t gone back to watch it again.

And finally: a couple years back I interviewed one of my Actors Studio teachers – an amazing teacher named Sam Schacht. I wanted to hear his thoughts on the misunderstood “Method”. Out of the blue, he brought up Kristen Stewart.

Thank you so much for stopping by. If you like what I do, and if you feel inclined to support my work, here’s a link to my Venmo account. And I’ve launched a Substack, Sheila Variations 2.0, if you’d like to subscribe.

This entry was posted in Actors, Movies, On This Day and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to “I never wanted to be this famous. I never imagined this life for myself.” — Kristen Stewart

  1. Melissa Sutherland says:

    Really loved your discussion with Sam Schacht. Wonderful man.

  2. Nicola Enslin says:

    I remember in the early days of Twilight craziness when people would only ever write about how awkward Kristen Stewart was, Robert Pattinson commented at the time how baffling it was because “awkward” wasn’t/isn’t at all who she was as a person. And how confident and intimidating he found her. Or something like that. It really stood out to me. Needless to say they are two of my very favourite actors and I have an enduring crush on Robert too (who I think is really good friends with Johnny Flynn!)

    • sheila says:

      Robert and Johnny are good friends?? I need a collab!

      I love the anecdote about Pattinson saying she wasn’t “awkward” at all. It really goes to my observation that her awkwardness – in interviews – and sometimes onscreen – is a manifestation of her ambivalence about being looked at – she loves it, she shies from it – it gives her work this amazing tension sometimes. She said an amazing thing in the interview she did with Howard Stern: “I’m not professional.”

      By that she didn’t mean “I fuck around” or “I don’t take my work seriously” but that she finds press tours and promotion tours extremely stressful and awful – she can’t just breeze onto a talk show and “promote” her work like a good little employee with a bright excited smile – it’s not her. Everything is personal to her. She’s “not professional”. I think that’s a HUGE part of why people are so drawn to her – see themselves in her – even though she’s so beautiful and a movie star.

  3. Nicola Enslin says:

    Yeah! Back in the height of Twilight mania he made a celebrity playlist for iTunes and included a Johnny Flynn song with a note that they had grown up together and that’s how long my Johnny Flynn love stretches back to because that’s how long my Robert love stretches back to. I got the album and never looked back.

    I totally think you’ve hit the nail on the head with Kristen, she cares hugely about her work and by her own admission is not a performer. She can’t come out and smile and be charming and bubbly. I think she can be those things but in her own way. I find her hugely appealing because from the very start (and she was so unbelievably young when this mega stardom hit) she has been wholly committed to being only authentically herself. I am down for everything she does.

    I recently read the book she’s been adapting into a screenplay for hopefully her feature directorial debut. Holy smokes!

    • sheila says:

      // I find her hugely appealing because from the very start (and she was so unbelievably young when this mega stardom hit) she has been wholly committed to being only authentically herself. //

      Yes! and imagine how difficult it must have been for her – how much shit she had to take – and still takes – from people who want her to be … like Rachel McAdams or something. No shade meant – I like Rachel. and for Rachel “playing the game” of being on red carpets is (seemingly) easy. “Playing the game” must feel like a moral imperative once you’re at that level – like, there’s no other way to be, and the pressure to “fit in” must be overwhelming. Kristen Stewart just resisted – she somehow just couldn’t do it any other way. This is why I compare her to James Dean – not in terms of acting style – but … he couldn’t have played the game if you paid him. and thankfully audiences recognized that and valued it in him.

      What book is Stewart adapting? I haven’t heard about this!

  4. Nicola Enslin says:

    She has been adapting Lidia Yuknavich’s memoir The Chronology of Water. I mean, she spoke about it a long while ago, so who knows if it’s still on the cards. But the book is a killer. I really liked it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.