Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kristen Stewart talks 'New Moon' and the Impact It Has Had On Her Life

On A small round table rests a tall glass of Coke and a thick ashtray.A pale white hand choked by leather wrist-bands reaches down and stubs out a cigarette.

Its owner coughs a little.Surely that's not Bella Swan, the pure and innocent heroine of the teen film phenomenon Twilight?She turns around and peels off her trendy black Ray Bans to reveal her fierce green eyes.Now there is no mistaking her.

This is Kristen Stewart, the 19-year-old Los Angeles actor who, with one stroke of casting genius, achieved teen idol status alongside her heart-throb co-star Robert Pattinson in the wildly popular vampire romance franchise Twilight."Everybody thinks it's the vampire thing - that it's a really alluring fad right now - but I really don't think it's the vampire aspect of it," Stewart says of the first film's success."For whatever reason, it is just a really effective, desperate love story.

Maybe it's been a while since there's been one people could get into."Wearing skinny black jeans and a ragged black cardigan, jet-black haired Stewart is here to talk about the franchise's highly anticipated second instalment, New Moon.To play Bella Swan, the clumsy, kind protagonist of author Stephenie Meyer's books, Stewart had to wear brown contact lenses to cover her famous green eyes.The first film has made more than $410 million worldwide since its release last November.

In New Moon, the emotional angst continues when Bella's vampire suitor Edward Cullen (Pattinson) leaves her, allowing werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), to take the stage and create an irresistible love triangle."There's also a bit more action in this movie," Stewart says."The werewolves are introduced, and . . . the way it all pans out, it's quite tragic, really."But Stewart says the persistent rumours of a real-life romance between her and co-star Pattinson are baseless.

In fact, her mum Jules Mann-Stewart, who hails from Maroochydore in Queensland, hopes she finds a regular, down-to-earth Aussie bloke some day."Whenever things get out of hand she always tells me I need to go find a nice good Aussie boy on a ranch and live in the country," Stewart says."I'm like 'I don't want to live in the country in Australia with a rancher'."Stewart's mother moved to the US at age 18, and has taken Stewart back to her Aussie homeland on several occasions."I think Australians are much more honest," Stewart says."Maybe because I live in LA though. I feel like Australia is a little bit more on the surface of reality."

Stewart is thoughtful and betrays a mindset wholly consumed by films and film-making."I think that's a good plot device," she says of the vampire craze sweeping Hollywood."It's a good representation of the most heightened experience, a representation of extremes."The daughter of television producer John Stewart and script supervisor Jules, Stewart appeared in her "intense first movie", the indie drama Safety of Objects, at age nine.Since then she has carved a performance-driven career path that has seen her star alongside some of the best in the business.She played the daughter of Jodie Foster's character in 2002 thriller Panic Room, a troubled teen in Sean Penn's 2007 film Into the Wild, and co-starred with Robert De Niro in the comedy What Just Happened.The part she relishes most, though, was that of a teenage rape victim who stops speaking after the ordeal in the film Speak.She was just 13 at the time."It was a very personal experience," she says. "I felt like I'd done something that I learned from.

The film became really important to me. Before that, I just did it to have fun, it was a good accomplishment if you get the part; but now it's serious."She quit school a year later to pursue acting, completing her education by correspondence.

With her Twilight co-stars, she has learnt what it feels like to be mobbed by fans, an inevitable by-product of stardom that she takes in her stride."It never freaked me out, all the attention, because I didn't do it to get attention," she says."It could be a big problem for people who are young and unsure of themselves to be constantly judged and thinking they always need to be what everybody wants them to be."I've never wanted to be what people wanted me to be so I've never had that problem."

She wants to be contrary, which is why she is so enthusiastic about her upcoming film with New Moon co-star Dakota Fanning.The duo recently finished filming The Runaways, which tells the story of the 1970s all-girl rock band. Stewart plays singer Joan Jett, who she has come to idolise since meeting the rocker during filming.

Stewart also just wrapped the drama Welcome to the Rileys, in which she plays a teenage lap dancer opposite Sopranos star James Gandolfini. But lap dancing appears to be one thing, Hollywood's persistent portrayals of sex in film another."It has become a necessity," Stewart says. "If you're going to have a movie there has to be a sex scene. That is disgusting to me, unless it's related to the story."If I do a nude scene in a movie but it's tasteful - which is such a distasteful word - and it's appropriate, right and artistic, there are going to be 500 million people who freeze the frame and don't even see the movie."Sex in movies nowadays I feel like it's overdone. It's overdone in a really cheesy, Hollywood way."

The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens today.

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