BEVERLY HILLS, California — This week is a very interesting time in the life of Kristen Stewart. On one hand, she's living the life of a movie star, winning BAFTA Awards, setting up plans to attend the Oscars and talking about her role in one of the year's most eagerly anticipated blockbusters.
On the other, she's waving goodbye to the last remembrance of her relatively anonymous youth — and the movie that, in a way, began her superstardom. It's called "The Yellow Handkerchief," and by now, every good Twilighter knows KStew shot the film as a 16-year-old indie star best known for being "that girl from 'Panic Room.' " But when this reporter caught up with her recently to discuss the romantic drama that finally opens this weekend, I almost felt like I should apologize.
"Hi," Kristen said as I walked into the room and complimented her and co-star Eddie Redmayne on a job well done. "When did you see it? Oh, you saw it at Sundance!"
And with that, we both began reminiscing about a unique circle that began two years ago. Stationed in Park City, Utah, to cover the Sundance Film Festival for MTV News, I caught a densely attended screening of "Handkerchief" — a movie I really enjoyed — then headed over to a small press conference in a tent outdoors.
After Stewart, Redmayne, William Hurt and Maria Bello answered questions from the press, the conference ended and each walked offstage in separate directions and found straggling reporters approaching them for quick chats. Full disclosure: The only reason I was there was to try to get Hurt to talk about "The Incredible Hulk." But since someone else grabbed Hurt first, I instead went over to Stewart, who was standing alone. We had spoken a few times in the past, so she recognized me, and we sat down in a pair of folding chairs in the corner of the tent. After a nice conversation about the movie, I asked the one simple question that every person in my profession ends every interview with: What are you shooting next?
"That was the first time you asked me about 'Twilight'!" Kristen smiled when we caught up last week at the "Handkerchief" junket. "I remember the interview! ... You were like 'So, what's up with this [movie]?' "
Actually, she brought up the film. "The movie is called 'Twilight,' " she said during that January 2008 encounter. "Catherine Hardwicke is directing it in Washington. It's based on a book that's pretty popular [among] young adult, high school kids.
"The main character is, like, superhuman," she said of Edward Cullen. "He's a vampire, but with really [heightened powers]. He can run faster than a car can drive, and he's super strong."
At that point, Stewart added that she would be co-starring with some British actor named Robert Pattinson.
"Was Rob cast? I guess I don't remember," she explained. "That's so weird."
The result was the first time Kristen had ever spoken in public about the "Twilight" films, and when we ran a Movies Blog item a bit later, the MTV News team was shocked by the post's record-setting traffic. That, in turn, gave birth to "Twilight" Tuesdays, the cast's appearances at the MTV Movie Awards, the media picking up on the phenomenon later that year and — well, you know the rest of the story.
Of course, at the time, KStew also got herself in a bit of hot water, saying, "He throws me over his back [in one scene], right before he's going to tell me that he's a vampire, and then he runs over the treetops. And we're going to be in real treetops; we're not just going to CGI it. We actually get to go up there, and that's what I'm stoked on."
Months before the cameras rolled in Portland — and before anyone else was even cast — that simple "treetop" comment was enough to get fans of the "Twilight" books worked into a tizzy. Now, all this time later, those very same fans love the "Twilight" movies and have come to accept Kristen as their Bella. One of the reasons they love the actress is because she has such a playful relationship with them.
"Do we not, like, run up the tree and play around?" Stewart said about the controversy in our recent interview. "You just have to choose your words like crazy [when it comes to 'Twilight']."
One question I get asked more than any other is what the "Twilight" stars are like in real life — and to that, I'd say that Kristen now seems more calm, cool and at peace with the "Twilight" chaos than ever before, as evidenced by how enthusiastically she reminisced about that first interview.
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