You can go with the conventional wisdom that Kristen Stewart truly arrived as a Hollywood player when "Twilight" whipped up a $70 million opening in the fall of 2008. She's gone on to star in subsequent Twi-flicks as well as mature roles in films like "The Runaways" and the upcoming "On the Road."
Or you could take something of a contrarian stance and argue Stewart began her ascent as an A-list star before "Twilight" hit theaters, when the then-18-year-old threw herself into the role of an emotionally scarred stripper in "Welcome to the Rileys," proving, to herself and others, that she had the chops, maturity and creativity to accomplish anything she wanted onscreen.
Fans and critics, however, didn't get to check out her "Rileys" work until the Sundance Film Festival this past January. Now audiences in select cities will get to take in her work, in which she plays a 16-year-old (real name Allison, working-girl name Mallory) who flees to a New Orleans strip club and meets a man (James Gandolfini) who becomes her father figure and attempts to help her pick up the pieces of her broken life.
Whether you're lucky enough to have a theater near you showing the movie or simply want to know everything there is to know about it, MTV News has got you covered with our "Welcome to the Rileys" cheat sheet.
Wait, Bella's Playing a Stripper?
The fact that Stewart was playing a stripper/prostitute flew mostly under the radar — aside from a few quotes she dropped here and there — until the first photos popped up online in late 2009. One photo showed Stewart in a string bikini top, another the actress as she cowered next to a bed
Sundance arrived the next month, and Stewart made clear audiences shouldn't characterize the film as simply one about a stripper. "[The shocking thing is] maybe that it's not, like, shocking," Stewart told us. "It's really not a stripper movie at all."
Instead, she explained, "Rileys" is best understood as a story of a girl trying to make it on her own — and lacking the skills to pull it off. KStew called it the most personal role of her career.
"It's about understanding who you're playing and you have a responsibility because you feel like you can't let them down," she told us. "[My character] really became a part of me. I haven't felt so personally involved in something."
Stewart Grows Up
Months passed without much "Rileys" news. Then in July the trailer hit the Web, showing the world a very un-Bella-like character. We then brought you a slew of new photos. As Stewart explained to us, she dove into research for the role — and almost ended up with a new job.
"One shocking thing was to find how easy it is [to flaunt your sexuality]," she explained. "Like, I went to a strip club with the director and the costume designer and it being an odd grouping of people going into a strip club in the middle of the afternoon, I was, like, straight-up offered a job."
We're glad she didn't take them up on the offer. Stewart was coming into her own, and she looked and sounded as confident as we've ever seen her when she hit the "Rileys" red carpet earlier this month.
"She's grown up. She's a woman now," "Welcome to the Rileys" director Jake Scott told us, adding that she possessed the seeds of that maturity in October '08 when production on the movie kicked off. "It was an act of courage on her part, especially when you consider she was just 18."
Check out everything we've got on "Welcome to the Rileys."
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