For the first installment of my interviews with the cast and filmmakers of Eclipse, the third movie in The Twilight Saga, I sat down with Bella Swan herself. Or rather, Kristen Stewart. If you’re a fan of her character, she has a lot to say on the subject and the series in general.
Editor's Note: Limited spoilers in interview.
Cole Haddon: In this film, Bella has to make a decision between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) -- though, to be fair, I thought she made that decision last time around. Do you feel like this choice has been her biggest challenge in the movies so far?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah. There's definitely the conflict in that she's pushed to the point where the decision needs to made in this one. She does that in each movie, and what's cool is that things change and as certain as she is sometimes and as absolutely gung-ho and young and courageous and brave as she is, she's also willing to take a step back and go, “OK, I'm going to reconsider my options and reconsider how I'm treating everybody.” She acknowledges that she's being a little bit selfish." She makes the choice. I feel like the choice has been made. As soon she sees him in the first one, it's done, but it's hard for her to get to the point where everyone is going to accept that. And this is the one that it sort of happens in.
CH: Bella also has to struggle with her decision to become a vampire, a decision that can’t just be about love. She seems to have matured quite a bit from the last movie.
KS: She's definitely making decisions for herself, and not just going along with what Edward is saying to do -- which is something that people instantly latch onto, that she's this weak and codependent girl, that's just in need all the time with this guy. That's so not the case. I think if it were to be told from his perspective, that he would be just as vulnerable and as needy as her. It's told from her mind, though, so obviously those things are going to be more inherent. I think she's definitely, like I [said], owning up to things that have gone down. They've been both good and bad. She can reap the benefits from the things that she's dealt with in a good way, and also make the relationships in her life stronger based on the mistakes that she's made. As soon as you sort of screw someone over and go back and say, “I admit that. Can we still be really cool? I've been really selfish.” Everyone now in the family is looking at her differently, like, “Oh, maybe she does know what she wants. Maybe she's not acting so immature and crazy.” I'm glad that you felt that.
CH: What are your favorite and least favorite character traits of Bella?
KS: I really don't have one that's my least favorite because as much as she can be difficult, all the things that sort of annoy me about her are the things that I like about her. She always comes around and realizes that she can be a little selfish, I think. She's definitely not naggy but she tries so hard not to be sometimes. I think sometimes, “Why don't you just let yourself be?” I think she picks at herself too much, but I can relate to that. I always say my favorite thing about her is that she screws up a lot and doesn't care and is like, “This is the way that life is, and I'm young and I'm going on with it.”
CH: Do you rush headlong into situations like her, or are you more deliberate about your own choices?
KS: I guess it depends on what I'm making a choice about. For work stuff, I do what I feel and I don't really worry about what it's going to do afterward. In terms of the way that I answer questions, too, and stuff like that, I guess I would be one of those types of people. I'm kind of a control freak, though, too. I get really freaked out if I don't know what's going on and what's going to happen. So I guess I'm a bit of both.
CH: Some of the sweet scenes in the movies are the ones between Bella and her father, played by Billy Burke. What's it like working with Burke in those scenes?
KS: I love working with Billy. He's just very no BS and obviously as an actor that's what you need. He's really good at knowing if the scene works or doesn't work. I think he really understands the dynamic, the Charlie/Bella thing. It's not a normal father/daughter dynamic. They haven't known each other very long. She just moved to Forks and literally has a few memories of him as a little kid. But I love the gradual trust thing that happens. He's really good at that because he doesn't force it, and it's never creepy, and a lot of times it gets weird when some guy is playing your dad. It feels weird to you. It feels like they're forcing sentiment. It's disgusting, and I never feel that with him. I think he's great, and I love him.
CH: Many think the success of the books and these movies has to do with the idea of forbidden love -- a girl loving a vampire -- being mixed with traditional family values. What do you say to that?
KS: Right. I think that if you took all the mythical aspects of the story, that it would still stand as a really strong and interesting thing to be a part of. I think the whole vampire and the whole werewolf thing are really good sort of plot devices. All of the aspects of the vampire and all the aspects of a werewolf are fully encompassed by the humans, by Jacob and Edward. If all of that was gone, they would still be the same people. I don't think it's a big phenomenon because of the vampire mythical aspect. It definitely makes a good story and it raises the stakes, and it makes it a little bit more interesting, but I think it's just about who the characters are and how easy it is to have faith in them and be sort of addicted to them. They let you down a lot, and then pick themselves back up. I don't think it has anything to do with the vampire thing. I think that just makes it a little cooler.
CH: In your opinion: Edward and Jacob, are either of the characters good choices in men? They’re both a little obsessive and more than a little possessive. Are they smart fantasy choices for young girls?
KS: I don't know. People always wonder if we should be giving little girls ideas of meeting the perfect man. If so many people have taken to it, it's not something that's been shoved into their heads. Everyone has that ideal, and especially little girls have this idea in their head that there is something that could be perfect for them in the end, and that they can be better than all the rest of the girls because they'll have the perfect guy who will never screw them over. Our movie isn't perfect. None of our characters are perfect at all. They're all so completely crazy and messed up, and that's why they go well together. Again, they don't make excuses for their weirdness and they accept each other for who they are. On paper I'm sure that if you were a friend of Bella's, you'd be telling her, “Yo, you better check your boy because he ain't treating you well,” or whatever. And Jacob, too, because he's a nutcase. I think if you're really in love with someone, then it doesn't matter because that's such an overpowering feeling, and you're willing to make sacrifices. That's our whole story.
CH: Did you find the increased action in Eclipse challenging?
KS: The action is absolutely everybody else's responsibility. I just stand behind the people who are stronger than me. I didn't get to run around as much as I did in the second movie, so the action wasn't difficult. I guess one of the most challenging scenes would probably be kissing Jacob for real, finally for the first time and seeing that there was a different road to go down that was desirable as well. She's got such tunnel vision, that Edward is the only thing for her -- that's a strange perspective. Then I have to go in and talk to Edward about it, and it's such a different dynamic than we've ever had. It was a different Bella. I had never had to play somebody who would've done stuff like that, so that was hard. And I was nervous as hell.
CH: Because of the kiss?
KS: Just because of that moment and how different that kiss is to all of the rest of them in that movie, and how different they have to be. It is the most unique moment. It's also a mistake, and I always say that Bella makes a lot of mistakes and she's willing to own them. I think it's cool to see her a little bit ashamed and, at the same time, scared. I think it's cool.
CH: Now that you've done three Twilight movies, are there things you wish had made it into the movie from the book that didn't?
KS: Yeah, totally. There are a million things. I mean, every single time we watch one of the movies, especially when the cast watches them together, it's always an incredibly frustrating experience. That's why I'm glad that Breaking Dawn is going to be two movies, which I can finally say. So there's going to be less of that, less of having to lose stuff.
CH: Do you ever worry that the character of Bella Swan is taking over your persona? You spend so much time with her, on set, promoting the movies, and so on. I mean, how do you feel about your life and career in that context?
KS: This is a really unique situation. I get to play her for a really long time, and that's also a serious indulgence, and something that's really lucky, because I feel really sad when I lose a character at the end of a short shoot. Which is typically six weeks on a small movie, which is what I'm used to. It's definitely, obviously the one role that's put me in this sort of epic position. But it's just another movie, and I think it doesn't matter if you're doing a studio movie or you're doing an independent movie. When you get to set and you're doing a scene, it's always going to be the same job. I really don't think about my career in terms of planning it out and what this does for me. This was a part that I just really wanted to play, and luckily I got to do it for a really long time.
CH: What other projects do you have coming up besides the two installments of Breaking Dawn?
KS: I'm playing Mary Lou in On The Road. It was my first favorite book, and that character is iconic, and Walter Salles is directing it. I'm a huge fan of his, and I'm doing that right after this press is over. In July, we start a four-week beatnik boot camp. It's a small movie, too, and so four weeks of rehearsal is crazy cool.
CH: Finally ... what drives you to succeed?
KS: Well, I think that success is always something completely different to people. I feel like I succeeded if I'm doing something that makes me happy and I'm not lying to anybody. I'm not doing that now, so I feel really good about myself. I don't know. That's a tough one, what drives me to succeed? I really specifically love acting, and I think it's a really cool thing to be really indulgent and follow that. I have a lot of ambitions in life, but, for the next few years, I just want to be an actor. That's a lucky opportunity, and that drives me to want to be good at that.
Check back in later this week for interviews with Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, and more!