Interview: Kristen Stewart Talks New Moon and The Runaways

If you've spent time in any semi-civilized corner of the world in the past year or so, you've no doubt been besieged by the non-stop Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson hoopla surrounding their post-Twilight romance. Personally, I'm much more interested in what they do as actors, or even how that celebrity has affected their lives as actors, which is what I talked about when I sat down with Stewart to discuss her return as Bella in New Moon, the latest chapter in The Twilight Saga. This time around, she's trying to survive a breakup with her beloved vampire, Edward Cullen (Pattinson), a feat that proves nearly impossible thanks to her, for lack of better words, addiction to his, well, icy goodness.

Cole Haddon: In the past, the press has viewed you as a shy, sensitive young actor. Perhaps even intimidated by the publicity machine. But today, there's something different about you. You're smiling, for one.

Kristen Stewart: I think I've gotten a lot more comfortable with talking about myself and knowing that what you say, people are really going to take into consideration. That always intimidated me so much that I minced every word that came out of my mouth. I couldn't finish a sentence because I was so concerned about how it was going to sound. I didn't want to come across insincere about something that I really love to do. So I realized that instead of refraining from saying, "I've put my heart and soul into this thing and I love it," that's what I should've said instead of, like, the really logical, over-analytical reason why I love it. You just do. I've gotten more comfortable. The whole rumor, tabloid stuff, it's so obviously false to me. Look, even before I became a part of it, once I sort of became a star ... it's like a show. It's like a ridiculous show.

CH: It's a soap opera with your name in it then?

KS: Exactly. With false realism like a soap opera that seems real, but you're not quite sure. It doesn't bother me. I don't take it personally. Luckily, because I've had so much experience, it's gotten easier to talk about the work.

CH: So let's talk about the work on this movie, New Moon.

KS: I had a really good time on this movie. It was intense. Just because of the nature of the story, it goes in a completely different direction. We undermine the first [movie, Twilight]. We establish a very ideological [story] of love and basically tell our main character, our main protagonist, that she was wrong. And it's like, "Where's our story? Where are you going to be left if Edward's not there?" What I really love about New Moon is that you see this girl build herself back up, and, by the time she makes this sort of rash decision to spend eternity with a vampire, she's in a position where you actually believe her. You're like, "OK, you're old enough, you're mature enough to know. You've lived life." She grows up.

CH: Christ Weitz came aboard as director, replacing Catherine Hardwicke (who had helmed Twilight). What was it like having a new captain guiding the ship?

KS: Chris has everything. I think to be a good director, you have to be a good person, and you have to care about people. I don't know a more compassionate human being. I couldn't have done this unless I had such a believable environment, a comfortable and safe environment to be so vulnerable in. He provided that tenfold. He's one of the coolest, one of the smartest and funniest guys I know. He really loves the project as well. He wasn't just jumping on the next big thing. So it wasn't about breaking him in at all. He only helped make everything better. He made everything what it is. He's incredible. I love him.

Taylor Lautner and Kristen StewartCH: Taylor Lautner has emerged, with this movie, as the next big thing. Can you talk about working with him, especially in the face of the controversy around him going into this movie? [In case the reader is unaware, Lautner, despite playing the role of Jacob Black in Twilight, was not a lock for the sequel, as producers were uncertain if he'd be able to pack on the 30 pounds of muscle necessary for his character's transformation into a shirtless, ridiculously chiseled Native American were-teen].

KS: I think that controversy has probably been made to seem bigger than it was. We needed to be sure that whoever played Jacob was going to be Jacob in New Moon. He's such a different person. He becomes a man. There's an entire [thing]. It's not just a physical transformation. He really becomes an adult. I mean, I always knew that Taylor could do that, but we just needed to make sure because it was so important. So once he actually proved himself, which wasn't hard to do, even seeing him walk around on set was like a different experience. He's literally become a different person. He's just grown up. He's so confident, and the nicest guy that I've ever met. I know that I'm using this grammatically incorrect, but he's the funnest guy I've ever hung out with. So he's great. I'm so proud of him.

Mild spoilers follow ...

CH: As an actress, I have to imagine that the breakup scene with Edward must have been the most difficult scene to shoot.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen StewartKS: That was the scariest thing. I was almost as worried about messing it up than I was about what I actually should have been thinking about, which was the issues that Bella is dealing with. Reading it, it's so iconic. There's nothing like that moment in reality even. It's not even like a normal breakup scene. I know what's it like to get broken up with, but I don't know what it's like to get broken up with by a vampire who I've now been physically and chemically altered by. Suddenly you take an addict, you take whatever they're addicted to away from them, and there's withdrawal. So that was the most intimidating scene in the entire movie.

I don't know how to explain how I did it. Chris [Weitz] really helped me out. It was just about talking. I don't know. It was just about talking to him, and reading the book, and I had no other actors to play off. I mean, the breakup scene that I did with Rob, that's not where it happens yet. That's not where I was intimidated. That was still, like she doesn't even believe it yet. It's when he goes, the absence of him that I was scared of. I was like, "How am I going to, by myself in the woods with a hundred guys standing around me filming me, die?" Basically, literally having the equivalent of, like, a death scene, but stay alive and get up and keep walking. It was hard. It was really intimidating. I still don't know. I've seen the movie. I really like the movie, but I don't know if anyone ever really would've been able to bring that to life the way that Stephenie [Meyer] writes it.

CH: What do you find to be the most rewarding part of being involved in a phenomenon like this?

KS: I think my favorite thing about this is the fact that I can keep it personal. It's still something that if the franchise, if the saga didn't become a franchise and it was literally just a series of movies that I had done, they would mean just as much to me. That's also the best part of it, the fact that it isn't like that, the fact that so many people are affected by it, and are invested in it just as much as me -- if not more. If you don't like people, and if you don't want to make movies because you care about people, then you probably just want to be rich and famous. So the fact that this is so important to so many people makes me so happy. That's it. I think that's it for me.

CH: Having such a devote, maybe even obsessive fan base, where do you draw the line about what the public gets to know about your private life?

KS: I don't know. I don't think that anyone can get a handle [on that]. It's like as soon as I stopped trying to control everything that came out of my mouth and every picture that came out, that's when I became so much happier, and it was so much easier to deal with. It wasn't like it was a turning point. I've just grown into not having to care so much, and to not try to think that I'm going to be able to plan out the way that everyone perceives me. There are no false impressions. Everyone's impression of you is going to be what it is in that isolated moment. It's people not considering where you are in that moment when you give that impression. I'm fine with that. I'm going to own what I'm going to own and literally ... I should just stop trying to control what's coming out of my mouth. I'm always going to keep what's important to me in mind, and I completely understand considering that we're playing characters that are so coveted by so many people, so I get why they want to know more about us, and they want us to be together and all of that. I just sort of have to not think about it.

CH: Finally, how did you balance playing a character like Bella with playing an iconic rock star like Joan Jett in The Runaways?

KS: Playing Joan Jett had nothing to do with Bella. It was a small period of time that I had to do it, but it was an opportunity that I jumped on, and it was going to go away [if I hadn't]. That's vague, but what I do is so vague. Literally, what I do is so oddly ambiguous.