The mother of all bat­tles

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

IT’S been five years since Kris­ten Ste­wart was plucked from sup­port­ing player/indie-film ob­scu­rity and thrust into the spot­light as the fe­male face of the Twi­light fran­chise.

Five years and, as of this month, five films will have passed, as Ste­wart grew from some­one the New York Times la­belled ‘‘a sylph with a watch­ful, some­times wary gaze’’ into the 22-year-old named by Forbes as ‘‘the high­est-paid ac­tress in Hol­ly­wood’’ – earn­ing some $A33.30 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates.

‘‘Those are pretty for­ma­tive years,’’ the Twi­light muse muses.

‘‘It is a lit­tle strange, if you think about it, grow­ing up on cam­era like this. But I don’t think about it.’’

Ste­wart can’t put her fin­ger on how she’s changed as an ac­tress, ei­ther.

‘‘If noth­ing else, I should have got­ten bet­ter at pick­ing up and putting down a lot of my in­hi­bi­tions. It’s all about be­ing im­pul­sive and do­ing things that move you,’’ she says.

‘‘I think I dropped a lot of fears over the course of these films. But I picked a few up, too. And those new fears could be in­ter­est­ing to watch down the road. Or not in­ter­est­ing at all.’’

She is guarded, as some­one who has gath­ered the shrieks of teen-fan ap­proval, and the con­dem­na­tions of teen fans up­set when she was caught cheat­ing on her Twi­light co-star and off-cam­era beau, Robert Pat­tin­son.

The ‘‘char­ac­ter­is­tic hes­i­tancy’’ that New York Daily News critic El­iz­a­beth Weitz­man noted in her act­ing is her of­f­cam­era per­sona as well.

But Ste­wart, who apol­o­gised to fans over her in­dis­cre­tion and has ap­par­ently re­united with Pat­tin­son, is let­ting it all roll off her back – the Twi­light movies have en­dured, she the most widely im­per­son­ated ac­tress of her gen­er­a­tion, in hor­ror spoofs on TV and in movies. Her goal, Ste­wart says, is to avoid be­com­ing a self-con­scious ac­tress, to keep the spon­tane­ity in her work.

‘‘I find that as soon as you start con­sid­er­ing ‘the fame thing’, over­think­ing the ca­reer and all, you’re putting your­self out­side of your­self and you start to worry about how you’re per­ceived. You worry about how some part you play or how some­thing you say is go­ing to land . . .

‘‘I can’t do my job if I do that. But I def­i­nitely see other ac­tors who love be­ing fa­mous so much that they do what­ever it takes to stay fa­mous . . .

‘‘They’re able to turn on the charisma, the lik­a­bil­ity, when they have a movie com­ing up. I can’t. You’re go­ing to be so dis­jointed if you start liv­ing through how other peo­ple per­ceive you.’’

It pays to re­mem­ber how young she is, that she grew up in the movies, mak­ing a mark as a child ac­tress in Panic Room with Jodie Fos­ter when she was 12. Like many a child ac­tress, school was by cor­re­spon­dence course and col­lege hasn’t fig­ured in the equa­tion.

There’s act­ing to be done, and if she stum­bles for words – con­fus­ing ‘‘tact­fully’’ and ‘‘tac­tile’’ for ‘‘tac­ti­cally’’ when talk­ing about plan­ning her ca­reer – there’s al­ways time for col­lege, like her role model, Jodie Fos­ter, if and when the act­ing ca­reer cools off.

Which won’t be any time soon. Ben Af­fleck just cast Ste­wart as his novice con-artist side­kick in Fo­cus.

Film­mak­ers tried for more than 50 years to turn Jack Ker­ouac’s On the Road into a movie. When Ste­wart signed on in a sup­port­ing role, di­rec­tor Wal­ter Salles got it done.

Ste­wart says she loves be­ing an ac­tress for hire, ‘‘of fight­ing for a part, con­vinc­ing some­one that you’ve got some­thing they need’’. But now, be­ing rich and fa­mous with proven box of­fice clout, she’s hav­ing to give up some of that free­dom by tak­ing con­trol.

‘‘It’s strange to have the roles re­versed, where I can be in con­trol of what I get to make. One thing that I love about the job is hav­ing ‘NO’ con­trol.’’

But ex­pect her to ini­ti­ate her own pet projects in the very near fu­ture.

She says she didn’t re­alise the ex­tent that Twi­light would shake up her life, not even af­ter land­ing the role of Bella.

‘‘There was no ex­pec­ta­tion that we would even get to fin­ish the whole se­ries when we did the first Twi­light,’’ she says.

‘‘On the set, it felt like we were mak­ing an­other in­de­pen­dent movie.’’

She and the rest of the cast had de­cided to be ‘‘re­li­giously faith­ful to the nov­els’’, not know­ing how that might look and sound on the screen.

Then the cast made its fa­mous pre-re­lease 2008 ap­pear­ance at San Diego’s Comic-Con fan con­ven­tion: ‘‘And we were hit by this wave of en­ergy, that was re­ally baf­fling . . . It was a to­tally con­ta­gious ex­pe­ri­ence, feed­ing on it­self. That hall, jammed with 6000 peo­ple, re­act­ing that way, made me think ‘this is NOT nor­mal’.’’ Five years later, it still isn’t.

Ste­wart says she’s ‘‘re­lieved’’ that the five-film se­ries is fi­nally over.

‘‘If I say I’m ex­cited the ex­pe­ri­ence is com­plete, it’s only be­cause I don’t have that re­spon­si­bil­ity weigh­ing on me any­more. A typ­i­cal movie, you’ve got a five­week or even five-month com­mit­ment,’’ she says.

This was five years. I’m go­ing to miss that ‘I won­der how the wed­ding will look’ or ‘I won­der what I’ll have to do in the birth scene’. ‘‘Hope­fully, I will find that feel­ing in other projects.’’ What won’t she miss? ‘‘Oh God, I will not miss hav­ing to be so . . . per­fect. I mean, these vam­pires are just so . . . per­fect. I won’t miss the contact lenses and I don’t think any­body in the cast would dis­agree with me there. And the face paint! To look like mar­ble, we just cake this stuff on. I’m not sure that panned out and I am more than happy to leave that be­hind.’’

The Twi­light Saga: Break­ing Dawn – Part 2

opens to­day.

Above: Kris­ten Ste­wart and Robert Pat­tin­son re­unite on­screen – and on the red car­pet – for The Twi­light Saga: Break­ing Dawn – Part 2.

Left: Ste­wart and her on­screen daugh­ter, played by Macken­zie Foy, in Break­ing Dawn – Part 2.

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