Sarah wrote the other day in her post about the first image released of Kristen Stewart as Jean Seberg in the upcoming film, Seberg, which is headed to the Venice Film Festival in a few weeks. There may be a chance for awards consideration with this role. She also has the upcoming Charlie’s Angels, so a big movie and a small movie – we could be looking at a big fall season coming up for Kristen Stewart. To kick that off, she covers the September 2019 issue of Vanity Fair.
This is probably the most extensive interview she’s given in a while and, happily, she’s not being interviewed by another actor, or writing her own essay, so the piece reads like a standard celebrity profile, which feels like a throwback these days. What’s making most headlines is what Kristen has to say about the late Karl Lagerfeld, having worked with him as Chanel’s ambassador for a few years now. She calls him “insanely, shockingly unpretentious” and remembers that he was kind to her, almost tender. There’s been some pushback to this, and I get it, because Karl said some gross sh-t and is known on the internet as a judgy, problematic bitch. Which is fair, but I don’t know if she has to wear it? And that’s not my final position – that’s my question to you about whether or not she should wear it, whether or not, as someone who spent time with him, someone he was clearly fond of, she has to apologise for it or atone for the sh-tty things he’s said. While you sit with that and let me know later how I should think, let’s move to the other parts of the interview which may have been overlooked.
It’s now been over ten years since the release of the first Twilight movie which turned Kristen Stewart into a household name and a movie star. As we have seen, as she has shared, she struggled with the instant fame and notoriety but has since, through her work, settled into a relationship with her celebrity that is much more relaxed, much more comfortable. Part of that is just maturity, growth. You don’t have to be famous or fame-adjacent to appreciate that during a certain time in your life, through your teens and early adulthood, you feel things more dramatically. Everything feels huge, insurmountable even. For teenagers, everything is intense. Missing the bus is a tragedy.
Kristen turns 30 next year. We’ve observed, in how she public-faces, that she’s become much more chill as she’s gotten deeper into her 20s. Chill enough to let people know how she sees herself now, despite the image that might be out there of her – that she’s edgy and unapproachable:
“I think I’ve grown out of this, but I used to be really frustrated that because I didn’t leap willingly into being at the center of a certain amount of attention, that it seemed like I was an asshole. I am in no way rebellious. I am in no way contrarian. I just want people to like me.”
I thought about not including that quote in this post as I was hoping that you’d read it and react to it the way I did – it surprised me, seeing those words in print, because at least in my world, the encouraged thought these days is not to want people to like you but rather, “if people don’t like you, it’s their loss, don’t change who you are!” Which is still true, it’s just the simple desire of wanting to be liked and saying it seems like it doesn’t happen as often anymore. That’s not to say we don’t observe those who want to be liked, who try to be liked, because we all have that in ourselves, but I don’t know how cool it is to admit to it. Maybe that’s why I was disarmed when I read that Kristen Stewart offered that up about herself. Perhaps this is what comes with the age too. As she says in the 15 minute video with Vanity Fair that’s a timeline of her career, she’s proud of Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, her costars in Charlie’s Angels – in a big sister way, because she’s older than they are, she’s now no longer the young actress on set, she now has the opportunity to be a mentor, and I feel like she’d be good at it.
This is what’s exciting about a project like Charlie’s Angels, with a female cast and a female writer/director (Elizabeth Banks). There can be mentorship at different levels. We had a guest on our show last year who talked about the importance of mentoring and being mentored. Kristen Stewart, on that set, would have had the perfect opportunity for that, and if I get on that junket, that’s a question I would ask her.
Of working with Kristen, Elizabeth said that she approached it like a fan with a director’s influence:
“We wrote her a lot of jokes,” says Banks. “We also improv’d because I come from that background, going all the way back to Wet Hot American Summer—you find something in a moment.” Stewart, says Banks, “lands as many jokes in this movie as any comic actor.” Banks approached writing for Stewart as if it were fan fiction. “What do I want to see Kristen Stewart do in a movie? Like, the fan in me wants to see Kristen Stewart do this. And then I would just make her do it.”
How did that work out for Kristen?
It’s a comedic turn for Stewart. “I’m not even like that in real life. [Banks] put punch lines on my jokes every day. I overthink stuff, I make everything way too long. She’s like, ‘Dude, just say it faster.’”
This is what an actor wants from a director, right? To encourage them to step into a different space. Don’t overthink. Just say it faster because you are funny, otherwise you’re just getting in your own way.
About the funny though, I’m now even more excited about Charlie’s Angels because of the way Kristen describes what the movie is about:
This Charlie’s Angels feels harvested from the same era as the last one—the one from 20 years ago, starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu. That’s a good thing. It’s extra-lite and pleasantly out of place. The sort of atmosphere that suggests the cast—to put it plainly—enjoyed working together. I ask Stewart why she thinks the tone of Charlie’s Angels is effective despite the movie’s early-aughts pep. Her answer is simple. This is a movie about “women at ease.”
Kristen has been doing a lot of writing, she just worked on a screenplay and will direct her first feature length film based on Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir The Chronology of Water. I wonder if this experience, all the writing she’s been doing, has informed how succinctly she summed up Charlie’s Angels as a movie about “women at ease”.
Women, of course, have a lot to NOT be at ease about. At the same time, it doesn’t mean we can’t be at ease, especially when we’re being supported by each other. And it doesn’t mean we can’t tell stories about being at ease, having fun, silly fun. These stories are important too. We don’t see Kristen Stewart in a lot of these stories though. That she wants to now is a certain vulnerability too, non?
What they tell you about vulnerability, real vulnerability, is that it actually happens when you are most confident, when you feel the most at ease (there it is again) to reveal yourself. There’s a confidence to Kristen Stewart now that she wears well. In that timeline video of her career, when The Runaways comes up, she recalls rehearsing a performance scene playing Joan Jett with Joan Jett in the room. Since they weren’t rolling, Kristen wasn’t givin’er because she prefers to save the juice for the real takes. Joan wasn’t happy with this. In fact, she was disappointed. Instead of feeling embarrassed by that, and rattled because the person she was portraying wasn’t feeling how she was portraying her, Kristen says she went up to Joan and was like, you’re a musician and you know what you’re doing when you’re doing it, and I’m an actor, and I promise you, I know what I’m doing, I got this, I got you. And she did. Would she have told that story then the way she told it in 2019? With such assurance but not arrogance? What she’s saying here is that she’s good at her job, that she’s always been good at her job, and now she’s ready to tell you that she is.
Speaking of being good at your job though, and being recognised for it, one last takeaway from this piece (before I get out of here because holy sh-t, this post is now 1800 words long, I’m SORRY). Olivier Assayas was asked to share his thoughts on what Kristen is like on set. He came up with this anecdote:
Over the phone, the director Olivier Assayas—who refers to Stewart as his “soul sister” and who worked with her on Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), for which Stewart received a César award (the first American actress ever), and the supernatural thriller, Personal Shopper (2016)—references her facility on set as a star who hangs out, who sits on an apple box and starts up conversations with the crew.
“It really struck me one day. I had a problem: The film was too long. At some point I said, ‘Why don’t we just simplify the credits. The credits are so full of people. No one ever reads those credits,’” recalls Assayas. “And instantly, Kristen was angry with me. She said, ‘What do you mean? It means the world to those guys. It’s so important for them. For you, it’s a tiny second. For them, it’s vital.’”
First of all… what a dick for even suggesting that about the credits. I’ve had the privilege of being at screenings with production teams, including Marvel production teams, and when the credits come up, they’re cheering for themselves and their colleagues. It’s a big deal for them to be recognised. It’s one of the few times they’re recognised. Kristen, who grew up on sets with her parents, would have known this from the beginning. I’m having a hard time understanding why a director wouldn’t but whatever, I guess Olivier self-sacrificed in a way to make her look better. Hopefully that was how she mentored him.
To read the entire Vanity Fair piece on Kristen Stewart, click here and also attached – some shots of Kristen out in LA yesterday.