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Half hour with... Kristen Stewart
A reluctant celebrity whose personal life attracts as many column inches as her professional one, the Twilight star talks of the rewards and pitfalls of fame.
She may be only 24, but Kristen Stewart already has the stellar CV of a Hollywood actress twice her age. After making her name in hit teen saga Twilight, she has since landed more grown-up roles. In the forthcoming Clouds of Sils Maria she plays the anxious personal assistant to an ageing actress played by Juliette Binoche, and in Still Alice she plays a daughter dealing with her mother's early-onset Alzheimer's.
Kristen given your own celebrity status, what perspective did you bring to your role in Clouds of Sils Maria?
Kristen: My character gets to say lines that are almost exactly how I feel about a lot of the nonsense that goes on in this business She also gets to criticize the way the press turns film-making and acting into a mass-consumption produc and superficial phenomenon, and it's a process I'm very familiar with. It was a lot of fun to say those things about the business.
Did it feel odd playing an assistant when you yourself have had assistants?
Kristen: I've had an assistant but I've never gotten into a co-dependent relationship the way my character and Juliette's do. I can understand how that comes about because being famour can be very isolating - people stop treating you in a normal way. In this story it was interesting to explore how the dynamic between these two women becomes more intense as they get to know each other better. An assistant has a difficult role to fulfil. You're not a mother, sister of even a friend, but in some ways you're all of those things mixed up together.
When filming, did you get feelings of déjà vu?
Kristen: I had to rein in the grin on my face [in a scene where a young actress is caught behaving badly by a news show]. I also had to make sure my cheeks weren't turning red when I said some of my lines because the way that I'm living gave them an irony.
The film shows how dangerous it can be when one's identity is defined by fame. How do you separate yourself from the business?
Kristen: It's part of my life and I enjoy the work so I don't think in those terms. I'm always working on something. When I finish a project I'm already thinking about the new one or reading scripts. I also enjoy writing, particularly poetry, which I'll sometimes read to friends. I'm shy and it's often easier to express myself through writing. I also read a lot of literature and I like it when people take the time to talk about a book. Sharing your love of a book can be a good way of connecting ot another person. Those stories then become even more special.
How do you react to press stories about you?
Kristen: I try not to get upset because it's simply the way the media operates. But people should understand that often the stories have very little truth to them. People have no idea what's really going on inside someone else's life. It's also very rare that things are black or white. The truth is often complicated.
So is it better just to ignore the gossip?
Kristen: It's usually a losing battle to get involved with that. All you're going is adding to the bullshit even when you're trying to be honest. And when you're dealing with something like a break-up, usually you're only going to make things worse and keep the story going.
Just like I've never planned out my career in a specific way. I don't try to control the perception of me or make people think a certain way about me. I don't know how they choose: "Well, this is a different side of me people have not seen and so I will present that to them now." It's like: "Why are you doing this for other people? You should be doing it for yourself." I've functionned from that position sice I started, and therefore I really don't care about all that.
In what ways has success changed you?
Kristen: I don't feel any different from the girl I was before I became famour. It's hard to analyse it and compare how my life would have been if Twilight hadn't happened. Although, when I look at where I am, I can at least say I'm pretty happy with how far I've come.
You're also appearing in a film with Julianne Moore called Still Alice. Tell us about that...
Kristen: It was a very rewarding experience. Julianne Moore has been a huge inspiration for me. This film made me reflect on many things - the relationship between a mother and daughter, the importance of memory and how valuable our memories are to us. Also, it was the kind of story that made me think how lucky I am to feel happy.
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