There can’t be many actresses who are as unassuming as Kristen Stewart. She may be a household name, thanks to her portrayal of Bella Swan — a girl whose affections are being fought over by a vampire and werewolf in the Twilight franchise — but Kristen isn’t one to play the fame game. In fact, she just seems embarrassed by it.
Fiercely private, her reticence to reveal all about her personal life has earned her a reputation for being sullen and uncooperative in interviews. But, it turns out, this has more to do with plain old nerves than a difficult disposition.
“I’m comforted by knowing what my next few days are going to bring me and that’s what has initially scared me about press because you never know what you’re walking into,” says Kristen.
“Like right now, I have no idea where the conversation is going to go. I’ve always been like so, so terrified of that, it’s completely rendered me incapable of even doing it.”
The small and slight 20-year-old is dressed in a red-checked shirt and skinny jeans; the sunglasses propped on top of her head revealing striking green eyes (in Twilight she wears brown contacts). The only trace of cosmetics is her black nail varnish, but then there’s no need for a face full of foundation when you boast perfect, pale skin. She’s like a real-life advertisement for the bottle of Fiji water from which she swigs throughout the interview.
“I love making movies and I want people to know about them,” she continues. “So I might be shy and that might make me seem weird to people, but it’s not going to stop me from doing what I love to do.”
The faintest of smiles crosses her lips, but she continues to shake one of her legs up and down, suggesting just how uncomfortable she’s feeling. It’s an improvement on press junkets of past when she was rendered near mute.
“You have no idea,” she says, laughing at the mention of this. “I actually feel normal.”
For those who have remained immune to the Twilight phenomenon, the film saga is based on a series of novels by the author Stephenie Meyer. It’s told from the viewpoint of l7-year-old Bella, who moves to the small (and perennially over-cast) town of Forks, Washington, where she promptly falls in love with Edward Cullen; a 109-year-old vampire trapped in the body of a beautiful teenager.
Edward is played by heartthrob-du-jour Robert Pattinson — the man Kristen is reportedly dating in real life. The ‘are they, aren’t they?’ dating conundrum has only served to exacerbate the Twilight-mania, with showbiz blogs dissecting the pair’s body language and public interaction in minute detail.
Kristen isn’t about to confirm her relationship status, but she’s aware what’s being said.
“I am so aware of it,” she stresses.
“Because I’m like such a control freak and because I have to talk about it all the time and I’m directly asked about it,” she adds, then pauses. “Like, if I’m ever asked about something and I go, ‘What are you talking about?’ Like that’s the worst feeling in the world because you’re completely caught off-guard.”
Currently on a world-wide promotional tour for Eclipse, the third instalment in the Twilight saga, Kristen says: “Nobody had any idea that we were even going to make a sequel.”
“The success of the books grew in an insanely quick amount of time with the growth of the movies. Initially we were really excited by the fan base that we had because it was going to be a cult phenomenon or whatever but not a global phenomenon.”
Twilight, the first film, was released in 2008, followed by New Moon last year, which saw a reluctant Edward leave Bella in the hope of saving her from a life with vampires.
Having spent most of the last shoot acting ‘bereft’, Kristen welcomed the action-packed Eclipse.
“Bella’s much more industrious in this movie,” she says.
“She’s called upon to actually deal with things that don’t necessarily have an emotional drain on her.”
Amid the action is a burgeoning love triangle between Bella, Edward and Bella’s best-friend Jacob, who was revealed to be a werewolf in New Moon and played by, a predominantly shirtless, Taylor Lautner.
“Basically, I’m still being hunted by vampires, but the biggest problem in my life is being able to acknowledge that there are different levels of loving someone,” says Kristen. “I must admit to myself that I am totally in love with my best friend, but just not as much as my real, true love, who obviously is Edward.” She pauses. “For me, Eclipse is about growing up and making decisions and realising that the choices that you make aren’t necessarily instinctual.”
Yet the actress admits that many of her own decisions are based on instinct.
“I guess I go from the gut, which is how I’ve chosen every movie I’ve ever done,” she says. And it’s never failed her. “It’s not like I’ve had a life changing experience on every movie I’ve done, but I’ve taken a lot from every day of work I’ve ever done so that’s worth it.”
Born in Los Angeles, Kristen’s father is a TV stage manager and her mother a script advisor. “I’ve grown up around it so I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she says. At the age of 11, she starred alongside Jodie Foster in Panic Room, but, Twilight aside, Kristen’s film choices of late have been low-budget independent and intelligent movies, such as Adventureland and the up-coming release, a Joan Jett biopic The Runaways, in which she stars alongside her Twilight co-star Dakota Fanning.
“The job doesn’t change depending on the budget,” she says. “If you’re doing it for the right reasons then none of that should matter to you. And I’m not doing the small movies in between just to do something different; I’m doing them because I’ve got lucky enough to really love the characters that have been presented to me.”
And she has Twilight to thank for that. Asked how her life’s changed since becoming Bella, she says: “I can’t really go to malls anymore, obviously, but that’s not like a huge sacrifice.
“The biggest change is that it’s put me in a position to be able to make choices as an actor and that’s really rare for anybody. Usually you do what you get, it’s a hard business and so that’s what Twilight’s given me, it’s given me indulgences as an actor.”