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'Twilight' Countdown: Kristen Stewart talks about becoming Bella

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While Robert Pattinson has been the focus of the media frenzy surrounding "Twilight," it's Kristen Stewart, the actress playing 17-year-old Bella, who truly is carrying the film. Bella not only narrates the love story, she also awakens Edward out of his 107-year stupor.

In our one-on-one interview with the actress, she talks about her first impressions of Stephenie Meyer's teen love story, answers for calling some of movie's dialogue corny, and talks about whether she's game to do the sequels.

As the movie’s premiere nears, are you starting to feel pressure from the fans? Are you nervous about what they'll think of your take on Bella?

I’m just as passionate about the book as the fans are, so it’s sort of weird to be addressed like, "Don’t mess this up for us!" Like, wow, I don’t want to mess it up for myself either.

What was your first impression of "Twilight"?

I read a synopsis of the story before I read the script or the book -- and I hated it. I didn't want to be a part of something that presents this really ideological idea of love to so many young people. The synopsis made Bella so weak, as though the only reason she wanted to be with Edward was because he was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, because he could take care of her, because she didn’t have to be brave because he could be brave for her.

I don’t know who wrote that synopsis, but that is not the story. Once I read the script, I begged for an audition. The script showed completely different sides to the characters. It fleshed them out. You see that the power balance between Edward and Bella is actually really skewed and more interesting. We have a girl who is insanely naive and has no idea what she’s getting into, yet she trusts herself enough to put stock in what she feels and gives up the power to him. And he’s afraid and tortured and entirely conflicted, whereas she’s not. She becomes the assertive force in the relationship. It's an ambitious thing to try to portray the ultimate love story, and I thought it would be a good project.

You begged for the audition, but in Entertainment Weekly, you said that you had to say some of the “corniest” dialogue you've ever had in a movie. Director Catherine Hardwicke also said if you didn’t feel comfortable saying something, you wouldn’t. She encouraged you to improvise. How much did you change?

We changed everything. There wasn’t one scene we didn’t touch. There were many occasions, really quiet parts of the movie when it’s just Edward and Bella together, where I was like, "Alright, we’re not saying any of the lines. We’re just going to do the whole scene with no lines."

But, at the same time, some of those "corny lines," it was just me being self-conscious. Those wrenching fundamental emotions, I mean how else do you express them? How else do you say, "I love you"? How else do you say, "I want to die for you"? I mean, those are really dramatic lines, but when expressed in that context, there really is no other way to say it. Catherine really helped me with that. She put me in the right position and sort of forced me to go there. You have to be so exposed, so entirely cracked open and vulnerable to able to give like that. So on the page it was really corny, but we worked it out.

Edward and Bella are pretty intense the way you describe them. Was it an intense set?

(Laughs) I take myself way too seriously. Rob and I got in a lot of trouble every day because the studio would say we weren’t smiling enough and we weren’t happy enough and we weren’t having enough fun. But you have to keep in mind what Edward and Bella are going through.

How did the two of you prepare?

Everybody’s talking about the prep like we had so much research to do and so much work to do (laughs). We just wanted to understand the story the best we could because a lot of it is really hard to wrap your head around. There were a lot of things to justify. There was also a lot of vampire mythology to get straight: Our vampires have superpowers. Our vampires don’t breathe, but they can smell.

We wanted to keep the responsiveness between the two of us acute and specific, not just like he could be some guy and I could be some girl. This is excruciating, painful stuff. When Edward touches Bella, it hurts him, it burns him. For her, it’s the opposite, like she vies for it, and when he walks in a room it’s literally magnetic. The physicality of it is entirely different, so getting all of that stuff straight was a lot of our prep time.

We just read the story a lot and sat up nights talking about "Last Tango in Paris" (laughs). We talked about how to find similar dynamics.

You also have said that you don't want to do a "big movie" after "Twilight,"  but if "Twilight" does well, the sequels will be no doubt be bigger and more expensive. Do you want to continue playing Bella?

Yeah, I enjoyed playing Bella. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t want to follow Bella for a while. It's not like signing on to a TV series. That would be too much of a gamble because you don’t have control over how the content will turn out or how it will end. But with "Twilight," I get to tackle something for a really long time and there’s an end to it.

How are you dealing with the fans? You have a few stops on the "Twilight" mall tour this week in Virginia and New Jersey, where you’ll be the only cast member attending.

I’ve only had a couple of occasions where I’ve had to deal with the craze. Rome being one, Comic-Con being the other. At Comic-Con, we were entirely separated from them, and that’s how it should be. I know Summit’s trying to promote the frenzy, but I’m going to tell them, "Yo, you have to protect us from this." I’ll have big bodyguards.

In Rome, I was literally thrown into a van. I was being held by my arms by two big security guys, and they were getting pushed over by these 15-year-old girls, and they let me go for like a second, and I just got enveloped. The bodyguards had to pick me up and shove me into the van. But then the van starts rocking because the barricades had broken down and they swarmed the car. It was totally scary.

What do you love about acting? Why do you do it?

There’s really no way to put this: Because I have to. I’m not a performer, I can’t do a song and dance for you, I don’t like "entertaining" people, that’s not why I do it. Acting is such a personal thing, which is weird because at the same time it’s not. It’s for the consumption of other people. But in terms of creative outlets and expressing yourself, it’s just the most extreme version of that that I’ve ever found. It’s like running, it’s exertion. When you reach that point where you can’t go anymore and you stop and you take a breath, it’s that same sort of clearing of the mind.

And when you get to study something else and understand someone else and completely lose yourself in it, you feel a certain responsibility. Or at least I do, because if you don’t bring that character to life the right way, then nobody else gets to see them or experience what you did.

How do you think your newfound celebrity is going to help you? Are you worried about losing your anonymity?

This is going to make it so much easier for me to not be gutted every time a movie that I’m in love with is never getting off the ground. I never again have to sit around and wait for a movie to get money and then become too old for the role. That I don’t think is going to happen anymore, and that I’m very thankful for.

As for losing my anonymity, I think I’ll be fine. I keep a low profile. I mean, you’re asking for it if you’re at Le Deux every night. So stupid. Just don’t hang out in Hollywood!

-- Denise Martin

Complete 'Twilight' Countdown coverage
Complete 'Twilight' coverage on Hero Complex

Photo: WireImage

Comments () | Archives (49)

She's such a doll. I don't undertand when people talk bad about her.. she's just not that typical hollywood-girl. Love her for that! :)

I think Kristen will have absolutely no problem keeping her anonymity. Smart girl knows to steer clear of all the trendy "hot spots." She'll be just fine. By the way, I loved her already, but I love her even more for calling out Robert - too funny! Thank you for another wonderful interview!

Thank you so much for a Kristen interview...I think she gets overlooked a lot because people are so focused on Rob. She seems like a normal, really down to earth and very intellectual girl. I wish more actresses out there were like her!

Twilight Rules!!!! hahaha
I love Bella and Kristen is perfect to play her!!! I can't wait... Thanks a lot 4 this special countdown

I absolutely love this young lady!! She is so grounded and genuine, and that is so refreshing to see in a young actress. I am really looking forward to seeing her interpretation of Bella, and I have full faith that she will be exactly what we've all been waiting for.

LOL I think Robert was seen at Le deux a few times,,

Kristen is the most amazing actress, and personality EVER. and she deserves some fame too! :)
I love her down to earth, wise, mature, unique ways.. and she's so beautiful!
haha, Now i sound like a stalker.. but i feel like.. nobody really gives her any credit- and she's the main character.. it's always rob, rob, Rob.. and Kristen is amazing too!!

thanks for this LA times, you are awesome!

I dont get what people see her in her. She is such a wooden monotone actress. Emotionless. Not an actress you can warm to at all.

I think that Twilight has been given the gift of some very fine, grounded actors. Not only are Kristin and Rob good people, but the rest of the cast are good people who don't spend their time getting trashed. With so many teens looking at these actors as role models, we are lucky not to have "paris hilton" wanna be's.

At first I was never really a majpr fan of Kristen. But from reading this interview I think she's amazing!!!!! Her ideas are complex and clearly thought out!! I now really enjoy her work and hope for even more!!!

This was a good interview. I think Kristen is perfect for the role of Bella. It's good to know that not all young actresses behave badly. Kristen sounds very grounded and mature for her age. I'm really looking forward to seeing her in Twilight, and hopefully in the sequels. We love you Kristen.

She is such a talented actress and seems to be an awesome person as well. I love that she understands the story and the character of Bella so perfectly. I have always been her fan and I just know she will kick ass as Bella. She is simply awesome!

P.S: People who say she is not talented must be deaf and blind, seriously!

Great interview with Kristen. She's going to be an amazing Bella. I'm glad to hear that she's steering clear of the Hollywood hot spots.

Kristen Stewart is so perfect for the role of Bella. Bella is not some prissy girl. I think she has nailed this!

Kristen is so REAL. I truly respect her for that..

One word, wow. She is so down to earth! And she is perfect to play Bella. She loves her just as much as we do, and probably...understands her ten times better! I can't wait to see the movie!...nex week! holy crap!

What a wonderfully intelligent young woman.

I hope she makes Bella a brighter, more independent character.

i truly respect her now. She's not your typical attention-grabber miley cyrus (sorry for the fans reading this) or yeah paris hilton and linday lohan type. she's grounded and knows what she wants and knows how so steer away from being a trashy party girl... she knows that if you want attention just go out to places in Hollywood and the paps will swarm around you.

rob u should listen to her and take partying and drinking to moderation... I know you're young and likes to have fun but being wasted every night doesn't get you anywhere... maybe you two should hang out so you can learn from her. (peace :))

I respect and appreciate her so much it's ridiculous.

Thanks for the great article! It's so refreshing to read about an actress who not only gets why she's there and what she's being paid to do but is self-aware enough to avoid the pitfalls of celebrity. Yay Kristen!!

Before I read this interview, I was like: Kristen Stewart didn't seem too enthusiastic about the Twilight movie. She's the main role, the big star! How can she NOT be excited? But then, I saw this interview, and gawd, this was awesome. I never really expected an actress, especially one for such a BIG movie, to be so grounded and intelligent. Her answers are definitely well-thought out, profound and obviously, she's put her own opinion into her view of Twilight and how it should be played out. Her responsibility of being an actress, as she puts it, is vital and I know that she'll rise into fame and take it modestly like a good, self-disciplined person. She has the make for an amazing actress, and she's so talented. I'm so truly stunned by how she carries herself; I never expected her to use such BIG words, if you get what I mean. It just goes to show that she's not your normal flouncy wannabe bitchy actress. She knows what she wants to do, she knows not to get in the spotlight too often, she's amazing. Completely well-rounded, and her personality is to die-for. I think she's just... WOW. She's down-to-earth, totally sweet, and yet, not a Mary-sue, which makes her so REAL. She's so REAL that it's amazing. It's just... just amazing. There're too many words to describe her. And, Orli, I don't see why you think she's a wooden montonous actress. She's doing an awesome job, and you have to keep in mind that Bella's character is hard to act out.

WE LOVE YOU KRISTEN STEWART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, I think you're my favourite actress now, and forever. :D

I'm glad the interviewed kristen. people just focus on rob, and kristen is the main character and she seems like different from other celebreties and a really good actress

You know what I realize. She said the same thing as Rob does.

"It's not like signing on to a TV series. That would be too much of a gamble because you don’t have control over how the content will turn out or how it will end."

I mean seriously Kristen and Rob are one of the few actors/actresses who doesn't flow in Hollywood life but projected their carrier beyond any of the tend-to-be actors/actresses.

And please, this is not High School Musical who just sits and smiles on camera. They might need to re-think how actors/actresses are supposed to make a movie seemed real not just spamming out words out of the scripts. I'm glad Kristen knew an "I love you" is a corny line as she knew Edward and Bella's love is beyond those three words.

Great Interview! I knew she was perfect professionally for the role of Bella but after watching some of the clips of her appearances, I felt she was a bit patronizing to the fans. Especially in Rome! She seemed standoffish and borderline rude, but mostly just bored. I worried then, that she was bored with Bella and Bella's fans. Like she felt "what's the big deal people, get a life!" I felt a bit insulted. Not sure what happened over there but glad to see that it was maybe just a case of being overwhelmed and vulnerable that made her come across that way. I'm happy to hear that she loves Bella as much as we do. Her latest interviews show more of the person I thought she was. Intelligent, mature, unassuming and unpretentious. A good role model for teens!

As for Rob, he seems so fun and down to earth, even humble, in interviews. Even a bit silly sometimes. It's refreshing. However, kind of sad to hear that he may be a bit more into the fame than I had originally thought. I've only seen a few pics of him out "partying". Has he really been spotted at clubs and Hollywood hot spots every night? If so, that's really too bad for him and the sequels. Though he isn't Edward, it could really affect the way we see him in the subsequent movies



Wow. Kristen is really what acting is (or should be) all about! Acting is meaningful to her, and she takes it seriously. She doesn't seem like so many others who are just in it for the money and the attention. I'm so glad that she was chosen to portray Bella because I think she really puts some serious thought into the role and how to make her real. The same seems true of Rob. I'm so grateful that they took the roles so seriously. This could have been a really lame "Disney-like" movie had other actors been chosen. I have to say, though, that I feel bad for Kristen and Rob. I think they are having a hard time dealing with the craziness of all the fans (and understandably so) because they aren't into all the attention. It's got to be hard for them. I just hope those crazy fans don't turn on them for not embracing their insanity. Thanks so much for the interview, Denise. It's really great to get to know Kristen a little better. I will definitely be on the lookout for more or Kristen's work!

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