The actress, who is set to star in the new Charlie’s Angels reboot (who’s excited?!), has opened up this week about the impact that her sexuality has had on her career.
I mean, the awkward teen-tomboy who starred alongside Jodie Foster in Panic Room certainly had an image overhaul before returning to the big screen in 2008 for the Twilight franchise.
Back then, androgynous actresses could only find themselves landing roles in indie flicks, as she did throughout her adolescence. It was only when she grew her hair out long and dressed a bit more girly that the then-seventeen-year-old bagged a part that would launch her into the mainstream.
Now, over a decade later, K-Stew is a well-established presence on our screens and has been afforded the privilege of “being herself” off-screen.
Having said that, even though being queer may be “fashionable” now, we shouldn’t forget the negative impact that it had not so long ago on the actress’s career.
From the sounds of it, the Palme d’Or-winning actress ought to have stayed in the arms of British hunk, Robert Pattinson, if she had wanted to bag a role with Marvel.
Here’s the story…
Kristen Stewart starred alongside Jodie Foster in the 2004 thriller, Panic Room.
Stewart was only twelve years when she starred in Panic Room. Interestingly, although Foster loved working with “wise-beyond-her-years” Stewart, she reportedly didn’t think that she would make it as an actress.
According to E Online, Foster confessed to Elle Magazine at the Women in Hollywood Awards Show: “She’s a great person, and I’m not surprised she’s gone on to do great things, but I am surprised she is an actress. I didn’t think that’s where she was headed,” Foster expanded on this, saying: “And even though her mom said, ‘No, she really really wants to be an actress,’ I felt like, Nah, she won’t because she really doesn’t have the stereotypical personality.”
It seemed as though Foster thought that Stewart was too smart to get embroiled in the superficial mill of Hollywood. She finished by saying: “Anybody who has a brain doesn’t. That tells you how smart Kristen Stewart is.”
The actress recently spoke about how she struggled with fame in the early days of her career. She reflected that she was very guarded at one point. Stewart thought: “I have to protect myself. When you are initially exposed to something. The onslaught of that type of attention can really put you in a hole.”
Stewart considers now that she is “so completely unguarded.”
This is a massive breakthrough for the actress, who used to loathe red carpets and was notoriously awkward in interviews.
“It’s a beautiful feeling, in stark contrast with how I felt [then]” she continued.
“… But I feel like I kind of do that anyway, in a different way.”
It’s true, K-Stew is notoriously absent from social media but she insists that she isn’t hiding. Fair play to Stewart, there certainly is more to life than Twitter and Instagram and some people just aren’t interested in it.
Besides, when she does want to say something, she can just go on SNL and say it directly to the president… because, of course, that’s who she needs to be directing her attention to.
In fact, that is exactly what she did with her famous “coming out monologue” in 2017. I mean, what need does she have for Twitter when she can publicly shame the president for goading her while simultaneously presenting live television?
A big part of the problem with the public perception of K-Stew is that people saw her in the Twilight franchise, caught a few of her awkward interviews, and thought “this girl sticks out like a sore thumb.”
The truth is, Stewart was excelling in the indie movie scene way before Twilight fell into her lap. But, for an actress, who (as mentor Jodie Foster commented) “didn’t fit the stereotype” of Hollywood; having her raw talent for portraying complicated characters squashed into the mold of the helpless Bella Swan made her look… well, just not very good.
Take her 2004 performance in the indie movie, Speak.
In this remarkable performance by fourteen-year-old K Stew, she plays a teen victim of sexual assault. Stewart’s character attempts to navigate the hollow emptiness that she now feels, piecing her life back together before eventually opening up about the attack.
Frankly, Stewart’s performance has a maturity far beyond her years.
Starring in Catch that Kid alongside High School Musical’s Corbin Bleu, Stewart cemented herself in the category of tomboy-indie-movie-go-to-girl.
The young actress was clearly up for taking on brave and challenging pieces – as evident from when she did Speak at fourteen. By the age of sixteen, Stewart was tackling challenging, high-brow indie movies, like the pictured Fierce People (2005).
It’s this natural truthfulness to Stewart’s performances that Dazed Magazine argues has led to criticism of her later work.
With Stewart’s inability to play the role of “celebrity” with confidence, she has been pigeonholed as wooden and awkward. Dazed columnist, Jake Pitre, considers: “Stewart’s perceived real-life aloofness translates into how people interpret her performances, as though the public was afraid of someone who simply didn’t want to play the game of celebrity like she was expected to.”
Stewart has tried to play the celebrity game…
Lord knows she’s tried, and Lord knows Hollywood hates a trier. It’s just a pity that K-Stew didn’t realize that she was too cool for the Hollywood mold all along and that she should create her own.
That would have saved many years of awkward interviews and red carpets. But, eh, what’s being young for if not figuring yourself out?
When Stewart got the Twilight part in 2008, she was dating her Speak co-star and fellow actor, Michael Angarano. They started dating when she was fifteen and their romance continued up until the Rob romance.
Twilight launched K-stew’s career into the mainstream.
It was also the start of her arduous relationship with the celeb gossip mill, given that she began dating her co-star, Robert Pattinson.
At nineteen years old, Stewart’s every move was put under scrutiny and her relationship with twenty-one-year-old R-Patz was under the world’s microscope.
Speaking to Elle Magazine earlier this year, Stewart reflected on her and Rob’s relationship and explained that the intense media pressure made their time together quite difficult. She expressed: “When me and Rob were together, we did not have an example to go by, So much was taken from us.”
Preferring to bundle up in her coat, only to remove it when necessary, the actress struggled with finding her style in this early period of her celebrity career.
I mean, find me a nineteen-year-old that does have it all figured out, right?
As you can see, the contrast in her style choices from the press call for Twilight (2008) and New Moon (2009) shows just how quickly the actress was finding her feet – or rather how quickly she decided to defy Hollywood’s expectations.
In amongst filming for Twilight, Stewart was still shooting indie movies.
Just like the 2009 cult-favorite, Adventureland, alongside Jesse Eisenberg. Stewart’s work ethic makes it little wonder that at twenty-nine-years-old, the actress has already starred in over fifty titles.
Joan Jett was impressed with Stewart when working with her on the 2010 biopic, The Runaways. Jett spoke to MTV about K-Stews’ method, observing: “She’d listen to my accent and watch my body language. She’s an actress of weight, honesty, integrity, and depth, and she’s very serious. She takes it as art.”
The Runaways (2010) starred many of Hollywood’s new era actresses.
Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, and Alia Shawkat are all prime examples of the modern Hollywood actresses that refuse to play by anyone else’s rules.
A child star from the hit TV show, Arrested Development, Shawkat isn’t exactly your typical Hollywood actress, that being said, she’s making some of the best movies of right now.
Speaking with The Guardian last month, Shawkat discussed how her Iraqi, Irish, Italian, and Norwegian heritage meant she was often told she was “too ethnic” for many roles. This way of thinking is now changing and she considers that there is now an “appetite for different stories.”
She makes the profound point that, as an actress, it’s “nice to be seen for who you are” – something that I think is the reason that both Shawkat and Stewart’s talents are now brighter than ever before: because they are no longer being forced into boxes that they don’t fit into.
Michael Cera & Alia Shawkat both started their careers in Arrested Development.
The series was certainly on the quirkier side of the situational family comedy-drama. We can perhaps thank AD for launching Shawkat and Cera into the world of alternative comedy, with both actors going on to work on some of the best indie movies of the age.
What would Juno (2009) have been without Cera? Who watched the would-be-romance mockumentary, Paper Heart (2009)?
Juno and Paper Heart marked the dawn of this new type of cinema.
They were movies that showed the alternative, awkward, and ironic young adult generation.
You could say that Winona Ryder fitted this type, but she was in an era that could only give her narratives that fitted certain stereotypes. Juno and Paper Heart began questioning these stereotypes, leading to where we are now, with bolder and more diverse pictures coming up every year.
Shawkat later starred in the indie classic, Whip It, with Ellen Page.
Ellen Page is another of the modern indie actress that is re-shaping the way that we see Hollywood celebrity culture. Not only an advocate for the gay community, but Page has also torn down boundaries. Before her, would we have ever seen a small tomboy-ish Canadian starring alongside Leonardo Di Caprio in a Hollywood blockbuster like Inception (2010)?
The pace of Hollywood’s progression is speeding up. Take Whip It (2009), for instance…
Directed by Drew Barrymore, at the time, this girl-power movie was seen as revolutionary, and yet Page still had to get with a boy. If this was made now, there’s no doubt that Shawkat and Page’s “friendship” would have been the romance of the movie.
In a live reading of Juno in 2017, Shawkat actually played the role of Bleeker.
If you don’t remember, Bleeker was Michael Cera’s character, the teen that got Juno knocked up – although, if you also remember, it was Page’s character that did the knocking.
Page and Shawkat have been close friends since Whip It.
The duo are often spotted hanging out and I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time until they give the people what they want and do a movie that makes up for the queerbaiting in Whip It.
The Canadian-born actress starred in the lesbian drama, Freeheld (2015), alongside Julianne Moore, then starred in the lesbian romance/drama, My Days of Mercy (2017), with Kate Mara playing her love interest, as well as playing a queer role in the Netflix original series, Tales of The City (2019).
She has also worked as the co-host and creator of the Vice television series, Gaycation, which highlights issues facing those in the LGBTQ community all over the world.
Ellen Page is a great example of the once-marginalized voice pushing out of the shadows. For Page hasn’t just been cast in these movies and shows, she has spearheaded and produced most of them herself.
In 2018, Shawkwat co-wrote, produced, and starred in the excellent queer rom-com, Duck Butter.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I would really recommend it. Duck Butter is the best portrayal of relationships – gay or straight – I have ever seen in a movie. It’s dizzying.
Stewart starred alongside Chloe Sevigny in the psychological thriller, Lizzie.
Sevigny had been attached to the production for over a decade and it had, in many ways, become a passion project. When considering who to cast as her co-star, there was no question that she wanted Stewart.
Speaking to Variety, Sevigny alluded to how Stewart’s struggle within the industry and with the press intrigued her. She felt it perfectly reflected the struggle of the characters within the narrative of Lizzie. She explained she wanted to cast: “ women that seem really modern, self-possessed, [and] desirous of life. People you can really relate to that are literally gagged and bound by their era.”
Regarding the movie’s narrative, Stewart expressed pleasure in playing a character that gets to fight back against oppression, saying: “It’s nice to see two animals like that get-up and bite back. Both of these women felt, not only taken advantage of but also like they weren’t allowed to exist.”
In July 2012, when then-twenty-two-year-old Stewart, was shooting Snow White and the Huntsman, intimate photos were taken of her with Rupert Sanders, the then-forty-one-year-old director of the movie.
Naturally, it was Stewart who received most of the public onslaught following the affair. K-Stew was condemned for “breaking the heart” of her Twilight co-star… Sanders got off relatively unscathed.
Married Rupert Sanders, who was quite clearly in a position of power when inciting an affair with the much younger Stewart told Vanity Fair that he looked back at the dalliance as “an exciting mistake.”
The affair, for Stewart, was not what she would consider an “exciting” time.
Stewart’s public image has never quite recovered from the scandal. For an actress who has never enjoyed her position in the public eye, the affair made sure that she was plastered all over every magazine and hounded by photographers wherever she went.
Opening up to Marie Claire about the period, Stewart said: “Speaking very candidly, it was a really traumatic period in my early 20s that kick-started something in me that was a bit more feral. I’m really proud that I am able to move forward and not fall into every mental crater.”
Before becoming President of The United States, Donald Trump seemed very occupied by the goings-on of K-Stew’s love-life.
The President didn’t just tweet about Stewart once, he sent poisonous darts her way eight times! Good grief. It’s little wonder that the actress decided to call him out during her SNL monologue.
More passionate than ever to make art that she cares about, the actress seemed to have found her voice and her confidence.
Speaking to Harpers Bazaar this month, Stewart considered: “Every day I get older, life gets easier.”
Speaking candidly in her Bazaar cover interview, Stewart shows just how far she has come with the handling of her public image. Now older, and able to reflect, she has much more control. The eloquent, but straight-talking, twenty-six year old explains: “I want to reclaim that word, because it’s been used too violently against me.”
In 2014, Stewart started a relationship with her ex-PA and visual effects producer, Alicia Cargile.
Initially, when the pair were spotted by the press doing “datey” things like going for coffee, hanging in the park, holding hands, kissing, etc. they were deemed “gal-pals.”
This went on for ages.
Describing how she felt about being in the public eye during her early twenties, Stewart told The New York Times that it was, “debilitating physical anxiety.”
With her previous serious relationship with Robert Pattinson being played out so much in public, Stewart was initially not keen to have the same thing happen with her relationship to Cargile.
She explained, “People wanted me and Rob to be together so badly that our relationship was made into a product. It wasn’t real life anymore. And that was gross to me. It’s not that I want to hide who I am or hide anything I’m doing in my life. It’s that I don’t want to become a part of a story for entertainment value.”
Considering her change in heart, Stewart told Vogue, “I still want to protect my personal life, but I don’t want to seem like I’m protecting the idea.”
Kristen feared that keeping her gay relationship out of the public eye would suggest that she was ashamed of her sexuality. She expressed a desire to want to be a positive role model for the gay community, saying: “I would never talk about any of my relationships before, but once I started dating girls it seemed like there was an opportunity to represent something really positive.”
Quite dissimilar to Alicia, Soko was very public about her dalliance with Stewart, posting photos of the actress all over Instagram.
The pair made their relationship very apparent, with plenty of PDA on their dates in Paris and LA.
This out and open attitude was very new to K-stew.
Stephanie Soko could certainly be considered an influential character on K-Stew’s journey to becoming more open about her sexuality in front of the cameras.
That being said, the romance was not to last, with the pair breaking up after a couple of months. By all accounts, the relationship ended civilly, however, when Soko discovered that Kristen had gotten back with her ex, Alicia Cargile, the “First Love Never Dies” hitmaker reportedly tweeted: “CHEATER. F***ing CHEATER,” before quickly deleting it.
Gushing about the visual effects producer to T Magazine, Stewart said: “I love her so much,” she added, scrolling through photos of herself with Cargile. “Look how cute she is.”
Cute she may be, but, by the end of 2016, the pair had broken up and, this time, it seemed like it would be for good.
Annie Clarke, the American-singer, that goes by “St. Vincent” had recently come out of a long-term relationship with the British model, Cara Delevigne, when she started seeing Stewart in October of 2016. The pair were pictured getting close at The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Show but the romance was short-lived.
Maxwell had previously been linked to Miley Cyrus after being snapped making out with the “Wrecking Ball” singer a fair few times.
Stewart started seeing Maxwell in 2016 and the pair ended up dating seriously for two years.
An inside source said that they decided to see other people. In a quote from The Metro, the source claimed that “they started to disagree on things and it stopped being fun. Kristen went to Germany to film and they realized that the relationship had run its course and they needed a change.”
The pair were first spotted together at Coachella in April and were rumored to be together for a couple of months. But then, classic K-Stew got back with her ex…
By the end of June, Kristen and Stella appeared to be back on – and Sara Dinkin had unfollowed the actress on Insta.
With Stella and Kristen both having hectic schedules, it’s little wonder thT their relationship seems to be as on and off as the lid to the jar of peanut butter in my kitchen cupboard.
That being said, it may well be over for Stella and Kristen…
The twenty-nine-year-old actress was seen making out with the screenwriter in New York City at the end of August, with rumors circulating that this means that her and Maxwell are officially over.
Photographed with Beyer again, making out in a park, Stewart further fuelled rumors that she is attached to the screenwriter.
Who knows? Maybe Stewart isn’t getting into anything serious with anyone, maybe the actress is happy just dating – and why not eh?
Speaking to Harpers Bazaar this month, the actress professed that she doesn’t conform to labels. She explained: “She’s a different person every day she wakes up and delighted by that. “I just think we’re all kind of getting to a place where – I don’t know, evolution’s a weird thing – we’re all becoming incredibly ambiguous and it’s this really gorgeous thing.”
Not that this has helped her career. In the candid interview with HB this month, the actress revealed: “I have fully been told, ‘If you just like do yourself a favor, and don’t go out holding your girlfriend’s hand in public, you might get a Marvel movie.'”
Regarding her open sexuality thwarting the potential of her acting career the actress considers, “I don’t want to work with people like that.”
The fickle nature of Hollywood doesn’t fail to amuse Stewart who “shakes her head in mock despair,” before telling the interviewer: “Literally, life is a huge popularity contest.”
… the fact that more diverse roles and narratives are being written for the minority is no bad thing.
As for Stewart, next year, she will turn thirty and she is set to direct her first feature film.
After falling in love with the memoir, The Chronology of Water, Kristen decided that it would be perfect for her directing debut.
The narrative revolves around a young swimmer dealing with addiction and I think that it’s safe to say that it’s a movie that we’ll all be looking forward to.
On taking the reigns, Stewart admitted to Harpers Bazaar: “The thing that’s really igniting me is the idea of starting the ball rolling – and not being the ball.”
And what a wise and inspiring ball she is.