“K-Stew’s grit and tenacity is something to be admired”
BY EMMA KERSHAW. IMAGE BY J BAULD.
Since her first major role in Panic Room in 2002 – a film in which she had to learn how to depict a seizure at the tender age of 11 – Kristen Stewart knew that she wanted to make art. And that art, in addition to acting and directing, includes being the most authentic version of herself.
The early days
Kristen’s breakthrough role came in 2008 when she was cast as Bella Swan in Twilight, a global phenomenon that thrust Kristen straight into the mainstream limelight. Kristen began working on the franchise and was almost instantly criticised for her performance, with critics calling her dull and claiming she never cracks a smile. What these critics may have missed though, is that Bella Swan is dull and devastatingly emo – she played the character very well.
A handful of awkward interviews and Kristen would then be described as moody and unapproachable, leading to Kristen placing at number two in a list of the 20 Most Hated Celebrities published by The Cut in 2013 (shortly after the Twilight Saga came to an end).
In the height of her Twilight success, Kristen was dealing with her own mental health struggles. In an interview with Elle, she described how her stress and the pressures that came with having this unprecedented level of fame at a young age would cause her to have physical symptoms of anxiety, including panic attacks.
A millennial icon
However, despite the anxieties, the backlash and the public scrutiny, Kristen has stayed strong, explaining that, “Critics can say what they want, it’s not going to stop me from making movies”. This resilience and determination is what has helped K-Stew transition from “one of the most hated people in Hollywood” to a millennial icon.
Kristen hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time in 2017 and her famous coming out monologue is one that will go down in SNL history, with her personally calling out the president on live TV and also dropping an f-bomb during it.
Announcing that she was “sooo gay” on national television was a brave move and very refreshing to see that she had come to a point where she was comfortable enough to open up, unfiltered. During the monologue, Kristen also mentioned that she undertook five separate projects in the previous year. It was then, in 2016, when Olivier Assayas’ supernatural thriller Personal Shopper was released. The film debuted at Cannes Film Festival and despite it being booed during its first showing, the film competed for the prestigious Palme D’Or and Kristen’s haunting role as Maureen has been widely described as some of her best work to date.
At Personal Shopper’s Los Angeles premiere, Kristen debuted a bold new look in the form of a bleached blonde buzz cut, causing a stir on the internet. K-Stew revealed she’d shaved her head for her role in Underwater, the monster movie released earlier this year. Ultimately, she did it because she wanted to – and it’s her no-fuss attitude to beauty and fashion that makes her so relatable.
In 2018, she pulled off her sky-high Louboutin’s in full view of the paparazzi, making a bold statement against the supposed strict no-flats rule, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “If you’re not asking guys to wear heels and a dress, then you can’t ask me either.”
Reentering the world of mainstream Hollywood, starring alongside Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska in Elizabeth Bank’s 2019 reboot of Charlie’s Angels, she has described how happy this project made her and this is obvious to see in the film’s promotional run. A full 180 from the negativity that followed her after Twilight’s release, her role as Sabina Wilson garnered a lot of positive attention online – a far cry from the comments made about her teen role as Bella Swan.
This week, Kristen approaches her thirtieth birthday and it’s incredible to see how far she has come over the last decade, both creatively and mentally. Her unapologetic personality, grit and tenacity is something to be admired. She has found solace in her celebrity status and it’s easy to see why she was recently crowned Actress Of The Decade by the Hollywood Critics Association.
As Kristen moves away from her time on screen, directing her first feature-length film, The Chronology of Water, I for one, can’t wait to see what the next 30 years will bring one of our brightest shining (sooo gay) stars.
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