Kristen Stewart arrives at a French restaurant in Los Feliz without an entourage — no publicist, no bodyguard. She’s incognito, with a hat pulled low on her head, hands in her pockets, bare arms dressed with tattoos
Looking like any other hipster, she greets the waiter with a mellow “What’s up, dude?” (“dude” and “f—k” are her two favorite words) and orders a glass of champagne with a cup of ice. As she reflects on her life, she takes periodic sips, letting the cubes, one by one, melt into the fizz.
This story first appeared in the May 10, 2016 issue of Variety. Subscribe today.
At only 26, Stewart is in the middle of reinventing her career. After catapulting to fame at 17 in the young-adult vampire franchise “Twilight,” she couldn’t leave her house without flashbulbs trailing her every step. The public became obsessed with her relationship with her then-boyfriend (and co-star) Robert Pattinson, and she topped every studio’s wish list for it-girl parts. But since putting Bella Swan to rest in 2012, she’s turned her back on tentpoles. Instead, she’s been choosing character roles — such as the daughter in “Still Alice,” and a celebrity-assistant in Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria,” which won her the César last year.
“I didn’t carve out some path,” Stewart says of her post-“Twilight” years. “I didn’t fight hard to be taken seriously. As much as the ‘Twilight’ series shaped and defined me for other people in a grand way, for me it wasn’t something I had to get away from. It was just a long experience on a movie that I liked.”
The five blockbusters based on Stephenie Meyer’s books grossed $3.3 billion worldwide, but also destroyed Stewart’s privacy. She was the patient zero of Internet celebrities — the first young female movie star to headline a film franchise in the 24-hour TMZ cycle. “Everyone I’ve met already knows me,” she says. “It’s weird.”
In 2012, when photos surfaced of her kissing married director Rupert Sanders following the release of “Snow White and the Huntsman,” she issued a public apology — an excruciating moment for an actress usually so quiet about her personal life. Stewart, who refers to the incident obliquely as “the scandal,” believes that society relishes tearing women down.
“Women are so judgmental of each other,” she says. “It’s very innate, instinctive, f—ed-up, animal-like.” But the spotlight hasn’t discouraged her from acting. “It was something that was a nuisance,” Stewart says of the downsides to fame. “How do you resent me if you’ve actually never met me?”