Kristen Stewart reprises her iconic starring role as Bella Swan in “Breaking Dawn, Part II,” the final chapter of the “Twilight” saga. Like her character, Stewart has grown into a strong woman who gets more beautiful each time we see her. With the fifth installment of the franchise, she continues to explore more adult themes like marriage and family and how far she would go to protect those she loves unconditionally.
At the film’s press day, Stewart talked about what it’s been like to play the character of Bella over the past five years as she transforms from an uncertain teenager into a confident young woman and now into a powerful vampire. She discussed the experience of shooting the franchise, when she first realized how big it was going to be, how Bella’s journey compared to her own, and how she treasures the bonds she’s formed with her co-stars and the fans. She also revealed what happened when she finally got to do some kick-ass stunt work, which special mementos she will keep from the film production, and her thoughts on her career and future projects.
Q: Can you talk about what it has been like to play Bella as it relates to the movie’s central themes and the rites of passage for a girl into womanhood?
Kristen Stewart: I was really lucky to have played human Bella for so long. The best aspects of every vampire, all of their gifts, everything that makes them really special is always an enhanced version of what they were when they were human. I did get to play an incredibly well rounded version of a vampire, because I got to take those steps for real. If you were to take the fact that she becomes a vampire completely away, it is just a more realized version of who she has been the entire time. It’s why it touches so many people, too. It really does represent that stage of life where you are full and pumping, bubbling over with something that maybe you can’t put your finger on — in this case, a girl who has faith in herself enough to not ignore those feelings and find out why she’s there. I mean, people think she’s nuts the entire time. It’s like Bella is always losing it. She’s making very odd decisions, and they are fully informed by feeling, and I think that now it all makes sense. She can stand up and go, “Whew, I told you, it was worth it. We held on for a reason and it’s really satisfying, really a lot of fun.” It’s also like breaking her in like a car as well. How fast does it go? It was fun.
Q: When was the moment that it hit you how big this series was going to be?
Stewart: I mean, it’s grown so much, even recently, so I don’t know if we ever really realized the extent that it’s gotten to. For me, Comic-Con was the first time I was ever hit with a wave of human energy that was like, this is not a normal movie. We always approached Twilight as something that felt so very much like our own. That first dose of sharing it with the [fans], of looking up and seeing something that’s really affected you and moved you, is doing the same thing to other people was mind blowing. It’s the coolest thing about the job actually, because when you have that on set with a director or an actor, whatever, anytime you like something together, you are going to like it more, and so after that, it was like whoa, we are really going places! I was excited and admittedly it was incredibly overwhelming, but it is the greatest part of the job to be able to share that.
Q: Thanks so much for being the biggest champion that Twilight sites could ever ask for and for taking us seriously and bringing such realism to Bella Swan.
Stewart: Oh get out of here, get out of here!! (laughter)
Q: Now that Bella is a vampire, can you talk about what it was like for you to finally get to do some real kick ass stunt work and did you embrace that?
Stewart: I broke my thumb maybe the first or second day (laughter) during our really intense action stuff, so that was frustrating. But it was fun. I got a little taste of it when we were in Italy. The physicality was so important then, and it finally became important again. I don’t know, what can I say, I’d been on the sidelines for so long and just itching, going, “I think I could do that pretty well. I think those contacts are going to look pretty cool.” I was bursting to do it, which is why I probably broke my thumb, because I was a little bit overzealous.
Q: If you could pause your life at one moment in time, what age would you be?
Stewart: I’m not there yet, so I’m not sure. I don’t know yet. I can’t wait to get to that point. Somebody recently asked me that, and I couldn’t answer it for them, so I do apologize. That was the most boring answer ever. I don’t know, which is probably pretty telling that I haven’t gotten to that point yet.
Q: How did Bella’s journey in her late teens come to parallel your own journey, since you were similar in age when you were filming this?
Stewart: I don’t know. Without taking any of the truth out of this, it’s so general. It’s like what I was saying a second ago about that period where you are like “Wait, do I go with this, or is that crazy?” Ultimately, the answer for me is “Absolutely. You question yourself along the way constantly, and I don’t think that you should ever stop doing that necessarily. You should always constantly question everything, push harder, but I think it just gets a little easier. I definitely feel a lot more realized, and maybe just by chance, we happen to be the same age. I mean, it’s a tough one, because she lives so many years in such a tiny little period of time, and that’s only because of the story. So it’s hard to put yourself there completely, but I think I have grown up a little bit.
Q: Can you talk about the effect that these movies have had on your career as far as movie choices?
Stewart: A question that I can’t answer is: what do you want to do next? What’s your dream role? What are you really looking to do? Where do you see yourself? It doesn’t make any sense because that’s such an outsider’s perspective. Suddenly, you’re going, why do people look at me like this? And until you see it, what are you responding to? You are responding to other people’s perspectives of you, which is so weird. Why a lot of actors do what they do, I don’t get that. But things have fallen in my lap, and I’ve gotten incredibly, insanely lucky to get the right feelings and meet people that share them, and if I can keep doing that, I will be a happy girl. Yeah, it’s always a pretty impulsive thing, because you can read a fantastic script, but it might not necessarily be in you to do. One thing I don’t think I do is play characters. As soon as you start claiming you can be someone that you are not, you are crazy. The script can really surprise you, and you go wow, I did not know that I would respond to something like that. I did not know that I had that in me. The process of making the movie is just finding that, digging a little deeper, and that’s maybe why I’ve played parts that are really similar to me because I am young and I wanted to explore things that are more apparent to me. And now, I am getting to the point where I want to dig a little deeper. Yeah, you can shock yourself a little bit with this and that’s what I would like to do.
Q: The montage at the end of the movie sums up everything that you have been doing since the franchise began. What was it like the first time you saw that?
Stewart: I actually saw it a while ago and it’s so crazy. You typically don’t get that opportunity to look back. I saw it again recently when I saw the final cut. It was a really good thing that no one was around. I love that Bill (director Bill Condon) did that. My favorite thing about him is that he understood. He really put his finger on what drives this thing. He wasn’t shying away from anything. Not to sound sappy, but the thing is, it’s romantic. That’s what is attractive about it, what is so stirring. If anyone was going to try and be cool about it, it just would have been a shame and it would have been so easy for so many people to do. But Bill lent himself to it so fully, and I think you can see that at the end. You can tell that he’s a huge fan of the story and everything that’s been going down. It’s a nice little knife twist as well, like “Really? It’s over? Just give me one more little…” I love that thing. I think it’s really great. I love Bill for doing that.
Q: How did it feel to play a mom in this movie and did it make you look differently at your own mom?
Stewart: I don’t know, I think that it might be something that you are sort of born with or not born with. Some people have strong natural instincts, strong desires to be a mom, and it was one of my favorite things about the story from day one. There was never enough about that in the script for me. Luckily, Stephanie has been very involved in this last one especially, and she was on set every single day. It was something that we were really together about. How has it changed how I see my mom? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s changed much. I mean, it was one aspect of her that I was really most excited to play, and it feeds into the vampires have a slightly more animalistic nature. It was perfect for it. It was like what better way to show that? I’ve always had a great relationship with my mom, and she can be a bit feral when it comes to being a mom. That’s just what it is. But no, I wish I could say. If I had an answer, I would totally give it, but I don’t think that I do, so I’m not going to make one up.
Q: Did it make you think you might want to go out and get pregnant and have one of your own? (Laughter)
Stewart: I can’t wait to be a mom, but I can wait. (laughter)
Q: You, Rob and Taylor have been at the center of the Twilight phenomenon, which has got to be a pretty singular experience. Can you talk about the bonds that the three of you have formed?
Stewart: Yeah, it’s nice not to be alone in that, but there are a lot of people that are exceedingly famous. I guess we share the movies. Another common question is going to be, how does it feel to walk away from it, and I genuinely feel like I don’t have to walk anywhere. It’s what I love about this job. It’s that you hold these things there. I wouldn’t have done it in the first place unless it was something that I was always going to carry, and I think they feel the same way. They tell me they do. In terms of having that one person that understands what it’s like, this plight, there are lots of exceedingly famous people and they all get it.
Q: You said you don’t have to walk away, you get to hold onto it, and we asked Rob about that also, he said it’s going to take about ten years.
Stewart: For what?
Q: To just have it out of his system, and my question to you is, are you glad it’s over, finally?
Stewart: I am so happy that the story is told, you have no idea. Usually you have five weeks, five months to look at a schedule and go, whew, that day is coming up. We had five years, and so the fact that this thing is out and it’s not weighing on us anymore, I’m super excited about that. But I don’t want it to sound like I am excited just to be done with the experience, because to be honest, it’s such a particular tone. You do an interview for Twilight, you go back, but anything, like reshoots, conversations with past directors, anything, it just falls right back into that. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a feeling and I will definitely miss that. But again, I feel like it’s not going anywhere. I feel like anytime something is brought up, or you see someone, I mean, it’s sad, it is strange, but it’s normal. Things shouldn’t stay stagnant and you’ve got to move on.
Q: Rob said it would take him ten years to understand the full meaning of why the franchise has such an effect on the audience.
Stewart: I can’t wait.
Q: That was the actual context of what he said.
Stewart: Right, right. That makes sense. I mean, another common question is to explain the phenomenon. I’m like cool, let me just explain this phenomenon to you. (laughter) I would just phenomenon every single day if I knew the equation. I would just do it constantly.
Q: Would you be open to doing another film that’s a series?
Stewart: It depends. I think it’s hard to sign onto something before you know what it’s going to be.
Q: What if they wanted to sign you up for four or five films? You have already had that experience, would you be open to doing something like that again?
Stewart: My guess is probably not, because I think it’s really rare to find something that lends itself to that. I would also probably want to know where it was going and are there a few stories. I don’t know. I’ve never been a huge fan of any comic book, or a huge fan of any series, so no, as of now, probably not, but never say never.
Q: The holidays are coming, what would you like to give your character for the holiday? Was there anything that she’s done that maybe you would like to do such as rock cliimbing?
Stewart: I broke that rock actually. Oh Bella, what do you want for Christmas girl? (laughter) What do I want to give her for Christmas? I don’t know. What would you guys give her for Christmas? (laughter- no answer from the crowd) See! (laughter) She’s not that into stuff. In fact, she hates presents, so I would mail her something. And what would I want to do? I would love to be able to run that fast. That would be fun. That’s the one thing, we were really able to get close to most experiences that she has. We always wanted to push it as far as we could. But then, when I’m standing on a treadmill being drug behind a truck in the woods, and I know that this isn’t even going to make it in the movie, because it totally ridiculous and honestly, that’s one of my favorite parts of the entire series. It’s that first hunt. It’s just like going, and I didn’t really feel like I could go. It very frustrating, so if I could do stuff like that.
Q: Would you like to live forever?
Q: You have done a lot of press for this, but I was wondering if there was something that someone hasn’t asked you yet?
Stewart: No. (laughter) What do I want to tell you guys? What do I want to desperately let out right now? No, I don’t know. (laughter) I thought she was going to do it, damn it! No. (laughter)
Q: A lot of actors buy themselves gifts when they land a good role. Did you buy yourself anything nice when you started this production?
Stewart: I’ve heard that, do people really do that? (laughter)
Q: That’s what I’ve been told.
Stewart: That’s really weird to be honest. No, that’s the weirdest thing ever. (Laughter) Nope. (laughter)
Q: Are you keeping any props or your costume as a memento?
Stewart: Yeah, I kept the rings. The rings are really important to me. Her mother gives her a moon ring in the beginning, and it fully and completely reminds me of Catherine Hardwicke every time I look at it.
Q: What about the engagement ring?
Stewart: Yeah, I have that, too. I held onto that one. Other than that, she’s not really into stuff. There aren’t a whole lot of props, so no, that was probably it, the rings, but those were extremely important to me. I love those things.