Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning Interview, The Runaways

Posted by: Sheila Roberts

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in “The Runaways,” the music-fueled, coming of age story of the groundbreaking, all girl 1970s rock band written and directed by Floria Sigismondi.

When two teenage valley girls with punk in their blood meet, they become the heart and soul of the seminal all girl band, The Runaways -- a group of extraordinary young women who rise from rebellious Southern California kids to rock stars of the now legendary band that paved the way for future generations of girl musicians.

Under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon), the group evolves into an outrageous success and a family of misfits. With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself – and so do its two leads: Joan is the band’s pure rock n’ roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.

Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning talked to us about their characters, how their performances were inspired by iconic rock legends Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, and what it was like to transform themselves -- one into a fiery red leather jumpsuit-wearing, guitar-strumming powerhouse and the other into a glam rock star, wearing a tight corset and fishnets. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: Did Joan Jett and Cherie Currie talk to you at all about how emotional they got when they first saw the film?

Dakota: I saw it with them at Sundance and I think they were pretty emotional after, but I didn’t know.

Kristen: Yeah, they didn’t say that.

Q: What has your working relationship with them been like?

Kristen: For me, I’m so thankful to both of them. We’re just lucky that this movie happens to involve them. You can make movies about public figures, but the fact that Joan wanted to be a producer and wanted to be on set every day and was so open about a time that was so important to her, it definitely says something about the people that they hired to play the parts. She easily could have just said, “Get someone else. I can’t tell this girl what I need to tell her.” There were things that we needed to know that aren’t necessarily in the movie. Not details, but just personal reflections, like the way they feel about things. So, it was nice having them there. Also, it helped with the details ‘cause we can’t know how everything really happened and it would be really awful to try to make it up and fill in the blanks, when it can just be real. It was cool to be able to make it real.

Q: What specific details did they give you, that struck home and really helped you with your performances?

Dakota: The thing that always sticks out for me is the scene where Cherie first meets Joan and Kim in Rodney’s English Disco. The way it was written, it could have been that Cherie was acting a little too cool and trying to put on this air of being better than them. And, Cherie was there that day and told me, “Yeah, I was actually really starstruck, when they came over to talk to me. I was a really big fan of Joan and couldn’t believe that they were actually coming over to talk to me.” So, that saved that whole scene. Otherwise, it would have been completely not authentic to what it was. Just having her there was great. That’s something that I always think could have been such a false moment in the movie, and thank goodness that she was there to tell me.

Kristen: The way the script was written, and just because of the dialogue, the way Kim deals with the girls is really aggressive and overbearing, and almost like he’s leading them down a path that they wouldn’t have otherwise gone down, and that he’s trying to make them into something they’re not. Every time, I thought, “Wow, I would have punched him in the face,” Joan would be like, “No, you’d laugh at him. You love the guy. He’s hilarious. You aspire to be as crazy and freaky as him.” I read the script going, “God, what a jerk,” but it was like, “No, you love Kim.” There was no way of knowing that without Joan.
Q: How difficult was it to tackle the sexuality in this film? Was it challenging at all?

Dakota: Cherie deals with sexuality different than Joan does. For her, it was all about putting on lingerie and going out there and growling at these people that were telling her that she couldn’t do that. For her, that was her way of being different, and she got that through channeling David Bowie, who was extremely sexual on stage. That’s how she dealt with that. Personally, I was really excited to do those scenes because that is a big part of who Cherie is. “Cherry Bomb” really sticks out in my mind and I was really excited to do that because it’s her defining moment in her life and career.

Kristen: It’s what made them different. I’m actually a couple years older than how old Joan was, at that time, but at the same time, I don’t feel that there’s a whole lot of distance. I am that age. I am a youth. Joan really talks about it all the time, and it still really has affected her, that sexuality isn’t respected if it’s coming from young people. It can be a scary thing to consider because you’re young and you don’t know if you can handle it, but it’s an undeniable thing that they’re very sexual little beings, especially then. Personally, it was making a movie. But, just to think about it now, it is cool that the movie deals with that and says, “You know what? This is something to be seriously considered and not discredited.” They’re demanding freedom, which is just what the movie is about.

Q: You both have visited Japan to promote your films there. What were your experiences in Japan like, in comparison to when you portrayed The Runaways in Japan for the film?

Dakota: When you go to Japan, it’s my experience that Japan has really passionate fans, but who are so respectful. In the movie, I loved the scenes with the Japanese fans. I can relate because I’ve been in those situations, running into the hotel, but wanting to stay back because everyone seems so nice. They want to have a party, but you have to go in. That’s how they were. It seems so fun, but crazy, at the same time.

Kristen: I feel the same way. It’s a different culture. The welcome is always so warm, but at the same time, it has a structure. There’s just a way of doing things, and it’s nice to be welcomed into that. It’s always fun. There was one part that got cut out, that I loved in the script, where these two girls come up and give us combs. We go, “Oh, thanks. Thanks a lot.” And then, they tell us that they want us to comb our hair with the combs because they want our hair. That was cool. That’s something I can really relate to. It’s really cute.

Q: What was it like for you guys to get into these characters? Kristen, you and Joan seem to have a similar energy, but Dakota, you seem so different from Cherie Currie. How was it to portray these women?

Dakota: I think it’s a huge departure from other roles that I’ve played, and me, in real life. It’s obviously very different from things that I’ve done before, and it will be different for people to see, but I like that. I like surprising people with different things that I can do. That’s what I love to do. And, I hope to do more roles like this, in the future.

Kristen: Me and Joan really do understand each other, and that’s a rare thing. Connection is not something that’s common, or easy to describe. But, I really actually think that we both have a lot of idiosyncrasies and ticks that are really different. I don’t have her little things that she does. And, I also think that, especially based on when I did this movie and how much time I had to think about doing the movie before I went to go make it, I’ve done a lot of press within that time and I was sort of wearing her. People projected that onto me, a little bit. I really do feel like it was an easy thing to step into, and it wasn’t a huge departure, but I do feel a little bit like I was just in that head space and projected that a little bit.

Q: Kristen, what did you think of the scene where Joan pisses on the guitar of the band that they’re doing the gig with, after he’s such a jerk to her?

Kristen: That’s a cool little moment. She’s got a very particular opinion about music and equipment. That guitar perfectly defined everything that she hated about what rock ‘n’ roll was, at the time, and the guys who played it, so she wanted to piss all over it, and I liked that. That’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing you could do. I really liked doing that.

Q: If you had had one piece of wardrobe from this film, what would it be?

Dakota: I kept everything. But, if I had to have picked one thing, it would have been the corset.

Kristen: I would have picked the leather jacket, but I kept all of it, too.

“The Runaways” opens in theaters on March 19th.


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