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February 10, 2014

Girl on the Edge: Interview with Kristen Stewart

Now that she’s proved can anchor a multibillion-dollar movie franchise, Kristen Stewart—actress, poet, seasoned road-tripper, and the valley’s coolest rebel—is more than ready to take some serious chances.

kristen stewart cover

Photo Credit: Tesh

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On a road trip about a year ago, Stewart and a friend drove through Texas, where she wrote a poem. She often writes intense little verses, words or strings of words, rearranging them in a process she herself doesn't understand but believes is somehow essential to her sanity. This poem, written after the Twilight saga had officially ended, is typically raw and candid. Before she reads it aloud to me, she says, "Oh, my God, it's so embarrassing. I can't believe I'm doing this."

My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole

I reared digital moonlight
You read its clock, scrawled neon
across that black
Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen
Thrown down to strafe your foothills...
I'll suck the bones pretty.
Your nature perforated the abrasive
organ pumps
Spray painted everything known to man,
Stream rushed through and all out into
Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck
Through our windows boarded up
He hit your flint face and it sparked.
And I bellowed and you parked
We reached Marfa.

One honest day up on this freedom pole
Devils not done digging
He's speaking in tongues all along the
pan handle

And this pining erosion is getting dust in
My eyes
And I'm drunk on your morsels
And so I look down the line
Your every twitch hand drum salute
Salutes mine...

Her poetry, she says, comes from the same place as her acting. "I like being able to hit on something, like, 'There it is.' I don't want to sound so fucking utterly pretentious … but after I write something, I go, 'Holy fuck, that's crazy.' It's the same thing with acting: If I do a good scene, I'm always like, 'Whoa, that's really dope.'"

A few old friends from the 818 have dropped by, congregating around a butcher-block island in the middle of the kitchen. Stewart has mixed the pulp from the juicer with brown rice and chicken and passes the bowl around. They are talking about their book club-they just finished Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero and are now on Henry Miller's Sexus. Stewart has been an avid reader since she was a kid reading scripts. (She landed her first movie, The Safety of Objects, directed by Rose Troche and based on a collection of short stories by A.M. Homes, at 9.) Her one regret is forgoing a college education. "The biggest struggle I've ever had has been about not going to school and working instead. I was worried about turning down specific individual experiences. Like each movie was, 'Fuck, I have to do that movie.' I just did a movie with Tim Blake Nelson [Anesthesia, which recently wrapped], and he is brilliant. If I were as smart as he is, I could have the most killer conversation with anyone because I know I have it in me. I just don't have the tools necessarily as well-developed as he does. I play this character who is getting her master's degree in philosophy at Columbia, and I think I'm smart, but I'm definitely not book smart in that way."

Only in the past year has she become confident that, even if she doesn't work for a year, she won't be forgotten or feel that she missed something. "There will always be stories to tell, and there will always be this drive in me to seek them out." She's already on deck for Equals, a love story set in the future, opposite Nicholas Hoult, which starts filming in July. And next month she starts shooting American Ultra, an action-comedy that reunites her with Adventureland (2009) costar Jesse Eisenberg. "She's actively unpretentious," says Eisenberg. "She is kind of in a system that is doing everything in its power to make her arrogant and overly guarded. And she fights against that, to her credit. She couldn't be more accessible and socially generous and caring of and interested in other people. She's easy to have a rapport with because her first priority is not her own vanity or reputation."

Stewart lights another cigarette, and I am reminded of something she said earlier: "I have an embarrassing incapability, seriously, of summoning fake energy." And that's what is required of her, she explains, whenever she does media to promote her latest projects. "I'm just not very good on TV, and it's not my main goal in life to get good at it. People are like, 'She just can't handle'-for lack of a better word-'the spotlight.' No, actually, I can't, and that is totally who I am. I love being an actor, but I'm the last person to want to have a birthday party. I don't try to force it or turn it into something else or fabricate this personality … so I totally agree when people say I'm, like, the most awkward person." Stewart has reconciled that with her desire to be true to her poetic self. "If you're operating from a genuine place, then you can't really regret anything."


Credit: Dress, price upon request, Emilio Pucci. 

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