By Maria Ward. Photo: Getty.
“I’m asked all the time in interviews about who I am,” Kristen Stewart once said, “and I know a few people my age who have a strong sense of self, but I couldn’t say I know myself and sum it up and give it to you in a little package. I don’t know myself at all yet.” At 26, the famously wise-beyond-her-years actress has gone from Twilight saga teen dream to indie art-house queen in record time. These days, Stewart has been clocking significant hours behind the camera (more on that later), but her most recent on-screen venture is in Personal Shopper—the eerie new psychological thriller written and directed by Olivier Assayas. For her second collaboration with Assayas (she also starred in his 2014 drama, Clouds of Sils Maria), Stewart plays Maureen Cartwright, an American in Paris attending to a high-profile celebrity client, all the while struggling to iron out her own issues (which range from the personal to the poltergeist). The wardrobe is riddled with designer ready-to-wear; however, the part was tailor-made for Stewart. As Assayas told Vogue at the movie’s New York Film Festival premiere last October: “Kristen is perfect for almost any role. So I wrote Personal Shopper having in mind her range.” In honor of its wide release, here are five things you may not have known about the actress.
1. Stewart was discovered at age 8 when a talent scout caught her performance in a school production. But Stewart’s Hollywood pedigree began even earlier. Her mother is a script supervisor; her father, a producer; her brother, a grip. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, Stewart’s parents took her to auditions, but her first attempts to make a name for herself were unsuccessful. “I wasn’t doing anything but smiling for the camera,” Stewart said of trying out for commercials as a kid. “You can feel that the adults aren’t getting what they want no matter how old you are.” Two years later she got her big break in David Fincher’s Panic Room, starring opposite Jodie Foster. “Kristen was incredibly mature in some ways and grounded and very calm under pressure,” Foster recalled. “She was an incredible listener, but then she’d say something so childlike that you’d be like, That’s right—she’s only 11.”
2. Stewart measures her success in inches, literally. Of her turn as Joan Jett in The Runaways, Stewart joked: “If I go out there and everyone’s wearing shag haircuts like Joan, I’ll know we did something right.” Stewart went to great lengths to research the role; when she flew to Seattle to see the “Cherry Bomb” singer in a New Year’s Eve concert, the two women spent the night on the bathroom floor of Jett’s hotel room jamming and talking about music. In return, Jett burned albums and live bootlegs for Stewart, even loaning her tape-recorded letters to an aunt she made at age 13. “She’s just saying things like ‘I’m eating a microwave pizza now!’ It’s funny that this total rock star was once just like any other lazy teenager,” Stewart said. Her dedication to the craft paid off; Jett told Rolling Stone seeing Stewart on-screen was “like looking into a mirror.”
3. Stewart directed a film about her breakup with Robert Pattinson. Well, maybe. During a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Stewart referenced the touchy subject matter behind her new short film, Come Swim. “I wasn’t fearful in confronting what this was about,” Stewart said. “I mean, I put a relationship right in the middle of it.” As to who was on the other end of that relationship, Stewart didn’t say for sure, but instead, left us to read between the lines. “I read through poems of mine from the past few years, and I was like, ‘I’m writing the same poem over and over. If I don’t make this movie, I can’t move on,’” she said. The timeline is fuzzy (as affairs of the heart usually are), though Stewart admitted she first began thinking about the project four years ago—which is around the same time she called it quits with Pattinson. Given that the film was scored by another famous ex, St. Vincent, we’re inclined to believe Pattinson had something to do with it.
4. Stewart can walk a red carpet and not smile for the cameras, thanks. Indeed, the actress is as famous for her good looks as she is for her ostensibly “bad” attitude. But despite her reputation for giving photographers and interviewers a hard time, the media is in part to blame. As Pattinson observed in 2012, “No matter how many times she smiles, they’ll put in the one picture where she’s not smiling.” Stewart remains characteristically unfazed: “I have been criticized a lot for not looking perfect in every photograph,” she once told a reporter. “I get some serious shit about it. I’m not embarrassed about it. I’m proud of it. If I took perfect pictures all the time, the people standing in the room with me, or on the carpet, would think, ‘What an actress! What a faker!’ That thought embarrasses me so much that I look like shit in half my photos, and I don’t give a fuck. What matters to me is that the people in the room leave and say, ‘She was cool. She had a good time. She was honest.’”
5. Stewart sees a strange parallel between her bond with her beloved house cat and that of Twilight. Sure, her predilection toward Chanel dog collar necklaces may suggest otherwise, but much like her frequent collaborator, Karl Lagerfeld, Stewart is a staunch supporter of our feline friends. “I’m obsessed with my cat,” Stewart has said of her “roommate”—a Bengal named Max (who also answers to Jella-Man.) “We have a really strong, really weird codependent, almost Bella-Edward relationship. I’m going to be a crazy cat lady one day, I’m sure.” We imagine Choupette would no doubt approve.
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
More from Vogue: