W MAGAZINE – Kristen Stewart may not care if she gets an Oscar nomination for her stirring turn as Princess Diana in Spencer, but the odds are in her favor. The 31-year-old says she plunged new depths of emotion in order to channel the fragility and disquietude of the beloved royal at a moment when she was on the verge of coming undone. Meanwhile, the actress’s personal life has been on a much more blissful trajectory. Last November, she announced that she was engaged to her longtime girlfriend Dylan Meyer and joked that Guy Fieri should officiate. For W’s annual Best Performances issue, Stewart discusses growing up on camera, bringing Diana to life, and why singing Blink-182 is her safe place.
You started acting when you were 9. Did you know immediately that this was what you wanted to do with your life?
When I made my first film, The Safety of Objects, I was like, “This is it. This is the feeling.” I’ve been chasing that ever since. It’s that sense of creating something together with others. It was exciting to see how many versions of myself I could find.
How did Spencer come to you?
Pablo Larraín called one day and said that he endeavored to make a movie about Diana Spencer. I was like, “Who is that?” It’s actually Princess Diana. And that was her real name. His movie is a three-day meditation, fever dream–poem, attempting to imagine what a certain period of time felt like for her, as she was trying to carve out what her identity was.
Was it difficult negotiating the external—the hair, the dresses, the look of Diana—with her internal state?
The whole movie’s perspective is incredibly internal, so I never had to deliver a heightened performance. I was actually just reacting to the elements that were in the room with me. Physically, it was about seeing how much I could put myself through, how cold I could get, how skinny I could get, how tired I could get. I still felt 10 feet tall, though. There’s something about her, even just by osmosis, just imagining her as a figure, the things that I’ve been impressed by, the things that I’ve felt protective of, the things that worry me about her, they’re still oddly, unshakably strong. By the end of the movie, I was like, “Okay, I actually could keep going.” I really tried to pummel myself into the ground on this one. I definitely attribute that to this spooky transference, her energy, who she was, it was unstoppable.
Was Pablo surprised when you said yes? Were you surprised when you said yes?
I just couldn’t say no. I’m stunned by Pablo’s presence. As an actor, looking at directors to work with, obviously you look at their work, but also it’s how they fill a room, how they talk to you, what the feeling is on the phone call when they’re presenting a new idea. It felt in that moment—I could assign a million words to it—it would just be truer to say it was too tempting to shy away from.
DOCUMENT JOURNAL – For Document’s Winter 2021/Resort 2022 issue, Stewart joins Cronenberg to discuss technology, transformation, and the reality of the human condition
The radical theoretician Régis Debray described it as “a double miracle, an astonishing marriage of ancient and modern, like an outdoor Apollinaire poem.” To the anthropologist Marc Augé, the televised spectacle was nothing less than a work of “great art,” tailor-made for a British public newly liberated from Tory austerity into the arms of Blairite spin and sound-biting. Across the English Channel, the documentarian Mark Cousins examined Princess Diana’s televised funeral proceedings through the lens of shifting spatial relations: Writing alongside Debray and Augé in After Diana, published by Verso Books in 1998, Cousins recalled the mass ovation that Earl Spencer received from a mourning public watching the private service on televisions outside Westminster Abbey. As Spencer took aim at the British tabloids for turning his sister, named for the ancient goddess of hunting, into “the most hunted woman of the modern world,” the thunderous clapping was picked up by the cameras inside the Abbey and fed back to its audience-creators on the same screens they had been applauding at.
Pablo Larraín’s fictionalized drama Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in the throes of an existential crisis over the course of three days in 1991, offers little such emotive pageantry. Stewart’s performance is an externalization of Diana’s inner world as she navigates paparazzi culture and historical conventions to confront a terrifying, exhilarating truth of the human condition: We are responsible for creating our own reality. Within the confines of the royal family’s country estate in Sandringham, where Christmas dinners are executed with military precision, madness starts to look like resistance, and physical sickness is symptomatic of an impending release. (In the first of many ominous meal scenes, Stewart devours spoonfuls of giant pearls and putrid-green soup before purging in the toilet of a palatial restroom, evoking Roquentin’s dizzying epiphanies about the absurdity of existence in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea.)
Larraín cast Stewart after seeing her in Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper, a similarly introspective ghost story about grief. But in Spencer, it’s Diana’s (and Stewart’s) exuberance that prevails, allowing her to transcend fate, tragedy, and the realities constructed in history books and newspapers. “It was really good for me that I didn’t have to get it all right,” Stewart says, “because to do her real justice would be to make sure that she was fucking alive.”
Stewart is now in pre-production on her feature directorial debut, an adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch’s 2010 memoir, The Chronology of Water, which has gained a devoted following for its frank handling of sexuality, violence, and transformation. But she’ll next be seen on screen in Crimes of the Future (2022), a sci-fi thriller directed by legendary Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg. Cronenberg has had his share of clashes with the British tabloids. His adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s postmodern opus Crash caused a moral panic when it premiered at Cannes in 1996, a year before Princess Diana’s death, prophetically diagnosing the psychosexual perversions of Western culture in the dying moments of the 20th century: celebrities and car crashes. Cronenberg has long been hailed as an oracle for the prescient fusions of flesh and machine he engineered in cult classics like The Fly, Scanners, and Videodrome. But the director maintains that he was only illustrating the inevitable when he predicted YouTube, transhumanism, and stem cell technology. Cronenberg’s philosophical cinema is indebted to the thinking of Sigmund Freud, Edmund Husserl, and René Descartes more than it is to special effects; he mines the depths of the human condition with the analytical audacity of a biotechnician. “The essence of coming to terms with what you are is to come to terms with the body,” Cronenberg says. “There’s a complete interpenetration between the inside and the outside of your body. In a strange way, I guess, Crimes of the Future is very literal about that.”
Kristen Stewart: I think you can hear us now, I can feel it.
David Cronenberg: I’m only hearing you faintly, I don’t know why.
Kristen: Well, shit! Do you want to call me? I’m trying to MacGyver the situation. [Typing] Maybe, David, you should call me because we can’t hear you.
David: I fixed it. [Laughs] Thanks for the suggestion, anyway.
Hannah Ongley: Well, David, thanks for joining us. I know you’ve been very busy with post-production on Crimes of the Future.
David: I’ve been spending time with Kristen every day, but in the editing room. It’s a weirdly intimate relationship because you become so sensitized, as a director, to every hesitation, every body movement, every vocal inflection. So you have this strange relationship with an actor who doesn’t know that you’re doing that.
Read more at the source
Kristen is featured in The Sunday Times Culture a(October 24). I have added scans from the issue to the gallery!
Magazine Scans > 2021 > The Sunday Times Culture (October 24)
THE TIMES – Kristen Stewart is the most famous actress to play Diana, Princess of Wales. OK, Madonna once wore a tiara for a Saturday Night Live skit, but the best-known Dianas so far have been the distinguished Naomi Watts in Diana (awful) and newcomer Emma Corrin in The Crown (great).
Stewart, 31, is playing Diana in the film Spencer. And Stewart was also in Twilight — the vast tween vampire franchise that made $3.3 billion at the box office and turned its stars, Robert Pattinson and Stewart, who also happened to be dating, into paparazzi gold.
So she has some personal understanding of the fame and pressure Diana felt. Don’t scoff. Between Diana’s death in 1997 and the advent of Twilight in 2008 celebrity changed. Actors were swept into its treacherous waters just as Diana had been before them when, aged 19, her engagement to Prince Charles turned her into a lifelong object of tabloid fascination. And when Stewart was just 18, Twilight plunged her into that world, with the added pressure of the internet and its all-consuming frenzy of obsession.
In Spencer, which tells of a fictionalised Sandringham gathering at Christmas 1991, Diana is at peak fame, about to separate from her husband. When Stewart and I meet in London, I read lines from the film to her that I think may resonate with her own life. “Stand very still and smile a lot,” is one piece of advice aimed at Diana. Another is when Charles talks about public expectations of the royal role: “They don’t want us to be people.”
Stewart listens and nods, sipping tea in a posh hotel. She is a slight woman and talks a mile a minute. A-list stars often come across as self-contained, almost regal, but Stewart is skittish and all the better company for it. “Well, I’m not running from anything,” she says, of those Diana comparisons. “The attention is something I can see a parallel in, but the cumulative expectation? Not remotely there.”
“Yet I understand what you’re saying,” she continues. Stewart has a knack of going back to subjects that felt like dead ends, and says she gleaned insights from her own experiences. “It’s feeling constantly watched, no matter what you do. If you’re in public, someone in the room is looking at you at all times. Even if they’re not, it’s at the back of your mind. That is a feeling you only have if you’re extremely famous. It’s a completely different approach to being a human.”
In Spencer, which is more mood than facts, Diana sees an apparition of Henry VIII’s wife Anne Boleyn, who, as a line goes, was “beheaded because they said she was having an affair, but he was the one having an affair”. Again, parallels. In 2012 Stewart was papped kissing the married and much older director Rupert Sanders. The press went wild, and it was tough for Stewart. Two years ago she said of that time: “I feel like the slut-shaming was so absurd.”
She stands up, sighs heavily and walks to a shelf of water bottles. The popping of a lid breaks the silence, and she takes a large swig. She doesn’t sit down, but paces in front of her seat. “It is weird to inhabit a space where people are disappointed in your choices. The world is obsessed with celebrities in a way that’s comparable to how we treated the royal family. People want their idols to be a certain thing, because we want to be good people. We think, ‘If they can’t be good, then how the f*** am I meant to be good?’ But I’m not a figurehead.” She pauses. “People choose their role models. But I’m not trying to be one.”
Fame, of course, is what happens to an actress like Stewart, who is in both commercially and critically successful films. On screen she blends the brittleness of Winona Ryder with the sizzle of Jennifer Lawrence. Born in Los Angeles in 1990 to parents in the business, she starred with Jodie Foster in Panic Room at the age of 12. Twilight came half a decade later, but she was not expecting to make a film that would change her life — “If you’d told me we were going to make five Twilights when we did the first? I would not have believed you.” Her ascent to the A-list, then, seems almost accidental.
Hello Kristen fans! Kristen graces the November cover of Entertainment Weekly. The photoshoot is absolutely stunning. Check out the photos in the gallery and her interview below. I’ll add scans to the gallery when the magazine releases!
Photoshoots > 2021 > 05 | Entertainment Weekly
Screen Captures > Photoshoots > 2021 > Entertainment Weekly
Kristen Stewart’s dog doesn’t care about movie stars. All that Cole — a rescue mutt ecstatically flinging her stocky little body across the lawn of a vast Malibu estate on this broiling early-September afternoon — wants to do is chase the grubby tennis ball that the actress obligingly keeps tossing between clicks for EW’s cover shoot. She’s certainly the only one here (and likely far beyond this rarefied zip code) to be blissfully unaware of the oceans of real and digital ink spilled over her owner in the past dozen or so years — the relentless, reflexive obsession with Stewart’s roles and clothes and love life, the color of her hair and the state of her career.
It’s tempting to draw a line from the 31-year-old Los Angeles native to the late Princess Diana, whom she portrays in Spencer (in theaters Nov. 5): two young women, pinned like butterflies beneath the smothering bell jar of celebrity. But the movie, helmed by lauded Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín (Jackie), is much trickier and more ambiguous than that — an intoxicating art-house swoon of ghost queens and scarecrows and tumbling pearls, pegged to a central performance all the more remarkable for its real-world nuance and vulnerability. (Following the world premiere at the Venice Film Festival the first week of September, talk of a sure-thing Best Actress nod quickly reached fever pitch.)
Stewart, at least, is reluctant to overplay any parallels to her muse: “I mean, I’ve tasted… I’ve come near these sort of manic levels of fame and intrusion,” she admits a few days later at a hotel lounge in Telluride, Colo., after the film’s North American bow there, gamely inhaling a cappuccino to ease her Italian jet lag while bossa nova versions of Adele and Bon Jovi songs tinkle incongruously through the high-altitude air. “Not intrusion,” she quickly corrects herself. “That implies that I’ve been stolen from in this violent way. I have experienced people kind of wanting to come in, but there is no comparison to this particular woman, in terms of that fervent desire to have her and know her.”
Indeed it’s startling nearly 25 years after her death, the degree to which the Princess of Wales endures in pop culture — the currency of countless books and fashion bloggers and, perhaps most famously, the latest season of Netflix’s prestige royal soap opera The Crown. (Stewart is a fan: “I watched it probably in one night. I think [actress Emma Corrin] did a really beautiful job. I mean, not to say that my opinion matters at all!” she adds, laughing. “But I loved her in it, truly.”) Only 7 when Diana died, Stewart hardly considered herself among the faithful. But when Larraín reached out and offered her the part, “I knew even before I read the script. I was like, ‘You’re not going to say no to this, because who would you be in that case?’ I absolutely would have felt like such a coward. Especially given that I’m such an outsider. I’m not from the U.K., I don’t have any particular investment in the royal family. So I was kind of this really clean slate, and then could absorb her in a way that actually felt very instinctive, you know?”
“We all know a lot about Diana, whether you are more or less interested,” says the Santiago-born director, 45, of his deliberately unconventional approach to the story. “You have to work with that, and you know that. She’s already an icon, so you need to start from that base. And then we go and choose a very precise moment of her life that could define who she was in a very simple way, or at least try to… To me, it’s a very universal Greek tragedy in its shape and basis, a classic structure. That simple element is what I think we were attracted to.”
The screenplay by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Allied) sets its parameters accordingly, confining the timeline to an unspecified Christmas holiday at the Queen’s country estate, Sandringham, most likely within a year or two of Diana’s final rupture with the House of Windsor in 1992. The princess has defiantly driven herself there alone, the first of many minor rebellions that will play out over the next three days of forced-festive pageantry in myriad ways — some of them almost comically small for a woman of such supposed privilege and power. “It is a fact that sometimes she just didn’t want to come to dinner,” Stewart says. “And if that’s all you’ve got, if you’re backed into a corner and the only way to bare your teeth is to change your clothes or not come to eat… If you’re so voiceless and never listened to and never asked any questions, you’re going to do things in order to be heard that are very easy to judge.”
And judge they do: from a sniffy, faintly derisive Prince Charles (Jack Farthing) to the chambermaids, pages, and guards who scurry past, taking note of every feint and misdemeanor. Her lone allies, seemingly, are a devoted dresser (The Shape of Water’s Sally Hawkins), a sympathetic chef (erstwhile Mission: Impossible villain Sean Harris), and her own young sons, William and Harry (played by Jack Nielen and Freddie Spry). Even before she pulls into Sandringham’s grand driveway she’s begun to spiral, her emotional state exacerbated by the proximity of her shuttered childhood home — a hulking, haunted presence located just yards away.