“People have decided how they are going to perceive her,” says Robert Pattinson, her red-lipped Romeo in the Twilight films. “No matter how many times she smiles, they’ll put in the one picture where she’s not smiling.”
For all that unease on the red carpet and at photoshoots, she has learned to love great fashion – “I never saw that coming,” says Pattinson
“The perception of her is that she’s awkward,” says Pattinson. “But it’s funny knowing her. It’s the absolute opposite of what people think. She is insanely confident."
Stewart was fully engaged on set. She is open about the creative tensions that developed. “Me and Rob got into a lot of trouble,” she told me with a smile. “We wanted it to be not so polished. Catherine was all for that. But we were getting notes from the studio. They wanted me to smile all the time. They wanted Rob to be not so brooding. We were like, ‘No! You need to brood your ass off.‘”
It was Sean Penn who suggested to Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first Twilight movie, that she give Stewart a shot. The director signed on because he believed in Stewart’s ability to embody the feelings of longing that drive the original book. There were a few actors still in the running for the part of Edward, and Hardwicke was smart enough to involve Stewart in the final decision making. “Chemistry reads” are a long-standing ritual for testing whether two actors will work well together on-screen, but it sounds as if Hardwicke was experimenting with explosives the day she had Pattinson, a young British actor then best known for playing Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, show up at her house to run through some scene with Stewart, in the bedroom no less. “Honestly, I was nervous,” the director remembers. “I saw they were so attracted and Kristen was under-age. I said, ‘Rob, we have a law in this country under 18. Don’t get in trouble here.’ I felt I was in the presence of something strong and powerful.” When Pattinson left, Stewart said “It’s him.” Hardwicke listened but wanted to be sure that their charisma and visceral connection translated onto film. “Not everybody makes it all the way through the screen to our hearts and souls in the movie theater,” the director says, “but these two did. It was electrifying.”
After each of these more independent productions, it would be Twilight time again – Old Home Week for Stewart. She says in retrospect she sees the Twilight sets as the equivalent of the high school she never attended. As you may know, her off-screen relationship with Pattinson has drawn enormous attention, but she’s publicly mum on this one. That the two are a couple is not something they seem to want to hide; it’s just that they like their privacy. A friend who knows Stewart very well says, “This is something she wants to keep for herself.”