It’s obviously an approach that worked because here, two years later, astonishingly when Stewart talks about Twilight it’s with more than a little fondness.
“Usually it doesn’t feel like you’re closing a chapter of your life when you finish a film – a project’s a project’s a project. But it does with this. Although I don’t think it’s going to feel over until everything we get asked in interviews is retrospective.”
Breaking Dawn is split into two parts, the first contains a scene that legions of fans have quite literally been dreaming about for years. Edward and Bella make it up the aisle.
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“It was two days at the end of the shoot and it actually felt like a real wedding, it felt like a ceremony,” she says.
Was it emotional?
“Yeah, god yeah. Especially when I got to set and everyone was there waiting. The whole cast of characters in the pews. At times, oddly it felt like I was a real bride. It was such a big deal. And for the bride it’s really your day, there’s so much pressure. I loved the dress. A lot of people decided what it was going to look like, we all weighed in, but I was really happy with it. But in between takes I couldn’t feel elegant and pretty because I had to be cloaked in a cape because there were helicopters hovering trying to take pictures.”
And what about Pattinson, who’s known for his shyness as much as his rapport with Stewart, did he feel the pressure too? She smiles and laughs.
“He’s ridiculous. Honestly, he’s such a sap. That day was so strange. At every point one of us was always being filmed. I couldn’t laugh through his stuff and him through mine because we were never completely off camera. The first shot was him, which I thought was crazy because I’d been building up to this massive thing. When I walked down the aisle I covered my face because I knew I wasn’t going to manage to duplicate what I was going to feel at that moment. It all worked and it all found its way into the movie too.”
Stewart’s been making movies for ten years. She grew up in Los Angeles connected to the movie business by a mother who was a script supervisor and her stage manager father. She was 11 when she was cast with Foster, since then there has been Speak, Into the Wild, The Cake Eaters, Adventureland and The Runaways as well as the Twilight movies. It’s an eclectic body of work but two things are consistent: firstly, Stewart chooses characters who are damaged or struggling; second, she can play those characters because although she looks young, there’s something about her that suggests she knows things most young people don’t. Often, when you watch her, she looks like she’s carrying the weight of the world. She captures the confusion and complexity of being young by having an old head on young shoulders. It’s true for her next project, in which she plays the titular heroine in Snow White and the Huntsman, alongside Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.
“I’m really excited to find a proactive female protagonist. Female-led films are either full-on chick flick, with all the girls just being girls together, or all the guys are helping them on the way.
“In this we have a girl who’s broken in the beginning and she needs to build herself. There’s an identity that needs to be found and it’s intimidating to her because she’s a real girl, but she’s got this lineage, she’s got years and years of leadership in her blood so she’s not afraid of things that people are typically afraid of. She’s able to channel her fear into forward motion.”
But what of Bella? As well as the abstinence line that Meyer’s books have taken flak for, plenty of voices have suggested that Bella’s focus on Edward, her desire to do anything to be with him, isn’t a portrayal of a young woman without its problems. Stewart isn’t having any of it.
“All Edward wants is for her to stay human,” she says. “He pushes and pushes her away. It takes a pretty valiant human being to be able to say to the person you love, ‘You’re being weak and we can do this.’ It’s her own doing, it’s not something he forces on her, ever.”
Stewart is full of praise for Breaking Dawn director Bill Condon, who she said never made the actors feel like “hired hands” but gave them a chance to contribute and be creative. It’s obvious that for Stewart that’s important. But I wonder if the work that she gets to do is enough to compensate for having to be flanked by burly security?
“I love what I do.” Even the bodyguards? “I love him too,” she says, smirking.
“To be honest with you it’s hard to describe because I find acting such a strange thing to be drawn to do. I can sit here and intellectualise it, but it doesn’t always add up. Sure I want to be other people but I don’t want to escape my life, I’m fine with my life. It’s weird. It’s a weird hybrid of living life. If you’re doing it right, when I find myself in situations when I really think this is what acting really is, it’s just kind of when you’re living something that you can learn from and you’re getting to know people on a strange, ulterior level. And then you can give it to the world. It’s fun.”
In early interviews Stewart talked of wanting to write and go to college. Has Twilight changed things?
“I’m still writing. I love to write. I had huge aspirations to go to school [university] – I lost them. I’m not a very rigid person. I don’t have good self-discipline to be honest. I have to be forced to do things. If there’s not a production start date, I won’t do it.”
“I’m so happy though. I’m truly challenged and that was really my aspiration as a kid but you don’t know where you’re going to find that when you’re that age. I’m all good with where I am.”
She slopes off, leaving the spilled coffee on the table.