Kristen Stewart is one of those faces who seem to have been around us forever — and that’s partly because she has. The Los Angeles native’s interest in films started out early, and after finding work as a child actor, Stewart found global fame as a teenager, when she portrayed Bella Swan in the massively popular film series, “The Twilight Saga.”
While Stewart is famous for her successful acting career, marked by acclaimed performances in films ranging from mainstream blockbusters to independently financed projects, she has also attracted media attention for her personal life. Her relationship with “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson, for example, became a paparazzi sensation, and her subsequent relationships with women came under intense scrutiny. Still, Stewart has carved her own unique path along the way, always choosing to stay true to herself. When she came out as queer in her mid-20s, the actor quickly became an LGBTQ+ champion. In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, Stewart said, “The whole issue of sexuality is so grey. I’m just trying to acknowledge that fluidity, that greyness, which has always existed.” But more on all of this and more below.
Basically, regardless of what Kristen Stewart does onscreen and off, she is sure to do it her own way. Let’s take a look at her journey over the past two decades.
Kristen Stewart had her break in 2002's Panic Room
The daughter of John Stewart, a stage manager and producer, and Jules Mann-Stewart, a script supervisor, Kristen Stewart grew up in the business, according to Biography. While she starred in a couple of films before, her big break came when she was 12 years old and she shared the screen with Jodie Foster in “Panic Room” (2002). Kristen’s performance put her on the map. Rolling Stone, for example, described how “Foster and Stewart — in a nuanced, no-bull turn — forge a bond that never feels cornball.” She went on to star in another thriller, “Cold Creek Manor” (2003), as the daughter of Sharon Stone and Dennis Quaid, a performance that earned her a Young Artist Award nomination, as Yahoo! Entertainment has noted.
In 2004, when she was only 13, Kristen starred in the made-for-TV movie “Speak,” in which she plays a victim of rape, a performance that earned her praise from The New York Times’ Neil Genzlinger. “Ms. Stewart creates a convincing character full of pain and turmoil — not an easy acting feat, since because of the nature of the story she has a limited number of lines,” he wrote. She continued to land these “quiet indie roles,” as Vulture described, with films like “Fierce People” (2006) and “The Messengers” (2007).
Being able to play “intense” characters is what attracted her to acting, Stewart later told Elle: “I love living in different worlds, because a lot of times mine is pretty nice and easy.”
She shot to stardom in 2008 upon the release of Twilight
Kristen Stewart went from thriller teenage actor to a global star almost instantly after the release of “Twilight” in November 2008, the first film in the saga inspired by Stephenie Meyer’s popular vampire-themed novels. The search for the perfect actor to bring Bella Swan to life wasn’t a particularly hard one, director Catherine Hardwicke told E!. She said that Stewart’s performance in “Into the Wild” (2007) captivated her, so she “didn’t spend a lot of time auditioning other” actors. “She had done that scene in the trailer with Emile Hirsch, and I thought she just expressed this incredible longing, and so I was just like, ‘Wow, she would be great,'” Hardwicke told the outlet.
While Stewart has come a long way in her career since playing the reclusive teenager-turned-vampire more than a decade ago, she considers the project a major milestone. “Every part that I’ve ever played has shaped me in such a significant way … I got a lot from it and it’s made me who I am,” she told E! in 2017.
Stewart previously reflected upon the impact the novels and films have had on an entire generation on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” but noted how “something personal became not the most personal thing.” However, she added that experiencing such fame at only 17 or 18 years old taught the rising star how to “stand at attention.”
Kristen Stewart's relationship with Robert Pattinson thrust her further in the spotlight
In addition to playing the lead character in the global phenomenon that was “Twilight,” Kristen Stewart also caused a media frenzy when she became romantically linked to Robert Pattinson, who portrayed Bella Swan’s love interest, Edward Cullen, in the movies. Their relationship became public in August 2009, when they were spotted at a Kings of Leon concern in Vancouver, according to PopSugar.
Years later, when Howard Stern told Stewart during an interview that dating a co-star is “the biggest mistake an actor can make,” she stated that “there was nothing I could do.” However, Stewart admitted that she was “self-conscious” about being in love with Pattinson, because she didn’t want the public to think she was trying to seek “attention” through it.
Stewart and Pattinson’s relationship suffered a sudden — and highly-publicized — shock in July 2012, when reports surfaced that she was having an affair with the director of “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Rupert Sanders, as People reported. “I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry,” Stewart said in a statement. She and Pattinson reconciled a few months later, but the relationship only lasted a few months after that, coming to a definitive end in May 2013, per E!.
The actor has been praised for being openly bisexual
Kristen Stewart likes to keep her personal life to herself, though the paparazzi and public interest has made it nearly impossible. Even the details about her highly-publicized relationship with Robert Pattinson are hazy. In a 2019 interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK, Stewart revealed that the former couple refused to address their romance because they wanted it to be theirs. “So much was taken from us that, in trying to control one aspect, we were just like, ‘No, we will never talk about it. Never. Because it’s ours,'” she said. Still, she tries.
Speaking with InStyle a year later, Stewart noted that she had been dating women since her early 20s, though she didn’t publicly come out then because she wanted to keep her life private. However, she added that she understands that her actions might have been perceived as being “ashamed” of her sexual orientation and hurt people in the LGBTQ+ community. “The added pressure of representing a group of people, of representing queerness, wasn’t something I understood then,” she said. “Only now can I see it.”
After she and Pattinson called it quits, Stewart was in a few high-profile relationships with women, including with visual effects producer Alicia Cargile and Victoria’s Secret model Stella Maxwell. She is currently dating screenwriter Dylan Meyer, to whom she was first linked in mid-2019, as noted by Harper’s Bazaar.
Kristen Stewart's career has reached new heights
After appearing in big blockbusters, Kristen Stewart starred in a series of indie films that offered viewers a different side of her artistry, including “Personal Shopper” (2017), “Still Alice” (2015), and “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2015). The latter earned the actor praise and accolades, including a César Award, France’s equivalent of an Oscar. Tom Long wrote in The Detroit News that the film “features a remarkably natural performance by Kristen Stewart that’s so unastounding it’s astounding.”
Her decision to work with independent directors offered her the opportunity to explore different depths, she told Vanity Fair in 2019. “I was finally given a chance to be looked at, not as this thing in this celebrity-obsessed culture that was like, ‘Oh, that’s the girl from Twilight,'” the “Happiest Season” star explained. In 2020, Stewart began working on her feature-length directorial debut with a screen adaption of Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir, “The Chronology of Water.” As she gets older, Stewart feels the need to expand her skillset, noting to Vanity Fair that she is now “more comfortable in the idea of making something from top to bottom, rather than giving myself to [it].”
As of this writing, Stewart will also take on the massive challenge of embodying Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s “Spencer,” which started filming in January 2021. “Kristen can be many things, and she can be very mysterious and very fragile an ultimately very strong as well, which is what we need,” Larraín told Deadline.
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