Spend any time chatting with Kristen Stewart and you quickly realize that she’s just not interested in any of the trappings of tabloid fame that have been placed upon her thanks to the “Twilight” series.
When it comes to her work, though, the 24-year-old actress has plenty to say.
“Picking and choosing the people that you know you’ll do good work with,” Stewart says of her criteria for signing onto a film. “And picking projects that you feel protective of. It’s so weird. It’s like these people become real to you. As soon as I look at a character and I go, ‘If I don’t protect this person you’re going to die,’ it’s like, you’re a psycho. You should probably do this movie.”
On screen, Stewart has spent the last year enmeshed in challenging independent movies. First, there was “Camp X-Ray,” in which she played a Guantánamo Bay guard who questions her purpose there.
Soon, she’ll be seen opposite Juliette Binoche in “Clouds of Sils Maria,” from acclaimed French filmmaker Olivier Assayas.
And beginning Friday, Stewart has some heartbreaking scenes opposite Golden Globe winner Julianne Moore in “Still Alice,” playing the daughter of Moore’s college professor stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
“Julianne is somewhat kindred,” Stewart says of her co-star. “I’m so encouraged by the way that she works. I’ve worked with actresses that are fantastic and blow me away and confuse me and make me feel, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I can ever do that.’ We happen to share the love of the process, in all the technical aspects of it and emotional. I’ve never seen anyone able to juggle the two so masterfully.”
Stewart, considered by many critics to be one of the best actors of her generation, has worked with a lot of exceptional older colleagues, including Binoche, Jodie Foster and the late James Gandolfini.
She says she’s learned something from all of them that she can apply to her work down the road, though it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what that is.
Her experience opposite the “masterful” Moore seems to have especially resonated.
“Just because you’re technically aware [on set], doesn’t mean you’re faking it,” Stewart says. “I knew that, I felt that and I’ve always been confident about how I do things and why I do things but it felt so good to see that in another person.”