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Kristen Stewart: The “On the Road” roundtable

by Craig Kennedy

I recently sat down to a couple of one on one interviews for the upcoming adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. The first was with the film’s co-star Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) and the second was with screenwriter Jose Rivera and director Walter Salles who had previously collaborated on the highly acclaimed The Motorcycle Diaries (2004). Those interviews will be coming shortly, but in the mean time I wanted to pull out some of the more interesting responses from the roundtable with Kristen Stewart which took place on the same day.

Stewart of course is on everyone’s mind right now as the last chapter of the Twilight Saga rakes in cash at the multiplex, but it’s easy to forget that she’s also carved out a nice niche for herself and done some of her best work in smaller scale films like Into the Wild, The Runaways, Welcome to the Rileys and now On the Road.

In front of cameras and in front of the media since before she was even a teenager, a lot of ink has been spilled about Stewart and her personal life so it’s not all that surprising she’s kind of a guarded presence. She has a reputation for being a difficult interview, but I don’t blame her. This is what happens in a world where a young woman’s behavior can be trumpeted as a “scandal” in tabloid headlines even when whatever it is all falls well within the boundaries of the law. We’re a society that seems to need to build people up and tear them back down again and it can’t be easy being buffeted by those forces at an age when a lot of people are still trying to figure out what they want to do with themselves.

So, it’s not all that surprising Stewart seemed a little bit nervous sitting down to a table full of microphones and people waiting to dissect her. Beyond the nervous energy though (a lot of toe tapping), Stewart’s enthusiasm for her character and the project won out. She spoke in stops and starts as the words tried to keep up with the thoughts in her brain, but this is clearly an intelligent person who has spent a lot of time getting inside her character Marylou. It was interesting too how much love and respect she has for the character. My take on Kerouac’s story and this adaptation especially is that it’s dominated by the men Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) and the free-wheeling Dean Moriarty (Hedlund) while the female characters (Stewart’s Marylou and Camille played by Kirsten Dunst) kind of got the raw end of the deal. It’s pretty clear though that Stewart at least sees her character very differently and she made me think about her in new ways.

On her character Marylou:

I really had to dig pretty deep to find it in me to play a person like that. It took a long time. I couldn’t say no. I would’ve done anything on the movie. I would’ve followed the movie in a caravan had I not had a job in it. I was like 14 or 15 when I read the book for the first time and 16 or 17 when I spoke to Walter for the first time. It was easy to connect the dots after having really gotten to know the person behind the character and what you would need to pull off a lifestyle like that. That didn’t happen until deep in the rehearsal process. At first I was just attracted to the spirit of it. I’m the type of person who needs to be pushed really hard to be able to let it all hang. I think that Marylou is the type of person you can’t help but be yourself around because she’s so unabashedly there and present all the time, like this bottomless pit of really generous empathy. It’s a really rare quality that makes you capable of living a really full, a really rich life without it taking something from you. You couldn’t take from her. She was always getting something back. She’s amazing.

On LuAnne Henderson, the real woman behind Kerouac’s character Marylou:

I think that LuAnne would’ve been ahead of her time now. I think generally people’s expectations for their lives are in a personal way not all that different. It’s a really fundamental thing to want to be a part of a group. We are pack animals. In a way she had very conventional ideals as well. She had this capacity to live many lives that didn’t necessarily mess with the other. She was ultimately not above emotion. She was above jealousy, but not above feeling hurt. She felt hurt but not slighted.

Maybe if this movie was made back in the day as opposed to now, people would be shocked by the sex and the drugs and they would actually miss what the movie is about. Whereas now we’ve just seen a little bit more of it so it’s not shocking to stomach. It’s easier to take. I mean, sure, times have changed, but people don’t change. That’s why the book’s never been irrelevant. There will always be people that want to push a little bit harder and there are repercussions. Knowing what happens to all the characters afterwards is really interesting. She knew Neal to the end of his life and they always shared what they had. They never left their hearts even though their lives changed monumentally.

On whether On the Road is appropriate for Twilight fans:

I think that probably depends on your parents. I read On the Road when I was 14. My parents never really wanted to shelter me from the world that we live in so I think that I’m probably not the right person to ask (laughs).

On the importance of being on the road:

When you can literally Google anything and see it, you feel like you don’t have to go see it in person. You can do a lot of travelling in your bedroom, but you’re not touching anything. You’re not feeling it.

On doing her first nude scenes and how her parents handled it:

I think everyone was really happy that it took a few years for the movie to get made (laughs). My mom came to Cannes. She loved it. She was really proud. I haven’t talked to my dad about it yet (laughs).

Welcome to the Rileys was probably a more difficult movie for a parent to watch. I was so sensitive after that. That character really found its way into me. I was so overtly sensitive about anything, not just overtly sexual, but anything about a young girl. It just rocked me and I think my parents could probably feel that as well. So it was just not something that we engaged or talked about.

It’s hard to step outside of it. I know it’s funny to talk about it from an outsider’s perspective, like “Oh, it must be weird to sit down and watch your ass with your mom” or whatever, but it’s so weird being on the inside of it. I genuinely don’t feel like… I don’t want to say that I’m watching another person at all because what I love about my job is aspects of life that you relate to but you didn’t quite know you had in you can shock the shit out of you and so the process of making the movie is finding out why you responded that way. So, I don’t feel like you’re every playing a different person, but you’re taking care of another person and you have such a responsibility to that person. It’s easy to be mature about it. It’s easy to place it in a context and feel protective of it.

Advice for young actors who might be starting out in a major franchise like Twilight:

You’d better love it or don’t do it. To be on one project for 5 years, I have the exact same feeling that I had when I first started it. The only difference is that now finally I have that weight lifted, but I want it back. I don’t have to worry about Bella anymore, but I’m like “Really? It’s so weird. Where is it? She’s not like tapping me on the shoulder anymore.” So, yeah. I would say “love it.”

Walter Salles’ adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart opens in limited release on December 21, 2012. You’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the days and weeks to come including my interviews with Hedlund, Salles and Rivera so stay tuned.

When he’s not contributing to Awards Daily or participating in the Oscar Podcast, Craig Kennedy runs the blog Living in Cinema.

60 Comments on this Post

  1. “This is what happens in a world where a young woman’s behavior can be trumpeted as a “scandal” in tabloid headlines even when whatever it is all falls well within the boundaries of the law.”

    I don’t think that sleeping with a married man falls well within the boundaries of the law.

  2. Very good interview! It’s amazing that someone can read that article and comment, erroneously, that it’s against the law to have an affair. I really feel bad for people. Small-mindedness is so stifling.

    I love what she had to say about how she feels protective of her characters and how you have to love what you’re doing. I can imagine that there are some aspects of making the Twilight movies she didn’t love, but I could really tell she loved and respected the character. What’s the point of doing it if there’s no passion for it? It can’t just be about a paycheck, or you won’t survive the nonsense and invasion of privacy that goes along with it.

    I’m a big fan. Great job!

  3. She’s talented. She’s young. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she made a mistake and there’s no reason she can’t learn and move on from it just like any man in this industry has. I’m not so sure if the film will receive the nominations they’re hoping for, but no doubting she can achieve it eventually.

  4. I like her but I still think she is incredibly young and immature. The process of being a child actor and then a major global movie star, without the conventions of public education or normalized boundaries, is really hard to comprehend. It also must be really difficult to navigate the hyper promotional and predatory nature of the film and celebrity industry (flash camera or TMZ constantly in your face). I never believe in show business relationships (like Tom and Nicole, or Kristen and Rob) and even her US magazine affair seemed like a staged publicity stunt. I can see why Jodie Foster would relate to her and be protective, because outside of show business no one expects children to be able to defend themselves or make sound adult decisions. I wish her well.

  5. Stewart and Hedlund were both very good in the film. It’s a shame it didn’t come out last year, I think they would have had a better chance at nominations. As it is, the budget for On the Road was a little over the limit for the Indie Spirits. If the budget had been just a little lower, they most likely would have been eligible and received some noms…That would have helped with the buzz. I predict that she’ll get a GG nom for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama by luck of the draw. The ladies of Les Miz, Jacki Weaving, Helen Hunt, and the ladies of The Exotic Marigold Hotel will all be competing in the GG Comedy/Musical category. That basically leaves the GG Drama Best Supporting Actress category wide open except for sure things Amy Adams and Sally Field. My guess is it will be Sally Field, Amy Adams, Ann Dowd, Kristen Stewart, and Kelly Reilly. Stewart really has shown some chops in her indies, so I hope she manages to carve out a niche for herself in the indie world.

  6. @Diego. She did wrong, but it was incredibly overblown at the same time. She received more shit for that than pretty much any man or woman has in recent tabloid history save for Chris Brown. David Letterman had a long term affair and took his mistress on vacation with his pregnant girlfriend. Brad and Angie (well, before Angie’s philanthropy days she got a lot of hate). Jude Law. Abbie Cornish. Claire Danes. Beckham. I wish people would get more upset over Sean Connery saying that he thought it was perfectly okay to hit a woman rather than a messed up 22 year old making a shitty choice. People care far too much about the misdeeds of others in the long run.

    Not to mention the man that was old enough to be her father hardly got any criticism, and most of the blame was laid on her. A 22 year old with no need for money, power, or any obvious thing hooking up with a small-time, bucktooth married man old enough to be her Dad…Obviously, she has some issues and he probably exploited said issues. That’s why I’m kind of surprised that the tabloids are trying to portray her as some man-eater. Anyway, all that shit happened during the summer and it is past Thanksgiving…

  7. Really ? Here is an interview about an actress playing an iconic role and all most of you talk about is, the actress’s personal life ? This kind of thinking still shocks me. I don’t see how people feel they have the right to judge an actress’s personal life. Guess what, she only shares her work with you, no more, no less ! I never gave a fuck about the personal lives of actors, I never thought it was relevant to watching movies.

    P.S. Thank God, ‘Twilight’ is over and its stars are set for life, now they can really prove if they have what it takes or not.

  8. she just playing herself in OTR. I love walter salles, but the cast potraying the role with very wrong way and the movie become boring as hell but still have beautiful visual.

    I think she is overated, for very mediocre acting

  9. I’ve tried to like her as an actress but whenever I watch her onscreen I cringe and feel so uncomfortable. I’ve watched her in Welcome to the Rileys, Adventureland, New Moon, Adventureland, and On the Road. She has this weird energy onscreen. Like she starts scratching her head, breathing hard, blinking, and biting her lip… What the hell is that? I’m sorry but I think she’s highly overrated and I’ve always tried to give her a chance. Many she needs years more practice abd time to get comfortable with herself.

  10. She’s getting horrible reviews. Mostly mixed.

  11. Very true. That’s how these threads get a little nutty. First person responds to the second over something regarded as “scandalous” (which really wasn’t all that scandalous) and then it all goes to hell.

    Interesting little interview, and I truly enjoyed On the Road (saw it at AFI). Agree with Jeff Wells’ assessment of the film in that it kind of had shades of Bertolucci. I found the cinematography to be beautiful, too.

    @Megain. How on earth was Stewart playing herself? From what I understand, the main praise of the film has been the acting and less in context with the film itself.

  12. I’m so sick of reading why Kristen got more heat than the director and why her affair was overblown. She was a major moviestar, a face of one of the biggest franchises ever, and the face of a designer fragrance. The director was a nobody. As for why she got so much exposure? Well that is because she was OVEREXPOSED even before the cheating scandal. NY Magazine reported that Kristen had done 37, yes you heard that right! 37 magazine covers on her own and she was always showing up at a fashion event or show or party. She was beyond exposed and became too famous for her own good. It all backfired when age was caught having an affair with her married director with 2 children. It’s a Hollywood cliche.

  13. WTF? This is an awards blog. Most of the readers keep up with what the critics say. She most certainly is not getting horrible reviews for On the Road. She’s been getting damned good reviews in fact, that’s the reason IFC decided to embark on a probably doomed campaign for her and Hedlund.

  14. @Meagain hey idiot what the f@ck are you said she play her self in OTR! I see OTR in Thailand and she play her role good as Marylou, you idiot hater only see her movie bec you think her character like you in real live( no brain)!!! Well you can see all your idol movies dont wasting your money and your energy watching her movies…idiot!!! You can sucks your idol movie next year, he’s alot of movies next year and alot of sex scenes you can imagine…hehehe

  15. I liked her in On The Road, loved Hedlund. The movie was TRAGIC outside of the performances, but I applaud the ambition everyone had trying to adapt it.

  16. When you an actor get reviews like, “Stewart criminally underplays Maylou” and “Stewart completes awkward threesomes”, I’m sure they are not worthy of an Oscar campaign. Please go read reviews of this year’s Oscar contenders: Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard, Helen Hunt, etc.

  17. What are these comments???!!! Feels like I stepped into Desperate Housewives Twilight Edition. What kind of person knows how many covers an actress has done, let alone an actress you are apparently not a fan of.What kind of person thinks infidelity is against the law? What kind of person watches a sh@tload of movies of an actor he/she doesn’t like because apparently she really wants to like her..but what really takes the cake is the comment about how immature she is and basically calls her a child unable to make adult decisions because she had an affair.Right, adults don’t cheat, I learn sth. new everyday..

    Anyway, that was a really interesting interview, very insightful comments from Stewart on a character-woman that for all her infamy thanks to Kerouac she remains pretty much a mystery. I watched On the Road and simply put, there wasn’t a weak link in the movie. Kristen Stewart was simply brilliant. Having read the book and being one of my favourites I expected her role to be pretty much that of a plaything, so I was surprised to catch myself with misty eyes in a scene that she didn’t do a lot but in the same time she did so much. Those who have seen the movie might know what I am talking about. In the car. She doesn’t speak. She just looks at him. We look at her and in those eyes we can see everything. Dreams, aspirations, disapppointment, frustration, acceptance. I don’t know what is it about Kristen Stewart, I only know that when she left the screen I wished she came back, even though having read the book, I knew she wasn’t and in tham moment I wished Kerouac had written a little more about LuAnne Henderson. It didn’t bother me in the book but it sure did bother me in the movie..it sure did bother me.

  18. Maybe she should take some time off from the spotlight and grow up, as a person and actor. Maybe take acting classes. It’s not something to be ashamed of. I think she has potential but isn’t entirely comfortable in her skin with the way she acts in public and films.

  19. Maybe she should take some time off from the spotlight and grow up, as a person and actor. Maybe take acting classes. It’s not something to be ashamed of. I think she has potential but isn’t entirely comfortable in her skin with the way she acts in public and films.

  20. “I predict that she’ll get a GG nom for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama by luck of the draw.”

    In what universe? ON THE ROAD screened around the world to mixed and downright bad reviews. No one, and I mean no one cares about the movie. It’s widely regarded as Walter Salles’ weakest effort and was promptly forgotten after it failed at the Cannes festival back in May.

    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/on_the_road/

    As for Kristen Stewart she comes off as extremely immature and unlikable. She’s just not a good actress by any stretch of the word. I suggest only small supporting work for her. She could take a page out of Robert Pattinon’s COSMOPOLIS book too and find a good director to push her limits. Her inability to emote holds her back more than her private affairs.

  21. I couldn’t give a shit what she does in her private life. Who am i to judge her, i don’t have a halo above my head and either do any of the people acting as if she should be imprisoned for drastic deeds. Oh how easy it is to be armchair judge an jury!

    And to ‘X’, i’m not sure what you are smoking but Kristen did not get terrible reviews for OTR, are you insane? Why would IFC campaign for her if she got terrible reviews? That doesn’t happen. Both she and Hedlund got the best revoews, and most of the other cast did too. Go back to a RPattz fansite and pretend you are going to marry him!

  22. “No one, and I mean no one cares about the movie.”

    Apparently you do. Looks like you care too much actually.

  23. @Joan Why, because I left a comment on something I read with my cup of joe? No one with a say in these award things cares about ON THE ROAD. The Independent spirit awards were really its only chance and we saw how that played out.

  24. Will never understand this whole ‘Kstew doesn’t emote’ BS, i feel like it’s one of those internet things that spreads and people just believe it without actually seeing any of her other work, and if they have and they still say it then i wonder what they expect her to do, because she isn’t doing anything all that differently to other actresses. Apparently people feel cool insulting her. yay for them!

  25. It isn’t your comment. It is the extreme use of absolutes in your comment that shows how much you care. As for the ISA, did people really expect it to be nominated? I am quite sure it wasn’t eligible.

  26. Fucking hell. That girl gets it in the neck. The fuck did she ever do to any of you?

  27. Why is it called the “cheating scandal”? Shouldn’t it be called the casting couch scandal since the star of the movie was sleeping with her director/boss. Classic Hollywood story!

  28. Spiderball

    I’m sick of the director took advantage of and manipulated Kristen Stewart excuses. She’s 22! Not 16! Egos the bigger star with more power? Think about it.

    Also I’m sick of this feminist BS. What about all the backlash Kanye West, Chris Brown, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, John Mayer have received? It’s funny how we forget when it comes to women.

  29. Good interview.

    The only scandal I see is the amount of attention people like to direct toward her private life. She bangs her director and all of a sudden the fat cow ahead of me in the grocery store lineup is leaving skidmarks in her sweatpants over it. Get your own life – judgement is a boomerang, folks.

  30. I will forever be baffled at how people think KStew is a good actress. I just don’t see how playing the same ”troubled girl” in every movie = good actress.

  31. @tess hey why dont you go f@ck Rob ass!!

  32. The most overrated actress of her generation and if anything, her scandal has kept her hopes alive. People have decided championing her is some act of female empowerment. Pity and misplaced feminism have given her an aura of depth that she’s never been able to convey on screen. OTR landed with a thud at Cannes. There’s no passion behind it. And yet here we are, still talking about it and acting as if Kristen Stewart’s life and career is being judged unfairly, even as she gets article after article defending her and a mediocre movie. Can we please move on from this one-note actress now that her horrible franchise is over?

  33. I’ve liked her since Panic Room days. She seems intelligent, and that’s a rarity with young actors these days. I wish her well. It’s sad how the press and the public eat her alive. It takes a lot of resilience to deal with that. She must really love acting to put up with all of that. With her Twilight money she could probably quit now, but I’m glad she’s sticking it out to see where she takes this.

  34. Diego: Pretty sure actually that “sleeping with a married man” DOES fall well within the boundaries of the law.
    People…………sheesh……..

  35. @Lili
    that’s really mature answer. Because yeah. If people don’t think Kristin Stewart is a good actress = they want to fcuk Robert Pattinson. obv.
    Smh, kids these days.

  36. I’m a big fan of Kristen Stewart and i’ve seen all of her movies except this one but it’S only a matter of time till this one will be on my list too.

  37. It was made quite clear-through Gossip Cop- that she did not sleep with RS, so get off your high-horses. A kiss in a car does not make it an afrair and the pictures taken outside the car were all photoshopped, the tape on youtube shows that the pictures had been messed with.

  38. I saw On the Road and thought Stewart was serviceable, but didn’t offer anything most of the rest of the cast didn’t (esp Kirsten Dunst). I wasn’t crazy about the story, but I knew what I was getting into. However, Garrett Hedlund was pretty good and deserves award attention for his work. He played an incredibly hedonistic, unlikeable character. And unlike Freddie Quell, he wasn’t torn in the least about the choices he had made in life, so he was very unsympathetic. Hedlund is one to watch in the coming years. The real deal.

  39. The problem is she sold her personal life in the worst possible way,she sold it to the paparazzi,the most hated ”persons” in Hollywood.She never ganna back her privacy again,maybe if she quit acting.I wish Robert Pattinson had such good press(I’m thinking about respected media)after this scandal,like Kristen has,especially from middle-aged journalists/bloggers/critics.

  40. I’m just glad no one was paying attention to what I was doing when I was in my early 20s.

  41. I love Kristen Stewart! Her time will come….

  42. Where is Garrett Hedlund’s interview? He is the stand out performer in On the Road, not KStew! She is just a money draw and sites like this are hyping her just for the hits. What a shame.

  43. Mi: what on earth are you going on about? Kristen Stewart has never sold her personal life to anyone, she & Rob are famous for not talking about their private lives. Why do you think there has been this “are they, aren’t they” going on for 4 years? because they don’t talk about their relationship.

  44. [Kristen Stewart] is just a money draw and sites like this are hyping her just for the hits.

    …probs not rly. With hits like yours, I don’t think it’d be worth it.

  45. Bryce Forestieri

    Good God…Did she offer to show you guys her tits?

  46. I loved her performance in On The Road, it was heartbreaking and beautiful and completely natural. She was vulnerable and free as the character of Marylou. Something I have not seen of her before. Usually she is too self conscious to let go, but in this particular performance she was flawless. As far as her personal life goes, what the heck does that have to do with the movie?, nothing.

  47. My husband and I enjoyed your article. We support Kristen Stewart, because we see the great actress she is. A young woman, who came out of malicious slander like Phoenix from the ashes. Kristen is a though cookie, & a woman who will change Hollywood. Maybe it will not happen with this movie, but she has the bite for acting & the skill.
    All those people, who invest so much time with vile comments…all that sour puss isn’t becoming.
    Kristen Stewart will stay, get use to it!

  48. Nudity, sex and casting couch good skills will always be rewarded in HL

  49. She never “cheated”. She never made a “mistake”. She never had an “affair”. All the picutres were photoshopped. You want proof then go to my website and check out justiceforkristen done by a lawyer.

    As for Sanders he did the campaign for HALO. You all know what HALO is right. HALO 1 took in 40 billion. HALO 2 took in 60 billion. HALO 3 a multiple of that. HALO 4 just opened for sale 40 million the first day and it has days, weeks, months and a couple of years to go. HALO makes Twilight look like very small potatoes in the $ market. Sanders is not a nobody.

    Most of you Monday morning quarterbacks are just that.

  50. Marie couch casting happens before the film is made, not after it’s been made, promoted & been in the cinema. And the last I checked, a kiss in a car does not = sex.

  51. A – I completely disagree. The Internet gives anyone an opinion, and you have yours. Thousands and thousands of people like this film and thousands more want to see. It’s clearly not mainstream, despite some known actors/actresses. It is so EASY to be critic, especially if one creates very little (online comments don’t count). See Kerouac.com for a group of true scholars and intellectuals behind the film. No adaptation of this loose, innovative literature will be perfect. I give Salles, and Coppola, credit for an artful attempt at being true to the novel. The comparison to COSMOPOLIS is not fair; that is a contemporary story. OTR is a period piece, post WW2, and attempting to capture the “vibe,” the energy of the time before the counterculture movement, the 1960s. Kerouac doesn’t appeal to everyone, nor does Salles, but they both raise serious questions, searching for truth, the “it.” We are still doing IT today. Handheld devices, endless, empty entertainments aren’t IT, so what is? It’s ultimately a spiritual quest. Surrender and stop judging so much. There are enough of those folks. Get on the road and see. Peace …

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