Kristen Stewart looks beyond Bella

I admit that the standing-in-line-for-days furor around New Moon mystifies me. I mean please, this is not The Final Ever Until Lucas Gets Another Idea Star Wars movie.

I also admit that I am old and a bit of a snob.

But last week, a young bisexual friend of mine put it in perspective for me with two words: Kristen Stewart.

My friend explained to me that while she certainly is a huge fan of the Twilight franchise, she would go see Kristen Stewart in anything. She just can’t take her eyes off of her. And it dawned on me: Stewart is my friend’s Meryl Streep. And judging by the responses of AfterEllen.com readers at any mention of Stewart, not to mention Hot 100 status, she’s not alone.

I have followed Kristen since Panic Room. She was able to make an impression even sharing the screen with Jodie Foster — no easy task.

And I did think she was quite good in Twilight, despite the fact that most critics didn’t.

 

I suppose, though, that I feel a little uncomfortable having a crush on a 19-year-old. I’m probably older than her mom. Then again, when I see totally gay pictures like this, I have a fleeting thought that maybe she would think I’m a MILF. (And OK, yeah; I have a Bella action figure. It’s a collectible, people.)

In any case, Kristen Stewart has been making the interview rounds, including a feature in Sunday’s New York Times.

I am happy to report that my opinion of her talent is shared with the likes of Sean Penn and Jodie Foster. Penn, in fact, called her “a real force with terrific instincts” after directing her in Into the Wild.

Foster, to whom people often compare Stewart because of their physical resemblance, agrees. “Kristen isn’t interested in blurting out her emotions all in front of her, and that results in really intelligence and interesting performances,” Foster said. Sounds like the resemblance is more than just physical.

Stewart wishes that more people would focus on her talent instead of whether she prefers cream cheese or butter on her bagels. “I do wish that people would focus more on the work, and I can’t say that I don’t take it personally. But I understand it because what you do as an actor is so tied up in who you are as a person,” she continued with a deep sigh. “What really kills me — it really rips me up — is when people think I’m abrasive, inconsiderate or ungrateful because I don’t go outside in a bikini and wave to the paparazzi. Come on!”

As the Times points out, Stewart’s hints of shyness and awkwardness probably have made her seem more accessible to fans. That, of course, is a bit of a Catch-22, since she has to maintain an air of inapproachability to keep fans from seeing her as their BFF. But interviewers report that Kristen is animated and funny as long as the focus stays on her public life. She calls the people who intrude on her private life “fiends” — and refuses to indulge them.

The good news for fans of Stewart’s craft is that the success of Twilight frees her to take on more challenging and adventurous roles that have limited box office appeal. Certainly, we will be in line to see her play Joan Jett in The Runaways, but the film probably won’t be a blockbuster.

Her next project is the indie film we told you about last fall. In K-11, Stewart plays Butterfly, a transsexual in a special prison unit for gay inmates. Twilight compadre Nikki Reed costars.

 

 

For the moment, however, we’ll have to be content with Kristen Stewart as Bella. But don’t feel obligated to line up for Team Edward or Team Jacob. We all are hoping that the team she actually chooses is ours.

Are you planning to see New Moon? What’s your favorite Kristen Stewart role so far? Do you think her talent will take her well beyond Bella?

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