Kristen Stewart made a splash with her early feature, Panic Room, opposite Jodie Foster. Since the film’s release, she has been featured in many films in both starring and supporting roles. Her most recent film is The Messengers, a new horror picture from Hong Kong directors Danny and Oxide Pang (The Eye). Stewart took some time to speak with Kevin Carr about her upcoming feature and already extensive career.
7M: WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE FILM?
Initially, it was the filmmakers that were attached. I was really eager to work with them, Danny and Oxide Pang. I loved their movie The Eye. It’s eerie. It totally wigged me out.
7M: CONTRAST THE USE OF DAYLIGHT AND SUNLIGHT WITH THE DARKNESS IN THE FILM.
The setting of the film is really a classically American setting. It’s a jovial, beautiful sunflower farm. At the same time, these really incredibly terrifying, threatening occurrences are taking place every single day that this girl is there. We only had a few sequences that were actually outside. The inside of the house was really dark. Most of our horror sequences are in the basement and the cellar. The Pang brothers were involved in colors. They loved green. The whole house inside was really green toned.
7M: HAVE YOU HAD ANY REAL-LIFE PARANORMAL EXPERIENCES?
Not at first, no. As a kid, I had always been absolutely, totally scared of ghosts. But when I was on the film, about half-way through, I had a really trippy experience in my hotel room. It’s an old hotel. One night, I opened my eyes, and this image of this woman just filled my entire view. People called the hotel room to see if I was okay. I wouldn’t talk to anyone about it before I said, “I totally get how you guys can think I’m just getting into the movie, and this could be a reflection of what’s going on in my work.” But objectively, it was just there.
7M: WHAT WAS IT LIKE DEALING WITH DIRECTORS WHO DIDN’T SPEAK THE LANGAGE?
I was anticipating sort of a problem initially, but it wasn’t ever a problem because they’re really smart, and they know the language. They’re really emotionally in tune. Sometimes you know what they want by the way they look at you. They’re really sensitive guys. When I started this horror movie, I was like, “Oh great, it was going to be a big scream fest,” but there’s a lot of actual heart in this movie.
7M: ARE YOU A FAN OF HORROR FILMS?
I love horror movies. My all-time favorite movie, and I’ve been asked this like a thousand times recently, is definitely The Shining.
7M: WAS THIS A CHALLENGING MOVIE?
It was one of the most emotionally and physically strenuous movies I’ve ever been on, and I wasn’t expecting that at all. I thought it would be somewhat of a break, like a one-dimensional horror movie, but it turned out to really not be like that for me.
7M: WHAT ABOUT THE CHARACTER DREW YOU TO THE FILM?
It wasn’t even really the character that drew me to it, but it was the filmmakers and the story. I thought it was really cool that it was set where it was and the isolation of the whole movie. She’s really a desperate character. It’s nice when you can see a young, teenage girl get up and kick butt.
7M: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WORK AGAINST THE PRACTICAL AND DIGITAL EFFECTS?
A lot of the things were practical that I didn’t have to make believe. Most of what I’m responding to was really there for me. Even the ghosts, we had someone standing there even though it didn’t look like what it looks like in the movie. I didn’t have to turn around and scream at nothing. But I sort of like doing that. At first you feel totally absurd and ridiculous, but you get into it and you start to feel less stupid.
7M: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE INFLUX OF ASIAN HORROR, AND DO YOU LIKE IT?
I do very much. I love those movies. I really loved The Ring. It scared the crap out of my. They’re not as heavy-handed as American films. They tend to take their time a little bit and let you think for yourself before they hammer you in the face with smashing people’s brains in and dragging them off in the woods to be slaughtered. I think they’re smarter.
7M: WHAT SCARES YOU IN HORROR MOVIES?
I like when all of a sudden you’re watching the movie and it slows down, and you’re like, “Oh my God. Something’s definitely going to happen.” And you know it, but when it does, it scares you just as much. I like all types of horror movies. I definitely don’t exclude slasher movies. I love them also. But I think this movie, there’s something nice and deliberate about it. The Pang brothers, they take their time. There’s something about the pacing that’s really unnerving about it to me.
7M: WHAT’S YOUR IDEAL ROLE?
It’s a hard question because I’m not attracted to certain genres. There’s a few things I haven’t done. I would love to do a period piece. I haven’t really done one yet.
7M: ANY CHANCE FOR A SCREWBALL COMEDY?
I would be so down for that. The closest I came to anything funny at all was Zathura, and I had a great time on that, but I was sort of the straight man on that.
7M: HOW DO YOUR FRIENDS REACT TO YOUR FAME?
I stopped going to school when I was in, like, seventh grade. That whole hierarchy just sort of comes crumbling down, and it doesn’t mean anything anymore. But in doing that at a really young age, I cemented relationships that really are pretty solid. All of them have known me since I was really young. They’ve all been there through my first movie and the initial craziness of what’s happened to me.
7M: WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A TEENAGE CELEBRITY?
Ask a celebrity. People don’t recognize me on the streets, like, ever. It’s totally never changed.