Let's be clear, we love Kristen Stewart. However, it would be disingenuous not to recognise that the actress divides opinion. The piece below was written by Justine Harman for ELLE.com. It's got a particularly American point of view, but it resonated with us. Do you agree? Tweet us at @ELLEuk and let us know.
Photo above, Getty Images
Two nights ago while (finally!) watching Still Alice, for which Julianne Moore rightfully took home the Best Actress Oscar, I kept zeroing in on her costar. The refrain in my head: Do other people know how freaking talented Kristen Stewart is? (Turns out they do...in France: She recently became the first woman to ever win a César, the French version of an Oscar, for her turn in Clouds of Sils Maria.) But here, in America, regardless of her notable talents and undeniable beauty, the acceptable lady response to the name Kristen Stewart seems to be "ew."
But why do we hate Kristen Stewart? (She was listed by The Cut as the second most-reviled celebrity in 2013.) What about her not only elicits disgust but also renders people incapable of seeing past her public persona?
I turned to the peanut gallery at my disposal, otherwise known as my colleagues, and asked them to articulate their damage. "Why does she have to be so GD moody all the time?" one asked. "She's just one of those girls who is trying to look like they're not trying," seethed another. "She seems like a girl who would say, 'All my friends are guys!'" chimed in a third. All of their remarks smacked of the same reverb that followed the once-unanimous love for "cool girl" celebs like Jennifer Lawrence, Mila Kunis, and Emma Stone. Is Kristen Stewart unlikeable or is she, perhaps, threatening? (See: "The Jessa.")
Mystified by the near-Hathaway level of reproach, I brought up the topic with a celebrity worship-immune male friend of mine at dinner. I prefaced it with two relevant pieces of information:
• Article A: Stewart was woefully involved in a cheating scandal that reportedly ended a marriage and dashed a whole bunch of Twihards' shipping fantasies.
• Article B: When I was a teenager, and Bill Clinton Monica Lewinskied all over Monica Lewinsky, I was, even then, able to separate the politician from his proclivities.
Sam shook his head in protest. "She's not even in the same ballpark as Bill Clinton," he said. "Kristen Stewart is in no way, shape, or form a civil servant. She doesn't have our trust to betray." I agreed wholeheartedly. Plus, unlike, say, a Disney star turned overnight provocateur, pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart's brand was never particularly wholesome. She was that weird, slightly anemic-looking kid inPanic Room, the coltish and horny trailer park hottie in Into the Wild, the stoner just trying to smoke her pot in peace. Her love life may have gotten a little messy, but it's not like those headlines were poisoning an untainted well. That incident should have been one of those shitty things that happens in someone's personal life but has no bearing on their professional life. But, unfortunately for Kristen Stewart, people seem unwilling to separate the actress from her actions.
"It's not the cheating thing," another colleague told me via chat. "It's just that she seems like she doesn't give a shit about anything."
But why is an actress' refusal to fake talk show couch-level enthusiasm a bad thing? So many male actors are crotchety and unsmiling and yet we don't criticize them for being overly moody or too serious. Instead, we place them firmly in the tortured artist category. Furthermore, a newly released on-camera interview of Stewart chatting with a friend en route to a screening of Sils Maria fully negates that DGAF assessment. Kristen Stewart gives so many shits, in fact, that a mere mention of Ed Sheeran's talent causes her to stutter with affection. "His, his, his, voice," she rambles, her wide-set eyes fluttering with emotion. What shines through here, more than anything, is her charming awkwardness, her humility (note the thoughtful pause after the interviewer asks her to state her name), and the passion for what she creates.
It's this potent mix of humanity, or what Variety calls her "spontaneous, agitated energy," that makes her so compelling on-screen. In his review of Sils Maria, ELLE's own Ben Dickinson says that the 25-year-old actress "understands profoundly what's going on." He continues: "Whatever feels right in terms of feminine sensibility is because it's channeled by them," he says of Stewart and her equally talented costar Chloë Grace Moretz. "They absorb it and appropriate it, and they are the co-creators." As such, she is an artist in the truest sense of the word. The level of palpable emotion that she is able to produce—be it aching sexuality in the Twilight series, manic insecurity in On the Road, or teenage ennui in Adventureland—should easily eclipse any perceived shortcomings she has by way of personal brand.
Regardless, her talent is rarely the first thing people mention when you say Kristen Stewart. I just pinged a friend in L.A. for a one-word Gchat character review. Within seconds, the word "worst," popped up. See what I'm talking about?