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by Jay A. Fernandez
December 20, 2012 12:44 PM
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Honor Roll 2012: Kristen Stewart Goes 'On the Road' to Find Sex, Dancing and -- Just Maybe -- an Award

Kristen Stewart in "On the Road" Comme au Cinema
Honor Roll is a daily series for December that will feature new or previously published interviews, profiles and first-person stories of some of the year's most notable cinematic voices. Today, we're running a new interview with Kristen Stewart.

It’s easy for audiences to forget that if you take away “Twilight,” Kristen Stewart has done mostly indie-minded acting work. Other studio films do pepper her resume — “Jumper,” “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “Panic Room,” “Zathura” — but at a mere 22-years-old, Stewart has an independent streak at least as deep as that of well-respected indie darlings such as Michelle Williams and Catherine Keener. It’s just that much of Stewart’s public approbation has come from the Teen Choice/MTV Movie Award constituencies.

That may change this year.

READ MORE: Honor Roll 2012: Michael Haneke Tells Us Why He Hasn't Changed Despite His Compassionate 'Amour'

Stewart’s openly sexual, free-spirited performance as Marylou in the Walter Salles-Jose Rivera adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s Beat bible “On The Road” may be secondary to the central relationship of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, but it’s caused a lot of fevered muttering about Stewart suddenly “growing up” or “taking more risks” as an actor. Many observers have pointed to the “shock” of her willingness to appear naked on screen as evidence to support this.

But that’s more a reflection of how much the virginal Bella Swan role from the five “Twilight” movies has bulldozed the popular consciousness over the last four years. That’s not Stewart’s fault. Really, she was half-dressed or openly libidinous in “Into the Wild,” “The Runaways” and “Welcome to the Rileys,” too, and it’s as if that work has been erased from her history.

READ MORE: Honor Roll 2012: Matthew McConaughey Wants a Viagra Study, Has an 18 Handicap and Thinks You've Got to "Enjoy the Architecture"

Still, there is truth to the sense that Stewart did drop even more defenses in “On the Road,” and it couldn’t be any clearer than in the transporting dancing scene near the end of Salles’ film (more on that from Kristen below). With IFC Films putting mad faith in the movie, which opens Friday, Dec. 21, Stewart shared some insights with Indiewire about how first reading “On the Road” sparked her search for the adventure in people, her ambivalent reaction to having sex scenes cut from the film and what playing Marylou taught her about how “to be completely motivated by the fears in life rather than crippled by them.”

What changed between the Cannes version of the film and the one that showed at Toronto, especially as it pertains to your character?

"On the Road"

It’s slightly longer, but that’s not the only difference. There are so many different avenues you can go down with this story. You read the book and you choose what ride you want to take. You can have a different experience every time you read it. I think that Walter wanted to funnel most of the energy — even though you could probably still have multiple experiences watching the movie — he wanted to really focus on the brotherhood, really focus on Dean and Sal. The first one’s just a little more languid. I don’t want to say it was more free-form…

It’s still pretty free-form. It’s meant to be jazzy.

That’s what I mean. It was just maybe a little bit more. But now, he definitely leads you to a place where at the end, the two of them, you’re just so completely invested in them. Not that you weren’t before, it was just a little bit easier to take different rides. But that was perfect for the Cannes audience.

In terms of your character, how did your perspective change from the script to the first version to the second version?

On a surface level, the first one was much racier. You do those scenes, especially, and you look back and go, What the fuck did we do that for? [laughs] Walter, what the fuck? No, I’m kidding.

There’s still a good amount of sex in the new version.

Yeah, there is, definitely.

So you weren’t missing that in the second version?

I don’t know. The last thing I want is for that to be what people focus on, so I’m actually glad, because there’s enough. But at the same time, it’s what it is. There were definitely moments that would have been good, but whatever. If I start at the very beginning, I read the book when I was a freshman.

In high school? That’s pretty early.

I grew up in L.A.  I was 13 or 14. It is totally young. On one level it opened a lot of doors for me. I suddenly got incredibly into reading. It really did kickstart that. It was the first one. I didn’t think for one second that I was the type of person that could play Marylou. Ever. Not for one second. I would have done anything on the movie, so I took the part when I was 17 not having — which is a very irresponsible thing to do as an actor, you cannot take a part unless you think you can do it — but I was like, I can’t say no to “On the Road,” I have to try. Probably because those are the type of people I want to meet. I want to find those people and run after them.

“The mad ones.”

Yeah. I think that 14 is how old I was when I looked up and realized that you get to choose those people rather than just getting comfortable with the people that are circumstantially around you. Like, go out and find the ones that fucking pull it out of you! Because [Marylou’s] not in the forefront of the story, she is on the outskirts, you didn’t really know what is in her head and in her heart when the whole story is being told in the novel. I think getting to know the woman behind the character, to be able to connect the dots — because I am a sensitive, contemporary normal girl who definitely was leagues behind her in terms of being comfortable with herself and life — she had that and she was so young. That’s not a teenaged thing, to be completely motivated by the fears in life rather than crippled by them. So that’s why it’s really a very good thing that I grew up a couple of years — I was 20 by the time the movie was made. Even though she was 16 when the story starts, I was a younger 16, I just didn’t have it yet.

16 Comments

  • Guest | December 29, 2012 5:15 PMReply

    Kristen should buy herself a small gold bar, engrave it 2012 and put it with the rest of her awards to remind her of all her hard work and the money she made for herself and others. I look forward to seeing her next movie--hopefully a comedy, and plan to see On the Road upon wider release. A Fan

  • leanne | December 22, 2012 6:49 PMReply

    Joidie Foster should be the director of choice for Kristen for the Snowhite & 50 shades of grey if she gets that also. Send the director Rupert Sanders back home and the BF Robert Pattinson we need to end this move on. Kristen needs healing - she is getting very very stressed out I've never heard her swearing a lot - Kristen you need to ignore these people & the media take care of yourself & your career.

  • leanne | December 22, 2012 6:37 PMReply

    Don't say trampire that's wrong choice of word. He Rupert pursued & sought her
    She work fo r him so we don't know what really happened - that boyfriend should
    have seen it coming- how could he not they are supposed to be partners. Kristen isn't like
    Angelina Jolie - she 's not desperate . Rupert is ugly & old for heaven's sake. She didn't show
    some like in those pics. she just went along with it. Be careful what you put here. We are for peace & civility. Young ones could be reading this & am a mom myself.

  • Liberty | December 21, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    I love you trampire!! http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/338/rupsten1.gif/

  • leanne | December 22, 2012 6:39 PM

    You don't judge & you won't be judged. Are you saint & God???????????????/

  • Lin | December 21, 2012 12:02 AMReply

    When was this interview conducted? Was it recent? Lovely interview by the way. Always love Kristen despite the nasty haters trying to change my mind. :)

  • Lin | December 21, 2012 12:02 AMReply

    When was this interview conducted? Was it recent? Lovely interview by the way. Always love Kristen despite the nasty haters trying to change my mind. :)

  • Abigail | December 20, 2012 7:23 PMReply

    I enjoyed your interview. Not the same old questions and Kristen is thoughtful in her answers. I am a fan of both of you.

  • veulent_savoir | December 20, 2012 6:31 PMReply

    Thank you so much for a wonderful interview! 5 Stars for you!

  • Ems | December 20, 2012 4:30 PMReply

    Really liked this interview. If I can ask one thing Indiewire, please moderate the inevitable idiots that will flock here. Soar Kristen.

  • Kay | December 20, 2012 4:08 PMReply

    One of the rare interview gems, thank you. Kristen is a bright, insightful young woman who is in
    this business for the right reasons. Glad she's fighting through all the bullshi*

  • Mulder | December 20, 2012 3:37 PMReply

    Great article with some questions she hasn't been asked before. But that isn't an image from Breaking Dawn Part I. That's from the first Twilight movie, manipulated with a wedding veil....

  • nina | December 20, 2012 3:06 PMReply

    love indiewire is anything BUT kissing her @ss and also loving the interviewer's sarcasm! Congrats to him!

  • Helen | December 20, 2012 2:36 PMReply

    Nice interview, and very interesting to see that Jodie also finds dancing scenes more difficult than sex scenes . I loved the dancing scene in OTR, you could really feel the wild abandonment. It's like when you have a few drinks and totally forget to be self conscious about how you look while dancing!

  • Mi | December 20, 2012 1:51 PMReply

    Why the interviewer didn't ask who will be the director of Snow White 2?

  • selena | December 20, 2012 2:26 PM

    Maybe because this isn't a tabloid and that has no effect on her work. Good article I like that we got more than the standard answers and the same ole questions wish it were longer.