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Honor Roll 2012: Kristen Stewart Goes 'On the Road' to Find Sex, Dancing and -- Just Maybe -- an Award

Photo of Jay A. Fernandez By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire December 20, 2012 at 12:44PM

With IFC Films opening the film Dec. 21, Stewart reveals how first reading the book at 14 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 "motivated by the fears in life.”
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That’s a very key thing in terms of taking a role like this. I saw “Welcome to the Rileys,” too. And obviously, the character you play in that requires a lot of open sexuality.

But she’s so much more closed off. The amount of walls that that girl has up was so… This was much more difficult, personally, just because I’m… not that way. But “Welcome to the Rileys” was difficult because it was fucking awful subject matter, it was pretty morbid. This was definitely more fun.

Welcome to the Rileys
"Welcome to the Rileys"

When you’re thinking about choosing roles, and you know that you’re going to be doing things like that and bringing out that part of yourself — especially if it’s not particularly natural to you — where do you bring that from?

Actors that say that they want to really step outside of themselves and play characters that are very unlike them…

Like villains. You’ll hear someone say, “I can get all my rage out…”

See, that’s the thing. They have the rage, though. Do you know what I mean? You can’t not have it. Even if it’s buried really deep. That’s sort of what happens when you read a script and it provokes you on some level that surprises you. You go, “What the fuck was that? I need to find out why that moved me because that’s not who I am.” Usually, those aren’t the aspects of yourself that are clear to you, but they’re still there. So making a movie, it’s always about finding out why reading it was such an experience.

So…?

[laughs without answering]

Without putting too fine a point on it, what did you find out?

That I can let my face hang out. It’s definitely not my go-to deck of cards but… you deprive yourself of life as soon as you start putting those walls up. I’ve never met another character/person in my life that squeezed every last drip out of it like she did. Not to say that I’m just like Marylou now. It’s not like, ‘Ooh, I can now finally be free…’ I don’t know. I definitely tasted it, so I know I have it in me. D’you know what I mean?

It would be easy to focus on the sexual aspect of it, but it sounds like you’re taking it in a broader sense.

Yeah, doing that, though? Honestly? The dancing scene was so much more terrifying than any of the sex scenes were for me. I was so scared of it.

It’s hard to dance in front of your friends. How do you do a dance from another time in a giant movie?

We crammed, I think, 60 extras into a tiny little room. Literally, I could feel the floor vibrating. It was so fucking cool. But I was terrified.

So that was actually more impactful or intense than any of the sex scenes?

100 times. 100 times, yeah.

"On the Road"
"On the Road"
Jodie Foster always said that about “The Accused.” That the rape scenes were difficult, yes, but the hardest thing was the dance before it, when she had to dance all sexy.

Oh. Totally, of course. That would be so much more difficult. That is really interesting. It makes total sense to me.

Has your approach to why you would take a role in an independent film changed in the last few years?

It’s a very particular thing, it’s a very strange job to do. You’re pretending to be another person and you’re letting a bunch of people watch you do that. A lot of people that are attracted to the job can sort of step outside of it and view their career as a whole and kind of shape it, and go, “I want to end up here…” I have absolutely no clue what I want to do until it’s right in front of me. So I’ve just been really lucky, everything’s been quite varied.

Right. But presumably, at any one time, there’s not just one thing that you’re responding to, so you still have to choose. You also have agents and managers who weigh in for their own reasons and agendas.

That’s true. I think if they’re weighing in, then they’re geniuses — and I don’t think this is happening — in terms of funneling things unbeknownst to me.

Convincing you it was your idea…

Or maybe just not showing me everything, showing me only things they want me to do. That actually sometimes does freak me out. But to be truly honest with you, I can’t do things like that. Sometimes movies start out as ideas. Especially big studio movies. There’s a concept before there’s a character, and they’re completely empty.

This article is related to: Kristen Stewart, On The Road, Awards, Honor Roll 2012, Interviews, Interviews





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