Kristen Stewart Interview, The MessengersSheila
We had a chance to talk with Kristen Stewart the young star of The Messengers. In THE MESSENGERS, Kristen plays Jess, DYLAN McDERMOTT and PENELOPE ANN MILLER play Jess’ parents Roy and Denise Solomon and JOHN CORBETT as field hand John Burwell, the Solomon family has left the fast paced life of Chicago for the secluded world of a North Dakota farm.
Amidst the tranquil sway of the farm’s field of sunflowers, Jess, 16, soon realizes how terrifying seclusion can be when she and her brother Ben, 3, begin seeing ominous apparitions invisible to everyone else. When those specters become violent, Jess’ sanity is questioned – a double jeopardy for the tormented teen. Her troublesome past comes face to face with the past of those who once lived in the house, a perilous confrontation that leaves her believability in question with those she desperately tries to warn before it is too late.
HorrorMovies : What attracted you to the role when you read the script?
Kristen Stewart: 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 just heaven. It’s eerie and just totally wigged me out and I wanted to work with them.
HorrorMovies : Have you ever had any real life paranormal experiences that you were able to pull from to get more into your character in this film?
Kristen Stewart: Not at first, no. Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve been absolutely, totally scared of ghosts. Like whenever I would run around my house terrified when I was five years old, it was always because of ghosts. But I never saw anything like that. But it’s kind of interesting, when I was on the film about half way through, I had a really trippy experience in my hotel room which was an old hotel. I questioned the whole time I was doing the movie do people really scream when they get scared. And one night, it was insane, I opened my eyes and this image of this woman just filled my entire view. It was like I let out the most gut wrenching scream. I mean people called the hotel room to see if I was okay.
HorrorMovies : Do you think part of that’s your imagination from the film?
Kristen Stewart: That was what I was thinking. I was on the set the next day and I was telling everyone, ‘now I completely understand.’ I wouldn’t talk to anyone about it before I said ‘I totally get how you guys could think that I was just getting really into the movie and that this could be a reflection of what’s going on in my work and [projected] onto my real life but it’s not.’ Objectively, it was not. I mean it’s hard to explain.
HorrorMovies : It just felt really real.
Kristen Stewart: It did. It was just there. It’s not like I’ve ever had visions before. I don’t see things that aren’t there.
HorrorMovies : Did you come home and ever have a night where you just had nightmares and didn’t get to really sleep?
Kristen Stewart: No, not at all. It’s funny because that kind of stuff never happened to me. I’m making a movie.
HorrorMovies : What is it like to work with a couple of directors who are twins and don’t speak the language?
Kristen Stewart: That was initially a big [concern]. I was very hesitant. I was anticipating a problem with that initially but it wasn’t ever a problem because they’re really smart and they know the language. I was told at first that they knew very little English but that’s not the case. And they’re also very communicative. They’re really emotionally in tune. Sometimes you know what they want just by the way they look at you. They’re really sensitive guys. It was cool because when I first started this horror movie I said, ‘Oh great. It’s going to be like a big scream fest.’ But there’s a lot of actual heart in the movie that they brought it. It’s really great.
HorrorMovies : Are you a fan of horror films, Kristen? Do you enjoy working in the horror genre?
Kristen Stewart: I love horror movies.
HorrorMovies : Do you have any favorites?
Kristen Stewart: My all time favorite movie, and I’ve been asked this a thousand times recently, is definitely The Shining. Excellent film.
HorrorMovies : What was the most difficult scene for you to do in this film, either acting wise or physically?
Kristen Stewart: It was really 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 was going to be sort of a break like, you know, sort of a one dimensional horror movie. But it turned out to really not be like that for me.
HorrorMovies : Why did you choose this particular character? What interested you most?
Kristen Stewart: It wasn’t even really the character that drew me to it. It was more like the filmmakers and just the story. I thought it was really cool that it was set where it was and just the isolation of the whole movie. She’s really a desperate character and it’s nice because she really triumphs. It’s nice when you can see a young, teenage girl actually get up and kick butt and empower herself.
HorrorMovies : What was the atmosphere like on set? Was it light hearted or was it scary to actually do it? I’ve heard horror movies can be really a hoot on set even if it’s a scary film.
Kristen Stewart: Yes, a lot of it was by myself unfortunately. When I got to work with John Corbett and Penelope Ann Miller, there’s a cellar scene which is this really long call (?), the notorious 191 or something like that, and the scene was just a turn on and it took us weeks to shoot and we were all in it. The whole cast was in it so we all got to be together. But a lot of the movie I’m by myself. But I never got scared on set. I loved the directors. They’re great guys. Both of them are really sweet. The whole crew was awesome. It was sort of a really typical movie on location experience. Everyone had a good time.
HorrorMovies : What was it like to work against the special effects, either practical or digital?
Kristen Stewart: One thing that was really awesome was that a lot of the things were practical but 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 it looks in the movie, I didn’t have to turn around and scream at nothing. I sort of liked doing that. At first you feel totally absurd and ridiculous but you get into it and you start to feel less stupid.
HorrorMovies : How do you think teenagers will relate to Jess’s experience and her relationship with her parents in that movie?
Kristen Stewart: I think so many girls are still living with their parents and are fighting for a little bit of independence which most people are. I mean like you’re 14 and you’re like ‘Come on! Leave me alone a little bit.’ I think a lot of people have a lot of animosity in their families and you really do treat the ones that you love the worst. I think what’s great about this movie is that they all come to realize that the people that they really, truly need are each other, that it’s their family. You have to learn to accept it. You do treat the people that you love the worst. I don’t know. I think a lot of people go through that.
HorrorMovies : Do you think actually the setting helps to bring the family together?
Kristen Stewart: Actually at first it’s the worst thing for them because they want nothing more than to get away from each other. It totally works against my character because there’s nowhere for her to run and especially when nobody believes her, you know, that all these things are happening and she has nowhere to go. No, I think it actually works very much against them.
HorrorMovies : You mentioned the cultural influence of your directors. What do you think, just in general, of the influx of Asian horror into the American cinema and do you enjoy partaking in that trend?
Kristen Stewart: I do very much. I love those movies, the first few. I really loved The Ring. It scared the crap out of me.
HorrorMovies : What do you think makes them different?
Kristen Stewart: 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 and smashing people’s brains in and dragging them off into the woods so they can just slaughter them. I think they’re smarter. I mean not to generalize about stuff like that but they tend to be really well thought out. I really like them. I like their slow deliberateness.
HorrorMovies : Did you ever get to ask Oxide where his name came from?
Kristen Stewart: (laughs) You know what? I never went there. One way we could tell them apart was Oxide had dyed or bleached a little bit of his hair blonde so you know, Oxide like oxy, that’s how people remembered his name and could tell him apart from Danny. I’ve heard that they came over here and made them up because using their real name is a bit of a struggle for people. I think they just chose a name. I could be completely wrong but I think that’s what it is.
HorrorMovies : What is it like going from, in just a few years, being introduced with Jodie Foster in a movie like Panic Room – although you’ve done movies before that, but that was your first big movie -- to suddenly being the top billed draw of the film?
Kristen Stewart: It’s pretty phenomenal. I don’t even know how to answer that. I really liked the movie. It’s awesome. Of course, I’m excited about it.
HorrorMovies : When it comes to horror movies, what scares you in horror movies and what scares you about this movie?
Kristen Stewart: I like when all of a sudden you’re watching a movie and it slows down and you’re like, ‘oh my god, something’s definitely going to happen’ and you know it, but even when it does, it still scares you just as much. I like all types of horror movies. I definitely don’t exclude slasher movies. I love them also. There’s something nice and deliberate about this movie. The Pang brothers really take their time. There’s something about the pacing that’s just really unnerving to me, that’s kind of weird.
HorrorMovies : We sense that too as an audience.
Kristen Stewart: Yeah, totally.
HorrorMovies : Just like those three notes with Jaws [hums Jaws theme] and everything slows. I understand that completely.
Kristen Stewart: Oh cool.
HorrorMovies : What would be the ideal role for you to play in the future and why?
Kristen Stewart: That’s a hard question because I’m not attracted to specific genres or anything like that. When I read a script, I don’t necessarily know exactly why I like it. I mean there’s a few things I haven’t done. I would really love to do a period piece. I haven’t really done one yet and it would be very cool.
HorrorMovies : Did you do any work with the ravens on the film? They’re very smart birds. I’m just curious if you worked closely with them or had any interesting experiences with them on set?
Kristen Stewart: Well, no, not really. I got to go over and feed them a couple times. The guys who brought the birds over were really nice guys but I never really worked with them directly, so no, not really. I was always really fascinated by them. They’re huge. In the movie they’re supposed to be crows but those are not crows. They’re ravens and they’re like more than twice the size. They’re just a lot bigger. But they’re fascinating. They’re a trip to look at.
HorrorMovies : How did you enjoy working in Canada?
Kristen Stewart: Canada has become like my second home. I’m there constantly. I love it there. The one thing is I’m very thin blooded and it gets a little chilly up there -- not my favorite thing. I’ve worked in L.A. once or twice. It would be nice to work here more but if we’re going to go anywhere, I’d really [like Canada]. It’s a pleasant place to be. I have a lot of friends there now.
HorrorMovies : How do your friends in your personal life react to you having such a high profile job at 16 or is it just sort of ‘whatever’ to them and it’s just very normal?
Kristen Stewart: I stopped going to school when I was in seventh grade and it’s an interesting sort of reality check when you stop going to school that I’m sure people have when they graduate from high school and stop going to school. That whole hierarchy just sort of comes crumbling down and it doesn’t mean anything anymore and you find that you don’t know a whole lot of people anymore because you really don’t care to know them. You just circumstantially saw them every single day. In doing that at a really young age, I cemented relationships that really are pretty solid and all of them have known me since I was pretty young and so they’ve grown up with me. I don’t really have a whole lot of friends that I’ve met recently. They’ve all been there through my first movie and the initial craziness of everything that’s kind of happened to me.
HorrorMovies : What made you want to become an actress? You’ve been acting since you were 9 or 10.
Kristen Stewart: I was about 9 or actually I was 8 when I first started auditioning. I auditioned for about a year before I got anything.
HorrorMovies : Was that your idea?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah. I mean I definitely agreed to it. I don’t even really remember. We got a call from an agent that was in the audience at my school for my Christmas performance and my parents were both in the business so they were like, ‘We don’t want to be stage moms.’ My dad was a stage manager and he’s like, ‘Oh my God. I don’t want my kid…’ We were just sort of reluctant and I think I just remembered thinking ‘Actually that might be really cool. I might want to go on a few auditions. I might work.’ It took a really long time until I was totally over it and the last audition I went to which I didn’t even want to go to it and my mom said, ‘Well, this is the last one. You don’t have to go to anymore.’ And that was the first movie I got.
HorrorMovies : Do you ever want to get behind the camera? Do you ever want to direct or take your own product under your wings like that?
Kristen Stewart: When I was little, I thought if you had asked me that, I would have been, ‘Absolutely. For sure. I’m going to direct a movie by the time I’m 16.’ And I obviously did not. I changed a little bit. Maybe. But it’s so much work and it’s so much more than just standing on set and making a movie. There’s so much more to deal with other than that and I don’t know if I would want to do any of that. I’m way more into just the creative… I would write movies. I think that’s it. I couldn’t see myself doing that, at least not now. Ask me like in a few more years and it may be a completely different answer.
HorrorMovies : Well it seems pretty deadly some of the behind the scenes stuff like budgeting, producing, and getting people to fund money.
Kristen Stewart: Oh yeah, the politics of it and then if you don’t have control of your own movie. Oh man, it’s so much work and dealing with hundreds of people. I don’t want to deal with so many people.
HorrorMovies : You don’t get as much time off. That’s for sure.
Kristen Stewart: No, definitely not.
HorrorMovies : After doing a movie like The Messengers which has such a dark and spiritual tone to it, do you have any interest in looking more into ghosts and the supernatural in just your sort of personal research or reading about it?
Kristen Stewart: (laughs) Uh, no. I’m not inclined to do that.
HorrorMovies : That was a little bit too much for you, huh?
Kristen Stewart: I think so. I definitely haven’t been inclined to sit down and type ‘ghost’ into Google.
HorrorMovies : Do you have any directors or producers that you want to work with in the future?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah, there are so many. I think my favorite director that I could work with now, it would definitely be Martin Scorcese. I’m sure everyone says that.
HorrorMovies : It may happen.
Kristen Stewart: It may happen. I would also… I would love to work with… Jody directs films. I would die to be in a movie directed by her. I’m trying to think. There’s so many. I don’t know. I’m actually really excited. I just found out I’m going to do a movie. I’m probably in the movie for about 7 minutes. I’m going to play Robert DeNiro’s daughter in the Art Linson movie that he wrote based on a book that he did. I’m so… I’m beside myself about that. I can’t wait.
HorrorMovies : What is the name of it?
Kristen Stewart: It’s called What Just Happened.
HorrorMovies : Wow! Well he’s good friends with Scorsese so there’s your ‘in.’
Kristen Stewart: Yeah, I know.
HorrorMovies : Do you have any actors that you would like to work with specifically?
Kristen Stewart: Again, there’s so many actors. They are so amazing. There are a few young actors – one of them I actually got to work with. I worked with Emile Hirsch on a movie called Into The Wild which was really a great experience. There are a few others that I think are really just great. Finally we have some really amazing talent to look forward to. I think Evan Rachel Wood is phenomenal. She blows me away. There are so many others. I love Natalie Portman.
HorrorMovies : And Paul Dano from Little Miss Sunshine?
Kristen Stewart: Oh yeah, he’s so good. I loved that movie.
HorrorMovies : And the guy who played Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Heder?
Kristen Stewart: Oh my God, he’s so hot. He’s a crack up. It would be fun to work with him.
HorrorMovies : Do your parents have any advice for you on going into this business?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah, I guess a lot but they don’t sit down and give me pointed advice like ‘Kristen, you should do this and this.’ They’ve always been really supportive in that you can drop out of this at any time you want. Basically you just have to make yourself happy and you’ve got to do what you want to do. And they’re just really motivating, sort of a driving force, which is something I really need.
HorrorMovies : Thanks very much, Kristen.
Kristen Stewart: Thanks you guys very much!
“The Messengers” opens in theaters on February 2nd. We have posted a whack of clips as well as a great behind the scenes feature for this film on site, you can check them out below. The Making of Video is really interesting for those who like to see how a film gets made.