The Rise And Rise Of Kristen Stewart

The Twilight Saga may have brought Kristen Jaymes Stewart unprecedented world attention, but one way or another she was always going to be noticed.

Ambitious, intense, shy, and uncompromising, Stewart’s break-out was always going to happen. She was too interesting for it not to.

A thoughtful path of well chosen roles has brought this (just turned) 22-year-old to the jump-off point she occupies now: One of Hollywood’s most bankable leading ladies. But unlike Heigl, Aniston, Hathaway and countless other versions of the standard ‘starlet-of-the-day’, Stewart’s path is not littered with commercial rom-coms or predictable star-vehicles.

Spotted early at eight, Stewart’s ascent has been both remarkable and self-educational. Her resume reads like that of an actor exploring not only the external, but also herself, growing from one role to the next.

From nascent parts in The Thirteenth Year (1999), The Safety of Objects (2001) and Panic Room (2002) – for which she was nominated for a Young Artist Award; to Cold Creek Manor (2003) another Young Artist Award nomination, and later notable roles in dramas such as Undertow (2004), Speak (2004), The Cake Eaters (2007), In The Land of Women (2007), the Sean Penn directed Into the Wild (2007), road movie The Yellow Handkerchief (2008), The Runaways (2010), and Welcome to the Rileys (2010) – Stewart’s natural power as an actress was undeniable from the outset.

Undoubtedly, though, 2008 marked a turning point.

In terms of audience awareness, Twilight was a game-changer. Perhaps inevitably, since blockbusters have a tendency to bring out knee-jerk reactions in some, Stewart’s performance in The Twilight Saga films (and that of her lead co-stars) have drawn a fair amount of criticism. But few can deny that the singularity Stewart brings to all her roles – an emotionally, constant immersion in those character(s) – was present in her interpretation of Bella Swan/Cullen.

Big award wins from 2008 onwards at MTV, People’s Choice, Teen Choice and Scream Award shows (among others), and most recently, her Favorite Movie Actress win at this year’s Nickelodeon KCA’s, have brought Kristen Stewart to a position many actresses would envy. But she’s done it on her own merits.

Robert Pattinson famously called her “the best actress of her generation,” and he’s not alone in singing Stewart’s praises. Rupert Sanders, director of forthcoming fairytale epic, Snow White and The Huntsman, described his leading lady as, ” incredibly good at her craft. She’s incredibly instinctive. She’s incredibly intuitive. She will overcome fear, like no-one I’ve ever met.”

That’s a lot of incredibles.

kristen stewart
Appearing in no less than three movies this year, a ballsy appearance from Stewart and her co-star Charlize Theron at this year’s Wondercon to promote SWATH, increasingly powerful trailers, and a slew of hot stills – a new one arriving today from Universal to celebrate Kristen’s 22nd (as well as separate birthday video greetings from the cast) – have kept anticipation for this through-the-mirror-darkly take on an old story sky high. It opens on June 1.

Then there’s On The Road. Walter Salles’s forthcoming, big screen adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s seminal beat generation classic. Stewart playing Marylou to Garrett Hedlund’s Dean Moriarty, as they criss-cross late 50’s/60’s America with Sam Riley as Sal Paradise.

Strongly expected to show at Cannes – there may be a riot if it doesn’t – On TheRoad promises to be another showcase for Stewart’s ability to bring established literary characters to vibrant life. And on November 16, a vamped up Bella Cullen returns to defend her child and family in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

A big year then.

As Kristen Stewart steps away from a role that has curiously blinded some to the credible, intelligent backstory of her films to date, this young actress is ready as Matt Patches put it, ” to breakout a second time” – for those that weren’t paying attention the first time.

Behind the plethora of ridiculous gossip “stories,” endless pap chases, and media invented feuds with other actresses, is a 22-year old cut from a cloth much older than many of her peers. Walking what must be an – at times – difficult and delicate line between necessary accessibility and the private, Stewart’s dedication and love for her craft speaks for itself.

Loved by a legion of fans, many of the females who identify with Stewart admire her defiance in the face of Hollywood and mainstream media’s appetite for female objectification. Not called the “Fierce One” for nothing, her career so far demonstrates this overwhelming idea: The real “F” word of any value has always been, and perhaps always will be — freedom.