Kristen Stewart: Zathura
Do your little bros constantly want into your room, interrupt your private phone calls and tell you the house has been launched into outer space? Uh..yes on everything but the last one you say? In the space adventure Zathura, 15-year-old actress Kristen Stewart has to deal with a galaxy full of trouble when her two little brothers play a forbidden magical game.
Pretty Kristen first caught our attention as Jodie Foster's daughter in the thriller Panic Room and you might have seen her touching performance in the really relevant TV movie "Speak" in which the teen played a young victim of date rape. Wanting to chill a bit and lighten up, Kristen was happy to accept the role of a big sister since, in real life, she's the little sister in her family getting bossed around by older brothers.
Kristen explained that dealing with lots of on set monsters, a bit of effects and harness work in which she got to "fly" and having to have a weird full cast made of her whole body was unique for the young actress. Kristen came to our interview with her older brother who sat quietly in the corner, letting his little sis shine as she told us about making Zathura and her upcoming projects. Picture a normal teen on a casual day in gray sweat tank, jacket and jeans.
TeenHollywood: So is there a perfect cast model of Kristen Stewart somewhere in existence?
Kristen: Standing at the studio probably next to The Terminator or something, yeah.
TeenHollywood: What was it like to have that made?
Kristen: It's surreal. It's an experience that no human being has ever really done unless they have a twin; standing next to themselves. It also doesn't really help that she's frozen and her lips are blue and her hair is all frosted. I did have to stand pretty still when they were molding the cast.
TeenHollywood: She's not ready for a glamour shot.
Kristen: No. Definitely not.
TeenHollywood: What was the process like doing that cast?
Kristen: It was pretty arduous. It was a three step process. The first was a digital scan of my body that they entered into a computer then I actually got to go in Stan Winston's studio and they molded, individually, each part of my body. They did my legs, my torso, each one of my arms, my head. The head was a bit of a worry. I'm pretty claustrophobic and it gets really heavy and the plaster is warm so you can't even feel the air go into your nose because it's warm. I mean you're breathing but it's kind of scary. The last step in the process was painting her. I went in and stood next to my mannequin basically and they painted every nuance of my face. Every freckle on my arm is on that body. There's no difference. They're artists. They're re-creators of life.
TeenHollywood: What was it like being the only girl with all the guys in the movie?
Kristen: I'm pretty used to that. I grew up with boys. That's my brother right there [indicates sitting in the corner]. I'm the only girl in my family besides my mom.
TeenHollywood: When did you make Zathura in relationship to "Speak"?
Kristen: It was far, far after "Speak". I was thirteen when I did "Speak" and I was turning fifteen when I did this.
TeenHollywood: What was the transition like from the intensity of "Speak" to something like this?
Kristen: They are just completely different movies. A lot of people ask 'what kind of movies do you want to do? What types of roles do you want to do?' I really don't want to get pigeonholed in any type of role. It's nice to do different things and play different characters. If you're just the same person all the time you're not an actor, you're just kind of a personality and that's not what I'm after.
TeenHollywood: Were there any sci-fi movies that you liked when you were a little kid?
Kristen: I liked E.T. and I liked Spaceballs [laughs]. That's a funny one.
TeenHollywood: Are you into name brand designer clothes at all?
Kristen: Uh, Levis [laughs]. No, I'm not, not really.
TeenHollywood: Did you hang out with the two younger boys in the movie to bond with them?
Kristen: Yeah. I came on probably a week before we started shooting and we had rehearsal time on set with Jon and the whole cast. We went to the pier one night and tried to get comfortable with one another. It was pretty easy because they are very normal kids. They come from very well-rounded families and they're just a pretty typical 12-year-old and 8-year-old, kind of easy to get along with.
TeenHollywood: Had you worked with young kids before?
Kristen: I've played the older sister a lot but I've always had infants. I've always worked with babies so I've never had to interact with them. I'm the baby in the family. I've never even babysat. So I have absolutely no contact with kids that are younger than me. But, it didn't pose any problem at all. They're very normal. They're really funny and a lot of fun. They know what their job is and they are very professional and they always get it done but they also know that this should be a fun thing to do and to utilize that. The famous rumor is 'don't work with kids or animals'. So, I know there's a pretense of maybe some hissy fits going on on set or some difficult actors but no. There was no problem.
TeenHollywood: How much fun was it being the big sister in the film when you are the baby sister in real life?
Kristen: Actually, I really sympathized with them because I was tortured when I was little. I would sit in my brother's doorway because I really wanted to hang out with him really bad but I wasn't allowed in his room. So slamming the door in Jonah's little face is kind of hard to do [Jonah Bobo plays her youngest bro in the film]. But, the dismissive attitude toward your little brothers and sisters was easy to draw from because I'm a little sister.
TeenHollywood: Was there a lot of green screen shooting or was more stuff live on the set?
Kristen: Some [green screen] but not as much as you'd think. A lot of it was practical. Most everything that was happening in the house was really happening. When we harpooned walls and ripped them out, we were really doing it. When there was a fire on set, there was really fire. We had three house sets. One of them was on a gimbal, one of them shook and one of them was static. The only green screen I was ever involved with was for getting sucked out into the black hole. I got to wear a harness and fly up to the rafters of the sound stage and that was about it. It was awesome.
TeenHollywood: Some of this movie might scare little kids. Do you think that's healthy? Should kids be a little bit scared sometimes?
Kristen: Well, I think in any good adventure, there has to be a sense of peril or why do you care about the kids running around? You're not worried for them. Yeah, I think it's healthy. I don't think children should be sheltered from the world that they live in. First of all, they're Zorgons. They are big lizard men. They aren't running after us to kill us or anything.
TeenHollywood: Was there actually a big robot on set?
Kristen: Yeah. That's the cool thing. We never had to run away from the imaginary robot. We never had to run away from a guy in a green suit. When the robot ran through the door and knocked off the sides and made the circular doors, he really did that. I think we had three. Stan Winston created pretty much all of the characters that weren't actual actors and the cool thing is they really did become characters in the movie. It wasn't just computer-generated. It wasn't like just watching a video game. They were real characters.
TeenHollywood: Those suits for the Zorgons were pretty good then.
Kristen: Yeah. It's pretty cool. They actually made little mechanical muscles underneath the rubber of their skin. You could really see the expressions on their faces. It looks CGI but it's completely real. There was a guy. It was a suit that he wore and the lizard head came out of his torso like this [demonstrates] and he popped off the top.
TeenHollywood: These kids get in trouble when their dad isn't home. What's the most trouble you've gotten into at home when your parents weren't there?
Kristen: We were alone when my brother broke his arm on me. We were running to go get the phone and I wanted to pick it up and he wanted to pick it up and he got it first and I tried to get it from him and he hit me with the phone and, in hitting me, he broke his arm. Then, my parents came home and we had to spend the rest of the night in the emergency room which didn't make them too happy.
TeenHollywood: What kind of music do you like listening to?
Kristen: I was raised on classic rock. My parents are kind of old rocker/hippy kind of people. I like Led Zeppelin and I love The Beatles. I like The Cars, I like The Band and The Doors. I like some music now but not most. I'm not too into labels. That's gotten really popular lately and it's pretentious and I'm not into it but I like Interpol and stuff like that.
TeenHollywood: Would you like to go out into space?
Kristen: Yeah. I guess. It would depend on why I was going. I like to travel and, in essence, it is the ultimate trip I guess. I like the no gravity idea. I'd like to float around.
TeenHollywood: There is so much down time on a movie set, how do you pass it?
Kristen: Most of the time, if there's any down time, I'm in school. It's hard to keep up in that sense.
TeenHollywood: Do you envision taking time out for college in a few years?
Kristen: Definitely. I'm in a kind of college prep program right now and I'm definitely not going to lose sight of my education just because I want to be an actor.
TeenHollywood: Do you miss having a traditional high school life?
Kristen: No, actually I don't. I went to school up until like the seventh grade and I know a lot of people who have graduated from high school and everyone gets a major dose of perspective on who their real friends are and what their real values are and what is important to them and that kind of happened for me just a little bit earlier. I don't really mind that. I still have my really close friends. I still have my family. I'm really family-oriented so no, I don't have a problem with it at all.
TeenHollywood: Is there anyone's career you would like to use as a blueprint for your own?
Kristen: Not just because I worked with her but Jodie Foster is obviously, a role model. She's not just an actress, she's not one-dimensional. She has more than one creative outlet. She's a writer, producer, a director. She has a pretty level head on her shoulders and I like the idea that she can keep her personal life private and separate from what she does. I admire most of her values. She's pretty cool.
TeenHollywood: Is it harder to act now that you are a teen than when you were a kid?
Kristen: Yeah. I remember when I was little, I didn't have any inhibitions. I wasn't embarrassed about doing anything. When you get older, I don't know what it is, it's not that you get more insecure, you're just maybe more self-aware. It's just kind of something that happens. You try to do the best you can and that's pretty much all you can do.
TeenHollywood: Your director on Zathura, Jon Favreau is also an actor. Does that make working with him easier?
Kristen: I'm sure it did help him. It helped me a lot. It was my first comedy so I had a lot of anticipation and apprehension as to how I was going to react to situations that are over the top and hokey and hysterical. I was shy a lot of times. I was kind of embarrassed to explore the scenes and be free with them and he helped me, a lot of times, kind of push past my inhibitions because he was very, very in tuned to how his actors were feeling and that's not really common with most directors. Usually, they expect you to do your job and there you go. But he was very sensitive. He's a caring guy.
TeenHollywood: Was working with Dax Shephard crazy? [Dax plays the adult astronaut in the movie]. He's a pretty funny guy.
Kristen: Oh, he was a very, very serious person all of the time.. no. Dax is a goofball. He had the boys roarin'. It was pretty cool, because it was my first comedy. Comedy is kind of a serious business you know. It's all about timing and the boys and Dax really lightened the tone on set and made me feel like, 'yeah, it's not that big of a deal. Just go with it. Have fun with it and it'll show up on screen if you are having fun'. He definitely helped me out with that.
TeenHollywood: Did the guys play any pranks on you?
Kristen: They never did it to me but they definitely did it to everyone else. They would mess with the crew. They had ongoing jokes that, because I wasn't there every day, I didn't really get and little songs that they sang. It was a lot of fun.
TeenHollywood: Let's talk new projects. What do you do in The Messengers?
Kristen: I'm catatonically terrified in The Messengers most of the time, a lot of screaming, actually. It's about a family who is kind of in a rough time in their lives. They are financially, not very stable and there's some animosity between the daughter, myself, and the parents for a few pretty good reasons. So they move out to a farm to escape the hectic city life and see if they can get on their feet again and they enter a pretty spooky house and the only person who really sees any of these things going on or is threatened by them in any way, is my character and, because of some previous history, no one believes anything that she says.
TeenHollywood: It sucks when they don't believe you.
Kristen: Yeah. It's also a pretty claustrophobic movie even though it's set out in the middle of nowhere. There's a pretty strong sense of isolation but, when there is nowhere to run, you start to feel very closed in. She's alone all the time; a pretty vulnerable character, but towards the end she basically has to suck it up and figure out why this is happening and get to the bottom of it.
TeenHollywood: What is your other new project?
Kristen: In the Land of Women I just finished it up in Canada with Jonathan Kasdan directing. It's his first feature, Lawrence Kasdan's son. It's a Meg Ryan and Adam Brody movie and it's kind of a drama/comedy about a guy who moves away from a hectic life and into a small town to take care of his grandma and he meets these four women and it's basically about his relationship with them and just dealing with these psychotic, crazy women and the conversations that they have and the revelations that they come to about their lives and how they change as characters throughout the course of the movie. It's a movie about people talking to people. It's good. I'm pretty excited to see it.
TeenHollywood: Are you one of the crazy women?
Kristen: Yeah. I play Meg Ryan's daughter. We're not necessarily all crazy. I'm the daughter with the typical problems with her mother and the typical problems high school and growing up and insecurities. Through talking to this guy, she kind of realizes a lot about herself, what type of direction she'd like her life to go in.
TeenHollywood: Could you relate to any of those issues?
Kristen: I can relate to them because I have a lot of friends who are going through them right now but, personally, not at all.
TeenHollywood: Where were you in Canada for In the Land of Women?
Kristen: We were in Victoria. We were on Vancouver island. It's beautiful. It's a very quaint little town and I hadn't been to many of those so it was a good experience. We were right on the water so it was beautiful. We got to watch the ships come in. We did The Messengers up in Saskatchewan. It's my first horror movie and actually, the Pang Brothers' first American release. We were in Regina.
TeenHollywood: Pretty flat there.
Kristen: Flat, yes. You can see your dog run away for miles.
Lynn Barker is a Hollywood based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.