Kristen Stewart, from pop icon to muse of a new style of cinema

Kristen Stewart in Chanel (courtesy Chanel)

She was the last muse of Karl Lagerfeld. But what kind of stuff it was made of, a certain one had already noticed David Fincher who directed her, at just 9 years old, in the thriller panic room. The American director, presenting her alongside the most famous protagonist of the film, Jodie Foster, found himself calling her “one of the most incredible actresses I’ve come across”. A baptism of fire that proved to be more than prophetic for Kristen Stewart, an instinctive and mysterious young diva, who often hid in the characters she played to whom she was able to give fragility and strength, exploring their black holes and feeding them with her charisma to create, time after time, unforgettable female figures. Mysterious like her, of course, but blessed with an absolutely commendable acting craft that, over the years, has managed to balance blockbuster and independent films in equal measure. She diva and égérie of the best known filmmakers but also a shy girl and fearless activist. She is still a teenager’s idol and girlfriend of the most beautiful vampire in the world and, today, a committed actress and Lgbtq + champion in the odor of marriage with her partner. An evolution that didn’t happen overnight but that accompanied Kristen’s personal growth in parallel with her career.

Brought to international fame by the saga of Twilight, the actress has not fossilized in box office successes, but has mostly chosen to work in independent productions, playing complex and unconventional roles and upsetting, from time to time, the judgment of the critics. Nominated Best Actress of the Decade in 2019 by Hollywood critics associations he has, reluctantly, catalysed the media attention both for his sentimental affairs and with his difficult to pigeonhole personality which, more than anyone else, has conquered Karl Lagerfeld. Kaiser Karl made it the contemporary icon of him and of Chanel, recognizing that magnetism capable not only of evoking today’s women (enigmatic, intelligent, audacious in their approach to fashion as to life), but to remember none other than Mademoiselle herself. To which Kristen, ça va sans dire, she lent her beautiful face in the short film Once and forever of 2014.

Kristen Stewart in Thom Browne (courtesy Thom Browne/Getty Images)

But before becoming an indie star with a couture pedigree, Kristen Stewart was a child prodigy. Thanks to the precocious talent, certainly, but also to the show-oriented family milieu. With a father manager of the TV network Fox and a mother director and screenwriter, Kristen, who was born in Los Angeles in 1990, still a child already found herself on the set despite having confided in her diary that she would have liked to entrust the sum of her aspirations to writing, or at least directing. But things didn’t go quite like that. At just over 8 years old Kristen had already made her first appearances on the small screen and had made her film debut in secondary but incisive roles that convinced Fincher to choose her as Jodie Foster’s diabetic daughter in the aforementioned panic room in 2000. That her godmother was Foster, in retrospect, might seem like a sign of fate since the two-time Oscar-winning actress was not only a pioneer in coming out, but has a past as a child prodigy. Net of the ruminations, the fact remains that for her interpretation Kristen Stewart was nominated for the Young Artist Award 2003 and that her precocious shyness fascinated many directors who entrusted her with teenage roles that were always a little over the top, in which adolescence was investigated in all its nuances, including the darkest and most suffering (as in Melinda Sortino raped by friend in Speak- The words I didn’t say to you, film of 2004) or flanked her with sacred monsters from which she absorbed the craft like a sponge. From Sharon Stone And Dennis Quaid (Dark presences in Cold creek of 2003) a Meg Ryan And Olympia Dukakis (The kiss I’ve been waiting for of 2007) passing through Robert DeNiro And Bruce Willis (Disaster in Hollywood of 2007) up to Sean Penn who, in the same year, directed it in Into the wildthe film based on the book-manifesto of an entire generation.

Kristen Stewart at the Cannes Film Festival (courtesy Chanel)

A respectable curriculum that was however overshadowed by the success of the cycle Twilight taken from the novels of Stephenie Meyerin which she was chosen to play the role of Bella Swanthe vampire’s lover Robert Pattison protagonist of a perfect saga of love and death declined in 5 films. After which Kristen Stewart’s life was never the same. Ferried to the Olympus of teen idols, the shy young woman who didn’t love crowds found herself having to deal with a global fame that engulfed her every desire for privacy. If she lost her private life (and, of course, the relationship she also had off the set with Pattison), Stewart did not hesitate to listen to the sirens of commercial productions but took the liberty, once again, to make choices against the tide that however, in the end, they turned out to be just as successful.

In the meantime, however, her immature and vaguely androgynous beauty and her chameleonic attitude had captured the attention of Karl Lagerfeld who chose her as the face of the Chanel maison in more than one campaign, starting with the adv for Métiers d’art Paris-Dallas 2013/14, up to making it new Mademoiselle Coco in her short film Once and forever, screened in Rome on the occasion of the presentation of the 2015/16 Métiers d’art collection which consolidated the professional relationship and friendship between the two. The implacable sense of style that characterized Kristen Stewart was particularly loved by the kaiser who found in her the same conscious lightness that the women of the maison, in homage to the founder, had to have and who loved to create extraordinary looks for her with which the actress walked red carpets around the world. She was the ideal ambassador of the Chanel signature thanks to her ability to transport the timeless luxury of the maison into an absolutely natural and spontaneous dimension. A question of character but above all of a pure talent that made fashion another important mainstream stage of tailoring. Her rebellious and quick-change spirit immediately made her the queen of an absolutely décontractée coolness, in which forays into a decidedly androgynous tom boy mood alternated with casual rock looks with sexy twists. With a constant. Of her The idiosyncrasy for textbook stiletto heels, her barefoot Montée des marches in 2018 and the inevitable converse chuck taylor in various chromatic variations.

Kristen Stewart in the movie Spencer (courtesy Wikipedia)

But Kristen Stewart was certainly not a cover girl and to better define her image by abandoning Bella’s role once and for all, she began to make a series of audacious choices from a professional point of view which had the merit, once more, of highlight her versatility and acting skills. So it was snow-white in Snow White and the huntsman from Rupert Sander (2012), a film also remembered for the sentimental complications it followed. There Marilou in On the road (2012) based on the cult novel by Jack Kerouacthe Lydia from Still Alice (2014) and especially the Valentinesecretary of Juliette Binochein Sils Maria (2015) by Olivier Assayas which earned her an award Cesar for her performance, the first American actress to win the French award. Woody Allen wanted her in Café society in 2016 and it was France that made an overbearing return to Stewart’s film portfolio when, in 2019, she transformed into the muse of the Nouvelle vague, Jean Sebergin the biopic inspired by the turbulent life of the French star in the crosshairs of FBI for his political sympathies (see MFF of 4 January 2020).

But it was another biopic that consecrated the American actress and literally made her a princess. Or rather, she was a queen of hearts as she was Lady Diana to which the Chilean director Pablo Larrain he dedicated the chat in 2021 Spencer (see MFF of 18 June 2020). In the imaginary reconstruction of the days preceding the divorce from Charles of Englandthe beautiful and fragile princess, disturbing and light at the same time, was perfectly portrayed on the screen by Stewart in an intimate and touching and, above all, very elegant portrait, thanks to the Chanel designer clothes worn on the set which earned her the longed-for first Oscar nomination.

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in a Twilight scene (Instagram @twilight)

Kristen Stewart had made Diana’s torment her own by finding in the princess many similarities with her life (“even if I don’t have to embody the ideals of a nation”, specified the actress), in particular with the often complex management of sentimental affairs that fame brought under the light of day. And the paparazzi. Kristen had experienced on her skin what it meant to live a relationship followed step by step by the tabloids and had learned to exploit the media power that the private dimension of a public figure such as she was could have in influencing a large number of people. How? Simply by telling it. This is how she stopped hiding her bisexuality from her world, but she made it a banner so that others like her did the same and could feel really good about themselves.

And today, at just over 30 years old, Kristen Stewart is the most interesting actress in contemporary cinema who is also preparing to investigate from the other side of the camera, finally realizing her dream of directing that film. The chronology of watertaken from the writer’s brightly colored memoir Lydia Yuknavitch which will enrich his creative liveliness with other important nuances. (All rights reserved)

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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