Kristen Tackling Real-World Roles

It's not all about mooning over cute vampires and werewolves.

Between the "Twilight" episodes that have made her a superstar, Kristen Stewart has been furiously tackling real-world roles in character-driven independent films.

One, "The Yellow Handkerchief," made two-and-a-half years ago before all the Bella/Edward/Jacob (and Kristen/Robert/Taylor) hysteria commenced, finally hits theaters soon - in no small part because of the now 19-year-old actress' massive name recognition
In March we'll get "The Runaways," the story of L.A.'s all-girl proto-punk band in which Stewart plays Joan Jett to Dakota Fanning's Cherie Currie.

And the Sundance Film Festival was just wowed by another small-scale drama, "Welcome to the Rileys," featuring Stewart as an underage prostitute who bonds with a couple grieving the loss of their own daughter.

Sounds like she's trying to establish some gritty indie cred to compensate for the ridiculous success of the overwrought horror romances? Not according to how Stewart sees it.

"It's really important for me to make movies that make me feel like 'The Yellow Handkerchief' made me feel," says Stewart, sounding self-assured and far less daunted by her exploding popularity than a lot of media speculation would have us think. "And 'Twilight' did the same. I mean, it turned out to be this huge thing, but that's not something that you knew going in was going to happen.

"So I'm not choosing roles to try to 'break out.' I make what I'm comfortable with, and if I like it."

In the very low-key "Handkerchief," Stewart plays another variation of the troubled teenager to whom she's so often drawn. Martine is a small-town Louisiana girl who, after a bad scene with a popular local boy, agrees to go for a ride across the river with an irritating but ardent young drifter (English actor Eddie Redmayne). Mainly for protection, she invites a seemingly kind but mysterious older man (William Hurt) who is also passing through town to ride along with them.

"I could relate to Martine in that she's so, sort of, the typical girl that really wants to be out there and smiling and totally in the middle of whatever's going on, but has been embarrassed one too many times and has gone, 'I can't do that anymore,"' Stewart observes. "I also feel like she's isolated herself by putting herself above everyone else. She can't talk to people because they've let her down too many times. She realizes, through this journey, to open her eyes and look at people."

Though she says she relates, it's hard to imagine Stewart ever being shamed into giving up. Sure, she suffered rejection like any child actor does. She was infamously blackballed from Disney Channel shows for being too naturally defiant, but she also co-starred with Jodie Foster in her first big movie, "Panic Room," by the time she was 11.

Even when she was a kid, the actress always had a noticeable depth, if not the confidence she displays now.

"Kristen was so nervous the first time she auditioned," recalls "Handkerchief" director Udayan Prasad. "She wasn't even 17 when I met her. But there was something very focused about her, very centered.

"She knew herself in a way which was actually quite intimidating. She was this young girl who was so sure of life in a way that I still don't think I'm sure of life."

That tension between determination and fragility is amply displayed in "The Runaways," which the actress views as a tribute to another young L.A. woman who didn't have half the advantages Stewart enjoyed coming up in show business.

"I don't think that the Runaways are something that a whole lot of people know about, but I think that everybody knows who Joan Jett is," Stewart reckons. "But it was really, really hard to become that icon. I don't know, she's like a pilgrim. She was the first woman to ever start a record label, but even before that, because it was the '70s, nobody wanted to see a girl be that strong and play electric guitar and play it that loud.

"People should know where that came from. I've grown up feeling very entitled, like I can do whatever I want. But she didn't have that."

As much as her creative drives keep pushing her toward increasingly challenging roles, Stewart is committed to seeing the fantasy franchise through to the end.

The third movie in the series, "Eclipse," comes out this summer.

Production begins in the fall on the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's fourth and final "Twilight" novel, "Breaking Dawn," most likely as two separate films, although Stewart says she hasn't been definitively informed that that's going to happen yet.

"The story so completely warrants two films," she says like the most avid adolescent Twihard. "It would be really disappointing to have to lose this scene and this sequence and this scene and this sequence. I, personally, would like to do it as two movies. But to be perfectly honest, I don't know what they're going to do."

The actress is equally in the dark about whether or not her legion of fans will grow to follow her down the more mature path she's blazing in her other work. If you think that's going to stop Stewart from continuing to explore, you haven't learned anything about her.

"I don't have this scheme of how people are going to receive my movies in the order that I do them," she says. "Or why I do scary movies and why I do movies about disaffected teens all the time. They're just people that I really wanted to play. I don't know what the hell I'm doing; I'm just playing parts that speak to me."
Thanks to KStewAngel