When Hollywood shut down last spring, Kristen Stewart found herself in a creative lull. But that changed when Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín (who is working with the actress on the upcoming drama Spencer, in which she plays the late Princess Diana) asked her to direct a short film for his quarantine-themed Netflix series, Homemade.
"I'm so lucky," says the 30-year-old Twilight alum of getting back to work. "When your format is taken from you on a broad scale, and you make something else out of it, it is the most liberating and beautiful experience," she adds. "It's cliché, but it’s like, 'Dude, we made something out of nothing,' and nothing is more healthy than that."
Here, the star — who's also set to write and direct an adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch's 2011 memoir, The Chronology of Water — discusses her new gigs and her one Twilight regret.
Tell us about your new short film.
KS: It fell into my lap, and it was a huge gift because it kickstarted a more productive time. Afterward, I was like, "Oh, wow, we can do anything!" It really fed me.
You're gearing up to helm your first full-length feature film. Any nerves?
I know the feeling of that insurmountable mountain where you're like, "That's impossible; I can't climb it." It's so hard to make a movie and it takes a crazy arrogant ego to do it. But it's like building blocks, and you need to hire a really good crew because you can't build it by yourself.
Is that how you approach most new projects?
I love the idea that if you honestly apply yourself to any given situation, you'll probably come up with something. And I like having time to study and read things so I can go to set feeling like, "OK, I really know this!"
So you prep pretty hard for all of your roles?
It depends. If there's an accent or a trove of information that I need to know, I do it well in advance. But there's no amount of prep that ever alleviates the fear that I'm not going to deliver. It's just like, "I hope I get lucky on camera today!"
How personally invested do you get in the characters you play?
I'm not good at doing anything that isn't coming from some real place. I worked with a great actor who I really like years ago, and after every single cool thing they filmed, they'd be like, "Anyway, what's up?" I'm so affected. Laughs. I'm dead for the rest of the day!
Do you think the landscape is changing for women in Hollywood?
I'm so sick of women in TV and movies being held to this fake standard where if you're a female protagonist, you have to be this morally upstanding person, or else you're an anti-hero. In my writing, I'm super aware of shedding that, and only now do I feel women are actually starting to show themselves from our perspective.
Have you gotten choosier when it comes to projects?
As I'm getting older, I'm so protective. I'm like, "Who are you? Who's going to be there? What is the set going to feel like?"
You've altered your appearance here and there for movies. Any regrets?
In every studio movie I've done, I've been tortured over my hair, and that is now done because it does not create true art. And if I could go back and change anything, I would not have worn contacts in Twilight. I felt like I had a brick wall between myself and everything. It was a terrible idea!