“Honestly, it’s not that I’m more willing to share, it’s just that I’m more able to,” Stewart says. “I wasn’t really able to express myself. I’ve just gotten a little bit more comfortable. You learn by experience, that’s all. It’s a really simple answer.”
Thankfully, this does not mean the young actor is apologetic … or any less rambling … or any less forthright when she does get to the point.
“I was scared,” she explains of her demeanour with the media. “I didn’t want to seem like so many people that I’d seen that just … bleugh … I was too preoccupied with how I didn’t wanna seem, so I wasn’t necessarily always myself.”
So who is Stewart nowadays, after bringing in $1.8 billion at the worldwide box office and on the eve of the release of the second-last Twilight film, Breaking Dawn – Part 1?
After starting acting before she even hit double figures, she is an unlikely veteran and an unconventional new Hollywood power player. Yet she still prefers to trade under the blue-collar “working actor” label.
“It’s how you approach it while you’re actually working, what you think your job is,” she explains. “I know everyone says, ‘Well, all the press stuff is half the job, you can’t discredit this side of it’. It’s like, no, absolutely not. But this … ” – she gestures into the air, indicating everything from promotional duties to trappings of celebrity – “Doesn’t. Matter. To. Me. At. All.
“Like, genuinely, I could do it (acting) myself in the dark … as long as I was working with the same people that I’m working with now,” she laughs.
Stewart’s “now” is Snow White and the Huntsman, a Lord of the Rings-style epic shooting in the UK in which she plays a warrior Snow White to Aussie Chris Hemsworth’s hunky Huntsman.
When she met Hit earlier this week, she was sporting a bandage on her wrist – a torn ligament the result of some over-exuberance on set.
“I hurt myself doing a fight scene with some dwarfs.”
That’s not something you get to say every day.
“I know! It is a high-contact sport, this movie. It’s full-on every day. I bruised the top of my foot just running. This ligament pull was really bad. Every day I come back I have bruises literally from here to here.
“But it’s only because I go crazy, I lose my mind as soon as we start.”
Indeed, the wall of indie slacker around Stewart is starting to crack under the weight of her emerging inner action heroine.
“It is fun,” she admits with a grin. “In Breaking Dawn, the second one, I fight huuuuuuuge men, I mean, I’m incredibly strong. There is nothing more gratifying than putting your hand out and having a stunt guy fly off of it … Oh yeah, I’m super strong!”
If her “now” is Snow White, Stewart’s “then” is almost the vampires and werewolves of the Twilight world. Breaking Dawn Part 1 opens next week. Part 2 will follow a year later. By then, the world will have already seen her as Snow White, and she will have moved on even further.
But her attachment to her Twilight co-stars will remain. Robert Pattinson for obvious, on-off reasons. Taylor Lautner because she took her once-spindly co-star under her wing.
Stewart laughingly lays claim to being the making of action-hero-in-training Lautner, after the teenager had to fight to retain his role in the second Twilight movie.
“I like taking credit for stuff so I was like, ‘Yeah, my boy!’,” she shouts, punching the air. “It’s funny because he’s got his answers down and everything, but he gets nervous, he’s just really good at hiding it. Me and Taylor are really good friends. It feels funny to say I mentored him. I haven’t.”
It’s apt that she brings up Lautner’s media savvy. The three Twilight leads are a study in diversity – Lautner is the ultimate pro, Stewart awkward and uncomfortable, Englishman Pattinson somewhere in the middle.
“Actors have this really weird position – their jobs are wrapped up in their personal lives,” Stewart says. “Not just personal lives as in, ‘Who are you dating?’, but my life is my job, I love it.
“You can’t always be so candid. I definitely learnt from Rob, he really shines when he’s just funny. He’s so appealing in a general way – like I’ve see him on TV and I go, ‘Hmmph, you’re like really good on TV!’.
“And Taylor, he’s very sincere, yet he gives very standard answers – but he means them so they work. I always mean what I say, but sometimes it’s a little stumbly … “
Yet, even through the sourpuss days, Stewart’s realness was a big part of her appeal. She’s a normal girl in a fantastical world.
That goes for the people around her, too. Not for her a gaggle of kowtowing “friends” bringing her sparkling water at the snap of a finger.
“People start doing that when that’s what you want,” she says. “It is crazy that some people have that energy that demands other people to be submissive. I’ve seen that and I don’t think that I have that.”
Even the money that comes with success (her salary for both Breaking Dawns adds up to $25 million plus a percentage of gross) doesn’t seem to have changed Stewart’s relationship with her “people”; though she still remembers the moment she realised she could support her whole family, and then some.
“You get tastes of that as an actor before you even reach this ridiculous level. I’m very lucky, my parents are very successful and happy and love what they do and continue to work. I have one biological brother, but I’ve taken people under the wing and I just can’t imagine if I couldn’t do that.
“So on that level, absolutely, it’s life-changing in a really weird way – when you’re 21 years old it’s almost a little too much.
“I hate money, I can’t even handle … Not that that’s even interesting for people to know, but I do. Yeeuch. It’s a huge responsibility, is what I’m saying”
“You reach this level of success and it’s not just about the money, I mean, so many people look to you … Right now I just feel very young and wide-eyed, but that’s – not to be totally lame – why I think Brad Pitt and Angie (Jolie) and all those people are f—ing phenomenal people, they’re not sitting on a mountain of money … It’s very cool.”
Stewart clearly won’t be content with doing the expected. Case in point: instead of diving back into the relative obscurity of indie films along the lines of Adventureland and The Runaways for her first post-Twilight Saga role, she went the other way – signing up for a blockbuster and potential trilogy in the shape of Snow White.
“I know, it’s weird, that was not what I would have expected from myself, but it goes along with what I’ve always said about how I choose things – I don’t choose things, they choose me,” she says.
“It’s a gut-instinct thing, it’s a compulsion, it’s some weird responsibility that I have to these people I play and I found it in this thing. It really was by chance that it was a huge Universal movie with Thor.”
Yet she’s taken to that hugeness like a fish to water – or, in this case, like an armour-plated princess to a horse. This “working actor” may soon be doing a whole lot more behind-the-scenes moving and shaking.
“It’s funny, I’ve always been such a ‘working actor’, I do like to be an employee. Especially because I started so young, I’ve always just loved following directors. I’ve always really liked the responsibility that’s been given me. But now that I’ve gotten a little bit older …
“I’ve had little experiences on Snow White that have been so amazingly, for lack of a better word, fulfilling. I have (the director’s) ear, we’re really working together and I’ve never really been so creatively involved …
“I can’t wait to have more say.”