The first decade of the 21st century, which is about to draw to a close, is in serious danger of being remembered as the time when fame was measured in pokes, tweets, and the ability to parlay a death-defying (and sometimes not so death-defying) degree of persona recklessness into a reality-television deal. But just as the door was about to slam shut on the double aughts, in walks—or, more appropriately, saunters—Kristen Stewart.
At 19, Stewart has already earned a place in the annals of pop-culture history. This is due to her starring role in Twilight, which—in case you’ve somehow managed to elude word of its all-encompassing death grip on young America—is a film based on the first in a series of very popular books about vampires, werewolves, and teenage life in the town of Forks, Washington. Stewart’s character, Bella Swan, is a newcomer to Forks who is forced to cope with the dueling pressures of starting life at a new school and the fact that her prospective boyfriend, the rakish Edward Cullen (played by the rakish Robert Pattinson), is a 104-year-old undead bloodsucker.
Given Twilight’s preoccupation with the timeless themes of misunderstood youth, troubled young love, and the intervening forces of darkness, the film’s success isn’t all that surprising. (To date, it has grossed more than $380 million worldwide.) Nor is the fact that more Twilights are in the offing: A second installment, New Moon, hits theaters in November, and a third, Eclipse, is due out next year. But the growing size and complexity of the Twilight machine has had some unavoidable implications:
In the last 12 months, Stewart has become a tabloid regular and a blog-stalked cynosure. The fact that her Twilight character is romantically linked to Pattinson’s in the film has also fueled nonstop speculation that they are involved in real life. BUYING A HOUSE? and GETTING MARRIED? were just a couple of the early autumn headlines. Between filming Twilight sequels, Stewart did a turn as Joan Jett in Floria Sigismondi’s new rock-band biopic The Runaways; even her hair for the film—which was chopped and dyed to mimic Jett’s late-’70s shag—inspired reams of media critique. • Read full story »