Kristen Stewart talks about sinking her teeth into her first horror.
But now, Kristen is breaking out in her first horror, The Messengers, from Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures and Screen Gems. Co-directed by the Pang brothers (The Eye), she plays a troubled teen whose family just moved from the big city of Chicago to a small town in North Dakota. From the moment she steps in her new house, weird things start happening.
That's because years ago, a family was murdered in that house; only, they never crossed over - they want revenge for their death. At first, Kristen and her younger brother are the only ones who can see the ghosts; but soon, her whole family becomes affected by the horrors going on.
Movieweb sat down with Kristen to talk about switching to the horror genre - it turns out, she's a huge fan! Check out what she had to say:
Is the horror a direction you wanted to go in?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah, I love horror movies! It's only my first horror, and it's the first time I was able to let out a few screams.
What are some of your favorites?
Kristen Stewart: My all time favorite is The Shining; I watch 'em all.
Is there a particular horror director you'd like to work with?
Kristen Stewart: Rob Zombie, so bad; I love him, I love his movies. It's so unique; you watch a few frames and 'That's a Rob Zombie movie.'
Did you try and get in the Halloween remake at all?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah, I would have killed to be in that movie, but it didn't happen.
Were you familiar with the Pang brothers work?
Kristen Stewart: I'd seen The Eye, but that was it when I started seeing the movie. It scared the crap out of me, it's a really good movie, it's creapy.
What kind of direction did they give you? Were you able to be a little more free because of the work in post?
Kristen Stewart: Everything I had to respond to was practical; they never had to say, 'When we count to 3, look over your shoulder and there's going to be something.' We always had actors playing the ghosts, and when the house flipped out, it really did; it was all practical, the special effects guys were really good. But they were really concerned, initially, with me being vulnerable because they thought at first I was too hard, that people wouldn't be worried for me. And then they thought it was really important to get that change half-way through the movie, that relentless torture that gets to be enough. And they really wanted to see that switch from really, really vulnerable to 'I'm stuck in this, I gotta get out of it.'
How do you prepare yourself as an actor for that change?
Kristen Stewart: It's interesting, cause you shoot out of sequence; I wasn't that way for the first half and I got to make that switch once. I got to make it all the time, and the directors stayed on top of it all the time; and if you don't have strong directors, it's easy to lose yourself a little bit, but they were really on top of it.
What was it like working with two directors?
Kristen Stewart: It was a trip cause they're twins; they switched days and they don't work together. I was a little nervous about it cause I might get conflicting stories from them one day that the other one wouldn't know about it the next day. We just never ran into problems; directorially, they're the same person, it really trips me out. You could ask them a question and really get the same answer.
Did they ever work together?
Kristen Stewart: A couple times, but it was really rare; when we came together for the crew photo, they were there in the front, and it was a treat to see them together. Other than that, only when I met them for the first time.
Did they pull any tricks on you?
Kristen Stewart: They're totally different guys, but I could tell them apart so they really couldn't. Dylan (McDermott) said he couldn't tell them apart, but I don't think they could pull anything over on me.
Did each of them work on different sections of the film?
Kristen Stewart: Actually yeah, absolutely; Danny is the more sensitive guy, even though they were both really concerned with the family dynamic, he dealt with the more emotionally-driven scenes. Oxide was really into the more going on, the action and when we had a lot to do with the special effects wise. They split up the horror really well.
What was your reaction seeing the final project knowing they each had that separate input?
Kristen Stewart: It's funny cause I can't even remember; I can remember vaguely. I can remember, but I can't tell; but I really think it's one united directing team. It looked like a real movie; normally, you watch movies you're in and they look fake.
Did you find yourself screaming at the screen saying, 'Don't go in there!'?
Kristen Stewart: Absolutely, yeah; on one hand she has no choice. If you were living in that neighborhood before she went to the farm, you'd be like, 'Get out of there. Just don't go home, common.' She really does not have anywhere to go; and she's going down in this cellar. You're like, 'What? Why? Just don't.' I would just stay outside; it's sort of like nothing she does gets her further away from the awful things happening to her. To get over it, you have to go right into it and get it resolved. But totally, I wouldn't go in that cellar.
Was Sam Raimi on set at all?
Kristen Stewart: No, I haven't even met him yet. But I heard he liked the movie; he was excited about it. JR (Young), from Ghost House, works really closely with him and he said he was really enthusiastic about it.
Can you relate to your character being a teenager yourself?
Kristen Stewart: I have no idea; I don't know any better than the teenagers reading this. It's hard, I think it's hard for everyone; I think it's important to be straight up. I have a problem with people who beat around the bush; I really value honesty. I also think you have the right to keep things to yourself; it's ok to be introverted, and let things come out when they're ready to come out. Everyone's different; I've definitely been in situations where I've been telling the truth, but I'm so adamant about it, but I feel like I'm lying, this is absolutely the truth. I've sort of grown up picture perfect, my parents are really awesome; I haven't had too many problems with them.
What was it like silent acting?
Kristen Stewart: I think it's hard to talk on camera when there's a specific dialogue, when someone's written word for word for you. That's such a common question, because people are concerned with how much I talk and if it's hard to not. But it's different; I did a movie where I said maybe 20 words (Speak), and that was an intense experience. But it gets you thinking; sometimes it's really cool to tell a story not by telling people exactly what you want them to think, but making them figure it out for themselves. I had a lot of help from the directors; they were a lot of help.
Did you pick up anything from the directors on Chinese culture, and do you think they picked up anything from you on American culture?
Kristen Stewart: It's interesting, cause I wish I took more away from the film. Even picking out the colors of the ghosts, just for the walls, it was just for the movie; everything had significance to them culturally, but I was never privy to that. I think I asked about it a couple times, but I never really got it. But, it's funny, the toy tractor in the movie - they wanted to play B-I-N-G-O, just because it's - no, it was the farm song. And that's a song we all know, that it's such a recognizable song, it's a kids song; we were like, 'Wow, if that was playing every time the key turned and you could hear it from the hallway.' And they were like, 'That's not scary,' cause they didn't know the song; they didn't grow up with it. 'Ok, we'll lose that.' But there were a few things like that, that didn't really translate. They were really concerned with me being a typical teenager like all us American girls are - the cell phone, they liked that I was attached to my cell phone.
How was their English?
Kristen Stewart: It was really good; they had translators, but we never used them. They told us we'd have to rely on them completely, but there was never any language barrier; they were really good with getting exactly what they needed across, and it was cool cause it was simple. It was good cause you took what they said very seriously because they didn't say a lot.
Is this a genre you want to continue in?
Kristen Stewart: I like all the genres; I like stories. I would love to do more suspense and horror; I would kill to do a slasher movie, cause I like watching movies like that.
Working with Jodie Foster in Panic Room, do you look to her as a mentor or any advice?
Kristen Stewart: She's the oracle. I definitely want to go to school and I really love what I do; it's funny, she so does not take it seriously at all. When we were working together, she was like, 'I will never be in another movie again.' I was like, 'What? Why?' She's been doing it for so long, I just really like her attitude towards everything. Plus, spending months on end with someone like that, especially at such a young age, you're such a sponge. I think it probably changed the way I work, because if it was with someone else, I would have been a much different influence. So yeah, I love her; she's amazing!
Do you keep in contact with her?
Kristen Stewart: No, she showed up to a couple of my premieres - she probably had other reasons to be there, but it was cool to see her.
What was the influence on the other veteran actors in this cast, John Corbett, Dylan, and Penolope Ann Miller?
Kristen Stewart: I had a really good working relationship with everyone; Penny might be the most genuinely sweet lady I've ever met, and so good in this movie. She didn't have, the mom's role didn't just have - what she worked with, she really turned into something that it wasn't. Which was really cool, to be standing there and watching - she's really good with all the - she's a mom, which I'm sure was a huge part of it. A lot of my scenes are by myself, so it was cool when I got to work with the other actors.
Where was the film shot?
Kristen Stewart: Regina, Saskatchewan; I call it 'Reggie,' I can't bring myself to say that too much.
Was it a real farm?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah, I think they built a house for another movie, Tideland, Terry Gilliam's movie; we took that, and altered it. That was all of our exteriors; all of our sets were somewhere else. But it was a real farm; we had that whole sunflower field.
Were the birds fairly cooperative?
Kristen Stewart: I don't know, cause the big bird sequences are with Dylan and John, and just when they're by themselves. And I have one, that didn't make it into the movie; I'm at a window sill, and I'm opening up the window to let a crow out, cause there's one sitting on a window sill. And it was two feet away from me, and everyone started freaking out, 'Her finger's going to fall off; we're not going to be able to finish the movie.' We stopped shooting, and disinfected it. They're huge; they're not crows, they're ravens, so they're a little intimidating. But it was awesome; they're supposed to be the smartest birds, one of the top three.
Were there scenes you shot that you were really excited to see in theaters?
Kristen Stewart: That usually always happens, unless I'm like, 'Oh, gosh, no.' It's either I can't wait to see it, or I don't want it in the movie; especially in this one cause we had so much to do, action wise. Even though, my character is freakin' out really scared most of the time, physicality of it was really fun; and at the end of it, I was like, 'Wow, I felt like I did a good job with this.' I came out with bruises, and I was proud of that. And also there were a few sequences that didn't look anything like they looked on set - in the cellar, when the mud brings her down; I didn't get to see any of that, obviously, so I was stoked to see that.
Did you train for those action sequences?
Kristen Stewart: I winged it, cause this girl - she would have just been stuck in the house; she wouldn't have had any survival training. We did a lot of rehearsal, but it's different, because in rehearsal, you appease the stunt guy; they're like, 'Be careful cause I'm going to get in trouble if you hurt yourself.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, totally.' And then when you shoot it, it looks so much better when you bounce off walls, being safe.
Did having John Corbett run at you with a pitchfork skew your relationship towards him?
Kristen Stewart: No, if anything - it was so much fun to do that scene. That was called 'the infamous 191;' I forgot the scene number, but we shot that for a week. It was just endless, cause it wasn't written; a lot of times, The Pang brothers would really go from shot to shot. And I'm sure everyone else knew what they were doing, but I would find out what we were doing as we shot. And John was so enthusiastic, so exstatic to be the villain in the movie. And he tried the weirdest stuff; stylistically, he did the coolest poses with the pitchfork standing there, or yelling my name - he's really good at that. And a lot of people said it was like a semi-truck with a bird in front of it, cause he's such a huge guy, and I'm pretty little; seeing him chase after me was really cool. People on set were saying that really looked scary.
What was it like working with the little boy?
Kristen Stewart: It was really hard for me; he didn't make it hard for me, but working with any tiny child - I'm the baby in my family and I'm not quite used to it. It's also hard to explain to a kid that age, when you're crying and screaming and you're throwing him over your shoulder and pushing him out a window, that we're just making a movie.
What are you doing next?
Kristen Stewart: I'm starting a movie called The Yellow Handkerchief; William Hurt and Maria Bello, and we're going to Louisiana - it's kind of a road movie. I'm super excited about it.
Is it a family movie or a thriller?
Kristen Stewart: It's a little indie drama; three people you would not really see come together typically; they get caught out in the rain in the first couple scenes, and seek refuge together, and form really genuine, desperate bonds with each other and fill voids they didn't even know they had. There's two really triumphant love stories in it that are so good; it's a little movie. The director, he's amazing; he has a really different way of working. He wants me to spend time at a house and what school would you go to. William Hurt is supposed to be a method actor, and he's pushing that into all aspects of the film; I don't know, I think this is the first time I get to really delve into something. He seems really nurturing; he seems awesome.
Do you think you'll be able to play a teenager for a while?
Kristen Stewart: I can look really young; you do my hair differently, and if I'm wearing no make-up, 'Oh my g-d, you're 16? You look like you're 13 years old.' I don't know, I have no idea.
Kristen Stewart: I thought Zathura was such a good movie, I really did; family movies can be great, and I'd definitely want to do good ones - but I want to do good ones.
The Messengers tears into theaters February 2nd; it's rated PG-13.