In 2008 the US actor Kristen Stewart achieved global fame as Bella Swan, the romantic protagonist of five vampire-themed fantasy films collectively called The Twilight Saga. Based on the books of teen fiction by Stephanie Meyer, the movies converted Stewart and her British co-star Robert Pattinson into stars. Both young actors met with widespread adoration, but also mockery for their awkward performances. Since then, however, they have gone on to build impressive careers.


Stewart was born in L.A. in 1990, the daughter of entertainment industry workers. She has appeared in films since the age of eight, and thanks to her connections, by her 20s was working with established actors and directors such as Sean Penn, Juliette Binoche and Julianne Moore. Stewart achieved acclaim for resonant, understated performances in offbeat movies such as Into the Wild (2017), Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), and Still Alice (2014). She was outstanding in the stylish, creepy thriller Personal Shopper (2018) for which French filmmaker Olivier Assayas received the Cannes Film Festival Award for best director.


Among Stewart’s most prominent roles are those based on real life icons: in The Runaways (2010), a homage to the 1970s all-female rock band, Stewart is captivating as vocalist Joan Jett, who advised on the film. For Seberg (2019) she worked with Australian director Benedict Andrews to play Jean Seberg, the spirited American actor who became associated with the French New Wave movement of the 1960s. 

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In the gender-defying J.T. LeRoy (2019), Stewart played her most challenging role to date, and one that was to have a profound effect on her. In the film, she embodied a literary persona created in the 1990s by US writer Laura Albert. The persona, Jeremiah ‘Terminator’ Leroy, was presented as the transsexual author of three works of semi-autobiographical fiction, which dealt with poverty, drug use and sexual abuse. In 2006, The New York Times revealed that Albert and a family member, Savannah Knoop, had conspired to fabricate the figure.


As a consequence of this experience, Stewart became aware of the importance of staying true to oneself, while also acknowledging that as a celebrity it is impossible to keep control over one’s public image. When she came out as bisexual, the actor was advised that she risked losing mainstream parts. Yet she opted for authenticity, and with David Cronenberg casting her in the upcoming Crimes of the Future, and her own feature film directorial debut The Chronology of Water in the running, it seems that her honesty has been rewarded.