It's been five years since Kristen Stewart was plucked from supporting player/indie-film obscurity and thrust into the spotlight as the female face of the Twilight franchise.
Five years — and as of this week's opening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, five films will have passed — as Stewart grew from someone The New York Times labeled "a sylph with a watchful, sometimes wary gaze" into the 22-year-old named by Forbes as "the highest-paid actress in Hollywood," earning an estimated $34.5 million.
"Those are pretty formative years," the Twilight muse muses. "It is a little strange, if you think about it, growing up on camera like this. But I don't think about it."
She says she can't put her finger on how she's changed as an actress, either.
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"If nothing else, I should have gotten better at picking up and putting down a lot of my inhibitions," she says. "It's all about being impulsive and doing things that move you. I think I dropped a lot of fears over the course of these films. But I picked a few up, too. And those new fears could be interesting to watch down the road. Or not interesting at all."
Her goal, Stewart says, is to avoid becoming a self-conscious actress, to keep the spontaneity in her work.
She says she didn't realize the extent that Twilight would shake up her life, not even after landing the role of Bella.
"There was no expectation that we would even get to finish the whole series when we did the first Twilight," she says. "On the set, it felt like we were making another independent movie." She and the rest of the cast had decided to be "religiously faithful to the novels," not knowing how that might look and sound onscreen.
Then the cast made its famous pre-release 2008 appearance at San Diego's Comic-Con fan convention, "and we were hit by this wave of energy, that was really baffling. ... It was a totally contagious experience, feeding on itself. That hall, jammed with 6,000 people, reacting that way, made me think 'This is not normal.'"
Five years later, it still isn't.
Stewart says she's "relieved" the five-film series is finally over. "If I say I'm excited the experience is complete, it's only because I don't have that responsibility weighing on me anymore. A typical movie, you've got a five-week or even five-month commitment. This was five years. I'm going to miss that 'I wonder how the wedding will look' or 'I wonder what I'll have to do in the birth scene.' Hopefully, I will find that feeling in other projects."