Friday, 29 January 2010

For Kristen Stewart, This Is Her Dawn

An appearance in a movie here amounts to a declaration of purpose for an actress with Stewart's Q rating, to say nothing of two edgy movie roles. And judging by her "Rileys" red carpet commentary, Stewart was intent on publicly declaring her allegiance to scrappy indie upstarts like the Jake Scott-directed "Welcome to the Rileys" -- in which she appears opposite James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo, who play a married couple struggling to come to grips with the death of their teenage daughter -- while implicitly damning her work in the world-conquering "Twilight" films that have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.

"I had the most truthful, like, beginning-to-end experience," said Stewart said at the first screening of "Rileys," which is still looking for a distribution deal. "This was the best experience I've had on a movie in years. I really love this movie."

On Saturday afternoon, the 19-year-old actress slipped quietly into Park City's Racquet Club Theatre unnoticed by paparazzi or salivating fans -- at least two of whom had paid $2,000 for tickets on EBay -- into its premiere. So low-key was the "New Moon" phenom (or "incognito" as a movie publicist put it), she passed from her SUV to the movie's red carpet line without raising the suspicion of a mob desperate for any vestige of her. Until, that is, the precise moment Stewart came to face reporters and photographers. (The performer declined to do a one-on-one interview for this story.)

Flashbulbs popped, a few cameramen did the requisite jostling and the questions came at Stewart furious and fast. Does she have a Sundance "ritual" after having premiered films here four times in the past? Does she think Twi-hards will be surprised to see her portray a stripper-hooker?

"No," Stewart curtly replied, rolling her eyes with contempt.

To get ready for the flesh- and soul-bearing part, the diminutive Stewart -- dressed in Sundance's regalia of military parka, distressed denim and sneakers -- explained that she hadn't done any "prep" per se, although she studied some pole dancing for the sake of greater realism and spoke to a few strippers.

"I'm not playing a stripper," Stewart said with snarling emphasis before the film's first screening Saturday. "My character -- basically nothing belongs to her. She's an open sore."

Stewart knitted her brow. "It's really not a stripper movie at all. It sort of just opens your eyes about people that don't have options." She paused. "I know I'm speaking really vaguely about it."

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