Before she scored the “Twilight” gig, Kristen Stewart was simply a young actress. She was a child thespian, just like Jodie Foster, who played the mother of her tomboyish teen in David Fincher’s "Panic Room.” Among her first wave of raves was for a small but key role in “Into the Wild” — a turn that acclaimed French filmmaker Olivier Assayas (“Carlos”) said made him want to work with her. Assayas would belatedly cast Stewart in “Clouds of Sils Maria,” which netted her a Cesar — the French equivalent of the Oscar — for Best Supporting Actress earlier this year. She was the first American to get the trophy.
Around the time of “Into the Wild”’s release in fall of 2007, Stewart landed the coveted role of Bella Swan in “Twilight.” After that her life was never the same, and not exactly for good. For one thing, her existence became a non-stop surveillance hellsuck, her every move documented, her dazed talk show appearances obsessively scrutinized, her sex life salivated upon by every publication. Most one-on-one interviews dwell on her fumbling but usually failed attempts to seem invisible as she walks among us.
What’s worse, her brand seemed to suffer. Critics and non-Twi-hard audiences quickly turned to pouncing on Stewart, the star of a beloved but critically dreaded franchise that called on her to swoon, as though under the influence of narcotics, for a pale vamp and an often shirtless were-hunk. She still did indies and artier fare, but she was now The Girl from Those Movies — a starlet with unkempt hair and a perpetually open mouth trying in vain to score some cred. (On the other hand, her fanbase swelled in size and power. Try tweeting her name without getting besieged upon by people who try to work “Kristen Stewart” or “Bella” into their handles.)