Barack Obama wins the US Presidential election, Brangelina have twins, and the UK is on the brink of a recession. 2008, you were full of highs and lows. And let us not forget this was also the year Twilight - a film about a vampire who fell in love with a teenage girl called Bella Swan for non Twi-hards - birthed a global hysteria and an unforeseen public interest in (a then 17-year-old) Kristen Stewart.
Fast forward a decade and change, and Stewart’s romantic relationships, ‘awkward’ demeanour, and likeability factor has been scrutinised more than Prince Andrew’s BBC interview. Sparking a #RestingBitchFace personality discourse in many ways that has, until recently, been a hard one to shake. Why all the public vitriol though?
As Stewart returns to the mainstream - Hollywood Critics Association have named her the Actress of the Decade, the first award of its kind, ahead of her turn as French New Wave icon Jean Seberg next year - BURO. puts a microscope up to the (often entirely sexist) undertones of Kristen Stewart’s love-hate-redemption publicity cycle. Why is it cool to like K-Stew now? And how has she fought against the internet-painted portrait of her? Read. On.
“I don’t know…she just seems like she could be quite cold,” a friend tells me, when I ask her to give a valid reason for her anti-Kristen Stewart leanings. Over the years, the actress has certainly accrued a reputation for her ‘moody’ manner. The fact there’s a one million-viewed YouTube video called ‘Kristen Stewart Hates Being Famous (and doing interviews)’ says something about the cultural consciousness. Though, is she actually being rude or is she just protectively private? “I think I’ve grown out of this, but I used to be really frustrated that because I didn’t leap willingly into being at the centre of a certain amount of attention, that it seemed like I was an a–hole,” she told Vanity Fair this year. “I am in no way rebellious. I am in no way contrarian. I just want people to like me.” So, there you have it. Before you write someone off as truly unkind, consider they (might) secretly just want you to like ‘em.
Then, of course, there was that “momentary discretion,” which labelled her one of the most hated people in Hollywood six years ago. Sure, she’s been working since her pre-teens, collaborated with top filmmakers, starred in big blockbuster and art house films, but often her CV has been overshadowed by her romantic liaisons (an all-too familiar story). Even Donald Trump was bizarrely preoccupied with cross examining Kristen Stewart's love life at one point. “Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart,” the US president tweeted in 2012, after the “affair” scandal with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders. While Sanders was married with children, it was Stewart’s image that was sent to internet jail; seeing her labelled a homewrecker and essentially fired from the 2016 sequel, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, as a result. “We lived in a different time then, you know what I mean? I feel like the slut-shaming that went down was so absurd,” Stewart said earlier this year. “And they should’ve put me in that movie! It would’ve been better. Not to be a d***, but…”
Stewart as French New Wave icon Jean Seberg
Full disclosure: I’m a fan of Kristen Stewart. I have been ever since seeing her in early noughties thriller Panic Room with Jodie Foster (which, if you have yet to see the David Fincher classic, I advise you to watch immediately). Aside from her extensive, and wildly underappreciated, performances on-screen, I admire her lack of fucks given attitude off-screen. Like most 20-somethings she’s - shock horror - not perfect. But rather than fit the mould, she takes a more unfiltered approach in life.
“I have been criticised a lot for not looking perfect in every photograph,” she told Vanity Fair. “I get some serious shit about it. I’m not embarrassed about it. I’m proud of it.” Similarly, when it comes to defining her sexuality, she doesn’t give into public pressure to label herself. “The whole issue of sexuality is so grey,” she said in a Guardian interview, recalling her identity struggle. “I’m just trying to acknowledge that fluidity, that greyness, which has always existed. But maybe only now are we allowed to start talking about it.”
Elsewhere, her refusal to conform is evident in her inspired alt-fashion choices. Pairing a floor length gown with a pair of Nike trainers to the London premiere of Charlie’s Angels? Forgoing stilettos to going barefoot at Cannes Festival, in protest against the events ‘heels-only’ policy? We bow down.