The stunning transformation of Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is one of the most accomplished and unique actresses of her generation, having parlayed a highly-contested role in a teenybopper fantasy romance series into a revered career based predominantly in indie movies. With a resume unlike pretty much anybody else in her age bracket, this multi-talent has also had a major public romance (and fallout), once stood up to President Donald Trump, and even won the French equivalent of an Oscar. However, the Twilight alum still remains resolutely difficult to read (one might imagine on purpose).

While many similar celebrities appear to be thirsty for any kind of attention, Stewart has foregone all social media, while refusing to be pressed on the inner workings of her life outside of how it might relate to her entertainment career. As she's continued to grow up in front of the camera, a more mature, self-possessed woman has emerged — clearly the person she was always meant to be. We bring you the stunning transformation of Kristen Stewart.

Kristen Stewart grew up in Wonderland

The idea of an idyllic childhood is one that mostly exists in movies, but Kristen Stewart actually did enjoy something of a fairy-tale upbringing. As reported by the Daily Mail, when her family home in the Hollywood Hills went on the market for a cool $1,750,000 back in 2013, its many Alice in Wonderland-style amenities were put on show for the world to drool over. Stewart and her two brothers would've enjoyed, in particular, an over-sized outdoor chessboard in their backyard, as well as murals of quotes and characters, such as the Queen of Hearts and the White Rabbit, from the animated Disney classic painted onto the exterior of their home.

Although it seems like a dreamy way to spend your carefree childhood days, Stewart has grown to resent her sheltered upbringing as an adult, telling Elle in an interview the previous year, "You can learn so much from bad things. I feel boring. I feel like, Why is everything so easy for me?" The actress went on to jokingly wish for "something crazy" to happen to her, just so she could experience real life, before asking, "Do you know what I mean?"

Taking inspiration from her famous folks

Acting or, more widely, working in Hollywood was always likely to be Kristen Stewart's career path, because her parents are both veterans of La La Land. According to Bustle, her mother, Jules, is a script supervisor with credits in projects as varied as xXx and Halloweentown, while dad John is a stage manager, having worked on a bunch of red carpet events and even as the director of On-Air with Ryan Seacrest.  

The actress herself detailed in the celebrity portrait book, The Art of Discovery, how being part of a family of "hardworking crew members" inspired her to get involved in the industry (via E! News). However, Stewart was unable to follow in the footsteps of her brothers, both of whom found on-set work as grips, due to her diminutive stature — meaning that acting was pretty much the only option. "The problem was getting a job," Stewart quipped. "I was eight years old, and wasn't very actor-y."

Kristen Stewart was a mini Jodie Foster

Kristen Stewart's first credited role in 2001's The Safety of Objects came after a year of auditioning. As Stewart later recounted in The Art of Discovery (via E! News), "I thought, 'Wow this isn't just a cool job like my parents have, this is who I am ... My life opened beyond my wildest dreams." However, it was her part in 2002's Panic Room, opposite fellow former child star Jodie Foster, that broke Stewart out in a big way. Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Oscar-winner, the youngster made a significant impact in David Fincher's popcorn thriller.

Speaking to Patti Smith for Interview magazine in 2015, Stewart recalled how she was 10 when filming began, 11 when it wrapped, and 12 upon its release, making Panic Room a formative experience for her. On acting alongside a legend like Foster, Stewart gushed, "I was really lucky to work with her at such a young age because I've had some serious self-persecuting ... People sometimes actually get me to think I take things too seriously and maybe I'm too earnest and it's coming across like I'm better than them. But ... we are quite kindred." 

Cooling her jets

Mike Figgis' 2003 thriller Cold Creek Manor signaled the beginning of Kristen Stewart's transition from child star to adult performer. Playing the daughter of Hollywood legends Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone, opposite the likes of Juliette Lewis and Christopher Plummer, would be nerve-wracking for any performer, but the young Stewart took to it with aplomb.

In 2012, Entertainment Tonight unearthed an interview from when she and fellow child star Ryan Wilson were doing press for the movie. Showcasing some of her now-iconic fidgety mannerisms, an enthusiastic and eager-to-please Stewart precociously told the interviewer, when questioned about what kind of movies she likes, "I don't really go see the stuff where you take your two-year-old brother." When presented with the idea of being terrorized over a foreclosed house, as her on-screen family is, Stewart cleverly suggested pretending the house is haunted, joking, "I'd, like, pull the Scooby-Doo thing."

When Kristen Stewart became best known as Bella

The first few years of Kristen Stewart's acting career were characterized by interesting choices, rather than Disney shows or cutesy family comedies. But it was, of course, 2008's Twilight that catapulted her to mega-stardom. Speaking to Collider the year of its release, the actress displayed both a respect for the beloved character of Bella Swan and a remarkable attitude to the material. "This movie is either going to make it easier for me to keep doing the things that I've been doing for almost ten years," she advised, "or it's going to drop me right on my a** and I'm going to keep doing the same thing that I've been doing, which are tiny little independent movies that no one sees."

However, 11 years later, in a wide-ranging interview with Harper's Bazaar, the actress expressed frustration over how she and her demeanor had been treated and described by the press at the height of her Twilight fame. "I try to avoid the word 'awkward,'" Stewart explained. "I want to reclaim that word, because it's been used too violently against me."

Shocking them into submission

In making the case for not losing her artistic integrity to Bella and her on-screen vampire lover Edward, Kristen Stewart cleverly name-checked another role with Collider back in 2008. "I just came off of a movie where I play a homeless kid, like a really damaged and really broken little kid and she looks nothing like Bella," she noted. "In fact she's a stripper. So I'm not worried about [being typecast] and I never really was." 

The movie in question was Welcome to the Rileys, a 2010 drama co-starring Melissa Leo and the late James Gandolfini, which most likely shocked Stewart's massive tween fan base to its core. However, playing a darker character was a welcome challenge for the actress, who regaled Entertainment Weekly with stories about her research process for the role. Having learned the tools of the trade at a New Orleans strip club, Stewart proudly told the publication, "I danced on the bar there three nights this week, and my legs are covered in bruises."

Running away with a rock star's heart

Another major movie moment for Kristen Stewart came with 2010's The Runaways, in which she plays legendary rock star Joan Jett. The actress, who had already proven her singing and guitar playing chops in 2007's Into The Wild, once again did everything for real, as Jett herself confirmed in a 2009 interview with MTV News.

Although Stewart admitted to finding it difficult to embody the founding member of The Runaways, Jett confirmed to Cinema Blend at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival that she found the actress' performance to be incredibly authentic. "She cut off her hair, she really immersed herself in it. I don't mean to put words in her mouth, but what I get is she feels she has to do it justice," Jett said, praising Stewart. The rock icon reiterated to Interview that same year, "She really soaked it in. When we were hanging out together on set, it was like I had a mirror image. Even just sitting around, we'd do the same thing at the same time. It was just great — and it wasn't creepy. It was wonderfully special."

Kristen Stewart topped the rich list

Just four years after the first installment in the world-conquering Twilight Saga was released, Forbes named Kristen Stewart the highest-paid actress in the world. They revealed that the then-22-year-old, who was the youngest woman on the list by a whopping 16 years, had banked around $12.5 million for each of the final two movies in the series, alongside a share of the profits for both — meaning the Snow White and the Huntsman starlet earned $34.5 million between 2011 and 2012.

Despite her demonstrable success, Stewart has never been someone who's outwardly comfortable with the fame or attention that comes with being a high-earning celebrity. In 2016, she confessed to Wonderland, "People have a hard time accepting when someone displays even the slightest amount of discomfort in the spotlight. You're supposed to soak up every bit of fame like it's sunshine. But I think it's genuinely scary that fame is valued so highly, even above happiness." Of her work in the industry, she clarified, "I love making movies, but I don't do my job to be a famous person."

Becoming her own woman

Twilight was a major milestone for Kristen Stewart: Over the course of four years, the series' five movies culminated in 2012 with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2016, Stewart admitted that while she was very invested in the series, "Something personal became not the most personal thing, which is awesome because to share that is great, but at the same time I was 17 or 18 when it all kind of went down, and that's the most uncomfortable, terrible, weird [time]" (via Us Weekly). Still, she's remained grateful for the experience, adding, "It kind of forced me to stand at attention in this way."

Reminiscing about her time on set, Stewart joked about her "really uncomfortable hair extensions" and compared the feeling to "looking at a college yearbook." The actress continued, "I don't jump right back into those memories, but as soon as you see a picture you're just, 'Oh, god, it's like yesterday.'" Although she admitted to finding the attention difficult, Stewart knew she had to grow as a person, telling Harper's Bazaar in 2019, "Every day I get older, life gets easier."

Kristen Stewart made a splash in France

Most young actors tend to find their lane and stick to it, but Kristen Stewart has been truly unique in her approach. Instead of sticking to Twilight-esque blockbusters, she partnered up with legendary French auteur Olivier Assayas on The Clouds of Sils Maria (opposite Juliette Binoche) and Personal Shopper (in which Stewart was resolutely the focus). Stewart's work on the former also netted her a César, the French equivalent of an Oscar, making her the first American actress to ever do so. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, she said, "Oh, man, it blew my head off, to be honest. I couldn't believe that I got nominated, and then obviously I really, really couldn't believe that they gave it to me." 

For his part, Assayas has continually praised his leading lady, telling Vice in 2107, "What's exciting about working with Kristen is that she makes something out of anything. Kristen never goes through the motions of anything. Anything becomes important." Of Stewart's approach, he added, "She has such an extraordinary and unique knowledge of how acting connects with an audience and how it can generate tension. It's uncanny."

A burgeoning bisexual icon

Much had been made about Kristen Stewart's sexual orientation by the time she publicly came out as bisexual in 2017. During her Saturday Night Live hosting monologue that year, the actress reminisced about the time President Donald Trump obsessed over her relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson on Twitter. Midway through the bit, she deadpanned, "I'm like, so gay, dude."

The nonchalant quip marked a major moment for the notoriously private star, who'd actually been living openly for years, but previously declined to define her fluid sexuality. However, it came as less of a shock to anybody who'd been paying attention to her highly-publicized, yet comparatively under the radar, dalliances with the likes of French singer Soko and effects specialist Alicia Cargile. While speaking to The Guardian just a month after her famous SNL stint, Stewart officially clarified her sexuality, saying, "You're not confused if you're bisexual. It's not confusing at all. For me, it's quite the opposite."

Kristen Stewart learned to be more open

Kristen Stewart has spent the majority of her entire career dodging accusations of being sullen, when by the actress' own estimation, she's simply felt uncomfortable being put under a microscope. "I never valued the fame thing as much as I valued the experiences I got to do while working, and it perplexed me so much," she confessed to Harper's Bazaar in 2019, adding, "Some people were like, 'You ungrateful a**hole!' and I was like, 'Yeah, completely, I don't want to be famous, I want to do my work!'"

However, as Stewart has gotten older and more comfortable in her own skin, she's learned to let people in a little more, too. "I used to sit in interviews and go, 'God, I wonder what they're going to ask me,'" she continued, "but now — literally — you can ask me anything!" In Stewart's view, being so private wasn't sustainable, as eventually she realized, "I just wanted to enjoy my life. And that took precedence over protecting my life, because in protecting it, I was ruining it."

Saying good morning to Charlie

The 2019 Charlie's Angels reboot was yet another swerve for Kristen Stewart — but in a good way, as it chimed with her newer attitude about press intrusion and living more openly. Reminiscing about how she got involved with the film in a joint V Magazine interview with co-stars Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, Stewart revealed her chance meeting with director Elizabeth Banks, during which "[they] became such fans of each other." Soon after, Banks reached out to Stewart about the remake, with Stewart explaining, "She said, 'I don't exactly know what this is going to be, but I know that I want your energy in it.'" 

Unfortunately, the film's reviews were harsh. However, Stewart told The Playlist she wasn't bothered by the negative press, reasoning, "I think if I had made a movie that wasn't good and one that I wasn't proud of and a lot of people saw it, I would be devastated. Luckily I'm not feeling gutted because I really am proud of the movie."

We nearly had Bella and Edward IRL

The biggest story of Kristen Stewart's career so far has unfortunately revolved around her are-they-or-aren't-they relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. Back in 2008, Collider asked whether the rumors that Pattinson had proposed on set were true, to which Stewart responded, "I don't know how serious he was, but yes." But with their relationship in the rear-view mirror years later, the actress told The Daily Beast that her very public breakup from Pattinson was actually "incredibly painful."

However, the most notable moment of the entire romantic saga came in 2019, when ​the famously private actress really opened up about the relationship during an appearance on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show. Admitting she couldn't help falling for Pattinson on set, that he was her first true love and, perhaps most shockingly, that she might have married him for real if he'd asked, Stewart explained, "I'm not a super duper traditionalist, but at the same time, like, yeah." Reassuring fans that their relationship wasn't just for cross-promotional purposes, she added, "Every relationship I've ever been in, I thought that was it. I've never been like the most casual person."

Kristen Stewart is scratching another creative itch

The late 2010s saw Kristen Stewart emerge not only as one of the most high-profile LGBTQ+ actresses in the world, but also as a director in her own right. The 2017 Cannes Film Festival featured the debut of Stewart: The Filmmaker, where she revealed the short film, Come Swim — an abstract, avant garde tale of a man looking to satiate an unquenchable thirst. "I feel like they're just being nice to me because I come here a lot," the actress-turned-director jokingly told The Guardian. "Like they're saying, 'Sure, you can show your little short here.'"

Highlighting her ongoing issues with paparazzi and public attention, Stewart admitted the short's idea of "a person sleeping contently on the bottom of the ocean floor, and getting such satisfaction from that isolation" really appealed to her. While discussing her planned feature directorial debut, The Chronology of Water, in 2019, Stewart gushed to The Playlist, "I'm so lucky. I can't wait to make it."