For weeks the world hasn't been able to stop talking about Kristen Stewart-- her affair with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, her breakup with Robert Pattinson, how both of them have rebounded from the split, how Sanders is patching things up with his family… it's a saga the tabloids will be dining out on for months. But until today the whole thing didn't seem to be directly affecting Stewart's career, which found her hitting the ranks of the highest-paid actress in Hollywood just last year.
Then today, rumor hit that Universal would be moving forward with a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, which has thus far grossed almost $400 million worldwide.. but Stewart wouldn't be part of it. Instead they'd be focusing on a story about Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman character, and Sanders could even be back in line to direct it. Universal has directly denied that Stewart is no longer involved, but you can't blame them for wondering about how to shape a sequel around a a character who's supposed to be "pure as snow," while the actress is wrapped up in a very public infidelity.
But wait, can't you blame them anyway? Kristy and Katey have noticed some of the troubling nastiness around the conversation about Stewart these past few weeks, and got together to talk about her potential future as a leader of franchises, how this might all be "slut shaming," and why Angelina Jolie might have some excellent advice. Read below as we debate whether or not Stewart ought to even don that armor another time.
KATEY: Alright Kristy, I'm not sure if you're aware, but Kristen Stewart is a very famous person who cheated on her boyfriend, who is also very famous. As a person who lives on the planet I assume this news has found its way to you over the last unrelenting few weeks.
KRISTY: Shockingly yes, yes it has.
KATEY: And for a while this all seemed like it would just be a tabloid thing and not really affect anyone's career, but then Kristen Stewart dropped out of this thriller Cali, and now there's this bombshell, maybe-true story that Universal would make the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel without her. Despite the fact that she's, you know, Snow White.
Now there had been news before that the studio would want to make another movie about Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman, not Snow White, since her ending was pretty happy and pat. But I think you and I both had the same reaction to this news and the way it was timed with her affair. Can you sum up that reaction?
KRISTY: Well, honestly as soon as I read the headline I thought "slut shaming." I feel she's being held solely responsible for this affair, and its taking a massive toll on her career. It's insane that she may lose the sequel that was being positioned because of her star power, but the director she had an affair with is still said to be attached to helm. Or was as of last week.
I mean, she went from being the highest paid actress of the past year to a PR nightmare overnight, and now it looks like she's on route to be a pariah. It seems really unfair.
KATEY: And this isn't the only stuff that's made us feel she's being blamed for this. All the headlines have been about her, not him, and she's been in the middle of this media nightmare because of how the tabloid system works. And now it seems like studios are taking the PR seriously and damaging her career if not outright ending it.
KRISTY: Yes, and part of that is certainly that she's a bigger name than Rupert Sanders, but I think there is also an insidious element to assigning her the blame that's a sick part of our society. Typically women are viewed as responsible for sexual urges, like men can't help themselves, and so saying no is often put solely on the female in a relationship. So, despite the fact that she's much younger and he's married, she's gotten the brunt of the blame, which also extends into all the "poor Rob!" narratives that are playing out on TV and across the web.
And yeah, now it seems like the studios see her as a bad investment. It's all hitting critical mass right now with Pattinson making his first public appearances since those photos hit, so he can promote Cosmopolis, which makes the news of her being dropped all the more scandalous.
KATEY: Yeah, the idea of women being blamed for sex in society is something that, sadly, I'm more used to. But seeing it affect her career feels totally different-- especially since we live in a world where Kim Kardashian has an entire career because of a sex tape. Why isn't that option for Kristen Stewart? And, to be fair to Universal-- we have no idea what will actually happen. That SWATH sequel could happen as planned and we were totally wrong.
But it sounds like they're trying to wait this out, then go ahead and make the standalone Huntsman movie with Hemsworth that they wanted-- just distanced enough from the scandal so people like you and me don't holler.
KRISTY: I think you're on to something there. I mean a lot of critics did ding the film for Stewart's lackluster performance, but it's the timing that makes this so suspect.
As to why her public embarrassment is proving so shattering, I think that's hugely tied to how she was introduced to the world as Bella. Her infidelity takes on an intense significance because of how it hurts this fantasy of Twilight's romance. It really feels old Hollywood to me, like fans are furious she shattered their illusion of a perfect love, and Universal is responding by skirting her out of their spotlight.
KATEY: And Snow White and the Huntsman totally buys into that too, as we discussed back in June (click here). I think if this were a franchise based on her being, like, Charlize Theron's character, it wouldn't be an issue.
I feel like Angelina Jolie needs to come hang out with Kristen and be like "Don't worry, girl, it's much more fun to be cast as the dark and sexy one anyway."
KRISTY: And Stewart has been trying to break away from that persona, though obviously with her film work, not her personal life. And she was pretty terrific in The Runaways.
KATEY: Yeah, she's seemed to recognize this gilded cage for a while and tried to escape it. It's just a shame if this happens in this way. At this point, honestly, what's worse for her-- getting let out of this SWATH deal and facing that kind of scorn, or sticking with it and getting stuck playing boring Snow White again?
KRISTY: I don't want to see her play Snow White again, and actually favor the idea of a Huntsman sequel. It's just the way this news is hitting that's so troublesome. Like this is her Scarlet A. 'No, no, you're too sullied to be Snow White now!' But I think Jolie's a great role model. She should embrace her kind of "this is who I am" attitude going forward.
KATEY: Oh totally. And no matter what Universal does for a sequel, if Stewart isn't in it, it's going to look that way.
KRISTY: Absolutely. Their latest press release makes me think Stewart may have little more than a cameo so they'll be spared the rehashing of all this on the press tour. But if they want to avoid it Sanders has got to go.
KATEY: I just wish we could go back to the time when Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy spent decades having an affair and no one bothered them about it. Then again, around the same time, Ingrid Bergman basically got scarlet lettered for having an affair, so I guess it was never any better.
KRISTY: I've been thinking about Hepburn and Tracy a lot in light of this. Bogart and Bacall too. May-December romance with a married man. They both rebounded. Hell, thrived even.
KATEY: Yeah, and Kristen Stewart will too-- I choose to believe she will. Jodie Foster actually gives me hope-- you can start off as a star in someone's predetermined box, but then break out and make everything work how you want it.
KRISTY: Yeah. I don't envy Stewart the challenges she has ahead of her with all this--that Twilight press will be a nightmare--but I am pulling for her. She's an actress who has potential, and hopefully this will just be a bump in the road for her. Elizabeth Taylor had plenty.
KATEY: Yes! May the spirit of White Diamonds lead her forward