Sundance Interview: Kristen Stewart And Jesse Eisenberg

Adventureland, from Superbad director Greg Mottola, was a hot ticket item at Sundance this year. There was a lot of talk about the film before it was screened for audiences, and some of us had high expectations. For the most part it was received well, but maybe not on the level of Superbad. I had the chance to talk with some of the actors in the film, two of which were the stars. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristin Stewart sat down to discuss their roles in Mottola’s film.

OK Twilight fans, Kristin confirmed that New Moon is beginning shooting in March. And she’ll take a little time for a side project before jumping right into Eclipse. Perhaps everyone can just calm down and let the films come out and enjoy them. One thing is certain, Kristin is a far better actress than Twilight let on. Hopefully that’ll surface more now that the series has a new director….but I’m not holding my breath that these films will get any better. Or just good.

Can you guys talk about how the project came to you, and what appealed to you about it the most?

Jesse: I read the script for the movie and in like April. I was in school at the time, so I didn’t have time to read it. Then Greg wanted to meet me the next day, so I read the script the day before I met him and thought it was incredible. I met him and was signed on to several independent movies at the time that were not getting made, and the way Greg described the movie it seemed like it might be the same process. Like it would be so difficult to get it made I didn’t even know if I’d be in it at the time. Then his movie, Superbad, came out a few months later and the next day everything started moving forward because the movie was so successful. The company realized he could make something that could make money, or however it works.

Kristen: I met [Greg] after Superbad was already out, so the movie was greenlit. The script is autobiographical a little bit, not to the “T” but he worked at a park and had a funky time of it. It’s very sincere, and this all sounds like well of course that’s what you want in a movie. But it’s very genuine and honest, and not cliché. He’s such a sweet guy, I really wanted to work with him. And I thought Superbad was pretty great too.

What kind of research, and how did you get into character?

Jesse: As Kristen said it was kind of a little autobiographical, so when Greg talked to us about that time – not that his experience was so alien to our own experience – but they also handed us a binder on the first day of rehearsal. A six inch binder with irrelevant facts from the 80s, as though we would improvise and throw out whoever was…

Kristen: Big on Wall Street.

Jesse: Exactly. It was like a period piece, everything on the set was realistic but also funny. So he created this nice world that you could feel was easy to immerse yourself in because it was so unique.

Kristen, going into this role after playing Bella, which has obviously gotten you a lot of attention. Was it intentional for you to go away from that type of role to show something different?

Kristen: I did this before I did Twilight, and subsequently having finished and done other projects I’ve been asked that. It’s so hard to define exactly why I choose to do projects, and it’s not like I have this really brilliant foresight that Twilight is going to be big. I can only do something if I feel like I have to. There’s not really a whole lot of choice, I just go oh I really have to do that. No, I don’t have some grand scheme.

But going through that experience of the past six to eight months, does it then make going on stage like nothing? Like I’ve had three hundred thousand screaming…

Kristen: No, it’s hell actually. It’s so much worse now because before I was just an actor in a movie. Not that…that’s not what I mean.

I meant more in the sense do you have more confidence going in front of a large group of people?

Kristen: No, much less. One movie has never seeped through to the next, it’s always been a very isolated experience. And this was undeniably half of the girls sitting there weren’t, maybe they liked Adventureland but they weren’t like Adventureland!. So it’s little weird, it feels like you should be doing something for it. You don’t feel deserving.

Do you take the point of view that the projects you do from now on might open films up to this audience that wouldn’t have seen them before?

Kristen: Yeah, I like Twilight. It’s just the effect of it, it’s not hard to deal with. But yeah, that’d be great. Hopefully. The adverse will probably happen as well, people will be like, “I fucking hate that girl.”

Jesse, you’ve been here before with Squid and the Whale. So does it feel like old school to come back?

Jesse: It’s all the same faces. No, it was nice. The movies were both received well here, and that’s nice. I mean, not more comfortable to go on stage in front of a lot of people. That’s never a comfortable thing, unless you’re blind and you think you’re on the other side of the stage.

Kristen: Actually that’d be worse.

Jesse: That’d be terrible, to be blind. You couldn’t see anything.

Have you guys ever had any crappy job experiences that you were able to draw on? Or summers that started awful that then turned out to be really good that you were able to use for your roles?

Jesse: No summer that’s started out bad has ever turned out good for me. It’s gotten worse as the summer’d gone on. I had a brief bad job, but it just got worse as it went on until I quit. And cried.

Do you feel a correlation between your own life…what you’re going through in your own life and put it towards this film, because I didn’t see it so much as a comedy as I did a drama.

Jesse: Yeah, that’s how I see it too. The character in the movie has these lofty ideals, which I do as well. Similarly as an actor you sometimes find yourself doing something that seems less sophisticated than you’d hoped to do. Not like doing menial labor at an amusement park, but doing a silly movie or something like that. And that’s kind of similar to the movie.

You mentioned that Greg had said this was semi-autobiographical, obviously you’re playing Greg in some way. Did he tell you [Kristen] whether you were playing a girl he knew, or was it just a conglomerate?

Kristen: I was a compilation of a couple different girls he had dated when he was younger. Really sort of complicated, damaged, messed up girls.

Was it hard for you knowing you were sort of playing him?

Jesse: No, it was great. The script was really good because of that because it was a personal thing. I think the movie was better for it that it came from a personal experience, because the movie feels that way. As an actor it’s nice because you can have a more substantive conversation with the director rather than if he was a hired director.

Where did you guys shoot this?

Jesse: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

During the summer?

Jesse: We shoot October through November, and it was freezing.

Did you guys actually go on rides while they were shooting up other takes?

Jesse: Nobody was shooting up on the movie.

Kristen: They were very protective, like the owners in the film. There was a hierarchy and we had to know our role. We were visitors and we needed to be appreciative of our opportunity.

How did you guys find immersing yourselves in the world? It might be more familiar to you [Jesse], because you’re in college, but for you [Kristen] it might have been harder because you were playing somebody older.

Kristen: It is weird. It’s not something I like to do, at all. I like to play younger. You feel like you have more control. She’s kind of immature; she hasn’t really been able to emotionally progress. She’s sort of like the semi-rogue bad girl, and she’s fucking an older guy. I felt it was easier because she was a completely immature adult, and at the same time really smart. Nothing specific though. She’s very whole, so it’s not like I had to fill in the gaps.

Did Greg give you CDs or music he planned to use in the movie, and anything you didn’t know before that you became a fan of?

Jesse: Yeah, he gave us what he wanted to be the soundtrack of the movie right when we started filming. Some of the bands on there I’d heard of, but didn’t know well. The Replacements are really great.

Kristen: And I really liked Big Star, but I don’t know if they’re an 80s band. I think they’re older.

Jesse: Lou Reed I’d known because he’s still very popular. And that was a big part of the script as well.

You talked about how it was freezing while you were shooting, how cold was it?

Kristen: My knee caps are purple. It’s really embarrassing.

Did you watch the movie and actually look at your knees and see that they were purple?

Kristen: Yes. I’m serious; if you watch it my knees are purple.

Jesse: Now some creepy man is going to watch it, just watch your knee caps the whole time.

Kristen: You said that real aggressively.

Obviously you have New Moon that you’re going to shoot at any moment, right?

Kristen: March

What about you, do you have anything else coming up?

Jesse: I’m filming a movie in New York now about a Hasidic Jewish drug dealer. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Are you the drug dealer?

Jesse: Yeah. It’s a true story though. It’s told honestly, it’s not like a comedy. It sounds like a ridiculous premise.

No, it sounds interesting. What’s the name of the picture?

Jesse: Holy Rollers. It will come out…never.

You don’t think you’ll be back here next year at Sundance with Holy Rollers?

Jesse: I might take the DVD in my pocket and try to sell it on the street. No, it’s going really well but it’s not financed yet so I don’t want to jinx it.

Are you excited about shooting New Moon?

Kristen: Yes. It’s a little daunting, but what’s even more – divert! – daunting is I got cast in a movie called The Runaways. I’m going to play Joan Jett between New Moon and Eclipse.

Steve West

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.