The Runaways premiered last night at Sundance, and you can read our review of it if you're so inclined. In it, we mention that this movie doesn't feature sweet and innocent Kristen Stewart (Bella from Twilight), nor is Dakota Fanning the cute, ear-piercing little girl from War of the Worlds. They're stretching their grown-up legs to portray Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, marching straight into sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.
As part of a roundtable interview, we talked to Kristen and Dakota yesterday in Park City about the film, how much they got to work with Joan and Cherie, and what they think people are going to say about their brief but incendiary makeout session in the movie. Kristen, who's known for being reserved in interviews at times was definitely feeling very vocal. Check out the full interview just after the break.
With The Runaways, how did you come on board? Was it the characters or the role, or did you know the music? What was the first thing that came your way?
Kristen Stewart: The script. I knew about Joan Jett, which most people probably would say. But I didn't know anything about The Runaways and I thought it was really cool to see a character that was so different from who she seems to be now -- very self assured and she really, really knows who she is. So I thought it was cool to see her become that and then see the relationship between her and Cherie and see how sweet that is. It is just an interesting story.
Dakota Fanning: Yeah, same for me. I read the script and wasn't really familiar with The Runaways either, and just loved the relationship between them and things that I would get to do while playing Cherie.
How did you prepare for this role versus, say, some of your other roles?
Dakota: Well obviously, there was the singing, for me, that I had to prepare for, which was kind of a daunting task, but something that, I think, adds to the movie that I actually did it. It wasn't just her voice, you know. So yeah, I had to make it just like hers, which was kind of intimidating.
Kristen: Well, yeah. We had to make sure that we looked right and moved right. They had really, when you meet them, fancy footage from when they were younger. They have such specific idiosyncrasies. They are very ... they are like riddled with little particular details that make them ... as we all are, but theirs are really interesting and they are really dynamic. I don't know. They are just cool like that. But, preparing for a movie is always the same. There is no difference. It is just a big responsibility here because it is not just somebody that you are making up.
Well, we talked to Cherie, who said she feels like she is living in a dream because you are playing her in a film, Dakota. And Kristen, Joan said you guys had very similar energy. How much time did you get to spend with them before and during the production?
Dakota: A lot. I mean, they were there pretty much everyday, and I spent a lot of time with Cherie before we started filming. And yeah, I think it was important that they were there, just to ... it is their life, you know?
Kristen: We didn't have a whole lot of time either, because in pre-production, rehearsal-wise, we had a good ... we had a solid two weeks. And then before that, I had a week with Joan, just like shooting the shit. There was like a period of, 'let's feel this out and see how much we are willing to delve into personal aspects of your lives and how much we are willing to, like, disclose ourselves.' But it was so nice, because they were actually not just open to any actor who might be playing them. But we really liked each other. Like, instantly ... the four of us were pretty, you know ... there was just something really special and it was cool.
Did you play guitar already or did you have to learn how to do that?
What was it like putting that ... I mean a rock and roll electric guitar, it is a great big phallic symbol. What was it like sort of strapping that on?
Kristen: No, totally. In fact, I don't know if I can say this ... whatever. I mean you can delete it or not.
Go for it.
Kristen: Whenever I wasn't coming from the right place, she was always like, "Kristen! P*ssy to the wood! F*ck the guitar!" I was like, "Okay."
Kristen: So when you have Joan Jett telling you to f*ck your guitar ... Yeah, I liked it.
[muddled question about sexuality -- listen here]
Kristen: It's more, um, Joan's at least, and actually Cherie's is definitely. They're dominant, absolutely.
Dakota: But they're different.
Dakota: They're different.
Kristen: Yeah. But they had to fight to be ... I mean people like girls to be sexy, and they did then too, but in a completely different way. They didn't want to get f*cked. They wanted to f*ck them. And that is not what Joan wanted.
Do you think The Runaways changed a lot? Do you think things are still the same for female musicians? I mean, was that part of your attraction to the role, the fact that it is about something that is still ... there is still a bit of a taboo about women doing the same things?
Kristen: Yeah, that was a huge thing, and especially for Joan. It is still such a huge ... I mean, Dakota was saying something earlier. We are girls that have both been brought up thinking we can do whatever we want and there are a lot of very empowered females. But it just wasn't like that then. And I think that people don't really realize that The Runaways were the first girls to play music like that. And it could have been someone else, but it wasn't. It was them. And so, it is, I think, an interesting story for a movie.
The Twilight franchise is a big thing, and you have a lot of young fans. This film is very descriptive and it shows a lot of stuff. Were you hesitant at all with the huge amount of people that follow you?
Kristen: I have a fan base that apparently, like, you know, people ... it is not that they look up to me. You have certain figures that they would like to be more like, and people really love Bella. I do too, but I am not her. I don't think anybody expects me to try to just, for the rest of my career, appease an audience that once liked Twilight. You know what I mean? I just think that that is crazy. I also ... it is always an afterthought. I will decide to do a movie and then go, "Oh, Twilight fans are probably going to react to this, or whatever." But that's always an afterthought. Like, I don't plan things out based on other people's opinions of how I think they are going to receive them. I do it for the experience.
Basically what I am saying is, I don't take that responsibility ... I just don't. I think that Joan's story is really something that you could learn from, and also Welcome to the Rileys. I don't believe in censorship. I think that both these movies are rated R and these kids, you know, if it is too much for them, then they shouldn't watch.
Do you think that is unfortunate, though, because Cherie said, "You know, that is just how it was in the '70s. Sexuality was ambiguous. That is how life was." This is going to be, for better or worse, one of those button issues people will talk about in this movie, the moment between you and Dakota. Do you think that is unfortunate because that is going to happen because of who you guys are versus who they were?
Kristen: People are always going to find the one sort of like weird, sort of buzzworthy thing about a movie and run with it. I don't think it has ... I don't think it's relevant. It's not a romantic relationship. They are like best friends and it is a love story, so it is sort of like ... it's a fleeting love story and they both realize that it's like, "Yeah, this is cool right now." But it's not like the big makeout scene in The Runaways is like ... they are just ... it's just something they...
Dakota: And especially when you read the script, like, it is not just a ...
Kristen: It just pops up!
Dakota: ...a big thing. It's like, "Okay, great."
Kristen: They even talk about it afterwards. It's like, "What happened? I don't even ... why did that happen?" And then, I think, it's cool. They don't go any further with it. It's like, "Yeah. That's it."
Talk a little bit about the day that scene was actually filmed. What was it like on set? Was there any discomfort between you two?
Kristen: We had done a song that day that was in the roller rink, and we had done "I Love Playin' With Fire," so I was way, way, way more worried about that than having to ... I don't know. I remember, like, kicking off extras that were trying to take pictures with their cell phones.
Dakota: Yeah, yeah.
Note: This interview was part of a roundtable that Cinematical took part in at Sundance 2010 with a handful of other writers. Not all of the questions were asked by us.