Kristen Stewart looked considerably thinner and somewhat disheartened at the Toronto Film Festival on Thursday. The tense body language of Stewart, 22, says all that needs to be said about how difficult the past four months have been for her, during which she confessed to an affair that led to a breakup with Robert Pattinson, her boyfriend and “Twilight” franchise co-star.
It would be a mistake, though, to read too much into tabloid headlines. Stewart looked as glamorous on Friday’s Ryerson Theatre red carpet as she did on the scarlet walk outside the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.
On the Road sets Stewart as enigmatic teen dynamo Marylou, the woman who rode with and made love to both the wild Dean Moriarty, played by Hedlund, and the cerebral Sal Paradise, played by Sam Riley.
To Stewart’s thinking, the mythmaking mileage of Moriarty and Paradise — pseudonyms for real-life pals Neal Cassady and Kerouac — might never have happened if it weren’t for Marylou, who is based on Cassady’s first wife, LuAnne Henderson, 15 years old when they married.
“It was this bridge,” Stewart says of Marylou/LuAnne’s relationships, both amorous and amigo, with Dean, Neal and Sal, Jack.
“I think that there definitely was a commonality that they could have because of her. They may have found it through something else if she didn’t exist, but there was a trust that they had just because they shared her.”
Adds Hedlund, 28: “She was like the gal in between twin brothers who had opposite amounts of patience.”
Stewart and Hedlund both wonder how modern audiences will react to the sex, drugs and all that jazz of “On the Road.” It shocked people so much in the late 1950s, many would often tear the cover off the book if they were reading it in public.
“It’s not so shocking to do drugs and have promiscuous sex anymore,” Stewart says.
“It’s not too shocking to see people naked. I hate to put it this way, but when I read the book I was 15, I think I was maybe a little more fascinated with pushing myself a little bit farther and being a bit of a rebel, or whatever at that age you do. You want to push yourself.”
While the press seems to be staying away from questions pertaining to Kristen’s personal life, her answers to questions seem eerily relevant to her personal experience with love and loss. “There was always a very equally balanced thing in her life. She was just so able to understand that if she loved someone, then she loved them for everything they were. Do you know what I mean? It’s a pretty basic concept that we all try .. you know, but … she was able to live such a full life because of that,” Kristen told “etalk” when discussing her On The Road character MaryLou.
During the interview, Stewart had a hard time hiding her nerves and even became choked up while talking about her character’s capacity to love.
It’s been tough for Stewart to be back out in public after revelations of an affair that led to her breakup with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson.
It’s not clear about the status of their relationship, although they are said to have moved out of the house they shared together in Los Angeles and have both been keeping low profiles.
Robert, 26, appeared at last night’s Stand up to Cancer fundraiser in Los Angeles, and has squirmed his way through various appearances to promote new film Cosmopolis, while avoiding questions on Kristen at all costs.
Kristen meanwhile, looked like there were several places she’d rather be as she took part in an official photo call for the film today.
The 22-year-old Twilight star did her best to muster a smile for the shoot with co-star Garrett Hedlund and director Walter Salles, but at times looking tired and weary.
Bags were clearly visible underneath the actress’s eyes, and her smile seemed a little forced.
Perhaps appropriately, the actress stuck to a conservative color palate of black and grey.
Sitting on the arm of a comfortable chair, she sported a black leather jacket, grey top and grey trousers with a black stripe.
Pointed black shoes and minimal make-up completed the look.
Her appearance at today’s photo call was far more low key than her first red carpet appearance earlier this week when she arrived at Toronto sporting a stunning bodycon dress by Zuhair Murad decorated with flowers, but suggestive with its sheer bodice and lace lower skirt panel.
She was greeted by hordes of fans who came out to show their support for the beleaguered star who has come in for some flack over her affair with Sanders.
One report said supporters were very vocal about standing by the actress, and to show her appreciation she stayed on the red carpet almost an hour longer than scheduled, making sure to sign autographs, and pose for pictures.
Kristen said at the press conference today that she never considered skipping the festival. “We have been waiting for this thing to be unleashed for so long. It was sort of one of those situations where you just have to put yourself in your body and go appreciate the moment.”
She admitted however, that she had been nervous about attending the premiere, but had been blown away by the response from the waiting fans.
“I was a little nervous, obviously. I’m always nervous before a red carpet,” said Kristen. “To be honest, I was just kind of telling myself, like, just don’t black out. Be there, don’t just figuratively put your head down and barrel though it. Be there, appreciate it. Luckily, very, very much I was able to do that.”
“You expect a lot of people at a Twilight premiere, but showing up at an On the Road Toronto film festival screening and seeing that amount of people is absolutely, disarmingly amazing. It felt pretty cool.”
Kristen stars as Marylou, the first wife of Beat Generation free spirit Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), who joins him and narrator Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) on some of their crazed cross-country adventures in the adaptation of Jack Keroac’s book.
“Marylou and Dean are the type of people that I was inspired by. Initially, at 15 reading the book, going, God, these are the sort of people I’ve got to find. The mad ones,”‘ said Kristen. “And I am so not one of them, but maybe I could be… The great thing about On the Road is that it really can crack open your shell, and I definitely realized things about myself that I didn’t realize before. That I can let my face hang out and not be too aware of it, and stop questioning myself and not be afraid of strangers, and stop being judgmental.”
Hedlund says everything about On the Road was profound.
“I think it opened us up to having the ability to express ourselves in a much freer way and open way. I think before doing this film, if you asked me a question, I probably would have asked you to write it down and I would have been able to write you a response in the next few days rather than express myself better.”
Adds Stewart: “I’m still in that position!”