I find so many beautiful people to be ugly inside
She shot to fame in the Twilight films, but Kristen Stewart is now playing a new fairytale heroine. She talks to Gill Pringle about beauty, her Prince Charming – and why her Snow White has EIGHT dwarves
Currently starring in Snow White And The Huntsman, Kristen, 22, puts an entirely different spin on the Brothers Grimm classic, first popularised on screen in 1937 by Walt Disney. Twilight fans have become familiar with Stewart's Bella Swan as a feisty young woman who is slightly uncomfortable in her own skin. And while that celebrity has propelled her on to the cover of Vogue, there is still something disarmingly humble about the actress.
Meeting with her in California, she cringes at the notion of embodying Snow White's 'Fairest of them all' legend. 'Put like that, I absolutely feel awkward about it. I find so many beautiful people to be grotesquely ugly. There are people who fit the standard of beautiful but are so ugly on the inside,' says Stewart, who shot Snow White at Pinewood with Charlize Theron as wicked Queen Ravenna and Britain's Sam Claflin as the prince.
'I think the reason this movie is cool is because it shows two very clear examples of beauty. Fair does not mean beautiful in our film. It's all in here,' she says, holding her hand to her heart.
A thoroughly modern heroine, she would never have signed up for Snow White had she been portrayed as a damsel in distress, waiting for her prince. 'I'm not into that rescue stuff,' says Stewart, who grew up with two brothers, and was more often found in a plastic suit of armour rather than a princess dress and tiara. 'I wasn't a huge fan of the princess movies. I preferred The Jungle Book. Thankfully, I was never told I needed a Prince Charming or anything more than what I already had in me.'
Ask her to describe her own modern-day prince, however, and she obliges: 'I want him to be funny. I want him to offer me security. I also think it needs to be sort of something that makes you go, "Oomph!"'
Twilight fans might argue that she found her prince when she was cast opposite Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen, a love affair they have mirrored off screen. Celebrity on the level they have experienced together could be a burden, yet she has handled it with surprising ease, possibly because Hollywood is in her DNA. Raised by industry parents, she did her homework on the sets of her parents' TV shows, where her father John Stewart worked as a stage manager and her mother, a script supervisor.
'My parents are really working class. They make movies. I really looked up to them because of that, and always wanted to make movies and be a part of that. They let me be who I wanted to be. I don't know what I'd be doing if I wasn't an actor. But you need to need it or else it's not worth doing; you're not going to do it justice unless it's not a choice.'
There's already industry chatter that her Snow White might be the first of a trilogy. 'I don't know if it will be as big as Twilight but we got to lay the groundwork for her,' says Stewart. 'She represents very generalised ideas of who a person is. As much as these characters are icons, you become who you are, and it's a story about destiny. I think you're born with a light inside you and that's not always the greatest thing. Suddenly everybody's looking.
'I think what makes her really special is that she's an action star you want to root for; but she's also an unlikely star and has to be so strong. I'd rather see someone struggle through that and still do the right thing than someone who sweeps in, chops someone's head off and is like "I've saved us!" She's a good person. Hopefully,' adds Stewart, 'people will like her.'
But Stewart is first to admit she has some strong screen competition from eight – yes eight – dwarves, including Ray Winstone, Ian McShane and Bob Hoskins. 'You walk into a room full of actors who are show-stealers, each and every one of them. But they are hired to come in and steal the show, so you have eight of those guys who are hilarious; they're so quick and competitive. Just crazy mad to be around – and so much fun.'
Snow White And The Huntsman is on general release.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918