I was given the opportunity to interview Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning for their upcoming roles in the new movie, The Runaways. Look for our review on the film later. This interview was what is called a round-table interview, in which other critics/reporters and myself try our hardest to confuse and embarrass the talent we are interviewing. Just kidding, you will hear other voices though, that I can not name. For the sake of continuity, all questions asked by others will be known as Reporter, and then there are a couple from ME, Angela. If you are just reading this, and not able to listen, I have tried to insert little mannerisms I saw and when the room laughed at a statement as well and trying to give the sense that these two girls have spent so much time together that they are finishing each other’s sentences, which they did often. On that note, if you are reading this as you listen, you will notice I omitted a ton of “like” to save the reader a headache. It’s fine when you’re listening though.
Kristen and Dakota walk into the room.
Reporter: Dakota, you are at that age where teenagers are rebelling in real life, did you go through that phase at all, or is that something that you skipped right over?
Dakota: I don’t think I ever had anything to really rebel against. You know, my parents aren’t like crazy-strict parents, they’re really good parents, I don’t ever want to rebel against them or anything. Um, I guess I just do that in films, I suppose. (laughs) I guess I did skip over that. Whatever that really means, you know? I think we all rebel against something at some point, but I never had a stage that I went through where I was a bad kid.
Reporter: This movie, we found both of your characters with found fame kind of thrust upon them at a very early age, and sort of dealing with how wild and unexpected that can be, was that something that either of you were able to relate to in any capacity?
Kristen: I think they sought out their fame so aggressively that it was a completely different thing. Its not like it was thrust upon them at all, it was like such an exciting thing then. They make statements. Musicians really are themselves all the time in a public way and we’re not, we’re actors. It’s not that we don’t have anything to say, we choose movies for a million different reasons and some of them are because they say things, but not the way music does, not the way you can so directly. And so I think that, I don’t know, they can take more credit for it. I’m sort of like, “Oh, this is really cool, I’m really lucky” and they are like “we own this” so…
Dakota: And also like back then, you had to do something really important to become famous and like that’s what you wanted and now, I feel like, you can do anything and become famous, do you know what I mean?
Kristen: Yeah, it’s not embarrassing to me, but it’s sort of like it’s not as cool anymore. (Laughs) It’s totally not as cool anymore.
Reporter: Tell us a little about when you first saw the script. Because as writers, or people who are interested in The Runaways, well Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, wow, it seems like such an odd choice, but you guys nailed the parts absolutely! Tell me about the first time you read the script and you knew this was absolutely something you have got to be a part of.
Dakota: Well, I read the script and then I didn’t know a lot about The Runaways so I looked at the Live In Japan videos of them performing and specifically, Cherry Bomb was the first one I saw and that was when I realized that I wanted to play her. They weren’t sure if I was old enough and/ or if I was right for it and…
Kristen: which was ridiculous. Seriously.
Dakota: (laughs) So I was lucky that they believed that I could do it.
Kristen: You do a movie for a million reasons, like I said, but someone just had to say to me, “Hey, do you wanna play Joan Jett” and I was like, “Yeah” [puts both thumbs up]. Then I got really freaked out afterward because you realize all of the stuff that goes along with that.
Reporter: Did either of you have any musical background? Play any guitar or anything before you became part of this band?
Kristen: Yeah, I played guitar luckily, ‘cuz we only had two weeks to learn all of the stuff.
Dakota: I had some before, but it was something that really scared me so I was nervous about that. And I was nervous that I had to do it myself, but I wanted to it myself, but I was worried.
ME: What was the difference between playing real people that you can still meet and talk to as opposed to reading for a character that’s on paper, that you can make your own?
Kristen: It’s totally different because you never feel like you can, well I never did, as much as Joan wanted to give me freedom and have me be natural, I couldn’t improve stuff as easily as I could on other movies. I didn’t like to fill in the blanks, I didn’t like to answer questions, I was always just asking them. So, that’s a totally different thing but you should always feel like your character is real, you know what I mean? You should always feel like there is a whole person to do justice. But it’s totally different when they are right there and you’re friends with them and this is the most important part of their little lives, their complete [interrupts self] God, written down that’s going to sound so stupid, but this started everything for them, or for Joan, so it was important to get it right.
Reporter: Was there a time when she gave you advice and you were like, “that’s why she’s Joan Jett” Because it’s rare to be able to talk to the actual person you are embodying, so were there any little tips she gave you?
Dakota: Yeah, with Cherie we talked a lot about like why it all ended for her and why she decided to leave because that’s pretty important in the movie for her, for my character. I don’t know if she really gave me any specific advice…
Kristen: Well, you have this whole long experience with someone and there’s a million things that come out
Dakota: that they tell you, deep emotional things.
Kristen: Yeah, I think just being around people like that, Joan never… I mean this is something you say about people when their cool people all the time, but to a T, the most I’ve ever seen anyone be comfortable with themselves. Joan is comfortable with who she is, even though she is shy and she’s not always what she might seem like, which is just really bad ass and awesome.
Reporter: It seems that both of the characters and their desire to start the band, I mean it felt like teenager to me, for various reasons, problems at home and I think in the case of Joan, the character felt like it was always at a constant boiling point and in the case of Cherie, it feels like something that is percolating and slowly kind of expanding. I wonder from the two of you, was it hard to channel that kind of rage because it feels, in both of your performances, you carry it in the eyes and you can feel it coming out of them until it just becomes the explosive crescendo that we see at the end of the movie, so to speak.
Kristen: I think Joan’s desire to make the sound that she makes and to be who she is was so strong, especially when she was that age because you’re a teenager and like you said, you’re sort of bubbling with it, with whatever you are. Because nobody wanted to see… If I had to go through high school and did the Bowie thing (reference to movie) and threw paper, I would cry. So it wasn’t hard at all, because we are that age and I can really relate to people thinking that you’re weird. I so admire and love these women that and I could just as angry as they got in high school because I’m defensive of them, do you know what I mean? So it wasn’t hard, no.
Dakota: And for Cherie, I mean she grew up in the shadow of her twin sister and Marie was always the prettier one, the more popular one and Cherie was always the outcast. There’s a story and it’s from someone who went to high school with them. He said he walked by this beautiful girl and she was so nice and smiled and he saw her and she was scowling and he realized that the smiling one was Marie and the scowling one was Cherie and that’s kind of how she was and I think that the talent show and the performance of Cherry Bomb are the two times that she steps out and isn’t afraid to be different and she finally feels like she’s made something of herself and I really admired that in her.
Reporter: There was some really great style in the film and Dakota, you had mentioned some trepidation as to singing the songs but I was wondering about donning Cherie’s famous corset and walking out on set, was there any trepidation there?
Dakota: I was most excited about wearing that actually. (laughs) I really loved the corset because it was exactly like the one she wore, to a T. I felt the most like Cherie, I felt the most in character in the corset. Because I think if you do know who Cherie Currie is, you think of her performing Cherry Bomb in that corset, so that was really an exciting moment for me.
Reporter: You play characters who are a bit darker and the subject matter is a bit riskier and more dangerous than some of the other projects you have been in. How was it being able to play characters who explored some darker and more destructive territory?
Kristen: [pause] I feel like every character I have played has been… I mean in round-tables I’m always asked why I play a disaffected teen all the time, you know what I mean. Well I’m a teenager, and I like roles that are thought out and interesting and not one-dimensional frame girls. [grabs paper on table] You might as well take the character name off and write “girl.” [imitating crossing something off of paper] Like cute girl, ugly girl, hot girl, you know what I mean? So, that’s just the way it goes, I like stuff that gets you thinking.
Dakota: Yeah, I’ve just always been drawn to more intense, emotional story lines and characters that are actually going through something that could help someone else and give. I feel like all the characters you play, there is someone out there that is just like them, and for this one, there was someone on the set, but, I just like giving that person a voice that may not have had one before.
Reporter: I actually saw The Runaways a few times and you guys got it! Was it hard, you know, going back, oh God, thirty years, thirty five years, however long ago that was and playing someone in an era that you didn’t have any ideas-all history. How did you go back to that time?
Dakota: I mean, I think that’s why I wanted Cherie there and to be able to get to know her as best as I could and to talk to her and because Cherie and Joan were really the only people who could really tell us about how it was.
Kristen: Yeah, because there aren’t…there’s a lot of photos, but there’s not a lot of footage and they really jump out of every picture but you can’t capture someone’s actual essence. I mean you don’t know how they move, and so we needed Cherie and Joan around, which was good. And I’ve always loved and been really nostalgic for the 70’s even though I’ve never, obviously, lived in them. So I was excited to live in the 70’s for a while.
Reporter: On that same note, whenever and actor or actress plays a real person, there is always that fine line that people talk about of “is it actual portrayal or impersonating the person.” How do you keep from crossing that line and what’s the difference, or is there a difference?
Dakota: Well for me, Cherie is really different from how she was, so it was kind of impossible to do an impersonation of her. So, like I had said, I watched a lot of the Live In Japan videos and I thought that the performances were the most important to be how she was and that could almost be an impersonation, because its a, the Cherry Bomb dance, she did the same thing every time she performed…
Kristen: It would only be an impersonation if you were thinking about nothing while you were doing it.
Dakota: Right, but no, I did want it to become so ingrained in my body that I didn’t have to think about it, because that’s how it became for her. So it did get to the point where I would start and finish and not remember how I got there, which was actually pretty exciting.
Reporter: After playing Darby Crash, Shane West has pretty much joined The Germs and has been playing shows all over the place with them. Is there any chance you are going to start performing as The Runaways?
Kristen: (deep breath) No. [whole room laughs.]
Kristen: Just go on YouTube, they will be better on YouTube, than we will be in person.
Reporter: You have worked with some fantastic directors over both of your careers, going from those, to an indie production with a first-time director, talk a little about the environment that Floria (director) had for you guys, um supportive, whatever the case may be, as opposed to someone who has been doing it twenty, thirty years.
Dakota: I’ve worked with a lot of first time directors, actually. [Playing with strings of her hair] On the set, I knew that Floria was going to make it look amazing, I knew it would be so visual and just because of her background in music videos and her photography and also…
Kristen: She puts you at ease.
Kristen: Because we are doing ridiculous things, and if it doesn’t look right we are going to look like fools.
Dakota: And I knew it would look really authentic and she also loves music and the music of this era and I knew she would capture that as well, so I think I felt really comfortable and safe that it wasn’t going to look silly or weird, do you know what I mean? I knew that she would really put it together and it would look amazing once it was all done.
Reporter: Speaking of that with her background of music videos etc., knowing lots of musicians, did she have anyone come in, outside of Joan and Cherie, other musicians from that era or maybe modern rockers to hang out with, give advice? Oh, and what was the soundtracks you were listening to whilst preparing…
Kristen: (laughs) that’s a good one, whilst. [room laughs.] I would just say “while”…
Reporter: Ok, fine.
Kristen: NO, NO, NO, I should, and I want to adopt that is what I’m saying.
Reporter: It sounds so much more educated.
Dakota: Yes! Definitely. Umm, she didn’t bring anybody, I mean her husband is in The Living Things and so I actually, she wanted me to come feel what it was like to have an entire band behind your voice, which I was SO nervous for.
Kristen: Yeah, I couldn’t believe you did that.
Dakota: You don’t understand, I morphed into a different human being before, I was SOOO nervous.
Kristen: She (Dakota) doesn’t get nervous, that’s the difference.
Dakota: But I really was for that. It was actually helpful to feel what that was like. So…
Kristen: (To Dakota) What did you guys play?
Dakota: California Paradise, Cherry Bomb, yeah, no I was freaking out.
Kristen: [at same time as previous statement] Oh my gosh, that’ so crazy, that’s freaking crazy.
Dakota: But it was actually really helpful.
Kristen: But other than that, I don’t think that, I mean Rodney came to set.
Dakota: Oh yeah, Rodney.
Kristen: And Kim (Fowley) was there.
Dakota: We met Kim and that might me it.
Kristen: I think that might me it.
Dakota: And we listened or I listened to a lot of The Runaways and Joan while we were filming.
Dakota: And David Bowie.
Reporter: Were you familiar with them at all before you started doing the movie? Had you The Runaways, Joan or any of that?
Dakota: I definitely heard Joan.
Kristen: Yeah, but no. I hadn’t even heard Cherry Bomb, to be honest.
Dakota: Nope. I don’t think a lot of our generation…
Kristen many of us had. And I mean, I like old music too. I think it’s crazy that we don’t know about them. You know, because they were the first girls to do that, its just insane. It’s not something that’s common knowledge.
ME: Well who is someone who is in your iPod right now that you are listening to?
Kristen: (laughs) someone’s in my iPod? [room laughs, reporter says, they’re not trapped in a box]
ME: Musician, artist, it’s an all encompassing title there. [room still giggling]
Reporter: What’s on Kristen Stewart’s play list?
Kristen: I would never do that. (laughs) Only because, um, it changes all the time and it’s so defining and people are going to be like, “oh” and I hate that idea. [room laughs again]
reporter: but you could actually sell albums for them! [room laughs]
Kristen: (laughs) that’s true, but who are you into now? (to Dakota)
Dakota: I didn’t even bring my iPod, like I’m really bad with music, I get really into it and then I don’t. Like while I was filming the movie, I was the most into it that I have ever been. I’m really nostalgic for making the film and I loved making the film so much so, I loved listening to the same kind of music as it, it brings me back to that experience.
ME: So you were listening to a lot of the 70’s music then while you were filming? Just all kinds of 70’s music is what you are saying, while you were making the film? Or just The Runaways?
Kristen: No, we were listening to The Stooges and
Kristen: Joan would put together little play lists for us and stuff.
Dakota: The makeup trailer.
Kristen: Yeah, the makeup trailer was pumpin’.
Reporter: Did you feel like you grew up? It’s not a typical film that’s two weeks or even a year and you are playing teenagers in that pivotal time in your life, so do you feel older, wiser, more rock n roll?
Dakota: I definitely relate a lot of the experiences that I have now to Joan and Cherie, or to the movie. I feel like me, Kristen, Joan and Cherie all share something that is really unique and I think that has changed me, with these relationships and the experience… I won’t be the same after knowing these people and knowing and portraying their story.
Kristen: Yeah, I feel like every experience on a movie changes you a little bit. And this one was like…uh
Dakota: It’s really hard to describe, actually how it is.
Kristen: Yeah, yeah. But the fact that I have someone in my life now, and a few people I guess, but with Joan, I can pick up the phone at any time and be like, [imitating phone call] “dude, I am tripping out,” [room giggles] or that’s probably a bad choice of words, especially right now, but “I’m freaking out.” And she’s totally there, and that’s a cool things, and how it’s changed me, I don’t know how to be specific about it, but it definitely has. I mean, definitely made me more confident.
Handler in background: one more question.
Reporter: There’s this idea in the film that the look is the most important thing and then after that, comes the attitude and then talent, even though these women were really talented. Does it feel the same way in the film industry sometimes?
Kristen: Wait, wait, wait, I’m sorry, what?
Reporter again: The look, you know how the look comes first, or like you have to get the look right and then attitude comes and then the talent comes last even though that’s probably the most important thing. Does it ever feel like that for you all in the film industry?
Kristen: I feel like you have to be something before anyone is going to look at what you are wearing. I don’t know, I’m really lucky. I get to work with really cool people all the time and I don’t care, yeah I don’t have, I mean, (to Dakota) do you have an answer for that?
Dakota: I mean, I started out when I was 6, so it was a different thing. I think when you start out, maybe when you are older…
Kristen: Yeah, I was 9.
Dakota: You start out now, maybe it would be different, but starting out at 6, I don’t really know what it would be like, ‘cuz I started out when I was really young. The roles were so different, you know I was playing the little girl, so I don’t know what it’s like to start out as an adult or a young person.
Handler in backgound: Thank you guys.
Me and other reporters: thank you.
Kristen: Bye guys.
Me: Nice to meet you.
Dakota: Nice to meet you.
by Angela Davis