No matter which actress was cast as Bella Swan when the "Twilight" books came to the screen, it was going to be a tough road for that performer. Bella's the target audience's stand-in, the series' focal point of romantic yearning (or, to unkind observers, the passive, protected girl defined solely by which of two men she chooses). But Kristen Stewart plays the part with no small amount of grace -- and, frankly, seems to have adapted to the glare of the spotlight with no small amount of good humor.
I asked Stewart what, for her, has changed about playing Bella in the past three films. "I don't know; I feel like it's sort of been my main job to make [Bella] into a girl that you could actually believe when she says that, 'I'm going to be a vampire, and I'm going to be, like, the coolest vampire ever.' She turns into what I feel is sort of the strongest character in the book, especially in the end when she becomes a wife and a mother and all that. There's been a lot of changes; I don't know how to answer that. I was 17 when I started doing these movies. I'm 20 now, so it's been a long progression."
A long progression, but not a complacent one. Director David Slade ("Hard Candy," "30 Days of Night") took the reins for "Eclipse," and Stewart, for one, feels like there's a shot in the arm the series gets each time a new director takes over: "I think if we had the same director [for all the films] it would be easy to get lazy -- sort of thinking that you're finished doing all the work. And David was really, really into talking about stuff before we went in to do it. And ['Eclipse'] is a lot of people's favorite movie out of the series. I think he brings a bit more of a morbid thing to it, a little darker -- it's a little bit more frightening. It's definitely the first one that has actually sort of startled me, which is cool."
But for all of the darkness and action, to Stewart, these are movies about people -- supernatural people, in many cases, but people nonetheless. Asking Stewart about her favorite scenes to film in "Eclipse," she doesn't talk about action or effects or stunts or spectacle; she talks about talking. "There's the scene where Jacob and Bella kiss for real on the mountaintop before he goes to battle the bad vamps ... and then I walk directly into another scene where Edward has heard and seen everything; it's so different. It stands out because I was scared of it. I had to play Bella, and I was like, 'She kisses Jacob ...? You don't do that.' Then, to see Edward and Bella in such a different place -- their acceptance. They're older now, they're not fighting about it. He's just, 'Yeah, you love him.' It's so heartbreaking. And I love that in the movie, too."
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