Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning are having a blast. The duo play iconic rockers Joan Jett and Cherie Currie respectively in the new rock ‘n’ roll biopic “The Runaways” and are currently in the middle of a cross-country publicity tour. Normally, most actors would be sick and tired of constantly talking about one movie — and Stewart should know after all the hours she’s discussed the “Twilight” franchise — but you’d never know both actresses have been pushing this film since its debut at Sundance in January.
Laughing through a sit down with some assembled members of the press on Wednesday in Los Angeles, the actors discussed everything from the pressure of playing the founding members of The Runaways to their own eclectic musical tastes. More intriguing, however, was how the young stars handled questions about the on screen kiss and implied sex scene between Currie and Jett as they toured the country as teenage rockers.
Stewart notes, “It was in the script as a really fleeting thing. It was sort of also written very abstractly and vaguely. ‘Did they? Yeah, they did.’ Y’know what I mean? So, yeah and I feel it’s that way for them too. The fact it’s been called a ‘love scene’ or the fact ‘So, tell us about your romantic involvement?’ is like ‘What?'”
“I mean, I think it’s just something that happened,” Fanning adds. “I don’t even know if they have talked about it since. Y’know what I mean? It was just a thing and in the script it was just another thing. It’s not that big of a deal.”
One reporter surprisingly threw the gauntlet at Fanning asking her if she was concerned about criticism about playing a character who drinks, does drugs and has sex when she’s only 15-year-old. The actress was unequivocally ready for it.
“There is always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you are doing and doesn’t like, y’know, your movies and thinks you shouldn’t be doing [this or that] and you can never make everybody happy,” Fanning says confidently. “In this movie, I was 15 playing another 15-year-old. She went through all this when she was 15 and why am I too good that I can’t portray that when there are people everywhere younger than that going through much worse”
“We’re snorting vitamin B. C’mon,” Stewart says as laughter fills the room.
Was it good?
Stewart smiles and says, “Yeah, it was good.”
More on Stewart and Fanning’s thoughts on “The Runaways” are revealed in the Q&A transcript below.
Q: Is it wonderful to have two people still alive who you can refer to for your characters or is it easier to play original characters?
Fanning: I think it’s amazing when you have the actual people there. It’s like the ultimate. I think with all characters if they were a real person you could talk to it would be amazing. When you are actually living someone’s life over for them again, it has to be so surreal and you want them to be involved as they want to be and, luckily, they wanted to be involved as we wanted them to be.
Stewart: Yeah, yeah.
Q: Did you have any hesitation about doing the singing yourself? Or do you do a lot of singing on your own?
Fanning: Not really, I don’t. I never thought of doing it any other way. I just assumed that was what would be asked of me. I dunno, I feel like you are almost cheating if you don’t actually do it. I would have felt like I was missing something.
Q: Can you talk about your own musical tastes? And what you learned about rock n’ roll attitude from Cherie and Joan?
Stewart: Ah, I think that I have a pretty varied taste in music I think. And it is primarily rock music big umbrella that I am, I am not into hip-hop. But, I do like both. This was a cool experience because there are a lot of bands that Joan is really influenced by like the Stones which she is obsessed with and just sort of obvious. Like, she listens to Zeppelin and loses her mind. And I just abbreviated both of those bands and I sound like…(Laughs.) Um, it was cool to get to know music that was just like a little bit harder or just a bit obscure. I mean Suzi Quatro is not something that is a staple of our generation. So, and in terms of being able to play Rock n’ Roll? I really, really love this movie because in many ways they were the first girl band which is crazy and people don’t know that too. And there’s an aggression and an assertiveness that comes through their music. And at the same time its so feminine. It’s a distinct aggression. It’s not a male. And I love that and that’s why the movie is cool or should be cool.
Q: Dakota, can you talk about your musical tastes and what you learned about rock ‘n’ roll?
Fanning: Well I think my musical tastes have definitely been broadened by this movie and I have really found that I can’t get out of listening to the Runaways and Joan, because it brings back the memories of the movie and I love it so much and it makes me happy. (Laughs). So, I listen to that a lot. Before that? I love music, but I’m not a huge music person. I don’t listen to a ton of music, but that’s definitely changed after doing this. And I really wanted to be a part of this to bring the Runaways to them before because I wasn’t aware of them before and I feel that’s a lot of people in our generation and I think that’s wrong.
Q: Dakota, how did you feel like doing that Ziggy Stardust inspired number at the beginning of the movie? Are you a David Bowie fan yourself?
Fanning: I am a David Bowie fan and for Cherie it was a huge part of her life, because that’s who she channeled on stage and that’s who she wanted to be and wanted to emulate. And yeah, I really loved doing that scene and that was like a dance that I had worked on with the choreographer and I had these huge bruises the next day from going down on my knees over and over again. But, it was so fun. I loved doing that and for Cherie that was sort of her moment of embracing being a weirdo and accepting that. Because she had lived her life under the shadow of her sister, her twin sister her whole life and that was her moment of stepping out and accepting she wasn’t like everyone else which I think was pretty cool.
Q: How hard was it to do the love scenes for you guys? Was it awkward at first? We are seeing something we hadn’t seen from either of you in your earlier roles.
Stewart: We never made out with a chick before? (Laughs.)
Fanning: I mean, it was only one scene. It was one day.
Stewart: It was in the script as a really fleeting thing. It was sort of also written very abstractly and vaguely. ‘Did they? Yeah, they did.’ Y’know what I mean? So, yeah and I feel it’s that way for them too. The fact it’s been called a ‘love scene’ or the fact ‘So, tell us about your romantic involvement?’ is like ‘What?’
Q: Did you improvise a little bit or have fun?
Stewart: Oh, yeah. (Laughs.)
Fanning: I mean, I think it’s just something that happened. I don’t even know if they have talked about it since. Y’know what I mean? It was just a thing and in the script it was just another thing. It’s not that big of a deal.
Q: Kristen, Joan Jett is pretty bigger than life. Was it hard to nail her down?
Stewart: She is bigger than life, that’s true and you get that from both Cherie and Joan. And I don’t know if it’s because I know them well, but you look at pictures and footage and it’s like, ‘Gosh.’ I’m sure it is because I know them and I know their dynamic and what is going on in those pictures where before they just looked really cool and awesome. And it was important — this is like the most important time of her life and she’s got a huge fanbase and she’s like the Godmother of Rock ‘N’ Roll and she’s the first woman to start her own record label. It’s a daunting figure to play and then you know her and you’re like, ‘Wow, you’re so full of like weird little…’ Because I’ve got ticks, but they are all different ticks to hers and she’s got very idiosyncratic. She’s got all these little things. (Laughs.) It was fun. She’s probably one of the most rich, vivid, dynamic people I know.
Q: Kristen, your guitar playing is pretty great in this.
Q: Well, it seems to be.
Stewart: I played along…
Q: Well, you got the chord. Still today there are prejudices about young women playing an instrument. What would you say to a young girl who says, ‘I want to rock out’?
Stewart: If you have any desire, if you are like filled with compulsion…you see Joan listen to music and she just goes, ‘I have to make that noise! I have to make that noise! I have to make that.’ And people want to see that. That’s why she is so successful. Who knows why women aren’t — obviously, rock ‘n’ roll, I keep saying this, but aggressive and in a way that is sexually aggressive, like the singer is the aggressor. And people don’t want to see girls in that position. They would rather go after them. But I really feel like it’s a little different now. It’s so much easier. There are way more sort of musicians who are more — do you know what I am saying?
Fanning: That are girls? (Laughs.)
Stewart: Yeah, yeah. So, I would say just do what you need to do and if it hurts too much obviously don’t do it.
Q: Another that was pretty neat were the costumes. Were you able to keep anything?
Fanning: I kept the clothes, all the clothes I wore in the movie.
Q: Even the bustier?
Fanning: Yeah, oh, yeah. (Laughs).
Fanning: Yeah, they were really important, especially Cherie who kind of made her mark and her statement with her clothes and her make-up and her hair.
Q: How was it playing a performer where you are playing a person who is performing different than just playing a normal role where you aren’t…
Stewart: Performing? (Laughs.)
Fanning: I never played a character or sings or performs or anything and this is like double the load because you are playing a real person who performs and I was talking to someone else and they were like, ‘Yeah, I went online and compared you doing Cherry Bomb to her doing Cherry Bomb.’ So, yeah, there is that extra, not pressure, but kind of pressure to do it right.
Q: Dakota, I know ‘Hound Dog’ controversy is an old story for you, but were you concerned that people would be upset you’re playing this type of edgy, under age character again?
Fanning: Um, I again don’t want to say i don’t care, because obviously I do care. But [not] ‘She doesn’t care about her fans.’ That’s not what I mean. (Laughs.) But, at a certain point you can’t care because there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you are doing and doesn’t like, y’know, your movies and thinks you shouldn’t be doing [this or that] and you can never make everybody happy. In this movie, I was 15 playing another 15-year-old. She went through all this when she was 15 and why am I too good that I can’t portray that when there are people everywhere younger than that going through much worse.
Stewart: We’re snorting vitamin B. C’mon. (Laughs.)
Q: Was it good?
Stewart: Yeah, it was good. (Laughs.)
“The Runaways” opens nationwide on March 19.