It was a historic day as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States and while this year’s Sundance Film Festival came to a standstill for the Inauguration, two of the festival’s most sought after stars, “Adventureland’s” Kristen Stewart and Jessie Eisenberg, weren’t able to enjoy it.
“We drove over here quickly hoping to catch the moment and then we just heard everybody screaming outside and were like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’ With YouTube it doesn’t really matter, but while it happens, it’s such a different momentum,” Stewart says. “And then we had to go talk about our movie.”
“Yeah, we had to go talk about shooting in short sleeves,” Eisenberg dryly jokes.
Unfortunately, duty calls as the duo soon began a busy day promoting their new romantic comedy “Adventureland,” including speaking to this hurried writer. Written and directed by Greg Mottola (“Superbad”) the 1987 period flick finds Eisenberg as James, a recent college grad that finds himself working at the local amusement park the summer before he heads to grad school. Stewart plays Em, the object of James’ affections, a troubled girl who also works at the park and is slowly become aware of how stupid her affair is with married park mechanic Connell (Ryan Reynolds). The 18-year-old actress actually shot “Adventureland” before her breakthrough role in “Twilight,” and loved the autobiographical aspect of Mottola’s script.
“[It’s not autobiographical] to the tee, but he worked at a park and had a funky time of it,” Stewart says. “It’s very sincere and, of course, that’s what you really want in a movie. [It’s also] very genuine and honest and not cliche. And he was such a sweet guy I really wanted to work with him and I thought ‘Superbad’ was pretty great too.”
However, playing an old character is also something Stewart says she usually isn’t her cup of tea. She admits, “I like to play younger. You have more control.”
Continuing, Stewart says Em is “kind of immature, I guess. She hasn’t really been able to emotionally progress. It’s weird, she’s sort of the semi-rogue bad girl. She’s [expletive] an older guy, but I felt like it was easier because she was completely incapable or mature adult. At the same time really smart. She’s very defined, so it’s not like I had to fill in the gaps.”
The picture is set in a sweaty, humid Pennsylvania summer, but the movie ended up filming in the distinctly chilly Pittsburgh months of October and November. So, those t-shirts Eisenberg mentioned earlier weren’t very helpful in keeping them warm.
“My kneecaps are, like, purple. It’s really embarrassing,” Stewart admits. “I’m serious. If you watch it my knee caps are purple.”
As you might expect, the flick premiered at a sold out auditorium filled with tons of ‘Twilight’ fans in attendance. I asked her if having gone through the franchise mania over the past few months had made her more confident in getting up in front of huge crowds like the friendly one that night.
“No, much less,” Stewart quickly responds. “Yeah, yeah. It’s so different. One movie had never interfered with the next. They have always been very isolated independent experiences and this is undeliably half of the girls sitting there maybe they liked ‘Adventureland,’ but they weren’t like, ”Adventureland!” So, it’s a little weird. It feels like you should be doing something for it.”
Maybe the projects will open up other films to this audience?
“Yeah, that would be great,” Stewart says. “I like ‘Twilight,’ but the effect of it — it’s not hard to deal with, it’s just different.”
Stewart hasn’t had much of a break after the “Twilight” opening frenzy and publicizing “Adventureland.” Still, she says she’s excited to start work on the “Twilight” sequel “New Moon” in March.
“It’s a little daunting, but what’s even more daunting is I just got cast in a movie called ‘The Runaways.’ I am going to play Joan Jett in between ‘New Moon’ and ‘Eclipse,'” Stewart says.
I asked Stewart if she was starting to work on her guitar skills in order to play the legendary musician. She says, “Luckily, I do play guitar [but Jett,] especially when she was younger, was always very quick to point out she just plays basic rhythm guitar. So, it’s not power chord, they are great, but it’s simple. It’s punk rock.”
And will we get to hear Stewart sing onscreen?
“They want to do it live,” Stewart admits. “I don’t know where they are going to find the Lita Fords and the Sandy Wests, they are like brilliant musicians. But they do want to do it live. Joan sings a couple of songs, but typically they are back up vocals.”
Sensing her weariness at the prospect, I asked if singing was something she’s been waiting to do on screen.
“No, it makes me crazy. I don’t do it,” Stewart says. “It’s not something I do.”
Something tells us Ms. Stewart will find the strength to pull through.
Read Daniel Fienberg’s review of “Adventureland” here.