Earlier this month, Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg made a popular Funny or Die video where the two skewer the type of interview questions that they are usually asked. And, now, here, I enter the lion’s den, so to speak (actually, it was more like a hotel conference room), trying to ask interview questions. I’ve interviewed heavyweight champion boxers before, but’s these two, together, made me feel a little overcome with anxiety.
Stewart and Eisenberg are promoting American Ultra, their second feature film together following 2009’s wonderful Adventureland (and they will both appear together next year in Woody Allen’s next film). In American Ultra, Eisenberg and Stewart play Mike and Phoebe, two pot-loving human beings who must cope with adversity after Mike discovers that he’s a secret government agent and is being hunted by bureaucrats who want him dead.
Ahead, Stewart discusses how Twilight still looms over her career, even when it comes to her award winning performances, like in Clouds of Sils Maria — and as Stewart moves on from a big franchise film, Eisenberg explains why he wants to get involved in one with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. They also both talk about the nature of interviews and their general attitude toward the whole process. Additionally, Stewart shares her thoughts on an inevitable Twilight reboot.
Nothing is more uncomfortable to me than interviewing two people at the same time.
Kristen Stewart: Because we’re ganging up on you. Do you use those journalistic tricks?
I don’t have any tricks.
Stewart: Where you say something and don’t comment? Isn’t that one of the things where you ask questions, but don’t contribute anything?
Jesse Eisenberg: So, what do you mean? What would that be?
Stewart: So, you ask someone’s opinion about something, but it’s a very one-sided conversation. You will not effect or make them think you accept or deny anything to keep them going – talking, talking, talking, talking.
Eisenberg: Yes, yes, I’ve seen that.
Stewart: And you get to the end of a conversation and you feel like you’ve just divulged everything, and you’ve gotten nothing back and it’s like, “How did you do that?” You kept talking to me and yet I’ve gotten nothing from you, yet I’ve given you everything.
I probably interject my own opinions too much.
Eisenberg: That’s comforting, in a way.
I should take this advice.
Eisenberg: [Laughs] Yeah, you should hold your cards close to the vest.
But you two have known each other for a long time, and I’m this stranger who enters the room.
Eisenberg: Do you want to lie down?
And then you two made that video about the dumb questions you get asked.
Eisenberg: Oh, I see. But I can’t imagine you would ever do questions to her that would be offensive to her based on gender normative behavior. I’m serious, that’s not your style.
But I know that happens a lot. I call it the “If you could steal a smooch from anyone in Hollywood?” question, from Natalie Portman’s SNL Digital Short rap.
Stewart: Oh, Natalie Portman rapping! I did see that because I was blown away by her rapping.
But both of you get those type of questions.
Eisenberg: Not me. I don’t really feel like I do.
Stewart: Recently, I’ve been doing slightly more, and it really does pertain to the five-minute, overtly commercial interviews.
A video where you have to play a game or something?
Stewart: Yeah, exactly. Or if you’re doing a movie that is also very commercial – they want it quick and they don’t want anything that will make you stutter or think twice about anything. So, if you’re not good at being cute and funny in five minutes, you feel condemned. And it’s like, “My God, maybe I’m not good at that.” I acknowledge that – but why should the reaction be that I’m stupid in some way?
A couple of years ago, the headlines were that Jesse is “a jerk” because of one of those segments.
Stewart: I saw that! My friend showed me that, because they were like, “Jesse Eisenberg seems like such an asshole.” And I was like, “Why? That’s crazy. Why?” And then they showed it to me and I’m like, “He’s not a jerk.”
I spent like 90 minutes with Jesse once for a large piece and in that time I got used to your quirks and humor. Knowing that, that video felt like you were just playing along.
Eisenberg: Yeah, you can’t control how somebody cuts something.
Stewart: She was very, I’m sorry, [looks at my recorder], I’m not speaking to that. [Kristen Stewart whispers into Jesse Eisenberg’s ear.]
When I write this up, this is the part where I insert, “Kristen Stewart whispers into Jesse Eisenberg’s ear.”
Eisenberg: [Laughs] Yeah. “[Dramatically gasps] Kristen?!?! What?!?!” But the thing is, things are so fleeting and transient. You’ll watch them for a day, then no one else remembers making them.
Stewart: And I love how people like to make statements as if they’re feigning true passion, when really they’re just using you opportunistically to get hits on their website. And I’m like, “Oh, cool, so you pretend like you care about something where you don’t have a thought – you don’t even have a fucking thought about any of it.” It’s literally just, “She said one word? Enter it. Fucking harpoon her.”
Eisenberg: With my experience, she had to have done a lot of research and printed out funny pictures. I saw it once, I don’t know if she edited it out, but she had lots of different stuff. It seems like she had plans. And it was a nice interview, I don’t know if she chose to frame it a certain way because it’s more popular that way.