Earlier this week Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, the stars of the Joan Jett-Cherie Currie biopic The Runaways, sat down with a room full of journalists to talk about the film. Here are the best parts of the round table discussion.
Kristen, you’ve played guitar for a long time, and in terms of the style of Joan Jett – she’s like a rhythm guitarist — what are some of the things you picked up from this movie? Kristen Stewart: It’s definitely gotten me playing more guitar. When I play music it’s sort of nothing like Joan’s. She’s a rhythm-guitar player. I’m like a weird, picky, little-like manic. I play so differently than that. I was really lucky that I play guitar, ’cause I had like such a small period of time to learn the songs and she has a very distinct way that she plays. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about getting her sound right. When you hear guitar in the movie, it’s, actually, Joan playing. I had to learn the songs, so I could look like it.
What other cues did you learn from your real-life counterparts? Dakota Fanning: They were really involved in helping us as much as we wanted them to help us. To play a real person is the most daunting task. Cherie actually being there was helpful. KS: There were things that we would never know otherwise. There’s a million things tha would have been different in the movie, and it would have been telling the story wrong, had they not been there to correct us.
But in terms of physicality and posture, were you studying them? DF: I was, definitely, looking at the way Cherie was. Cherie, on-stage and off-stage, is very different, and so I wanted to make sure of the difference between the two. On-stage she emulated David Bowie and was bigger than life, and had so much confidence. But in real life, she’s, actually, very vulnerable and has an innocence about her.
You have great chemistry off-screen, and it seems like you’re really good friends in real life. What did you guys bond over and talk about when you were hanging out, when the camera’s not shooting or just hanging out in real life? KS: [To Dakota] You just spit on me a little bit! DF: She does that! She does that to me! KS: I mean, what do you talk to your friends about? DF: She’s like one of my closest friends, and I don’t know if there’s a specific thing we bond over. This experience is something that we share. KS: I don’t think we’ve ever hung out, and not referred to it at least— DF: Well, it’s impossible. KS: It’s impossible. Well, it’s just impossible. DF: I think me, Kristin, Joan and Cherie have something and it’s something that we’ll always have, and I don’t think anybody else will really ever understand that, just because of the experience that we’ve gone through, so that’s really cool. KS: We both really like what we do. We really love what we do. There’s not a whole lot of young actors that I talk to that, like, are as into it.
What was the biggest challenge? K: The whole thing was the performances, they were the most intimidating thing because they have such distinct styles. When I first started watching Joan do these songs, she was so full of something. I thought that I could never—that nobody could ever try to emulate it because it’s unique to her, and nobody else has that. When she looks into the crowd, there are certain videos that you get lucky and there’s a good shot of her–they’re kind of rare. But she stares into that camera, and I was just like, I’m never going to be able to do that.
Can you guys compare and contrast the energy that you get from fans? You know what it’s like to be in front of thousands of people screaming at you because of the “Twilight” movies, and then just playing a rock musician on-stage? DF: I think it’s hard comparing an actor with someone who’s in music. It’s really different. It’s kind of a different energy when you feel someone, actually screaming for you or cheering for you personally. With actors, most of the time people are fans of who’ve you played. They see you as that character, as opposed to a musician. KS: Musicians make statements. They’re like barely themselves, and that’s just not the way we are. I feel like they’re much more public figures than actors, almost, because they’re, like, themselves.
How would you describe your fans, either of you? DF: You have to have your fans to support your films. It’s so wonderful when someone is moved or inspired by something that you do, and that’s why I do what I do. KS: To share what you love with other people, there’s nothing more gratifying than that. It’s weird when people come up and, say, ‘Oh, I saw this random movie,” and in my head nobody saw it. And they liked it! It’s a cool feeling. There’s, actually, nothing like it.
The movie’s about music, but it’s also a lot about style. What did you take away from the looks and the fashions, and have you adopted any of those looks into your own wardrobe? D: I have most all of my wardrobe from the film.
What’s your favorite piece? DF: I love the corset. I love, like the stage clothes. I love the silver jumpsuit and the corset, just because they’re so iconic to Cherie.
Can you guys talk about what made the Runaways iconic? KS: Joan was the first woman to start her own record label. She was basically told after the Runaways broke up that she was done, and that was it, she peaked. And, despite the Runaways success, people still didn’t want to hear her. People still didn’t like her style. People still thought she was too aggressive, and people didn’t want to see that from a girl, and she was ugly, and she wasn’t girly enough, or whatever. And she’s not just a famous musician because she makes cool music. She makes really great music, and it’s filled with her. She says it all the time: ‘If you want to know me, read my lyrics.” DF: For Cherie, I think what I took away was the sacrifice that she made. To give up what she loves to do because–she even says it today– she would have died, if she had continued on the path that she was on. And to watch someone give that sacrifice… I was looking at myself, and thinking, Could I give that up? And, obviously, I’m not on a downward spiral like she was, but, that’s a really hard thing to do. And to watch the person that you’re closest to become Joan Jett, and to have zero resentment and be so proud of Joan, is such an amazing thing to watch in Cherie, so she’s pretty inspiring to me.
What do think people are going to take away from The Runaways, especially girls your age? DF: I don’t think a lot of people my age know who The Runaways are, so they’ll definitely know who they are. And I don’t think a lot of people know Cherie Currie’s story, so I think that’ll be really great. And to bring their music to a different generation. KS: There’s, definitely, that. It’s nice to deliver the story to people who don’t know about it. I think it’s good to know where we came from. I’ve never thought once, I think, that I couldn’t do or say something or look a certain way. It’s just not how I was raised, and it was different for them. And also, Joan’s really excited, and we’re all really excited about that people are excited about the music again.You see a lot of girls playing instruments now. You see a lot of girls playing music, but it’s not aggressive, none of it. None of it’s hard. Nobody plays hard rock anymore, like no girls. And that would be awesome, if people got more into it and felt like they could do that again.