With The Runaways premiering last night at the Sundance Film Festival, the cast, writer/director Floria Sigismondi, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie met with reporters yesterday afternoon. Thankfully, I was invited to participate in the roundtable interviews and after the jump you can either read or listen to the interview with Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.
As I said in my review of The Runaways:
With fantastic performances from Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Michael Shannon, The Runaways delivered the goods at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Based on the book Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story by Cherie Currie, The Runaways tells the coming-of-age story of the teenage rock band The Runaways and how they came together in the mid 1970’s. Kristen Stewart stars as Joan Jett, Dakota Fanning is Cherie Currie, and Michael Shannon stars as the über-eccentric Kim Fowley – the man who put The Runaways together.
During the interview, Stewart and Fanning discussed making the film, really playing and singing their parts, being at Sundance, their kissing scene, and I asked Stewart about playing a part that features adult subject matter with her very large teenage fanbase. If you’re a fan of Kristen Stewart or Dakota Fanning, you’ll love the interview:
As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here.
Question: So how are you girls enjoying Sundance?
Dakota: Enjoying it a lot so far.
Q: With “The Runaways” being…I mean how did you come on board with it? Was it the characters or the role or did you know the music? What was the first thing that came your way?
Kristen: The script. I knew about Joan Jett, which most people probably would say, but I didn’t know anything about The Runaways and I thought it was really cool to see a character that was so different from who she seems to be now because she’s so…you can just talk to her. Very self-assured and she really, really knows who she is and so I thought it was cool to like see her become that and see the relationship between her and Cherie and see how sweet that is and it’s just an interesting story.
Dakota: Yeah, I mean for me, I read the script and wasn’t really familiar with The Runaways either and just loved the relationship between them and things that I would get to do all playing Cherie.
Q: You guys both delivered fantastic performances in this and obviously this wasn’t some huge budget film where you can spend a lot of time doing a lot of stuff. How did you prepare for this role vs. say some of your other roles?
Dakota: Well, obviously there was like the singing for me that I had to prepare for, which was kind of a daunting task, but something that I think adds to the movie that I actually did it and it wasn’t just her voice, you know? So, yeah, to make it just like hers which was kind of intimidating.
Kristen: We had to make sure that we looked right and moved right. They had really, when you meet them, and see footage from when they were younger they have like such specific idiosyncrasies like they’ve very…they’re like riddled with little particular details that make them, as we all are, but like theirs are really interesting and they’re really dynamic. I don’t know, they’re just really cool to look at. But like preparing for a movie is always…there’s no difference. It’s like it’s a bigger responsibility here because it’s not just somebody that you’re making up.
Q: Well, we talked to Cherie, who said she feels like she’s living in a dream because you’re playing her and Joan. She said you guys had very similar energy. How much time did you guys spend with them before and during the production?
Dakota: A lot. I mean, they were there pretty much every day and I spent a lot of time with Sharee before we started filming and yeah, I think it was important that they were there just to…because it’s their life, you know?
Kristen: We didn’t have a whole lot of time either because in pre-production and rehearsal wise we had a good..we had a solid two weeks and then before that I had a week with Joan just like shooting the shit, but they instantly…there wasn’t like a period of like let’s feel this out and see like how much we’re willing to like delve into personal aspects of your lives and like how much we’re willing to like expose ourselves. But it was so nice because they were actually like not just open to any actor who might be playing them, but we really liked each other. Like instantly the four of us were pretty, you know, there was just something really special. I don’t know, it was cool.
Q: Did you play guitar already or did you have to learn to do that as well?
Kristen: Yeah,yeah I played.
Q: What was it like putting that…I mean a rock and roll electric guitar. It’s a great big phallic symbol. What was it like sort of strapping that on?
Kristen: No, totally in fact, like I don’t know if I can say this…whatever you can use it or not…well like her biggest…whenever I wasn’t coming from the right place, she was always like Kristen, pussy to the wood. Fuck your guitar. I was like okay. So like when you’ve got Joan Jett telling you to fuck your guitar, yeah, it’s all good. I liked it.
Q: Did it change the way you feel about your own sexuality?
Kristen: It’s a more….Joan’s at least and actually I mean Cherie’s is definitely like…they’re dominate, absolutely.
Dakota: Yeah. But they’re different. They’re different.
Kristen: But they had to like fight to be….nobody wanted to see….I mean people like girls to be sexy and they did then too, but in a completely different way. They didn’t want to get fucked. They wanted to fuck them and that’s not what Joan wanted.
Q: Do you think The Runaways changed the world? Or do you think things are still the same for female musicians? Was it part of your attraction to the role the fact that this is about something that’s still very taboo about women doing certain things?
Kristen: Yeah, that was a huge thing and especially for Joan like it’s still such a huge…and like Dakota was saying something earlier like we’re used to being told….we’re girls that have both been brought up thinking like we can do whatever we want and there’s a lot of very empowered females but it just wasn’t like that then. And I think that people don’t really realize that The Runaways were the first girls to play music like that and it could have been someone else, but it wasn’t. It was them and so it’s, I think, an interesting story for a movie.
Q: Could you both talk about being at Sundance and what that means for you? And have you been able to feel like the atmosphere here where just people really love movies?
Dakota: Yeah, I mean I think that’s great because this is not like your typical movie, I feel. I think this is for people who like really love stories and characters and the relationship between characters. And also there’s like the musical aspect of it which I think people really like here and getting to be around the people that helped make the movie too is really special.
Q: I grew up listening to The Runaways and Joan Jett and I sort of look at my nieces who are, you know, 14 and 15 and it seems that female empowerment has really almost taken a bit of a downturn. I mean, I look at…I don’t see that many chicks going out there going to get their leather duds. I don’t see them going out there and strapping on an electric guitars. I see them wearing like thigh-high boots and short black skirts and you know trying to make themselves look at Paris Hilton-y or as empty headed as possible in a way to attract the opposite sex. And I wonder how you guys feel as sort of quasi-representations of your generation about I guess the general trend in terms of the female empowerment. I mean, I almost feel that we’re walking backwards.
Kristen: Yeah, but like at the same time a lot of those girls who wear these high boots and short skirts, like it’s like girls…but generally like the generation of girls have like over compensated and been like well, I can be promiscuous and I can do just like what the guys do. And like I don’t want to say that girls aren’t cut out for that, but I think it’s sort of is the way that it is because like….I think it is kind of gross that like….it’s not that I have fully developed thoughts on this shit either, but like it’s a weird, I feel, and this is just like something that I’ve noticed, is like it’s overcompensating because we’re supposed to be like we’re not sexual predators. Like we’re not the aggressor, ever. And so girls want to be able to say that we can do everything that guys do now and that’s true for some but I think that a lot of girls might not…it’s not healthy. I don’t know. It’s like it’s not…do you know what I mean?
Q: I think I do. But because I think the young generation has bought into it…look by going out there and wearing like very few….just a stitch of clothing for heaven’s sakes. They’re going out half naked. By doing that I’m empowering myself because I’m in charge of my sexuality.
Kristen: That’s what I mean, yeah.
Q: But is that…do you believe that? Do you believe that by going out there and saying I’m going to go out there and make myself look as slutty as possible that that’s just empowering for me as a female?
Dakota: I think it’s different for different people. I think for Cherie going out in her course it was empowering for her. And I think that by her seeing Cherry Bomb she believed that she was that and having that corset on made her feel like she was queen of the world and no one else was better than she was and that’s why she sounds the way that she does. I think that’s why her personality is the way that it is and so I think it’s different for…I mean I don’t think that obviously Joan didn’t do that and still doesn’t do that. But I think it’s different for how people interpret their sexuality in different ways.
Q: That’s an interesting moment in the film because it’s kind of not commented on-has she gone too far? Has she sort of defaced the image? I just wondered what your take on that scene is? Has she gone too far or is she taking it to another level?
Dakota: When she performs Cherry Bomb?
Q: When she puts the outfit on…the sexy outfit in Japan.
Kristen: Like when it gets to be the most…
Q: I just wondered if you thought she was kind of going a bit down the…jumping the shark kind of thing. Going a bit trashy too soon?
Dakota: I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
Q: It’s left open in the film.
Kristen: I mean it proves to be too much for her and so like obviously that’s…
Dakota: Yeah. Ultimately it does, but I don’t know if that’s the moment where it becomes too much.
Kristen: Well, like what’s weird is Joan’s doing all the same shit and it’s okay for her. She can handle it and it’s like what she wants to do. It’s just not for her.
Q: And their clothes are very different and so I was going to ask you, as actors, you know getting to step into these period costumes and you know these costumes for you in the movie, how did that play into how you were able to become Cherie and Joan? Was it…?
Dakota: I think it was a big part of it, for me. Especially because the jumpsuits and the boots and everything I was wearing were so kind of out-there and it was like a performance….her clothes were like a performance in themselves for Cherie. And they were really important to like what she made herself be to the public. Do you know what I mean? Like they were a big part of like her persona that she created for herself.
Q: I definitely want to talk about something that you obviously…The Twilight franchise is a big thing. And you have a lot of young fans. This film is very descriptive and it shows a lot of stuff. Were you hesitant at all with the huge amount of people that follow you and there’s a lot of these Twilight fans out there about the role and the balancing of you know…do you know where I’m going with this?
Q: Can you just talk about it a little bit? I don’t know if I spoke it the right way?
Kristen: No, yeah. There’s a really…I have a fan-base that apparently like you know, people…it’s not that they look up to but you have certain figures that, you know, you’d like to be more like and people really love Bella and I do too but I’m not her…I don’t think anybody expects me to try to just for the rest of my career appease an audience that once liked “Twilight”, you know what I mean? I just think that that’s crazy and I also…it’s always an afterthought like I’ll decide to do a movie and then go oh, like “Twilight” fans are probably going to react to this or whatever. But that’s always an afterthought. Like I don’t plan things out based on other people’s opinions of how like I think they’re going to receive them. I do it like for the experience.
Q: Absolutely. But I guess what I’m saying is that…
Kristen: Basically what I’m saying is I don’t take that responsibility. Like I think that Joan’s story is really something that you can learn from and also Welcome to the Riley’s and I think as soon as…I don’t believe in censorship. I think that both of these movies are rated-R and if these kids, it’s too much for them, they shouldn’t watch.
Q: Do you think that’s unfortunate though because Cherie said you know that’s just how it was in the 70’s. Sexuality was ambiguous. That’s just how life was. But this is going to be, you know, for better or worse one of those button issues that people talk about this movie the moment between you and Dakota, do you think that’s unfortunate because that’s going to happen because of who you guys are vs. because of who they were and their life story?
Kristen: People are always going to find the ones with the weird like buzz-worthy thing about a movie and like run with it. I don’t think it relevant. I think it’s not a romantic relationship. They’re like best friends and it’s a love story. It’s sort of like a fleeting love story and they both realize it. It’s like, yeah this is cool, right now. But it’s not like the big make out scene in The Runaways is like….it’s just something they did.
Dakota: And especially when you read the script, it’s not like a big thing.
Kristen: It just pops up.
Dakota: It’s just like okay…the next thing, you know?
Kristen: They didn’t even talk about it afterwards. It’s like, what happened? And I think it’s cool. They don’t go any further with it. It’s like yeah, that’s it. It didn’t….
Q: Talk a little bit about the day that scene was actually filmed? What was it like on-set? Was there any discomfort between you two or…?
Kristen: We had done a song that day that was in the roller rink and we had done I Love Playing with Fire, and so I was way, way, way more worried about that than having to touch her. I don’t know. I remember like kicking off extras. I remember being like…people trying to take pictures.
Dakota: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kristen: Which really, really pissed me off.
Q: Had you guys met and made Twilight before this or did you guys make this before the Twilight movie and did you know each other before either of those projects came about?
Dakota: We met each other briefly before we did “New Moon” but like really briefly like not really met, but then we did “New Moon”, which I was only there for a little bit, and then this movie.
Q: Did you guys bond at all as young actors? Sorry…
PR person comes in and says we need to take them to the next one
Kristen: No. (laughter)
Q: I know they’ve been talking about doing “Breaking Dawn” as two movies. Is there an update if it’s going to be two or one?
Kristen: No. No. No updates. I wish.
Apparition will release The Runaways on March 19, 2010.