Kristen Stewart didn’t intend to become an actress. She got a call from an agent out of the blue after the then-eight-year-old sang a song in her elementary school’s Christmas show. Her script supervisor mother and stage manager father had some reservations at first: “They were like, ‘Really? This is something you want to do? Because you know what hell this is,’” she remembers. “I guess I was steadfast.” Last year, she was in Into the Wild, as the dreamy hippie who falls for Emile Hirsch’s character. This fall, the 18-year-old is starring as Bella Swan in the film version of the first of Stephanie Meyer’s cult vampire books Twilight.
PRESSURE COOKER: The huge fan base of Twilight has taken Stewart by surprise. “I sort of figured it would always stay like a cult movie, because Catherine Hardwicke directs good indies. It seemed like it would be not that big of a deal. It has turned out to be the opposite.”
SHE GOES HER OWN WAY: Because of erratic shooting schedules, Stewart opted for an independent-study program rather than regular high school, and has put college on the back burner for now. “I have had so many demands put on me in such a structured way my entire life that at this point, I need a minute. I don’t need someone telling me what book to be reading,” says the actress, who also would like to pursue a writing career. “I definitely have a future in academics, but not right now.”
UP NEXT: She’ll be back in cineplexes in Adventureland, a comedy set in 1987 from Greg Mottola, the director of Superbad. After that, she will shift gears to play a 16-year-old stripper in the drama Welcome to the Rileys. “I’m going to be such a goofball stripper,” says Stewart.