Kristen Stewart Opens Up About First Love, Heartbreak, and ‘Cathartic’ Role in ‘Equals’
Breaking up from your first love isn’t painful, said no one ever.
Kristen Stewart, whose longtime relationship from Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson ended very publicly in 2014, drew heavily from her personal experience with heartbreak for her role in Equals, directed by Drake Doremus.
In Equals, Stewart and co-star Nicholas Hoult play members of a futuristic “collective” of subordinates who no longer have the ability to feel emotions. However, Stewart and Hoult’s characters Nia and Silas start to slowly develop SOS, “Switched On Syndrome,” in which they slowly begin to develop feelings, such as love and sadness. They fall in love – a powerful first love – and must hide and suppress it, or else be sent to a rehabilitation center as “defects,” which ultimately would end in their death.
Stewart recently spoke about the “awakenings” she’s had, how playing an emotionally suppressed character was ultimately “cathartic,” and how, for lack of a better word, heartbreaking heartbreak is.
Filming for Equals began in August 2014, around the time Stewart split from Pattinson and Hoult also split from Jennifer Lawrence.
She told The Daily Beast, “It was incredibly painful. Ugh, fucking kill me. It was a really good time for both of us to make this movie. Not all of my friends have been through what I’ve been through, or what some people have tasted at a relatively-speaking young age, and we were not expected to do anything. Everything that we did was explorative, and a meditation on what we already knew.”
Stewart added that channeling her heartbreak was scary.
We all felt akin by how much we’ve been through, and to utilize that is so scary. And to acknowledge it, reassess, and jump back into it? Usually you want to move on. But at least we could use some of that for some good. This movie was a meditation on firsts, and a meditation on maintaining, and a meditation on the ebbs and flows of what it’s like to love someone—your feelings versus your ideals, the bursting of bubbles, the shattering of dreams you thought were possible, and what you have to contend with as things get more realistic.
Relationships, you just never fucking know.
Likewise, Stewart explained to The Hollywood Reporter how she suppressed her emotions for the role:
I’m playing somebody who is constantly stifling this thing and I can completely relate to that. Anybody who’s had a bad day or maybe like is just PMS-ing or just feeling too much on a certain day where you have to go and show face, I’ve had to do that a lot, an exceptional amount. I know that feeling and that is so familiar to me to feel something so hard and have to go into work and say “Good Morning,” and not show emotions.
When Stewart and Hoult’s characters do finally touch and kiss for the first time, THR reports that “the audience let out a collective gasp”. On if she drew from her first love at all, Stewart candidly replied:
Totally. One of the reasons I was so intimidated by this movie is because I was like, “This is gonna hurt. I don’t want to think about all that.” It’s good, it’s cathartic, it’s worth it. I feel good now on the other side of it. But at first I was like, “Oh God.” If we do this right it’s so basic, it’s so fundamental, it’s so young. Obviously Nick and I are 25. We made the movie nearly a year ago. We’re still very close to our first loves. It’s definitely something that we both know so well. It was a painful movie to make in every way. It was exuberant, cathartic and at the same time almost too self-reflective. We would go home and be like, “We seriously need a drink. Let’s just stop thinking about everything. Let’s not talk. Let’s just take a walk.”
As for her own first kiss, Stewart told Daily Beast:
It was horrible! It was so bad. It was fucking repulsive. I was 14 and it was gross. It was not good. [Laughs] But the first time something in you opens up and affects your entire body and has this control over you, it’s scary because there’s this chemical that’s released that you become addicted to. It literally feels like you don’t have free will anymore. I know that fucking feeling. When I read the script, I was so intimidated by it because there are several awakenings that you go through as a young person—and I’m sure there will be more as I get older—but I’ve had several eye-opening, come-to-Jesus moments. And I don’t think that everyone is necessarily affected by or appreciates physical beauty, and I think we have been desensitized to physical beauty because of the movies that we watch, and all the images that are thrust in our faces all the time. We don’t really appreciate the body, nature, a fucking sunrise.
Nevertheless, Stewart says she prefers to live life feeling real, raw emotions, rather than turning off negative ones. She poetically told Daily Beast, “As far as we know, you have one shot at this and it can be so fucking beautiful, so why lessen the feeling of anything? Why numb yourself? I’m not on antidepressants. I think it’s bizarre.”
Equals made its world premiere debut at the Venice Film Festival last week.