Five Kristen Stewart films to celebrate the star’s birthday

Impress your “Love Lies Bleeding” date with your new KStew knowledge.

By ISA JANSEN-MONTOYA
“Love Lies Bleeding” is Kristen Stewart’s latest acting role. The film, which takes place in 1980s New Mexico, follows Lou, a reclusive gym manager with a complicated and violent family history. (A24)

April 9 might not seem like a particularly notable date, but for former teenage girls and adult queer women, it’s a day of jubilee. Kristen Stewart, former “Twilight” (2008) star and LGBTQIA+ icon, was born on this day in 1990. In celebration, let’s count down five of her best performances. From campy spy comedies to dramatic period pieces, the Los Angeles-born actress has a wide repertoire of roles, perfectly suited for any occasion.


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“The Twilight Saga” (2008-2012)

The most iconic role of her career to date, “The Twilight Saga” launched Stewart’s star into the hearts and minds of hormonal teenagers across the world. The five-film series, spanning from “Twilight” (2008) to “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” (2012), was adapted from a Stephenie Meyer novel series of the same name. 

The pentalogy chronicles a dramatic conflict between vampires and werewolves, with Stewart’s character, Bella Swan, caught in the crossfire. While Stewart’s stare-filled performance can at times feel a bit wooden, the role is still so culturally significant that omitting it would leave readers asking, “Bella, where the hell have you been, loca?”

More memorable than the literal conflict in the movies is the infamous love triangle between Bella, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). The films set off audience wars between “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob” over who the fictional Bella would end up with, which were further complicated by Pattinson and Stewart’s real-life romance during production. 

“Still Alice” (2014)

In addition to her work as a leading lady, Stewart has also appeared in several excellent supporting roles. “Still Alice” casts her as the titular Alice Howland’s (Julianne Moore) daughter Lydia, whose relationship with her mother faces the tribulations of an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis. 

Supporting Moore and Stewart is Dr. John Howland (Alec Baldwin), Alice’s husband and Lydia’s father, whose inability to care for his wife forces the pair closer together than they’ve ever been.

Although Moore is unquestionably the main character, Stewart’s character still plays a major part. With Stewart inhabiting the classic “struggling young actress” mold, Lydia’s struggles with purpose and career progression serve as an interesting mirror to Alice’s abruptly halted professional life, as the pair learn to better support each other in a difficult time for both of their lives. 

Stewart does a wonderful job articulating Lydia’s side of the change, as their journey toward reconciliation provides a gripping dynamic at the core of an absolute tearjerker of a movie.

“Charlie’s Angels” (2019)

Although the movie was (rightfully) critically panned, Stewart’s role as Sabina Wilson in the 2019 remake of classic action series “Charlie’s Angels” makes for a remarkably fun and campy experience. Along with fellow Angel Jane (Ella Balinska) and whistleblower scientist Elena (Naomi Scott), the trio race to stop a dangerous energy source from falling into the wrong hands, while also battling a mysterious spy from within their agency.

Despite recently saying in an interview with Variety that she “hated” making the movie, Stewart’s performance is one notable bright spot. Sabina flips, twirls and dives across the screen delivering one-liners that are so bad they become funny again. 

“Charlie’s Angels” certainly lacks the writing and directing quality of some of the other films on this list, but when combined with the ridiculous costuming and surprisingly good fight choreography, the film still provides enough entertainment for a good time, provided you don’t take it too seriously.

“Spencer” (2021)

Notable for Stewart’s first — and so far only — Academy Award nomination, this 2021 psychological drama features her critically acclaimed portrayal of Princess Diana. Directed by Pablo Larraín (“Jackie” (2016), “No” (2012)), the film follows the Princess during the emotionally turbulent Christmas weekend of 1991, tracing an imagined path of events in the buildup to her separation from then-Prince now-King Charles (Jack Farthing). 

Despite Charles and the British royal family’s looming presence over the film, the real focus is on Diana’s interactions with royal staff members and her children. Stewart’s performance drew acclaim for her near perfect replication of Diana’s mannerisms, while adding just enough of her own panache to make the film’s epigraph, “a fable from a true tragedy,” ring true. 

“Spencer” was also praised for its shot-on-film cinematography and score composed by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead. The slight granularity of the Kodak 16 mm and 35 mm film used, along with the haunting soundtrack adds a foggy mystique to the movie, which sets the people’s princess against a backdrop of English royal majesty she feels wildly uncomfortable in. 

“Love Lies Bleeding”

Stewart’s newest movie, “Love Lies Bleeding,” came out just over a month ago. Cast opposite the muscle-bound Jackie (Katy O’Brian), Stewart portrays “hey mamas” lesbian Lou in this A24 crime thriller. The pair’s grisly and often violent romance sets them on a collision course with Lou’s father, a local crime lord played by Ed Harris. It’s a film filled with guns, drugs and sex, making for a nastily indulgent 104 minutes.

“Love Lies Bleeding” is also a manifestation of the star’s own growth as a celebrity. With Stewart having come out as bisexual in 2017, the very explicit and very messy homosexual romance between the two leads is some of the most direct queer representation of the last few years. In a recent Rolling Stone interview to promote the film, Stewart said “I want to do the gayest fucking thing you’ve ever seen,” and Lou is definitely the closest Stewart has gotten to that goal. 

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