I wrote one year ago yesterday about the odd conundrum of both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson both being somewhat defined by the The Twilight Saga. That is/was partially because their years of post-Twilight performances, many of them quite good and varied, were barely seen by the general public.
$3.314 billion (85%) out of Pattinson’s $3.896 billion lifetime global box office (now including Tenet’s $362 million cume) came from Twilight movies. Likewise, Stewart’s 25 films have earned $4 billion worldwide, with 93% coming from The Twilight Saga and Snow White and the Huntsman ($375 million on a $175 million budget in 2012).
Sure, Pattinson was great in Netflix’s Devil All the Time, The Lighthouse ($18 million) The Lost City of Z ($17 million), Good Time ($4 million), but most folks didn’t see them. Alas, we shouldn’t be shocked that most folks haven’t seen Woody Allen’s Café Society ($44 million), American Ultra ($30 million), Still Alice ($41 million and for which Julianne Moore won an Oscar) and/or Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk ($30 million).
So, on one hand, it’ll be nice if director Pablo Larraín and writer Steven DeKnight’s Spencer, starring Stewart as Princess Diana Spencer as she decides to end her royal marriage to Prince Charles (Jack Farthing), thrusts the perpetually underrated actress (at least outside of film critic/film nerd circles) into the Oscar race. It would be ideal if we didn’t get a new wave of “Hey, KStew can act!” essays and social media posts every time she comes out with a new well-regarded indie flick.
While the Twilight Saga may not be her best work (although I still maintain Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight is genuinely good while Bill Condon’s Breaking Dawn part II is a bonkers-bananas blast), she plays Bella Swann as intended on the page as a blank slate “audience surrogate” character no better or worse than did Sam Worthington in James Cameron’s Avatar. Anyone who’s seen Charlie’s Angels or The Runaways (where she played Joan Jett) knows that she is capable of speaking and acting above a whisper.
And while Charlie’s Angels and Underwater (her first two real commercial plays since The Twilight Saga ended) both bombed, there’s a real possibility that this kind of “star+character” hook, especially considering Stewart’s underdog status (we all knew Natalie Portman would be spectacular in Pablo Larraín’s Jackie), could connect on at least a halfway decent commercial level. That said, it’s a little dispiriting, at least to me, that she may achieve vindication via what seems to be a pretty conventional awards season play.
Nonetheless, fortune and glory is fortune and glory, and Gary Oldman didn’t seem too broken up about finally winning an Oscar in 2018 for playing Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hour. Jackie, for which Portman received a Best Actress nomination (Emma Stone won that year for La La Land), grossed $39 million worldwide on a $9 million budget. Obviously Covid variables means we can’t play apples-to-apples, but I can be optimistic.
And yes, that Pattinson would finally achieve mainstream post-Twilight respect for playing a superhero (in The Batman in early 2022) while Stewart wins such for playing a princess is a longer conversation for another day. But for now, Spencer opens on November 5 courtesy of Neon.