Friday, January 27, 2012

Kristen & Dakota As "The Runaways"

Find on Video

Kristen & Dakota As "The Runaways"


I lived in Los Angeles in the mid-seventies when the Runaways hit it big. I never saw them perform but was excited that there was an electric female rock 'n' roll band of any age breaking through barriers. Especially when they were turning out good, tough songs like "Cherry Bomb" and their bizarre masterpiece, "Dead End Justice," during which the band's two alliterated-named stars, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, talk back and forth to each other and even call each other by name as they try to escape from prison. I never read the music magazines or the books to get the full story of the talented, short-lived jail-bait band and their unusual manager Kim Fowley (whom I got to know slightly when he wrote article about himself and his favorite baseball player as a kid for one of my books). So I welcome the condensed version of their sordid tale in writer-director Floria Sigismondi's much-anticipated The Runaways, which opens in limited release this Friday. It's an adrenaline rush of a movie that can boast of cool music and spot-on casting: an energized Kristen Stewart as Jett, an almost-grown Dakota Fanning as Currie (you forget she's the young girl we watched grow up on screen) and a scene-stealing Michael Shannon as the scene-stealing Fowley. On Wednesday, I participated in a brief roundtable with Stewart and Fanning, as well as Jett, Shannon, Sigismondi. I may post the solo interviews before the film's wide release. For now, here's the one with the two current young pop-culture icons who completely capture two young pop icons from thirty-five years ago. I note my questions.
Q: Do you feel that you had a burden telling the story of the first female rock band?
Kristen Stewart: Yeah! Oh, man, we had to tell this story right because this is the version of the Runaways people my age will know. That thought drove me crazy. Usually if a movie isn't good and doesn't turn out how you thought, well that's how it goes, but this was a different experience. On this, the guilt that I would have harbored for the rest of my life would have turned my stomach black. So we didn't have any other option but to get it right. The shoot was very fast and it was a mad scramble to get everything. Working with Floria was great. She was a first-time feature director, but I loved the music videos she made. She gave us a lot of room to be and live, but at the same time when you care about something so much it is scary. I love the movie, I'm so proud of her, I'm so proud of everyone involved.
Q: Dakota, Cherie Currie told me that you got a temporary cherry tattoo and that told you it was your destiny to play her.
Dakota Fanning: I came home from school one day and my mom said there was a script I needed to read. I always try to get information from her before I read a script but she never wants to tell me anything because she wants me to have my own opinion. One day when I was bored I wanted to have fun so I put on a temporary tattoo of a cherry. And my mother was like, "Oh, the character you'd play actually gets a tattoo like that in the movie." And so it was meant to be.
Q: The movie is a lot about rebellion and challenging what society thinks. Do you two have a rebellious side?
KS: Luckily I actually don't feel like there's a whole lot for me to rebel against. Nobody is forcing me to be a certain way so I don't have to proactively rebellious. But I guess I have rebellious thoughts. I think it's messed up that girls have much less opportunity to be themselves. If I were a dude, I could have a much more unique personality that people wouldn't talk about in a negative way. Girls are supposed to be a certain way and that bothers me.
DF: I don't think I have as much going against me as they did back then. I didn't grow up in a time where I felt I couldn't do something or be what I wanted to be. That thought never occurs to me. I think a lot of girls today don't know how hard it was for these girls back then.
Q: Did Joan and Cherie fill you in on what it was like to be alive back then and to be female musicians and show you things?
DF: Cherie taught me her mike move.
KS: I've always been supernostalgic for the seventies though I didn't live back then. I've heard good stories and like the music and stuff. So I don't know if I needed to be told anything. I watched videos of them and got a sense of what it was like back then from the music. They filled us in about little stuff that would be hard to remember and was random. It's good they were around to fill in the blanks.
Q: Did they help you in the studio?
KS: Yeah, yeah, they were there!
Q: Was there apprehension about recording the songs yourself?
DF: I was definitely nervous but didn't think any other way would be acceptable. The only way to go was to re-record the songs if I was able to, if I had the voice to do it. I was really excited to be able to do it but very nervous at the same time. I thought I'd record several times, but, nope, after one time that was it. I don't think I really realized that until I was there recording and suddenly it was over. That's what you hear in the movie and on the soundtrack. Which was probably good because that's how they recorded their songs. They were thrown in there and only did a couple of recordings.
Danny Peary: Kristen, Joan Jett recorded an album in her solo career called "Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth." Do you think she regrets anything about that era?
KS: No, I know she doesn't. Everything you do in your life makes you who you are and she is really loving life right now.

DP: I think she was being ironic, and that she has pride that she had a "misspent" youth. Does that make sense to you?
KS: Yeah, definitely. She is incredibly proud to be everything that she is. I've never seen anybody walk into a room so innocently confident. She doesn't realize other people might not be like that. It's not like she's overcompensating or trying to be a certain way. That's just who she is.
Q: Is there any message you want to get out--maybe to someone who is a fan of the Runaways or younger audiences who are attracted to your work?
DF: I think that the only way younger audiences will get to know the Runaways is through this film. Maybe that will lead them to seek out their music and watch their videos. I didn't know who the Runaways were before I read the script and I didn't know who Cherie Currie was. People know Joan Jett, but not Cherrie--but now they will.
Q: The readers for my publication are really young and are dealing with insecurities. Do you have anything you could tell them?
DF: I think we all have insecurities...
KS (joking): Aw, that's so sweet...
DF (laughing): We all have insecurities. Cherie was a completely different person on stage than she was off stage. And to this day she has that vulnerability and innocence. I don't know exactly what her insecurities are because insecurities are something we need to figure out for ourselves. I don't know if I'd have any advice to help everyone with their insecurities because I have my own.
KS: Everyone has them. I don't know what to say either. I feel really bad for people who are thirteen or fourteen right now--sorry, you're going to get older! I don't know, man, I don't handle my insecurities very well. So don't worry about it, it's fine.
DP: Did you talk about over the relationship between Joan and Cherie and come up with your own conclusions and define their relationship? Because it's kind of ambiguous in the movie.
KS: It's so funny how people think it's ambiguous. It's such a unique friendship and they rely on each other so strongly. You add a kiss and suddenly it makes it OH MY GOD! THEY LOVE EACH OTHER AND THEY ARE LESBIANS! What??? We got to see Joan and Cherie interact now,
and seeing them together was really helpful. Because they turn back into the same people they were when they hung out all the time. And they still love each other. They really, really love each other. It's hard to describe the relationship --they're just really close. They kissed one night, big deal.
DP: Basically they experienced something that no one else in the whole world experienced.
KS: Together.
DP: And that's their bond.
KS: Yeah.
Q: Where do you guys go from here? You're kind of like at the crossroads of your career. Kristen, you're buried in Twilight stuff...
KS: Aw! Buried.
Q: In a good way. And Dakota, you're a former child actress, so where do you want to take your career now?
DF: I just want to keep doing what I'm doing now. I don't have any specific place where I want to take my career. This is the only thing I love, it's the only thing I know how to do, it's the only thing I feel I'm OKAY at.
KS: You're all right at it...
DF (laughing): Yeah, I just want to keep going and you keep hoping people want me to be in their movies and bring stories like this to life.
Q (interrupting before KS can answer): Dakota, you had to do some powerful scenes because your character has an emotional arc. What was going through your mind?
DF: I don't know if there was anything specific I was thinking. When you know a character you just know what to do. When you love something so much and love your character--and Cherie has become a friend and has inspired me so much in my own life--you want to be the best that you can for them. For Cherie, this may be the only way people will know her story so there was a lot of pressure on me but it was good pressure. It was exciting and a challenge, and I liked that.
Q: Kristen, you play the guitar yourself but did Joan Jett give you any tips about how to embody the female guitarist on stage?
KS: She's pretty good, isn't she? She's got a really unique connection to the music--the way it comes out of her. The compulsion to make the music, to create the sound, isn't something all musicians have. It's telling that she never played lead guitar--she wanted to play rhythm guitar, she wanted to keep the music going. She was telling me to "connect--it's coming through you." Considering your guitar is right here [points below her belt]--it's really weird, like center, like, like....The only way I can describe it, and I've said it before, is what she literally told me. I know you've got a teen magazine thing going on here, whatever, it was like...--why am I doing this right now?--but the only way to describe it is the way she told me to play like her, the only way that feels right is, you know, "You've got to fuck your guitar." I didn't know how else to say that--I'm sorry!Q1: That's okay to say. We're not all from teen magazines.
Q2: The movie is about the friendship of your characters. What can you say about your friendship in real life?
DF: I didn't know it would be so hard to talk about our friendship! I close up and can't do it, I don't know why.
KS: I know, it's so weird.
DF: I get so embarrassed for some reason.
KS: I don't know how to say it, but it's rare that you get to work with your friends. I make friends on the set but it's rare when you meet someone who you know is going to be your friend for a long time. There you go...

No comments:

Post a Comment