Kristen Stewart’s name may be forever connected to the Twilight Saga, but Bella Swan is far from the only book character that the actress has brought to life. In fact, the bulk of Stewart’s filmography is actually literary adaptations - or inspired by the world of literature, like the recent J.T. LeRoy, a film about the woman who spent years pretending to be a fictional person, the author known as J.T. LeRoy. She’s also appeared in adaptations of children’s books, like Zathura: A Space Adventure, and even her first ever credited role was in The Safety of Objects, a film based on short stories. She’s covered classics, new stories, and even fairytales (in Snow White and the Huntsman), but these are some of her best (and best-known) literary roles... not including Twilight!
One of Kirsten Stewart’s earliest starring roles was in this indie movie, based on the novel of the same name by Laurie Halse Anderson. Stewart stars as Melinda, a teen girl who has become almost entirely mute after a traumatic experience. The film follows her as she struggles to cope in school, refusing to speak (the hint is in the title!) and slowly starts to find herself as time goes on. It may not be the easiest film to watch, at times, but it’s amazing to see Stewart expressing herself as a lead without words.
Fierce People (2005)
Based on the Dirk Whittenborn novel of the same name, Fierce People is a coming of age story that sees a poor teen catapulted into the world of the super rich when he and his mother move into a billionaire’s guest house. Stewart appears as Maya, the granddaughter and love interest, as part of a star-studded cast that includes Donald Sutherland and Chris Evans. Despite the big names, though, the film failed to live up to the success of the novel.
Into the Wild (2007)
Stewart takes on a smaller role in this adaptation, based on the book by John Krakauer (which is in turn based on the true story of Christopher McCandless). On his journey to reject modern living and trek into the Alaskan wilderness, Christopher meets Tracy (Stewart) who makes only a brief appearance as a teenager with a crush on him. The film (and book) is a fascinating look at someone rejecting the life that he thought he had to live, but ends in tragedy when he realizes just how harsh the wilderness can truly be - and that it isn’t the life of peace that he expected when he set out.
On the Road (2012)
Another adaptation for anyone with a little wanderlust in their hearts, On the Road is based on the Jack Kerouac novel, based on his own travels. As an iconic novel of the beat movement, On the Road would seem perfect to take to the big screen, and Stewart stars as Marylou, the gorgeous wife of Dean who joins him and Sal (an aspiring writer based on Kerouac himself) as they wander the United States together. However, the film falls short of its promise, and received mixed reviews.
Still Alice (2014)
There’s no doubt that Julianne Moore is the standout of this critically acclaimed film (based on the novel by Lisa Genova), but Stewart’s work was also praised by critics. Stewart plays one of the daughters of Moore’s Alice, a university professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. Like the book, the film is a heartbreaking look at how this illness impacts a family - and how the adult children react to the loss of their mother’s mind, as well as how terrifying it is for Alice herself.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2016)
Finally, Stewart’s most recent role in a literary adaptation was as Kathryn in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the war drama based on Ben Fountain’s novel of the same name. In it, Kathryn is the sister of the titular character, and one who is encouraging him to leave the army following a harrowing experience of war. While the film received mixed reviews, the book is a stunning satire of the military and the treatment of ‘war heroes’ back home, and Stewart, as usual, received praise for her performance.
Did we miss your favorite literary role of Kristen Stewart? Comment and let us know!