To prepare for her role as Joan Jett in The Runaways, Kristen Stewart learned about the dynamic between Jett and Runaways mastermind Kim Fowley in an unlikely setting: a Denny's in Woodland Hills, California.
Stewart did a lengthy table read and improv session with Jett, Fowley, and her co-star Michael Shannon, who portrays Fowley in the film.
Fowley says that he got a call from Jett, asking him to come to the Denny's near Taft High School off the Ventura Freeway, to show Stewart and Shannon the dynamic between them. "I explained to Mike why I was me what my motivation and my techniques were in dealing with the Runaways...I told him, I have 28 personalities and I shuffle them around. I'm a jerk, I'm a genius, I'm a clown, I'm a monster, whatever it took to make the girls pay attention."
Fowley adds that he's grateful that he was portrayed by Shannon, an Oscar-nominated actor, who he calls, "The Christopher Walken of the 21st century," adding that, "When I first read the script, I thought it was written for Carrot Top...Thank God that's not how it worked out. Mike plays me brilliantly, like Darth Vader as a used car salesman."
Kristen Stewart was able to witness the way Jett and Fowley interacted, and in getting to know the real Kim, was able to separate the myth from the man. At the Q&A session following the SXSW premiere of The Runaways, an audience member asked why Fowley was portrayed sympathetically in the movie, when there were so much controversy regarding the producer/manager. Stewart grabbed the mic and defended Fowley.
She said that because of Joan being on set, the relationship was portrayed correctly in the movie. "They were friends. They have a really unique friendship, They were writing partners. That's how she was with him."
In an interview with Movieline, Stewart elaborated, "With Kim, it’s funny that everyone gets from the movie that he was exploiting them. It’s something that’s talked about all the time, that he was this Svengali or whatever, and that somehow, he shaped them and gave them a shtick. But they were who they were! They would have been a band without them — he was their manager and gave them a lot of connections and was really eccentric and crazy, but they were really motivated. It’s hard to describe their relationship, but at least Joan had a fondness [for Kim]. They were friends, and they weren’t threatened by each other, necessarily. Everyone in the band had a different relationship with Kim, but just to say that they were exploited by him? Even if he pushed them to wear a corset, that’s what they wanted!...On Sunset Boulevard, [Cherie Currie] saw it in the window when she was walking with a friend. She picked it out, you know what I mean? It wasn’t like it was forced upon her by him."
In an appearance on the Austin-based podcast "The Mal Thursday Show," Fowley talks about his career and sings the praises of Kristen and Dakota Fanning, even going as far as to claim that "Their version of 'California Paradise' is better than the Runaways' version." (Click on image below to launch podcast)
At the after-party for the South by Southwest premiere of The Runaways, Fowley told Dakota that she had gotten off easy. "You got to play Cherie as a rock n' roll martyr, as Joan of Arc. Imagine if you had to play her as she really was. She was Courtney Love before Courtney Love was Courtney Love." Fanning's eyes widened at the thought. Kristen Stewart laughed, probably having heard similar things from Joan.
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