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Doug Leferovich - Wizard of Ahh's

0515dougleftymosaic

DOUG LEFEROVICH
Wizard of Ahh's

Interview and Photography by Santodonato

Styling- Jeffrey DeBarathy and Georgia Richardson

Dorothy Model- Lisa Marie Smith

Prop Master- Mark Bennick

Shot on location at:
Tim Clothier's Illusion Projects, Inc.

Over the past five years, Douglas Leferovich has made quite a name for himself with producers and shows here in Las Vegas. 

Leferovich has been a consultant and go-to-guy for a vast variety of live shows here on the Las Vegas Strip. Some of the recent shows include The Jacksons, Boyz II Men, Meat Loaf, Human Nature, Name That Tune, Wayne Newton, Recycled Percussion, Greg London, Sapphire Comedy Hour, Divas Las Vegas, Steve Wyrick, and of course Murray Sawchuck, in which Leferovich also plays the hilarious and sleight-of-hand sidekick, “Lefty.” I had a chance to sit down with my friend over lunch and chat about his background, his thoughts on entertainment and Las Vegas, and what the future holds for this talented wizard behind-the-scenes, and who many call the “Wizard of Ahh’s,” if you will.

SANTODONATO: So where in New York were you born?
LEFEROVICH: Just outside the city, about 30 minutes, in Bronxville, New York.
SANTODONATO: You spent your whole life there?
LEFEROVICH: Yeah, until I was 18 – then I went to college at University of Pennsylvania Business School in Philadelphia, which was interesting because, as I got older, I spent time going into New York City… But even though University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League school and it is a very good school—it is a very, very rough neighborhood. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of these kids that are very well-off that are going to this school, and yet there’s a lot of poverty in Philadelphia. And you’re in West Philly – different than Yale University, which is a gated university, where you get a universal key, and then when you go into certain areas, you have to have a key to get in. I mean it’s a little bit of a false sense of a security, because obviously you could just follow someone in. But yeah, the third day I was there, freshman year, someone got held up at gunpoint. And I got held up at gunpoint!
SANTODONATO: How fucked up is that?! How old were you when you got held up?
LEFEROVICH: 20 – senior year. Went to an ATM with a buddy, was gonna go to a bar, and put the card in the ATM, came out, went around the corner – gun in the back. Someone was like: “Give me your money!” They took the wallet. “Keep walking, don’t turn around.” We walked right to a police station, and they were like: “What kind of gun was it?” I’m like, “The kind of gun it was—was in my back—that’s what kind of gun it was!” I didn’t have the time to turn around and go, “What kind of gun is that?” Now what’s ironic is—because I grew up in the city—and my dad told me this trick a long time ago: When I would go into the city, I would bring a dummy wallet. So I would have expired credit cards, and I would have cash in it—but I wouldn’t have anything in it—so that way, God forbid, if it got stolen or whatever… 
SANTODONATO: Was your dad into magic too — or in entertainment?
LEFEROVICH: No, ironically, my dad was a lawyer, which is similar to magic—lying and deceit. (laughter) My dad was, actually for 23 years, General Counsel for the New York State’s Bankers Association. So that means, when the top five banks in New York had a legal question, they would call my dad. So my dad had a very important job—a lot of time working—a lot of time on the phone. He’d go to Albany for different conventions. When my mom had my brother and I, my mom stopped working to raise my brother and I. When my mom was younger she was very athletic and she actually for a little bit of time played tennis professionally. She and her sister played tennis, and a lot of times that’s how they met boys. They would go and play tennis—and they’d be playing singles, and there would be boys playing next to them—and they’d say: “Hey, do you want to play mixed doubles?” And that was a way to meet them. So growing up, I’ve played tennis all my life. My mother never wanted me to play competitive—she always wanted me to play for fun. So when I play tennis, you can hit a good shot, and I’ll go: “Good shot!” It’s not a competitive thing for me. But growing up, my mom did schoolwork with us, sports… And at a very young age, my mom said to my dad: “You need to find something—that’s something you do with the boys—that’s your thing—that the boys look forward to—that they can say: “Oh, I’m doing this with my dad.” So when my dad was younger, he was at a YMCA camp, and his counselor did like some fun magic tricks. There was a well-known magic store in New York City that was a couple of blocks away from where my dad worked. So he got some tricks, came home, and it became something that we started doing as a family. So my grandmother would come over, and it would be her birthday—and we’d put on a little show. It would be Christmas—and we’d put on a little show. Never started off as a career, more as something that we did as a family. For me, I was always naturally good at it. It just came very easy to me—performing. I feel like I’m a very visual person—I’m very good at puzzles. So I always looked at magic as a puzzle—how to figure it out. When I started getting older, my dad would buy a trick. He’d learn it, and then when he showed it to me, I’d say: “Don’t tell me how to do it—I want to try to figure it out on my own.” So as we got older, we started doing shows. So the neighbor said, “Our son’s having a birthday. Maybe they can come over and do a show. I’ll pay you $35.” So it really wasn’t something that we did to make money. Of course, ironically, my brother and I split the money, and my dad lost money, because he bought all the tricks. But it became something really fun that we did. Growing up, when my other friends got regular jobs—a paper route, bagging groceries at a grocery store—my brother and I did shows. So yeah, it was very cool.
SANTODONATO: How old were you when you did your first show?
LEFEROVICH: I was four. It was for my pre-kindergarten class. My dad did most of the tricks. My brother, who is two years older, did a couple, and I did one trick. I had on a green turtleneck, corduroy pants and a black plastic derby, and I had a yellow and green silk that were tied together—and I passed it through my hand three times, and it turned into a red and blue silk. And then I bowed. No one clapped, and I ran over and started crying to my mom. So that was my first experience. “Welcome to showbiz!” My dad would never be like: “Great job!” He would always say: “It was good—but you know what? You can work on this.” He said to me once when I was young: “I want to treat you almost like a rubber band, where I always want you to stretch. I always want you to try to get better. I never want to say: ‘You did great. It was perfect,’ because I never want you to stop growing.” My mom, obviously, complete opposite—biggest fan—nothing I could do wrong. And it’s nice to have that balance, because as an entertainer, I feel like you are somewhat fragile. You’re putting yourself out there. I feel like over time I’ve learned to become somewhat desensitized to the criticism. I feel like, if I put my best performance out there, some people are gonna like it; some people aren’t. I feel like, if you’re a critic and you love everything, then what are you doing as a job? When I look at Mike Weatherford—and he’s hard on someone in a review, I go: “Well, he’s gotta be, because you can’t be nice to everybody.”
SANTODONATO: How did you get into consulting and production, and did it mainly start here in Vegas?
LEFEROVICH: My major in college was communications, marketing and advertising. And I feel like I always had a knack. When I’d watch a TV commercial, I’d say: “You know what would make this commercial better?” or: “You know, that jingle could have been better.” In the marketing classes, I felt like what made me excel was my creativity. Obviously, having a performance background helped a lot. As we got into higher levels of marketing and advertising classes, a big part of your grade was dependent on a presentation. One thing was you had to open up a business on campus. At Penn, the alcohol laws last call was 1:30am. So my group opened up a place called “Shakes”. In the window storefront, we were gonna have like 50 different flavors of ice cream and we were gonna be open all day, plus open from 1:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the morning. So when you’re out partying ‘til whenever, you could come by and get a shake. So the hook to get people in was shakes—but then you had fried food and whatever. Because of my magic background, speaking in front of people was never really a problem—so when we had to break up into groups—people always wanted me in their group. I’d help with their concept, but they’d say: “You don’t have to do any of the number crunching, as long as you present.”
SANTODONATO: What’s the biggest budget show you’ve worked on recently?
LEFEROVICH: Meatloaf and The Jacksons.
SANTODONATO: How were The Jacksons to work with?

LEFEROVICH: It’s so crazy growing up being such a fan of Michael Jackson and The Jacksons. It got to the point, when I was working on the show, I was talking to them 3-4 times a week. Marlon was very hands-on. And it’s funny now looking back…
SANTODONATO: And was Meatloaf was fun to work with?
LEFEROVICH: Yes, very, very clear vision. I suppose that some people are a little more open to suggestions. He had a very clear idea of what he wanted, which you just have to be able to adapt your style to what the client is. Someone said to me once: “You’re like the Wizard of Oz—like, people don’t realize all that goes on.
SANTODONATO: Normal Joe public doesn’t even think on that level. 
LEFEROVICH: It’s the same for you. Most people go: “You take some pictures, you write an article. How hard can it be to put a magazine together? People have no concept… you have to have content every month… How does it layout? Do I have to make this article longer to fit a page to fill this in? Or even photography… How many times do I look at a great picture and go: “Would it have been as great if it was in black and white?” The way you crop a picture…
SANTODONATO: It’s production… like what you said—how do you get in and out of it?
LEFEROVICH: Or as you know, how many times is it the last four pictures that are the pictures you use? I’ve always been about the quantity, where when I work on a project, I’ll give you a hundred ideas. Hopefully, you think one or two are gems, you think five to ten are really good, and the rest you go, “Nope, I don’t need them.” When you do a photo shoot—you might take a hundred photos… to get that one, great one. People don’t realize…
SANTODONATO: Sometimes a thousand. 
LEFEROVICH: Yes!
SANTODONATO: Just going through the goddamn photos… It’s a couple days work just to pick the pictures, before you even start working on them. When you’re putting together a show like the Murray SawChuck show—how often, and how much do you rehearse to get your chops so that show’s flowing so well?
LEFEROVICH: It helps that we are best friends.
SANTODONATO: When did you first start working together?
LEFEROVICH: I think 15 or 16 years ago.
SANTODONATO: Did you meet in New York?
LEFEROVICH: My old business partner and I were living in New Jersey working on our big show in Atlantic City. We performed at the Tropicana, different resorts and casinos, and did our big show at The Sands. Murray came in town for a magic convention. He was the opening act at the convention, and my old business partner and I were the closing act. What a lot of people don’t realize is, when you’re not at David Copperfield’s level, making the money he does—even though he’s very hands-on—it’s amazing how you have to be good at a lot of different things. You have to wear a lot of different hats. You’re making your own phone calls. You’re your own publicist. You’re your own lighting designer, in the sense that you’re telling the lighting person what you want the lighting to be. It’s amazing how many magicians can sew, because you’re at a gig—a pocket rips, a button pops off—how do you fix it? Amazing how many magicians are very good with their hands as builders—soldering things—because you get somewhere, something breaks—you have to be able to fix it. So I feel like we bonded, because on the show we were the two most professional acts, but I felt like we were sort of going in the same direction, the same path, in terms of trying to get to the next level. And he had a very good work ethic, like we did. So for many years, we would pass gigs back and forth. You know, you get a call for a gig and then you get a call for a gig the same week—couldn’t do it. “Oh, let me recommend somebody.” That way you get to keep it in the family. After our show in Atlantic City I moved out to Vegas, and then two weeks later he came out to Vegas, and he had a show at the Frontier. They gave him a suite for two weeks. I had an apartment. I had a girlfriend at the time on the East Coast. He was married at the time.
SANTODONATO: Did you just move out here on a whim? Did you have a gig that brought you out here?
LEFEROVICH: We were like, “Oh my God, Vegas is where we need to go to book our show.” When we were in Atlantic City, it was at the end of an era where they paid for shows. We came out here, we pitched, we had a handshake deal to be the afternoon show at New York New York, when “Lord of the Dance” was the night show. Then at the eleventh hour, Cirque came in and said, “We’ll spend whatever, 30-40 million dollars. We’ll redo your theater and bring in a topless sexy Cirque show. 
SANTODONATO: On Meatloaf and The Jacksons, what did you create for 
those two shows—was it magic-based?
LEFEROVICH: The Jacksons was magic-based. When I watched footage of them on tour, when they started the show, they just walked out onstage. I said, “There’s gotta be a better way to get you onstage, so there’s not that awkward moment where you guys just walk out.” So we created an effect where there was an oversized frame with a bunch of black and white images in the frame of The Jacksons through the years. So the frame lowered in, then there was a frame inside of the frame and the inner frame spun, and then four jackets lowered in above the frame, and they lowered in behind the frame, and they were attached to a sign that said, “The Jacksons”. Then, behind the frame, it got backlit and then you saw them, and when the frame flew out, they were wearing the jackets. It was a cool way for them to get on stage. With Meatloaf, he had an idea where he was playing this character from one of his movies that was a silly, happy-go-lucky guy and he was explaining the concept of the show: “This is gonna be me telling stories about my life. This isn’t gonna be one of those Cirque du Soleil shows… you’re not gonna see someone come out and eat fire.” And he’s downstage at the edge, talking to the audience, and someone comes out, eats fire, and runs across the stage, and people laughed, and he goes: “Oh, you think that’s funny? Well, if I was gonna have a variety act, I’d have someone come out and juggle meat cleavers.” Someone comes out, juggles meat cleavers. So then he had clowns, and this and that. Well, I helped cast all those acts, because it’s cheaper to get people in town. But how do you go: “I need a fire eater, I need a silk person, I need this and that”? Now, we did an audition, but there was a lot of people there that I called because I knew them. Being in entertainment you say, “Hey, I know somebody’s who a clown—do you know anyone else who’s got Ringling Bros. experience?” So it helps.
SANTODONATO: So, you conceptualized how the Jacksons were going to get on stage. How hands-on are you in developing how it’s going to work? Do you guys build some of your tricks, as well? 
LEFEROVICH: Some of the smaller stuff, yes. The bigger stuff that’s costing $15-$20-$30-grand: I have one illusion builder, who is a very good fabricator. His primary business is building magic illusions, but he built all the props for Name That Tune. I’d sit down, and for example, like that dry erase board, in my head I’d go, here’s what I see: “I see us starting at a 45, I see it lowering, and I see a frame within a frame that I can pivot in place.” And then, part of what his specialty is, is figuring out: “How does it go from this position? How does the pin pull?” I don’t figure out the technical stuff. I work with him on design. All his stuff now is on CAD. And what’s amazing, is because of Auto CAD and technology, when he builds a prop, it is unbelievable how it looks like exactly like the Auto CAD. It’s not like you’re sketching on a napkin and go: “Oh… I didn’t think it was gonna be like that. I didn’t realize it was gonna be so big.” 
SANTODONATO: Right—you’re not pulling a Spinal Tap moment.
LEFEROVICH: (laughter) Right! And he’ll put a representation of a person 5 foot 10, and you’ll get a perspective on how big something is.
SANTODONATO: And how do you work with Murray?
LEFEROVICH: Murray’s very good at saying, “I’ve got an idea 75-80% of the way. To get it to 100%, we’ve got to do it in front of an audience. I’ve got to put it in the show.” Murray’s mentality, which is very interesting, is, he goes: “Sometimes I have to put in a joke or a trick, and I have to bomb it, or it not go well, for me to figure out what the timing is with the audience.” Because without the audience’s reaction, how do you know if it works? Sometimes you come up with an idea, and you think:

“Oh, my God, this is gonna be amazing.” And people go: “Yeah, it’s okay…” So sometimes you have to be able to leave away your personal feelings, to go: “What does the audience want?” But I feel like where we’re lucky is he’s created a brand and a character onstage, and he’s helped me develop my brand and character of “LEFEROVICH”. So what makes it easy for us is when we come up with an idea and we put something new into the show, it’s easy to know what we’re supposed to do, because we know what our characters are. If something ever goes wrong, I know… If he drops something onstage by accident, I know he’s gonna look at me and go: “Uh… You gonna pick that up?” And I’m gonna go, “Oh, my God! I gotta go pick that up for you!” Because we know each other’s characters and how they would react, it makes it so much easier. But even to this day, when I do the card manipulation in the show, I still practice about 45 minutes before the show—breaking the cards in every day. It’s very much like a dancer, where they stretch and warm-up before a show… I warm-up my hands, I break the cards in. I give the cards what I call “memory”—where, when I do the routine over and over again, and I’m bending the cards a certain way, I’m bending the cards the way I need them to bend. 
SANTODONATO: So you use new cards every day?
LEFEROVICH: Yes. And it’s interesting now, being at Planet Hollywood, the cards are actually a little bit thinner than the Tropicana (smiling) and it’s amazing how I can only do part of the routine less, because the cards are thinner—because my fingers got stronger with a thicker card at the Trop. So now, when I use the Planet Hollywood cards, there’s certain parts I can’t do as much. And it’s weird… I mean, every day I’m playing with playing cards, so you can tell. Even if it’s a slight difference, it’s amazing how you can tell.
SANTODONATO: Do you use the casino’s cards because they don’t want you to use a generic deck of cards?
LEFEROVICH: I always did it because we always got the cards for free. And after every show, at least 30 people asked us to sign the card. So it’s great branding for the hotel. I remember doing a show once, which was a private event. It was a couple of hundred people, carpet… and they said: “Oh well, you know… after the show, are you gonna go out and pick up the cards?” I go: “I guarantee you, at the end of the show, there will not be one playing card,” because it’s a cool souvenir. People don’t realize it’s one of the few things where the magic is actually me, not the cards. So I can go to Walgreen’s or anywhere and buy a deck of cards and do the same routine. So I think part of the novelty is people want to touch the card, because they think maybe the cards are the magic. They don’t realize it’s me spending hours and years practicing. 
SANTODONATO: So what’s the hardest thing? Sleight-of-hand?
LEFEROVICH: I feel like it is, because it’s somewhat raw and stripped down. Like Murray does a thing now in the show where he escapes from Houdini handcuffs, and he says: “A lot of times you see a magician put his hands in a box, or he gets covered with a cloth. You think he like pops the handcuffs open with a button.” And he goes: “Today, I’m gonna show you, how I’m gonna escape. I’m gonna borrow a bobby pin from Chloe, and you’re gonna watch me pick the lock. The music starts and he actually sits there and he picks the lock, and he pops it open. And to me, I almost find that people think that’s more amazing—because they’re seeing it firsthand. You know, it’s like when I take a coin and I put it in your hand, and you close your hand and then you open it up and it’s gone. It’s more real because it’s in your hand. It’s intimate. Sometimes people go: “Oh, well… if I was on stage… with all that smoke and the lights and all… I could point… You’re not even really doing anything.” One of the reasons why people really enjoy the show is because we’re in a 300-seat intimate theater and they’re close. The stuff we’re doing is more amazing because you’re so close. So many times you see a magic show, and you’re far away, and you go: “Ah, if I was up close, I could figure out how it was done.” But because we’re doing stuff so close to the audience, I feel like there’s more of a “Wow” factor. There was a week at the Orleans where there was this talented singer, John Stephan, who was doing this Roy Orbison tribute. So I’m helping with the staging. I’m helping him because he’s from out of the country, asking him, “What do you need?” And he says to me, “I really want to have this one thing… and I don’t know if you can do it or not… but I want this one part of this song, where I end the song and rose petals fall. Is that something you can do?” I said, “Give me an hour.” He said, “What?!” I go: “Give me an hour.” In an hour, I go: “So, we can get rose petals, fire retardant paper, pink, white, red.” I said, “It can be done manually, at fan. I got three places in town.” He’s like: “It’s almost like you’re a drug dealer! Like I just ask you what I want.” I go: “If you have the money, I can probably get you anything you want.” And it’s amazing how over time I’ve established relationships with a lot of vendors in town. I can get you pretty close to your vision. But he couldn’t believe it. But the first time the rose petals blew out over the audience… You know, you forget. Why would he think: ‘Oh, it’s paper…it’s got to be fire retardant.’? But it has to be. People don’t realize, when they go to see Blue Man, when that paper goes over the audience, all that paper is fire retardant, because God forbid, that paper were to catch on fire, the whole theater would go up. 
SANTODONATO: Is it difficult to have a relationship while being in entertainment?
LEFEROVICH: Yeah, it’s tough. I’ve dated people in the business who definitely understand certain aspects of it. And then I’ve dated people not in the business who understand other aspects of it, but they don’t get things, where sometimes you have access to a theater at weird hours… And it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you, or I don’t want to go to dinner with your friends—this is when we have the time. I remember working on Boyz II Men. When I was lighting the show, there were times when they would do the show, and they’d have a comedian after, and we would go in at 1:00 in the morning, and light till 4 or 5:00am, and then get up and be back by 8:00 in the morning and keep lighting—just because that’s when the theater was available. During the day they use it for convention space and presentations, and then they have shows… You gotta get in there when you can. It’s easier now, because I’m not traveling so much. There was a time when I was traveling a lot, doing shows all over the world. And it’s tough when you have a job, for anyone—it doesn’t matter what your profession—if you’re traveling a lot, it’s hard to start a relationship. When you don’t see the person on a regular basis, it’s hard. And it’s a tough town… (smiling)
SANTODONATO: There are a lot of characters here, that’s for sure. 
LEFEROVICH: (chuckles) Oh, yeah.
SANTODONATO: So comedy wasn’t always a part of your work?
LEFEROVICH: No. It’s not something that I always did. So when somebody says, “Oh, I thought the magic was great,” it’s still nice to hear, but it’s something I’ve worked on my whole life. So to go out on stage and do comedy bits with Murray, where I don’t have anything in my pockets, with no trick… I’m going out and doing a funny dance, or making a funny expression, or how I act, especially because I don’t speak on stage—I spend time reading the autobiography of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, watching old films like The Keystone Cops. You watch how, to me, all that comedy is timeless and still funny today. And because Vegas is an international market, it works with any language. When I do my comedy, you don’t have to speak English to understand what’s going on. And what’s interesting is, because of my facial expressions, the way we interact and the music—there are times where we speak to people after the show and they don’t even realize I’m not speaking. Because you see us interacting, and you know what I’m thinking or how I feel because of my expression, even though I’m not saying something. Sometimes I feel like people pay more attention because I’m not speaking—because if you’re watching someone and they’re talking, if you drop something and you pick it up, they’re just talking, you can just keep hearing what they’re saying—as opposed to me—if you look away, you’re missing what’s going on. It really focuses people to watch what I’m doing.
SANTODONATO: How’s the move working out at Planet Hollywood?
LEFEROVICH: It’s been great. Caesars Entertainment has been wonderful. There’s a lot of ticket brokers that have come on-board that I feel like, because we’re with Caesars Entertainment, I don’t know what the future holds, but I feel like if we ever decide to move from Planet Hollywood, it’s now easier to move to another Caesars property, because now we’re in the family. It’s been good for us in the sense of, because we were at the Trop for two-and-a-half years, we can go to ticket brokers, we can go Vegas.com or Tix4Tonite, and people go: “Hey, Murray. Hey, LEFEROVICH—how you doin? Oh yeah, you’re at Planet Hollywood now.” You don’t have to re-pitch them and re-train them to think: ‘Okay, what’s the show?’ 
SANTODONATO: Yeah, you had a good run at the Trop.
LEFEROVICH: Murray’s really great about getting on television. The slogan for the show is: “You’ve seen him on TV, now see him Live!” It’s amazing when he says: “How many people have seen me on Pawn Stars, Wizard Wars, or America’s Got Talent?” Most of the audience claps. I feel like that’s the one way he’s tried to separate himself from other people, in the sense of you’ve seen him on TV. You know he does good magic and it’s a funny, entertaining show—but people want to see the guy they know. It’s like Penn and Teller—I think they’re genius at marketing—very smart guys. But they’re choosing projects that are on television to keep them in the public eye—when Penn does Dancing With The Stars; when he did Celebrity Apprentice. They write for computer magazines. When Penn’s on CNN talking about whatever topic, it’s a way for people to go: “Oh, it’s those guys.” I tell people, even though they’re magicians, I don’t think of them as magicians—I consider them celebrities. I don’t think someone comes to town and goes: “I want to see a magic show—am I gonna see this magician, this magician, or Penn and Teller?” I think people come to town and they go: “Let’s go see Penn and Teller.” It’s not a toss-up between Penn and Teller and another magician. So in that respect they’re very smart guys.
SANTODONATO: So what is the end game for you?
LEFEROVICH: I guess most people in their job have an end goal, or something specific they want to achieve. They are so worried to get to that end goal that they often skip over some amazing things that happen on the way. For me, I am achieving goals all the time. One month I am sharing the stage with Larry King for his Cardiac Foundation charity in Washington, DC, the next month I am magic consultant for The Jacksons, then the next month I am sharing the stage with Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp, and then the next month I am a creative consultant for the release of the 2010 Ford Mustang, where they shut down the Las Vegas Strip—not to mention, performing magic in a show on the Las Vegas Strip for the last 3 years. So I’m not so worried about the end goal, as I am having so much fun on the journey to get to whatever that end goal is.

Chris Pratt - From Humor to Hero

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CHRIS PRATT
from humor to hero

Chris Pratt has been leading a charmed life of late, as the Parks and Recreation heartthrob was turned into an instant movie star as space adventurer Peter Quill in last summer’s surprise mega-hit, Guardians of the Galaxy. This summer he takes charge of another film franchise in Jurassic World, the latest installment in the massively popular story of dinosaurs running amok after being bio-engineered back to life.

Pratt plays Owen, an ex-military man turned researcher/game warden who is studying the behavioral patterns of those deadly velociraptors that terrorized the original inhabitants of Jurassic Park in the classic 1993 Steven Spielberg film. Over two decades later, scientist John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) dream has finally been realized with the operation of a supposedly safe and secure dinosaur park that is attracting 20,000 visitors per day. Of course, things go very wrong again, after an experiment to produce a new genetic dinosaur hybrid sees humans once again on the run from their prehistoric predators.

“I’m so happy to be part of this film,” Pratt says. “The original Jurassic Park was one of the most influential movies of my childhood and it’s so surreal that I’m getting to be part of this historic franchise.”

“My character is in some ways a cross between like Sam Neill’s (Dr. Grant) and Jeff Goldblum’s (Dr. Malcolm) characters, but I saw Owen as more of a John Wayne-type figure. He’s pretty no-nonsense, and although there’s some humorous moments, there’s not much to laugh about when people are getting eaten and I have to save thousands of lives.”

The handsome 6’2” Pratt has previously enjoyed notable roles in Moneyball (2011), The Five-Year Engagement (2012) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012), while also enjoying a healthy public following as the dorky Andy Dwyer on the cult TV series, Parks and Recreation.

The 35-year-old Pratt lives in Los Angeles with actress Anna Faris (Scary Movie), 37, whom he married in 2009 after they met on the set of the comedy film, Take Me Home Tonight. They are parents to a two-year-old son, Jack.

On December 5th, Pratt addressed a March of Dimes – Celebrations of Babies charity event in Beverly Hills, where he recalled how his son was born 9 weeks premature in August, 2012, and spent over a month in an incubator.

“He was [born] three pounds, 12 ounces. Anna got to hold him for a moment and then it was off to the NICU – the neonatal intensive care unit. That’s a decent-size bass—very small for a human… My little boy was laying cross my neck and chest feeling my heartbeat and feeling my love, and I played him country music and I sang to him and I made him promises about just what kind of dad I wanted to be. Our Jack went from a small helpless little squirt to [become] a strong, happy, funny, and vocal boy.”

STRIPLV: Chris, this has been a stunning year for you…
PRATT: It’s been beyond anything I had a reasonable right to dream about. I’ve gone from being a guy living out of a van in Hawaii with not a cent to my name and no real idea about what I was going to do with my life to becoming a movie star with a beautiful wife and child. I’m a very happy guy.
STRIPLV: Is it strange to suddenly be the toast of Hollywood and dealing with all the attention?
PRATT: I sometimes worry that it might make me be less open and enthusiastic when it comes to meeting people or doing interviews. I don’t want to change who I am to present a different kind of image of myself. Even though things are going very well now, I don’t want to become the kind of guy who takes himself so seriously, simply because he’s suddenly found some success. I want to be able to enjoy the kinds of opportunities that have opened up to me lately and take that as far as I can. I love being able to reach a big audience with a film like Guardians and with Jurassic World.
STRIPLV: What’s changed in your life?
PRATT: (Laughs) Everything is a lot more fun, not just in terms of taking out the doubt and worry about work, but you have a lot more freedom to pursue projects you badly want to do! For a guy like me, who was doing summer theater for next to no money, and now being able to earn big pay checks—it’s an incredible ride. It also gives me the ability to work on many different kinds of films down the road and not have to worry about the financial side of things.
STRIPLV: What can you tell us about Jurassic World? How different is your character, Owen, from Guardian’s gung-ho adventurer, Peter Quill?
PRATT: They’re completely different. Owen is very serious; very dedicated. He’s someone you would want to have around when things get rough and you need a guy to take charge of things, even though he likes to keep to himself.
STRIPLV: Is it exciting to be part of another potential film franchise?
PRATT: It’s a great script and I also think it says a lot that (original director) Steven Spielberg is giving director Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) the chance to tell a new chapter in the story. Colin had a very clear vision of what he wanted to do and it’s very exciting. It’s an honor to get the chance to carry on a franchise that a lot of kids, like me, grew up loving.
STRIPLV: Were you the kind of kid who had a very active fantasy life?
PRATT: I grew up spend a lot of time drawing comic book characters and creating these huge comic book murals on the walls. I had a big imagination and I would often lose myself for hours at a time reading comics or pretending to be all kinds of heroic characters, like Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Comic books and big action films were part of my world as a kid and they were very inspiring and they were what made me want to become an actor and be part of that make-believe process where you get to reinvent yourself all the time.
STRIPLV: Is it important for you to play iconic heroes for the younger generation?
PRATT: Oh my gosh—that, to me, is the greatest part of all this… I love the fact that Peter Quill (his character in Guardians of the Galaxy) is kind of a role model for kids who like to dream big and want to accomplish great things in their lives. If I hadn’t become an actor, I probably would have become a policeman or a detective. My brother’s a cop, so I identify with characters that have a sense of duty.
STRIPLV: Was getting into shape for films like Zero Dark Thirty and Guardians a huge personal achievement for you?
PRATT: I had to change my whole way of thinking. I had gotten into a frame of mind on Parks and Recreation where I saw my character as someone who would just let himself go and party. I had gotten used to the idea of making a living as an actor by playing the fat friend who makes you laugh. That works for some roles, but you begin to realize how many parts you will never be able to get because you’re out of shape. But at some point I saw that, if I wanted to have a serious career and play serious characters, I needed to get into shape and look after my body. I’ve had to work very hard and maintain a good training regimen for the last year and a half and I have no intention of ever letting myself slide again. I’m eating good food, I’ve cut back on drinking (alcohol), and I have a different mindset now. It’s a matter of having discipline and knowing how much better you feel and the impression you create when you’re physically fit. It would also be hell to have to lose that weight again. I never want to go back to being the fat guy! (Laughing grimly)
STRIPLV: You and your wife Anna Faris are parents to a baby boy, Jack. How did you deal with his premature birth and having to spend so much time with him at the hospital?
PRATT: The toughest part was watching him in the intensive care unit and hooked up to IVs and seeing his heart rate being monitored. We could only hold him for certain limited amounts of time, but that was also beautiful to hear his breathing and feel his heart beating… But it was scary for both of us. We prayed a lot, that he would come through it healthy, and he did! He turned out to be a real fighter and now he’s so active you could never imagine he was once so frail and small.
STRIPLV: What has becoming a father meant to you?
PRATT: I’ve done all kinds of cool stuff as an actor. I’ve gotten to jump out of helicopters and do daring stunts and play baseball in a professional stadium, but none of them mean anything compared to being somebody’s daddy.

Alicia Vikander - 2015's "IT Girl"

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2015's 'IT Girl'
ALICIA VIKANDER

Right now, you might ask ‘who?’ when you hear the name Alicia Vikander. But by the end of this year, she is going to be Hollywood’s new “IT girl” – enjoying worldwide A-list fame. And everyone is going to know exactly who she is.

With an astonishing eight, count them—eight films due for release this year—it’s frankly going to be impossible to avoid the stunning 26-year-old Swede who, in the flesh, is like a cross between Natalie Portman and a young Julie Christie.

She laughs at the attention coming her way in the next few months. “I worry people will be sick of my face after a while,” she laughs, petite and pretty in jeans and a white top. “They’ll think: ‘Oh no, not her again.’”

Previously attached to fellow attractive Swede, Alexander Skarsgard, and more recently snapped holding hands with Irish star, Michael Fassbender, while shooting in Sydney—the beauty is looking at an incredibly busy release schedule.

Vikander has been based in North London for the last four years, and by the end of 2015 she will have starred in [deep breath]: Seventh Son alongside Jeff Bridges and Game of Thrones hunk, Kit Harington; the artificial intelligence thriller, Ex Machina with Domhnall Gleeson (Unbroken); Tulip Fever alongside Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne and Unbroken’s lead Jack O’Connell; The Man from U.N.C.L.E with Henry Cavill and Hugh Grant; The Light Between Oceans with Fassbender and Rachel Weisz; The Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne, and a film by director John Wells which is still untitled, in which she will co-star with Bradley Cooper and 50 Shades’ Jamie Dornan; and another stint with Harington in the long-awaited screen adaptation of Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth—a part Vikander fought hard for.

Relaxed, yet poised, the former ballerina talks about the busy year ahead, pressure as a Hollywood “IT girl” and those Fassbender rumors.

STRIPLV: 2015 is looking like the Year of Vikander.
VIKANDER: I like the sound of that. (laughs)
STRIPLV: It’s true. You have eight films out this year.
VIKANDER: I don’t know how it happened like that. Seriously, you work on a movie, then another, and you’ve no idea when they’re coming out normally, and then it just happens that they’re out in this glut. It’s fantastic.
STRIPLV: Man from U.N.C.L.E; Tulip Fever; The Light Between Oceans—and the list keeps going… Which are you most excited being release?
VIKANDER: [laughs] Most of them I haven’t seen. I’ve seen Testament of
Youth, and I’ve seen Ex-Machina, and that is about it. I’m still trying to catch up with Son of a Gun (which came out in December with Ewan McGregor), but I really haven’t had a chance because I’ve been working so much. I want to see it on the big screen, I don’t want a ‘little screener’ screen. So yeah, it’s great. I love that they’re all so different from each other. I don’t want to do the same thing and I am getting the opportunity to indulge that desire—to work with different directors, different actors. It’s been fantastic. 
STRIPLV: What can we expect from Testament then? When did you first learn about Vera Brittain?
VIKANDER: I guess it’s not like many people growing up here. They read about her growing up here, but as a Swede, I didn’t. But three years ago, my agent told me about the book, about Testament of Youth. And he was like: “Well firstly, great book—and secondly, I hear they’re trying to make a film out of it now, and you have to go for it. This is you.” And as a Swede, you think: ‘Vera was so British and it’s such a British story—how would I suit the part at all?’ Anyway, as you know these indie films take quite a while to put together. But it sort of worked in my favor, because it meant I got the time to do my research and know what I was talking about. And about a year ago, I met the director, James Kent, and they said that they would let me come and join them on this journey. Wonderful part and amazing woman to play, I was dying for this role.
STRIPLV: So what research did you do then?
VIKANDER: Well, the book of course was the best place to start. And then the biggest help that I had when it came to preparation was when it came to the letters—the correspondence between her brother, her fiancé, and her dear friend. That was a direct insight too, into the young woman she was before and during the war. Because the book itself was written when she was a woman in her thirties, and you know, when you look back at an experience like that, things change—especially when you go through a trauma like that; especially after that. Emotionally, you become someone completely different.
STRIPLV: Do you think we’re now a pampered generation in comparison to those who had to deal with war?
VIKANDER: I want to hope that that’s the case. With technology and things happening out there, all over the world there are fights going on. We’re fighting in a different war now. I think the youth will always have that engine within them. That’s why I loved the book, because obviously, I haven’t been faced with war, but I feel the youth are so similar to people my age now, and that’s why you become so emotionally close to them—and being with them on this journey, being in the war and trauma and loss, being part of that, especially of the women left behind. And then Ex-Machina—this film couldn’t be more different.
STRIPLV: You go from wartime to artificial intelligence…
VIKANDER: At least I can’t be accused of remaining in period costume. Although it’s still a different time. I am artificial intelligence, as it were.
STRIPLV: How did they actually film that, because you’re half robot in the film?
VIKANDER: Effects and clever camera work, and lots and lots of takes. It was weird assuming and working the shapes and movements of a character of artificial intelligence. It took a lot of thought and practice, but it was a fascinating journey. And I loved the darkness and depth of the script.
STRIPLV: Director Alex Garland said your background as a ballerina helped you immensely in the role.
VIKANDER: It did, very much so—he’s right. I love to bring something new to everything I work on, but being able to have the freedom to come back to what I knew in this strange fresh way—it was wonderful to be able to fall back on that discipline. But aside from that, it was one of the best scripts I’d ever read and I’m just so grateful to be given the chance to work on this special film.
STRIPLV: Growing up in Sweden, it was looking like you were destined instead for a life in ballet.
VIKANDER: Yes, that was the plan. I trained with the Royal Ballet School in Gothenburg, but there was an accumulation of injuries that meant I couldn’t continue.
STRIPLV: Do you still dance now?
VIKANDER: Not very often.
STRIPLV: Ex-Machina is your second time working with Domhnall Gleeson, after Anna Karenina.
VIKANDER: We just get on so well, and I was delighted to work together again. He’s got this special light of spirit, yet strength and stoicism to his presence.
STRIPLV: You had a small role in Anna Karenina, but many say you overshadowed
Keira Knightley’s lead performance…
VIKANDER: That’s lovely to hear, but couldn’t be further from the truth. Anna was her film—she gave it her all. It was a striking performance. I love her work immensely.
STRIPLV: How does it feel, as the actress in demand? It’s a pretty privileged place to be…
VIKANDER: Well you know, for the last three years, I’ve been lucky enough to focus on my work and only a couple of the films have come out. So I don’t feel it yet. I know what it’s like in Sweden, about how the industry works, and maybe the Danish industry to a lesser extent after doing A Royal Affair. But you know, on the whole, it’s a concept very foreign to me. So I don’t know… Ask me in a few months. I feel quite safe now and ready for the films to get to the audience, but who knows? I do feel pretty equipped for it all. And you want as many people to come see your films, so I know it’s all part of it.
STRIPLV: How are you dealing with the glare into your personal life then? There’s much rumor of a passionate romance with Michael Fassbender…
VIKANDER: I know, that’s part of my job. I know that when I’ve actually… I’ve worked with so many good actresses and actors, and listening to them all handle it in that way and handle the private lives, and then use the public to hopefully get many people to your films.
STRIPLV: And is it true and lasting with Michael?
VIKANDER: (stares blankly with a slight smirk)
VIKANDER’s PUBLICIST: Thank you so much…
VIKANDER: Thank you…

Chris Hemsworth - Fame & Fatherhood

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CHRIS HEMSWORTH
Fame & Fatherhood

About fatherhood:
"It’s the greatest experience you can have. I’m having so much fun with the twins, and my wife and I are just really happy and enjoying this time in our lives. I love my wife and children more than I can possibly describe."

—With the massive hack of Sony Pictures in December, cyber terrorism is now very much in the public spotlight. That made the release of Michael Mann’s new film, “Blackhat”, a thriller about a master hacker on the trail of a cyber-terrorist, about as timely a movie release as you could want. Aussie hunk Chris Hemsworth plays Nick Hathaway, a computer genius whose hacking skills are so valuable that his prison sentence is commuted in exchange for helping track down a cyber-terrorist who has been wreaking havoc on banks, power grids, and other computer networks around the world.

“Math and computer science are totally foreign subjects to me—that’s why I have to rely on acting,” Hemsworth smiles. “I prepared for this film as hard as I have for any film, in terms of doing research on hacking and cyber-crime. You quickly see how dangerous this kind of thing can be when it’s possible for someone sitting at a computer to shut down power grids or blow up nuclear plants. That’s the kind of reality we’re facing.”

The story opens with a malware attack on a Chinese nuclear facility that leads an M.I.T.-trained Chinese military security specialist (Wang Leehom) to enlist the help of his former computer whiz college roommate (Hemsworth) in tracking down the culprit behind the attack. Nick (Hemsworth) and a female ally (Wei Tang) then embark on a hunt that takes them to Jakarta, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Hemsworth studied computer coding, met some of the world’s most notorious hackers prior to working on the film, and immersed himself in the way highly destructive malware and similar computer programs can be launched against corporations, as well as the highest levels of government. Director Michael Mann (The Insider, Miami Vice), was inspired to make the film after the notorious “Stuxnet” computer virus that Israeli cyber teams used to attack an Iranian nuclear facility. That virus nearly destroyed it. Mann has stated that the public should be aware of how vulnerable we are to massive cyber-attacks. “It’s almost like there’s an invisible kind of exoskeleton above the layer in which we think our lives take place on planet Earth, that’s made up of interconnectedness and data, says Mann. “We’re swimming around in it, and everything is totally porous, vulnerable and accessible. And if it hasn’t been targeted, that’s only because somebody hasn’t bothered to yet.” The title of the film takes its name from so-called “Black Hat” hackers who use the Internet to launch malicious attacks on computer systems and otherwise subvert the peaceful use of the web. There’s even an annual Las Vegas Black Hat convention, where the world’s top hackers and Internet security specialists meet to trade information and explore the latest advances in this highly arcane field.

The 31-year-old Chris Hemsworth grew up in Australia and the 6’ 3” actor is best known for playing Thor in The Avengers and the Thor films, as well as race car driver James Hunt in the movie, Rush. Later this year, Hemsworth re-teams with Rush director Ron Howard in the action/adventure film, In the Heart of the Sea, about a 19th century whaling ship that is attacked by a sperm whale that leaves its crew adrift.

Hemsworth lives most of the year in Malibu, California, with his wife, Spanish actress Elsa Patacky (Fast Five, Furious 6 and 7), their 2-year-old baby daughter, India Rose, and 9-month old twin boys, Tristan and Sasha. He got his acting break in the Aussie soap Home and Away. Chris has an older acting brother, Luke, 33, and a younger one, Liam, 24.

STRIPLV: Chris, you’re the proud father of three children, including twin boys. Are you happy to be raising a big family?
HEMSWORTH: It’s the greatest experience you can have. I’m having so much fun with the twins, and my wife and I are just really happy and enjoying this time in our lives. We’re also planning to get back to Australia more often and make sure our children spend a lot of time there growing up. It’s a beautiful place to be able to raise children and I want that to be part of their upbringing.
STRIPLV: Your career is exploding right now with your Avengers franchise as Thor and the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. Is it becoming harder to balance work with your increasing family responsibilities?
HEMSWORTH: I’m more conscious of leaving enough time between projects to be at home with my wife and our children. I’m also fortunate in that Elsa is totally supportive of me and knows that this is a very important time for me as an actor. She understands if I have to go away for three or four months. But we also make sure we spend as much time together as possible, and I am very conscious of my responsibilities as a father, and I love my wife and children more than I can possibly describe.
STRIPLV: How has fatherhood changed your perspective on things?
HEMSWORTH: Your life becomes much more focused and you don’t have as much time to get distracted by unimportant things anymore. You become a lot less selfish and you’re suddenly thinking almost exclusively in terms of creating the best possible life for your wife and children. But I don’t feel I’m giving up anything or making any sacrifices. I had my share of wild times when I was younger and that kind of stuff was never that interesting for me anyway. When I met my wife I was very comfortable with the idea that she was someone I wanted to share my life with and build something for the future.
STRIPLV: Let’s talk about your new film, Blackhat. You spent several months researching computer science and hacking. Could you get into some mischief as an amateur hacker?
HEMSWORTH: (Laughs) I learned a lot from some very smart people who taught me things that are way beyond me. I think I can look very convincing, typing away on a keyboard, but I’m not going to be able to hack into your e-mail or bank account, nor would I want to, either! (Laughs)
STRIPLV: Does it require intense dedication to be a hacker?
HEMSWORTH: You’ve got to spend thousands of hours at it and also be very smart to understand complex coding to even begin to understand the process. It’s an exhausting occupation and it requires incredible concentration, as well as patience, in order to get past high security firewalls and hack into systems. It’s a completely different mindset, but that’s what made it interesting.
STRIPLV: Was it a challenge to play someone who has these very unique skills?
HEMSWORTH: I thrive on being able to step into the head of a character like Nick, who spends his time exploring this world that very few people can understand or do the kinds of things he’s capable of. It’s fascinating to learn how these people think and how they have a certain swagger, because of their abilities to penetrate supposedly secure computer networks and how they laugh at people or organizations that think their systems are secure. They’re not! (Laughs) The Internet is very porous and it’s kind of frightening. Information you think is safe and secret is absolutely not the case. These hackers can get into your phone and computer anytime they want. They can even switch on your phone’s camera and look at you or what you’re looking at!
STRIPLV: Tell us about some of the strangest hackers you met.
HEMSWORTH: There was this one guy who was hacking into a dating site and was able to discover exactly the kinds of things women were looking for in male profiles. So he would list all these attributes to make himself the ideal kind of man and pick out exactly the girls he wanted—and suddenly he went from having one coffee date a week to having ten dates a day, simply by hacking into the system.
STRIPLV: Michael Mann is one of Hollywood’s most important directors. How would you describe your experience working with him?
HEMSWORTH: It was incredible. Some of the top ten favorite movies of mine, like Heat and Last of the Mohicans, were directed by Michael. To work with someone with such attention to detail and precision is very intimidating. It’s a luxury to be able to work with a filmmaker of that caliber, and who knows everything about the world you’re exploring and all the details that help tell the story.
STRIPLV: Do you ever look back at your success and wonder how you’ve been able to get to this point, when you consider that you grew up in the Australian Outback?
HEMSWORTH: I could just as easily have become a beach bum—or a footballer. My mates would laugh at me when I was a teenager. Each week I had a different goal. “I’m going to be a doctor!” Then the next week: “I’m going to be a boxer!” If I look back on it, what was the common thread? I don’t know, but I knew I was going to be moving forward.
STRIPLV: Your brothers are also actors. Any rivalry between you three?
HEMSWORTH: No. We all look out for each other. I’ve always made sure that I get to spend some time with my brothers somewhere around the world. I’ve also been really fortunate to have had a big brother like Luke. He carried me on his shoulders when I was starting out in the business. He’s helped me enormously over the years, and without his help, I doubt whether I would have succeeded as much as I have. It helps to have someone like that explaining the ropes to you. And now, several years down the road, it’s been my turn to help my little brother, Liam, make his way in Hollywood.
STRIPLV: Your wife Elsa Patacky is Spanish. Do you ever speak Spanish to her?
HEMSWORTH: (Laughs) I’m trying to learn the language and I hope to be more fluent in another year or so... My Spanish is so horrible that I can’t even understand her when she’s angry with me and yelling at me in her native language. I can’t understand a word—and that’s probably a good thing! (Laughs) But at least I’ve learned a very important Spanish phrase which helps calm things down: “Si, mi amor!” (Yes, my love!) (Laughs) Saying “Si, mi amor,” is enough to cool things down between us when we’re having one of those typical husband-wife moments. STRIPLV: What about your kids—are they going to learn Spanish?
HEMSWORTH: Our daughter is already speaking Spanish and our twins are also going to be fluent in both English and Spanish. Maybe I’m going to have to raise my Spanish level! (Laughs) Give me another year. I do love Spain. We travel there as much as we can to visit Elsa’s family.
STRIPLV: Would you like your children to be able to travel a lot, given your Spanish and Australian family connections, and your work as an actor, which will often take you to different places around the world?
HEMSWORTH: I think traveling and getting to know the world is very important, especially for kids. I grew up on cattle and buffalo stations in the Northern Territory, and then my family and I moved back to Melbourne and then down the coast. Those kinds of experiences helped shape me and my brothers’ way of looking at the world and making us more adventurous. Traveling, meeting different kinds of people and exploring different places will teach you more about life than you can pick up from reading books. I want my kids to be able to have similar kinds of experiences.

Kristen Stewart - 24

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The public has always had a love-hate relationship with Kristen Stewart. Though we loved her as Twilight’s Bella, it was hard to warm to Stewart, personally. She twitched and stammered her way through TV interviews, she seemed sullen and uncomfortable when making public appearances, and otherwise behaved like a very ungracious movie star.

This year, however, Stewart has chosen to respond to her critics in both word and deed. Not only has she adopted a more confident and articulate persona when speaking to the media, she has also delivered a series of outstanding performances in films like Camp X-Ray, and Clouds of Sils Maria, co-starring Chloë Grace Moretz and Juliette Binoche (where she’s received applause both abroad and at Film Festivals across the U.S.—due in limited theaters April 10, 2015) and most notably in her newest film, Still Alice, co-starring Julianne Moore.

An intense and moving drama, Still Alice sees Stewart play the troubled daughter of a college professor (Moore) afflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s and how their relationship evolves over the course of the illness. Critics have given both actresses rave reviews for their highly sensitive work in the film. Stewart believes that the role is “very close” to her own nature, and came at a time when she claims to have finally overcome her high anxiety over the trappings of fame.

“I feel a lot stronger and more comfortable with the process,” Stewart declares. “I’ve been working really hard and I’m really happy with the way things have been going. I’ve become a lot better able to deal with everything that my job involves and understanding the reality of it. I’m not overwhelmed by it all anymore and it’s easier for me to put it into context and talk about it and not let it [her celebrity] get to me.”

This kind of declaration is a measure of the 24-year-old Stewart’s refusal to be defined by a distorted perception of herself as a surly and ungrateful celebrity. Instead, she has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged the public to accept her as a highly independent woman who finally feels comfortable in her own skin—even though she admits to lacking the gift for self-promotion.

“I’m not very good at playing up to what people expect from me. I know I’m not good at doing TV, and the way I present myself… but it’s also not something that I aspire to being good at. I know that some actors fucking love doing that, but I’m not that interested in promoting myself. I would rather have people focus on the film and hope that people appreciate the work I do, rather than just have all the attention put on me.”

What we are witnessing today is Stewart’s transformation from a skittish nymphet into a confident, albeit still fidgety, movie star who has declared herself ready to assume the responsibilities of stardom and is no longer terrified of the limelight.

Ever since she exploded into the public consciousness with the Twilight films, it was plain that she was not your ordinary sort of movie star. In an age of Kardashian-style media mongering, Stewart hated the wave of attention that descended on her and turned her then-romance with Robert Pattinson into tabloid fodder.

Then her world came crashing down with the sensational revelation of her affair with Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, via photos of their secret assignations. Stewart was branded a cheater and a home-wrecker and a massive backlash followed in the wake of her split from Pattinson. Often caught unsmiling and shabbily dressed by the paparazzi, she became saddled with the image of the surly celebrity. Her Hollywood fairytale had turned into an ugly soap opera.

As fate would have it, Stewart has rebounded from her epic fall from grace by doing what she does best—acting. Her recent string of stellar performances leaves little doubt that Stewart is a brilliant actress with a bright future. Currently single and living in L.A., Kristen is now planning to take some time off to focus on working on short films, sculpture, and different ways of “being creative.” While filming Equals, a sci-fi love story co-starring Nicholas Hoult (Jennifer Lawrence’s ex-boyfriend), rumors of a real-life affair between Stewart and Hoult turned out to have no basis in fact.

THE KRISTEN STEWART FILE

ON HER NEW FILM, STILL ALICE
“I felt we were doing something important with this film, by drawing attention to Alzheimer’s, and it was a very meaningful role for me. It was one of those situations where you feel so lucky to be doing something you love and enjoying every moment of that experience. I live for these kinds of things.”

“[My character] definitely resembles me, because I didn’t try otherwise. There was no effort on my part to hide myself [in Still Alice]. All I tried to do with this part was to find myself and show myself. The best way to service this character was to be there honestly, so all affectations were meaningless. I could just have my own. It was selfishly a personal experience, but it had to be, so that the viewer would feel it as well. I didn’t need to play a character who was outside myself...I didn’t want to riddle her with shit that was going to distract you from the honesty of the relationship [with Moore’s character].

“It was amazing to watch Julie [Julianne Moore] work and create this performance. You could feel it on the set—everyone in the cast and crew was aware of how good she was. Julie was so prepared and emotionally invested in her character and that’s what the great actresses are able to do—they understand everything they need to know about the character and then let their emotions take over. With Julie, she’s completely in the moment and you can’t “see” the performance or the mechanics behind it, because it’s so seamless.”

“Julie is a very inspiring woman. Every day working with her was such a gift and a pleasure. I wanted to be able to get to the point where my performance was what was necessary to help Julie achieve what she wanted to do and what the story needed. In that kind of situation, you are so blown away about how good and intense the performance is that you feel an obligation to be as committed as you can be, and I wanted to make sure that I was doing everything I could to do her story justice.”

“Being pushed to that level was fun and that’s when actors are at their best when someone has this ability to work at such a high level and you’re feeling this rush of adrenaline that makes you want to work at the same level and not let her down.”

ON HER EVOLUTION AS TWILIGHT’S BELLA
“It’s very rare that you get to play a character over the course of so many films. Bella meant a lot to me and she will always be such a formative event in my career. I grew up with her and she and I have been on this great journey together. When she becomes a vampire, she is really becoming the most fully developed and expressed version of her human self. It was a transition that she was determined and even desperate to make.”

“People identify with Bella’s journey and how she finally arrives at that stage of her life where she’s not completely sure of what she’s doing, but she has this instinctive understanding of where she needs to go in life.”

“I also see many parallels between her evolution and my own, because I lived so many things along the way while playing Bella and having this connection to so many people involved in making the films over the years. It would be impossible for me to separate my world from Bella’s.”

“I was scared of so many things [during her years working on Twilight]. I was not overcompensating but just compensating.”

ON HOW SHE FEELS MISUNDERSTOOD
“I’m not saying that anyone’s impression of me is wrong (that would be a silly thing to say), but initially I was deemed very ungrateful, like I didn’t care. It’s a thing. Think anything about me—do NOT think that I don’t care. It was because I was nervous and I was freaking out that everyone was fucking staring at me.”

“Initially, [doing interviews] was just kind of impossible. When you’re put on the spot and you can’t think… it was a ridiculous version of that. It blew up in my face. It’s hilarious that the perception is that I don’t care, because when that was happening, I was like: ‘Oh my god, no one cares more than me!’”

“I feel [the eyes watching me], but it doesn’t freak me out anymore. I’ve trained myself to not worry about it or feel stressed by that, because there’s nothing I can do to change that, so I might as well be cool about it and not let myself feel uncomfortable.”

“I don’t try to control the perception of me or make people think a certain way about me... I don’t know how people do that. I don’t know how people tactfully traverse their careers. I don’t know how they choose, “Well, this is a different side of me people have not seen and so I will present that to them now,” [when doing interviews]. It’s like, ‘Why are you doing this for other people? You should be doing it for yourself.’ And so I’ve functioned from that position since I started.”

“It’s like a soap opera. I try not to let it mess with me, because my true personal life, as much as people think they know about it, they don’t know dick shit. Who could? Nobody knows what the fuck is going on. You’re going to die. You’re going to lay next to the people that you know the most in life, the people that you’re going to grow old with. But you’re going to lay next to them in the middle of the night deeply curious about them and who they are, because nobody fucking knows anything!”

“I understand that the media is geared to creating a narrative about the celebrities they write about, but people should understand that often the stories have very little truth to them, and that people have no idea what’s really going on inside someone else’s life. Unless you’re very close to someone, you know how difficult it is to really understand what’s going on in that person’s life. It’s also very rare that things are all black or all white. The truth is often very complicated and I try not to get upset when it comes to stories about me, because I know it’s simply the way the media operates.”

ON LOVE
“You don’t know who you will fall in love with. You just don’t. You don’t control it. Some people have certain things like: ‘That’s what I’m going for,’ and I have a subjective version of that. I don’t pressure myself... If you fall in love with someone, you want to own them—but really, why would you want that? You want them to be what you love. I’m much too young to even have an answer for that question.”

ON HER HATERS
“Honestly, I don’t care. It’s fine. I’m really happy doing what I’m doing. I’m sure there are a ton of people out there who would hate my movies even if they saw all those, just as I’m sure there are people out there who are obsessed with Twilight and say, ‘I watched the series, and she completely let me down, and then I watched every one of her other movies, and I fuckin’ hate her!’ And that’s cool! Just don’t watch my movies.”

ON DEFENDING THE NOTION OF FEMINISM
“Do you not believe in equality for men and women? [The backlash against the notion of ‘feminism’] is a response to overly-aggressive types. There are a lot of women who feel persecuted and go on about it, and I sometimes am like, ‘Honestly, just relax, because now you’re going in the other direction.’ Sometimes, the loudest voice in the room isn’t necessarily the one you should listen to. By our nature alone, think about what you’re saying and say it—but don’t scream in people’s faces, because then you’re discrediting us. [Some women say]: ‘If you want to make it in the film industry as a woman, you have to be a bitch.’ No, you are going to ruin any chance you have and give us a bad name. It’s the overcompensation to which our generation responds, ‘Relax,’ because it’s been easier for us, and because we don’t have as much of the anger, so it’s like we can’t get behind it and it’s a bit embarrassing. But that being said, it’s a really ridiculous thing to say you’re not a feminist.”

ON LOVING ACTING, BUT LOATHING FAME
“I initially wanted to get into this business by working on a film crew, like my parents did, and I loved being on a movie set. But because I was so young at the time, acting was my only way in, and things evolved from there. I love film so much that I didn’t think or care that much about the fame that sometimes comes with it. I love acting, but sometimes you would rather be able to live a more normal life and not have to worry about where you go.”

[Fame]: “That’s all I’ve really wanted. I’ve already had more attention than I ever imagined possible, and even when I was starting out in the business, I never wanted to be famous.”

“Even with all the success I’ve had, I don’t feel any different from the girl I was before I became famous. It’s hard for me to analyze it and compare how my life would have been if Twilight hadn’t happened, although when I look at where I am, I can at least say I’m pretty happy with how far I’ve come...”

“I don’t think I can ever step outside myself fully. It’s not the type of acting I want to do. I’ve been lucky enough to be allowed to do this. Everyone can tell me that I run my hand through my hair too much, and that’s fine, because I’m truly there and very present in these moments. With the roles I’ve been playing, especially recently in films like Sils Maria and Still Alice, the way to do those parts justice is to just really be them and to learn the things they’re learning. You’ve got to walk in their shoes for real and experience what they experience. In that regard, I didn’t feel like I was playing characters. They were so there for me, I just wanted to live in them.”

ON ONE OF HER FAVORITE ROLES – 
MARYLOU IN ON THE ROAD
“[When I began work on the film, On The Road], I asked myself: ‘Oh my God, how am I going to play such a bubbly person?’ I felt very different from her, especially from her outward self. Marylou was constantly smiling; she shined. As soon as I knew where that smile came from, it became much easier for me. It’s not a vanity thing. She was aware of herself physically, but she was able to throw that out. Whereas most girls who smile are smiling at themselves, she’s truly smiling at you.”

“It truly was the most absolutely loaded, richest, craziest, wildest time I ever spent on a set. It didn’t feel like we were doing a movie... We were exhausted. We didn’t sleep—ever. I don’t know how we did some of those scenes... It really felt spontaneous, like “on the road” should always feel. Our trip would have been worth doing, even if we weren’t filming it.”

“I was so dead. It was very hot in Montreal at the time, and we had 60 extras in the little room we were shooting. I was able to shake my nerves for all the other scenes, but for [the dance scene], I was very nervous, because I’m not a dancer. But it was my job to lose my mind. I wanted so badly to get to the point where I couldn’t see. Every single time I thought I was going to fall over, someone caught me. It scared the hell out of me, but at the same time it was the most fun thing I’ve ever done.”

ON FAME, TWITTER, AND NOT WANTING
TO TURN INTO A BAGS OF CHIPS
“With some people, you wonder why they’re still doing what they’re doing. What is driving you at this point? The job takes a toll. You’re giving so much of yourself all the time. It’s not something in your genetics that you retain. It can really kind of destroy you, constantly thinking about what people think about you.”

“People who want to be movie stars—it’s such bullshit. That type of life is a huge driving force in so many actor’s lives. But they won’t be happy people at the end, ‘cause they’re not doing anything for themselves.”

“What would I Tweet about? Who are you talking to? What are you saying? Imagine sitting here right now and thinking: ‘That’s a good thing to say to the world?’ (Glancing at her phone) What?! I can’t even understand it.”

“It’s annoying that people think, ‘Oh, is this the role where she’s going to show everyone how she’s grown?’ I’m not trying to show anyone anything... When I take on a role, I don’t care what people think about them afterwards. I really want the experience. I think a lot of actors—not good ones—are just product-oriented, as is the business. Never, at any point, have I sat down and plotted how I should proceed from here on. As soon as you start thinking about your career as a trajectory—like, as if you’re going to miss out on some wave or momentum—then you’re never doing anything for yourself anyway. Then you’re truly, actually, specifically working for the public. You’re turning yourself into a bag of chips.”

ON HER FUTURE 
AND HOW EVERY DOOR IS OPEN TO HER
“I have very much fallen into every situation, every creative and not creative experience that I have delved into based on gut. I can get any role with a snap of my fingers, and I don’t have to fight and struggle on my way up, like some other actors.”

“I imagine a huge map with lots of streets and roads, and the only thing I have to do is choose: Where do I want to stay? Every door is open for me. Everything I do, I do for myself. Blockbuster, art-house or Chanel commercial—it doesn’t matter. It could seem that, after a successful movie, I can allow myself anything. And you know what? I can! It’s incredible! I can do anything I fucking want.”

“I’m taking some time off, because I’ve been working for two years. I’m an actor and that’s my art form, and because I started that so young, I’ve always felt intimidated and insufficient when I think about other forms of art I want to create. I’m going to buy a work space in downtown L.A. and I’m going to make some [stuff] with my hands, literally. I made that decision a few weeks ago. I’m making a short film. I’m making a bunch of [stuff]. I don’t know how I’ll put it out. But I’m not going to hold it so preciously close to me.”

“Now, I really have no apprehension about anything, which is great. I can get behind all of my creative endeavors more so than ever before. I’m super-happy and challenged, and inspired and relaxed.”

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