There's just something about Kristen Stewart all of a sudden!
Or perhaps not so suddenly.
Her biggest supporters who've loved her for a thousand years have known all along just how talented she is, whether they first caught her in Twilight—which was, like, already her 16th movie—or have been a fan of the indie work she's tended to gravitate to, both in between Twilight films and since the blockbuster franchise ended in 2012.
But for awhile now there have been some dueling schools of thought on Stewart. One was emboldened by those who didn't get Twilight and therefore didn't get her, or otherwise lumped her in with those ridiculous/modern-day-classic (take your pick) films and called it a day.
Another faction remained unaffected by Twilight, but for whatever reason, Stewart rubbed them the wrong way.
And then, of course, there are those who've been wild about her all along, while still others have never thought twice about K.Stew, wouldn't know what "K.Stew" meant if you used the moniker, and can see her in a movie and have zero preconceived notions whatsoever about what to expect.
They're probably the lucky ones.
But if you've been following the trajectory of Stewart's career, at least from when she became a household name thanks to Twilight—and then a tabloid sensation thanks to her real-life romance with co-star Robert Pattinson—you saw that there has oft been a gap between Hollywood and the fashion world's embrace of her (she's been a Chanel muse for years) and everyday impressions of the actress.
Sometimes it just takes awhile for stars—even unquestionably successful ones—to connect with people off-camera, if they ever even do. It's made all the harder when the star doesn't fit into a convenient category or otherwise indicates early on that she finds the fame game ridiculous.
Not that Stewart was ever a hermit, or inordinately obstinate or anything. She made repeated appearances at Comic-Con, the MTV Movie Awards, talk shows, junkets—the whole kit and caboodle. She discussed her films and her process, what turning into a vampire meant to Bella Swan and the ever-divisive debate that was Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.
She usually danced around questions about her personal life, but then publicly apologized after a paparazzo caught her kissing her Snow White and the Huntsman director when she was still dating Rob.
She played the game when she was compelled to play the game.
"I would have been very happy just working from job to job, paying my rent one movie at a time," she said on Conan back in 2012. "I never wanted to be this famous. I never imagined this life for myself."
Overall, Stewart has more outwardly in common with someone like Jennifer Lawrence than she does with, say, Taylor Swift, both examples of stars with very devoted fans. While Swifties can't get enough of the entire T.Swift lifestyle, mishaps in love and all, J.Law's admirers seem to like her because of her "how did I get here, I'm just a girl who likes food and dogs and family and stories about bodily functions" vibe.
But while Lawrence has thrived in the court of public opinion by being unabashedly outspoken about her own awkwardness, Stewart's actual awkwardness seemed to scare people away. Maybe they thought she was just being difficult because she could (even though, in hindsight, she was never actually being difficult in the Hollywood diva sense of the word), or they thought that she thought she was too cool for school.
Looking back, there may not have been a single moment—at least in the last four years—when Stewart wasn't being 100 percent herself, but her at-times palpable discomfort with whatever it was she was doing or being asked left people more often wondering, "what's her problem?" than thinking, "Aw, I want to hang out with her!"
Or sometimes, those sentiments would meet in the middle in the form of, "She looks like she needs a hug. Though if I try to give her one, she'll probably punch me in the face."
"Really, I'm incredibly disjointed and not candid," she told The Movie Guy in 2008. "Just in general, my thoughts tend to come out in little spurts that don't necessarily connect. If you hang around long enough, you can find the linear path. But it will take a second. That is why these interviews never go well for me."
Frankly, a lot of people can't handle other people's honesty—it weirds them out. And Kristen Stewart, whether she was saying much or not at any given time, has always saved her acting for the screen. Off-camera, she's taken very few pains to encourage people to like her.
But now, that point is officially moot.
Because Kristen Stewart is happy, and we're all getting a contact high.
Her directorial debut, a short film about past relationships that so consumed her thought process she was compelled to make a movie about them, premiered at Sundance. Then she started making the talk show rounds promoting her latest film, the haunting drama Personal Shopper.
Throughout, the contentedness that started to radiate last year, when she opened up for the first time about being in love with another woman (the actress and her then-girlfriend were photographed together frequently beforehand), has become even more apparent.
"I would never talk about any of my relationships before, but once I started dating girls it seemed like there was an opportunity to represent something really positive," she told The New York Times in August. "I still want to protect my personal life, but I don't want to seem like I'm protecting the idea, so that does sort of feel like I owe something to people."
But not only does she seem to be in a better mood than she was for the entire time she was making five Twilight movies, Kristen Stewart just seems comfortable, finally. Even when she's still doing her fidgety, "um, suit yourself" brand of interacting, she's owning it. What you see is what you get and, well...we'll have what she's having.
"I'm not the typical showman," she re-confirmed to the Times. "But at the same time, I want so badly to expose myself. I want to be understood and I want to be seen, and I want to do that in the rawest, purest, most naked way I can."
Let us also take a moment to remember that Stewart is still only 26. She's been acting since she was in her single digits and did The Safety of Objects when she was barely 11; it was at an extremely early age that she was called upon to exhibit a precocious poise that not every actress is born with—or cares to master at all.
And while any reason that a stranger could have ever given for "not liking" Stewart would've been completely arbitrary, to say the least, there's a certain warmth that comes from authentic confidence that can't help but draw people in.
So let's now talk about the real reason we're here: Saturday Night Live.
Namely, the time Kristen Stewart won over any stragglers to her cause. What a monologue—effortlessly funny, self-deprecating, scathingly pointed in all the right places. She poked fun at the reason most people knew her name in the first place, acknowledged cheating on her then-bf and then played with the absurd level of tabloid and Twitter fallout that ensued.
She also joked that a certain POTUS might be perturbed, years after he declared himself Team Rob, to find out that she's "so gay."
She even made fun of her reputation for seeming like she's "too cool for school."
Not that Kristen Stewart has never made fun of herself before, or never laughed and let loose in public. As a team, she and Adventureland and American Ultra co-star Jesse Eisenberg have done all sorts of funny interview bits, playing "Never Have I Ever" and asking each other purposely sexist questions in a sketch for Funny or Die. She has also quietly excelled at her craft, becoming the only American woman to win a César, the French Oscar.
She was really perfectly charming at Comic-Con, joking in 2011 that she did see some of herself in the role of Snow White because, "well, I'm the fairest in the land." She added, "And I have a seriously good heart, really, for people who don't know me."
Being the savvy young woman she is, you don't need to tell Stewart that she hasn't won over everybody along the way. And it's quite possible that even the news that she's being widely applauded for her SNL hosting debut didn't merit too much more than a shrug and a smile.
But we hope it was a big smile.
Without question this is a new era for her, professionally and personally—and she may need to brace herself, because more people than ever are going to enjoy being along for the ride. It took a few years, but the appreciation of Kristen Stewart is finally underway.