Rupert Sanders is only human.
It's been nearly five years since the director suddenly found himself in the tabloids, thanks to his indiscretion with Kristen Stewart, who starred in his movie, Snow White and the Huntsman. (At the time, Sanders was married to Liberty Ross, while Stewart was dating Robert Pattinson.)
Sanders and Stewart were caught kissing on July 17, 2012, and Us Weekly broke news of their affair with exclusive photos, published online and in print a week later. Soon after the story broke, the director issued a public apology to his wife of 11 years and their kids. "I love them with all my heart," he said (via a publicist). "I am praying that we can get through this together."
Similarly, Stewart apologized to Pattinson, whom she'd been dating for three years. "I'm deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I've caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob," the actress said. "I love him. I love him. I'm so sorry."
Now that the dust has settled, Sanders is less apologetic and more sympathetic—for all parties involved. Last week, while promoting Ghost in the Shell, the director was asked what he'd learned from the affair and the media frenzy that followed. "You never know what's coming in life. Around every corner there's something unexpected, and that's life. You just have to brush yourself off and continue moving forward the best you can. Everyone makes mistakes. I am bound to make more mistakes, and I wouldn't expect my life to be exciting if I didn't," he told the U.K.'s Metro. The bad publicity didn't help his career, but it wasn't a death sentence. "If you took people off the table for a momentary lapse," he said, "there would be no one making art."
Stewart, too, has moved on from the ordeal.
Last year, the actress referred to her fling with Sanders as "the scandal" and spoke candidly about how the public turned on her. "Women are so judgmental of each other. It's very innate, instinctive, f--ked-up, animal-like," she told Variety. "It was something that was a nuisance. How do you resent me if you've actually never met me?" Neither Sanders nor Stewart returned for the sequel, The Huntsman: Winter's War, although it had nothing to do with their affair. "It wasn't a situation where I got kicked off a movie because I got in trouble. We had been in talks months after that about making something work," Stewart said, "and it never came together."
Ross described that period of her life as "horrible" in a 2013 Vanity Fair profile. "It was really the worst, really the worst," said the model, who wed music producer Jimmy Iovine in 2016. "I have no words to describe what we went through. But I think, for me, something always has to completely die for there to be a rebirth. And, for me, I feel like I'm going through a rebirth."
Pattinson is over the drama, too. "S--t happens, you know?" the Twilight actor laughed in a 2014 Esquire U.K. profile. "It's just young people…It's normal! And honestly, who gives a s--t?"
Sanders couldn't have said it better himself.