Danny Martindale / Getty Images Contributor
Why is Kristen Stewart smiling? Perhaps because she earned $34.5 million over the last year.
There’s more to Kristen Stewart than Bella Swan.
There’s no doubt that the "Twilight" actress, who toppled Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker on Forbes.com’s annual list of highest paid actresses on Tuesday, is a box office draw. But can she act?
“She couldn't act her way out of a paper bag,” wrote one of our Facebook readers.
"She's a horrible actress! She lacks any inner fire or warmth," wrote another.
But some critics and actors beg to differ.
“On the plus side, portraying Bella Swan has brought Kristen Stewart fame, fortune and a (frighteningly) dedicated fan base who thinks she can do no wrong,” wrote Moviefone’s Sandie Angulo-Chen. “On the other hand, there are pockets of film-lovers who can't stand the 'Twilight' films or think Stewart is nothing more than a doe-eyed ingénue.”
What critics may not know is that Stewart, 22, landed her role in the “Twilight” franchise because she so impressed Emile Hirsch in Sean Penn’s Academy-Award nominated “Into the Wild,” wrote Angulo-Chen. “Stewart is a fascinating young actress who deserves to be considered for much more than taking a part in a paranormal romance that just happened to be a global sensation.”
In her most recent film, “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Stewart earned kudos from fellow actor and one-time Oscar host James Franco in The Huffington Post: “The images of Snow White as a leader of immense strength, charging on horseback across the beach at the head of an army, has less to do with her character and more to do with the actress who plays her."
In 2011, Stewart won a best actress award at the Milan International Film Festival for “Welcome to the Rileys,” an independent film in which she plays a teenage stripper befriended by a middle-aged businessman. In a New York Times review of the film, Monohla Dargis calls Stewart “an exceptionally appealing screen presence, and she makes Mallory’s confusion — the swings between vulgar braggadocio and clutching vulnerability — reverberant and real.”
But Stewart is undoubtedly best known for her lead role in the "Twilight" series. While Stewart took the MTV Movie Awards for best female performance in 2008 for “Twilight,” 2009 for “New Moon” and 2011 for “Eclipse,” her portrayal of Bella Swan in the franchise also earned her two worst actress Razzie nominations (for “Eclipse” and “Breaking Dawn – Part 1”).
Long before Stewart had ever heard the name Edward Cullen, however, she portrayed Jodie Foster's daughter in 2002's "Panic Room," for which she received her first of four nominations for a Young Artist Award. (The other films for which she was nominated were 2003's "Cold Creek Manor," 2004's "Undertow" and 2007's "Into the Wild.") In 2010, at the height of "Twilight's" popularity, Stewart won BAFTA's Rising Star Award.
Stewart’s movies have grossed an average of $65.9 million, according to the-numbers.com. For the final two movies in the “Twilight” series, imbd.com notes that Stewart was paid $12.5 million plus a share of the profits.
Whether or not you think she can act, Stewart has proven that she has star power.
- Kristen Stewart bumps Angelina Jolie as highest-paid actress
- Renesmee revealed! Fans get first look at Bella and Edward's daughter
- Video: Kristen Stewart on 'scarier' Snow White