TORONTO – It’s been tough for Kristen Stewart to be back out in public after revelations of an affair that led to her breakup with “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson.
Yet there’s no place she would rather be than at the Toronto International Film Festival alongside her colleagues for the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s 1950s Beat Generation novel, “On the Road.”
Stewart said she never thought about skipping the festival, where the film played ahead of its U.S. theatrical release in December.
She said it was important to be there with director Walter Salles and co-stars that include Kirsten Dunst and Garrett Hedlund, who like Stewart had worked for years to get the film made.
“We have been waiting for this thing to be unleashed for so long. It was sort of one of those situations where you just have to put yourself in your body and go appreciate the moment,” Stewart said in an interview Saturday.
Recalling the film’s world premiere at May’s Cannes Film Festival, Stewart said, “I would have been happy standing at Cannes with the entire theater booing it as long as I was in that row with my cast and with Walter. We would have been fine. I feel so strong with these people, and it’s so appropriate. I belonged there.”
Since Cannes, Stewart’s personal life has unraveled as she admitted she cheated on Pattinson with her “Snow White and the Huntsman” director, Rupert Sanders.
The Toronto premiere of “On the Road” on Thursday was Stewart’s first public appearance since, and she was greeted by hundreds of “Twilight” fans who came out to show support for the 22-year-old actress.
“You expect a lot of people at a ‘Twilight’ premiere, but showing up at an ‘On the Road’ Toronto film festival screening and seeing that amount of people is absolutely, disarmingly amazing,” Stewart said. “It felt pretty cool.”
“On the Road” has been on Hollywood’s to-do list for decades, but previous attempts to adapt it for film always fell through.
Salles (“Central Station,” ”The Motorcycle Diaries”) spent years developing the film, which stars Hedlund as beat generation free spirit Dean Moriarty, inspired by Kerouac’s friend Neal Cassady, and Sam Riley as the author’s alter-ego, Sal Paradise.
Stewart co-stars as Dean’s first wife, Marylou, who joins him and Sal on some of their crazed cross-country adventures.
The novel was a consciousness-raising experience for Stewart when she first read it as a high school freshman.
“Marylou and Dean are the type of people that I was inspired by. Initially, at 15 reading the book, going, God, these are the sort of people I’ve got to find. The mad ones,” Stewart said. “And I am so not one of them, but maybe I could be. …
“The great thing about ‘On the Road’ is that it really can crack open your shell, and I definitely realized things about myself that I didn’t realize before. That I can let my face hang out and not be too aware of it, and stop questioning myself and not be afraid of strangers, and stop being judgmental.”
Coping with photographers and TV crews at Thursday’s red-carpet premiere was a challenge.
“I was a little nervous, obviously. I’m always nervous before a red carpet,” Stewart said. “To be honest, I was just kind of telling myself, like, just don’t black out. Be there, don’t just figuratively put your head down and barrel though it. Be there, appreciate it. Luckily, very, very much I was able to do that.”
In November, Stewart faces some awkward public appearances when she and Pattinson will be promoting “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” the finale of their vampire romance.
Stewart is confident they will get through that all right.
“We’re going to be fine,” Stewart said. “We’re totally fine.”