Independent films and Italian dishes, that’s what Kristen Stewart’s mom Jules Stewart has cooking.
The first of those is “K-11,” opening March 15 in theaters and OnDemand, the debut directorial effort from the longtime script supervisor. The latter is a reference to a lasagna cook-off the Australian-born film industry vet held against her daughter, star of the “Twilight” films, “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “On the Road.”
”I made a sausage-based lasagna, and Kristen made a cheese and marinara. We had friends come over as blind judges and she won,” says the woman the Twihard crowd refers to as “MamaStew.”
”K-11” is an old-school exploitation film starring ”ER’s” Goran Visnjic as a wrongly imprisoned record exec placed in a jail wing for transgendered and gay cons. Character actors like Jason Mewes, Tommy ’Tiny’ Lister and D.B. Sweeny costar, while some of the transgendered characters are not played by men-as-women, but by actresses pretending to be men transformed to women. Among them is Mexican superstar Kate del Castillo as the violent leader Mousey.
Alas, daughter Kristen is not in the film, though her voice is heard for a brief moment over the phone.
”We know it’s not a film for everyone,” says the heavily tattooed Stewart. “We’re okay with that. But midnight audiences in gay neighborhoods dressing up as the characters? That’s my dream come true. I would love to see Mousey for Halloween.”
"Twilight" fans have taken to Jules Stewart. In addition to having her own well-trafficked MamaStew tag on tumblr, the Twihards with have created at least one "K-11" Internet fan site, something virtually unheard of for a microbudget film from a first-time director about a fringe topic.
When Jules tweeted "Hey, anybody seen Kristen? Ask her to call her mom," the Internet exploded (5,000 retweets, 3,000 favorites) and speculative interpretation was like a meeting of Talmudic scholars. Commenter @Spitfire_King had a nice spin, noting "no matter what level you work, a parent chasing offspring for contact."
While Jules Stewart doesn’t claim credit for her 22-year-old daughter’s cooking prowess (”maybe I influenced her a little?”) she is quick to quip that the Hollywood star’s apple pie is ”extraordinary and award-winning.”
Far less evocative of ”apple pie” is the new film Jules is serving up. The independent production ”K-11” is a fictional film set in a very real opt-in wing of the Los Angeles County Jail for detainees who are transgendered or gay.
”It’s the only place in a jail system where race is not an issue,” she says. “Being gay or transgendered binds them all together. And, yes, there is a fashion show every Thursday.”
While this is Jules’ first film as a director, she’s been working behind the scenes for decades. Her credits as a script supervisor are diverse, ranging from David Lynch’s 1999 ”The Straight Story” to comedies like 2004’s ”Soul Plane.”
While that job is all about checking for continuity, it’s not an attribute she takes home with her. ”If I come to your house for a cocktail I’m not going to come back two months later and tell you what’s been moved,” Stewart jokes. “In my job I’m a paid observer, in life I don’t scrutinize.”
It was while she was up in Canada working on the Cuba Gooding Jr. film ”Snow Dogs” when her daughter Kristen was on set with Jodie Foster shooting director David Fincher’s ”Panic Room.” It resulted in Kristen’s biggest movie up to that time, and a special kind of Hollywood rite-of-passage.
”I wasn’t there for her birthday, so Jodie threw her a party on set,” Stewart says. “She hired a Mariachi band and had Mexican catering and everyone brought her presents. Jodie did all this while she was pregnant. When I came down for the end of the shoot, she said ’thank you for having your daughter.’”
”I’ve seen it firsthand. If publications have no news about someone, they make it up, and it hurts people,” Stewart says. “I’ve read in magazines at the grocery store that my daughter is pregnant, that she’s having a three-headed baby, that she married an alien. Obviously some stories are so ridiculous you know they can’t be true. But other false stories could potentially be true. As a mother, it is difficult to read things that I know for a fact are not true.”
As for what’s really true, well, that’s something MamaStew isn’t going to discuss. ”That has nothing to do with my film or me,” she politely, but firmly, states.