The Runaways, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and opens in theaters on Friday, sees Kristen Stewart playing guitarist Jett and Dakota Fanning as singer Cherie Currie.
Currie, Jett and three others were part of the 1970s band that scored a hit with Cherry Bomb but soon broke up when drug abuse and outsized egos overtook the music.
Jett later formed the Blackhearts and topped record charts with songs such as I Love Rock-n-Roll. But she still holds The Runaways near to her heart. She talked to Reuters recently about her music and the movie, which also looks at the love relationship that developed between her and Currie.
On The Runaways you are executive producer, which can mean a lot of things. What did you actually do on the film?
Mainly I was a resource for Kristen. I wanted to be there for her because she’s playing me, and it was important to give her every tool to accomplish that…We talked about everything from playing guitar to my posture to my accent. She was very real and authentic and dedicated to getting it right.
And she got it right? Playing you?
It was surreal seeing a little me running around. It was weird. I feel like she got it as right as you can get it. I don’t know what else she could’ve done.
Had you ever considered your early life as a movie?
Personally, I never thought about it. I was fine with it being where it was. It was so important to me, that maybe the thought of a movie was kind of scary because it’s almost loosing control…once I said ‘yes’ and in fact was involved in it, I felt confident it would be okay.
You’re afraid that it could be really wrong, and that’s the fear because this thing is so important to me. It’s not just about an all-girl band. It’s about breaking down barriers. It’s about doing what you want to do. It’s about not being told to take a certain role in life because that’s what’s expected.
Was there every any talk among the film’s makers or the studio to take out the affair between you and Cherie?
Earlier you said you had a “surreal” feeling watching Kristen play you and Dakota portray Cherie. Why?
Well, it was certainly a big relief and definitely satisfying. I’m trying to find words for it, you know, to see them capture it so well. Both of them embodied who we were trying to be as young people, as stage presences…The girls are young and it was not of their time, but they do get it. They get what The Runaways did, and it’s important to them.
And how does the movie speak to younger audiences?
It’s the thing we talked about before: being told you can’t do something, overcoming adversity, being a misfit, being an outcast…To follow your own dreams and if you don’t get where you thought you might get, at least you gave it a shot and you might have some good stories to tell. You won’t look back on your life and say, ‘you know, I should’ve tried.’
You’re over 50 and still rocking. Is it different for you, playing on stage, now versus 10 or 20 years ago?
Yeah, I try to not think so much. I try much more to be in the moment. I try to let the little things go – like monitors not being perfect and things that throw you off the songs…It’s calming. I think I’m calmer.
Has your songwriting changed?
Beyond just writing about falling in love and out of love and wanting to do certain things and going out and partying and all the things that I grew up writing about, I want to write about deeper things. You want to find out about politics and spirituality. But how do you do that in a way that’s not pretentious, pompous or goofy, you know, that’s real…The way I do it hasn’t changed, but I do want to incorporate more in the subject matter.
Rock music has always been considered rebellious, and certainly The Runaways were. Are you still a rebel?
I hope so. I have a tough time judging myself. I don’t really get it. Other people will call me a rebel, but I just feel like I’m living my life and doing what I want to do. Sometimes people call that rebellion, especially when you’re a women. A guy knowing what he wants is a leader. A woman knows what she wants, and she’s a bitch.
I wouldn’t say that.
But you know what I’m saying. It’s totally real. I come across it. I see other women come across it. It’s real.