Kristen Stewart and shyness and sensitivity

Kristen Stewart - Certain Women Sundance Portraits, 2016

Many artists are highly sensitive people

A number of actors and other artists identify themselves, or are considered by others, as shy, or introverted or highly sensitive.

The traits of high sensitivity and introversion overlap in ways, but are not the same as social anxiety or shyness.

“I am so sensitive it drives me crazy.” Kristen Stewart

Stewart directed a short film titled “Come Swim” that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.

She has described the film in an interview as being about “aggrandized pain” and comments:

“You don’t realize when you’re trudging through that water, you feel so alone. We’ve all been there. But when you’re in it, you feel like you can’t participate in life.”

Kristen Stewart at Cannes Film Festival May, 2017The writer and interviewer of the article noted:

“In many ways, ‘Come Swim’ reflects something essential about Stewart: she is hyper alert to her surroundings and her emotions.

“It’s a quality that has probably helped make her, in the eyes of many (particularly the French, who made her the first American actress to win a Cesar award for the Cannes entry ‘The Clouds of Sils Maria’) a performer of twitchy, alive sensitivity.”

Reflecting what many of us may feel about our trait sometimes, Stewart has said:

“I am so sensitive it drives me crazy.

“It’s funny (that) the first movie I wanted to make was basically just a movie about somebody who is like, ‘You don’t get it! It’s horrible!’”

From article Kristen Stewart makes her directorial debut, dives into grief, By Jake Coyle, Associated Press, May 21 2017, via ABC News.

See more about the movie, and a video interview with Stewart, in my article Kristen Stewart on Directing Her Movie About Emotional Pain, and Being Highly Sensitive.


Being highly sensitive can include being more vulnerable to anxiety

As highly sensitive people, we may experience many positive aspects of the trait, but we can also be more reactive and vulnerable to stress and anxiety.

Kristen Stewart, for example, said in an interview for Elle U.K.:

“I went through so much stress and periods of strife. I would have panic attacks. I literally always had a stomachache.”

She recounted in another interview that she “would feel panicked when she wasn’t in control of a situation.” She “told Elle U.K. she no longer struggles with anxiety.”

From Kristen Stewart Gets Refreshingly Real About Dealing With Anxiety by Lindsay Holmes, HuffPost 08/02/2016.

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Related articles:

How to Relieve Stress and Anxiety When You’re Highly Sensitive

Are You or Your Child a Highly Sensitive Person? – “We have found that many HSP’s are also EMS’s, Electromagnetically Sensitive People, and both sensitivities combine to create a sense of overload and overwhelm both physically and emotionally.”

How To Deal With Overwhelm – Anyone can feel overwhelmed from too many demands and challenges, but creative and highly sensitive people may be especially vulnerable.

Also see the page: Emotional Health Resources
Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.


A number of musicians, actors and performers are introverted or highly sensitive.

Many interviewers and writers over the years have described actor Kristen Stewart as “cautious” and “shy.”

At least one news story refers to her as a “Self-proclaimed introvert.”

By the way, I am not presuming Kristen Stewart is shy, introverted or highly sensitive, and I don’t know her personally.

But just from my gut reaction to seeing her in movies and interviews, she may – like many other very talented actors – have any or all of those traits.

Not that they are the same thing.

See my post Shyness, Introversion, Sensitivity – What’s the Difference?

[Photo from Official Site for the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman.”]


What is interesting is the reactions by some reporters, and their interpretations of her behavior.

A USA Today article said, “Visibly shaking with stage fright, Stewart tended not to say much in front of the crowds.” (Kristen Stewart in a different light at Sundance, By Anthony Breznican, Jan 25, 2010.)

A Los Angeles Times article (For Kristen Stewart, this is her dawn, by Chris Lee) said she “appeared to not enjoy the red carpet activities” and referred to her “continuing hostility toward the celebrity limelight” and that she “appeared visibly repulsed by the red-carpet action.”

In a New York Times article, Brooks Barnes wrote about “Ms. Stewart’s shyness and hints of awkwardness,” but added those qualities “make her accessible to fans.”

The article adds that Stewart “has coped with the suffocating attention by giving off an air of inapproachability, a tough exterior that Chris Weitz, the director of New Moon, said she has methodically adopted.”

Jodie Foster, the article continues, “who co-starred with Ms. Stewart in David Fincher’s ‘Panic Room’ said ‘Kristen isn’t interested in blurting out her emotions all in front of her, and that results in really intelligent and interesting performances.’”  [From Media Vampires, Beware, by Brooks Barnes,]

Getting more comfortable with experience

Kristen StewartKristen Stewart does seem much more relaxed and confident and expressive in more recent videos of interviews, compared with ones she was doing earlier.

She says, “I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with talking about myself and knowing that what you say, people are really going to take into consideration.

“That always intimidated me so much that I minced every word that came out of my mouth. I couldn’t finish a sentence because I was so concerned about how it was going to sound. I didn’t want to come across insincere about something that I really love to do.” [From interview 21 Nov 2009]

Negative reactions to introverts and highly sensitive people

“You stuck-up party-pooper”

Retreating from social situations due to being introverted, such as “holding back” in interviews and public appearances (and ordinary conversation, for those of us who aren’t celebrities), can often lead to negative judgments and reactions from others.

A number of her fans have commented on social media posts that Stewart is aloof, a snob, obnoxious or rude.

Writer Sophia Dembling comments in a post on her Psychology Today blog The Introvert’s Corner:

“Introverts  tend to be, by nature, fairly mild-mannered. But that doesn’t mean we don’t silently-and sometimes not-so-silently-seethe.

Look at poor Kristen Stewart, an introvert in the limelight. This young actress (Bella Swan in the wildly popular Twilight movies) gets all kinds of grief because she was awkward on Oprah, hates being stalked by paparazzi, and generally doesn’t seem to enjoy the pander-to-the-public aspect of her acting career.

“I think it’s funny that when I go onstage to accept an award, they think I’m nervous, uncomfortable, and awkward–and I am–but those are bad words for them,” she recently told Elle magazine.

Dembling lists a number of reactions we introverts may get from other people (in Stewart’s case often very publicly) that can inspire us to feel: “I f***ing hate it when they say…” – reactions such as “She’s stuck up.” “You don’t know how to have fun.” “Party pooper!” “You hate people.”

From her post How To Piss Off An Introvert.

Paparazzi can be assaultive

In an interview for the July issue of British Elle, Stewart said about some paparazzi photos of herself:

“What you don’t see are the cameras shoved in my face and the bizarre intrusive questions being asked, or the people falling over themselves, screaming and taunting to get a reaction. The photos are so…

“I feel like I’m looking at someone being raped.”

But she quickly apologized, telling People mag.: “I really made an enormous mistake – clearly and obviously. And I’m really sorry about my choice of words… ‘Violated’ definitely would have been a better way of expressing the thought.”

She has done PSAs [Public Service Announcements] for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) and played a rape victim in her 2004 film “Speak.”

I don’t know if this is one of the photos Stewart was thinking of, but there are others I’ve seen where she seems really angry or stressed.

Of course her remark about rape was extreme, but hopefully it did get more people aware of how assaultive paparazzi can be – and forced publicity appearances, especially for sensitive people.

More depth

“There’s a threat to her health in the way she works, in that she can’t project feelings she doesn’t feel herself,” Stewart’s “New Moon” director Chris Weitz said.

“If you shoot a scene in which she has a nervous breakdown, that’s potentially what you’re going to get. I have found myself concerned for her at moments.”

During the filming of Twilight, studio executives found themselves concerned about Stewart and co-star Robert Pattinson. “Both of them have the tendency to go deep, to find the emotional core of a scene,” says the first movie’s director, Catherine Hardwicke. [ELLE mag. interview by Amanda Fortini, May 05, 2010]

Pattinson, has also referred to himself as introverted, and others have called him shy. Actor Christian Serratos (who plays Angela in the movie) thinks all the frenzied fame has affected Pattinson: “If anything he’s become more humble and more introverted.” []

Signs of sensitivity

Many highly sensitive people experience the kind of strong concern for authenticity and truthfulness, and caution (even perfectionism) when speaking that Stewart mentions above.

Another indication may be how much she cared about creating her character Bella in “Twilight” and making her dialogue ring true.

A magazine article noted, “Stewart, who was just 17 when she shot the movie, was uncompromising about what she’d allow her character to do and say. ‘We had to rewrite and improvise a lot of the most intense scenes, because Kristen will not say something if she doesn’t feel good about it,’ recalls [director Catherine] Hardwicke.”

[Entertainment Weekly, Nov 14, 2008 – posted on]

More on the personality traits

Shyness – “Although most shy people feel they are more shy than other people, shyness is a self-reported characteristic of personality that is expressed by over 40% of those surveyed. Only about 7% of Americans surveyed indicate that they have never experienced shyness in their entire life. Thus, shyness is a pervasive phenomenon; if you are shy, you are not alone.”

From The Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast.

The director Bernardo J. Carducci Ph.D. is author of Shyness: A Bold New Approach.

Wikipedia says “Shyness is a social psychology term used to describe the feeling of apprehension, lack of confidence, or awkwardness experienced when a person is in proximity to, approaching, or being approached by other people, especially in new situations or with unfamiliar people.”

Introversion – Wikipedia: “The trait of extroversion-introversion is a central dimension of human personality. Extroverts (also spelled extraverts) tend to be sociable, assertive, and interested in seeking out excitement. Introverts, in contrast, tend to be more reserved, less outgoing, but are also marked by a richer inner world.

“They are not necessarily loners but they tend to have smaller circles of friends and are less likely to thrive on making new social contacts. Introverts are less likely to seek stimulation from others because their own thoughts and imagination are stimulating enough.”

Also see The Inner Actor site for more on sensitive actors.

Highly Sensitive books

Related pages/sites:

Highly Sensitive and creative site

Highly Sensitive/Facebook

Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts articlearticle: Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts
Many actors, musicians, authors and other artists find their sensitivity enhances creative expression, and may identify themselves as being shy, or consider themselves introverted or highly sensitive (which are different).

Some examples: Alanis Morissette, Beyonce Knowles, fashion designers Tory Burch and Tom Ford, Amy Adams, Sigourney Weaver, director Ang Lee…Joan Allen, Harrison Ford, Candice Bergen, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close, and others.


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