It’s been almost three years since Twilight star Kristen Stewart and director/co-writer Robert Pattinson first sparked media speculation about their relationship when they were spotted at a New York City premiere celebrating the premiere of their highly anticipated movie, On the Road. Ever since, fans have wondered how their relationship would develop. Would they end up together? Would they date other people? Would they break up at some point?
The answer, in part, is in the movie they made together. Their characters, Alice and Sam, have a passionate yet tumultuous love scene in the road movie that serves as a microcosm of their relationship. At least it does until the scene is cut short when the security guards drag Pattinson away from Stewart as she screams at the top of her lungs, “Don’t you leave me!” It’s a heartbreaking moment for fans, who have since grown to love Alice and Sam and desperately want their story to have a happy ending. And it is something that Stewart addresses in her upcoming memoir, Brave, which is out Oct. 30th.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Stewart opened up about their relationship, revealing that the director and his co-writer initially wanted their character, Alice, to be asexual. After much prodding from Pattinson, who saw parallels between Alice and himself, Stewart agreed to make her more humanized and, as a result, more relatable. In the book, Stewart writes about how she ended up playing the sexual, passionate woman in the film, which she describes as a break from her “very buttoned-up and discreet” nature.
‘On the Road’ and Its Aftermath
To understand how Stewart ended up playing the passionate and sexual Alice in On the Road, we have to go back to the beginning. The movie came about as a passion project for Pattinson, who wanted to make a film that would both educate and entertain audiences. As he was writing the screenplay for his debut feature, he invited Stewart, who had just appeared in the Twilight movie series, to join him on the journey. The two first collaborated on a short film about a literary agent and a young woman on the brink of success, which they shot in Scotland and won the Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. They then moved to New York to begin working on On the Road, with Stewart taking up residence in a Park Slope apartment while Pattinson stayed in a small hotel across the street. (For the sake of privacy, let’s call her apartment “Alice’s apartment.”) It was in this apartment, where the movie premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival to overwhelming praise, that Alice and Pattinson first meet. To get in the spirit of things, we’ll call them by their real names, Kristen and Robert. (Yes, these are real names. No, we don’t always have to use their real names when we talk about them.)
The movie opens with a voice-over by John Watson, explaining the circumstances that led him to write the book he is now adapting into a screenplay. While digging through his family archives, Watson came across a love letter that his great-grandfather wrote to a woman he purportedly loved, but who never gave him an answer. Hoping to find the woman’s name and maybe even meet her one day, he decided to turn the 20th century experience into a novel. One thing leads to another, and soon Watson is telling the story of two young people on the brink of something big. As he explains, “They were always trying to escape their circumstances, trying to get away. This one was a literary agent named Alice, and the other was a professional photographer named Sam.”
The prologue to Watson’s story serves as a prelude to the events that unfold over the next hundred and forty pages. As he explores his family history, Watson learns a lot about Alice and Sam, who grew up in very different circumstances. Alice is from a wealthy family and was groomed to be the perfect wife from an early age, while Sam is the son of a struggling artist who eventually killed himself.
The two meet at an upper-class dinner party where Sam reveals that he is a widower. Impressed by his honesty, Alice invites Sam to accompany her on a trip to Italy, where they spend two weeks sightseeing and getting to know each other better. At first, Sam is initially guarded about his past, but over the course of their trip he reveals more about himself and his intentions to Alice. Still, she isn’t quite sure what to make of him. And for good reason. While in Italy, Sam meets with a famous literary agent named Norton who represents Alice. Norton offers him a contract, which he signs without knowing what is entailed in the contract. He then sets off to London to meet with Alice’s family for the first time and to finalize the details of the contract. While there, he breaks into her family’s apartment (yes, they have an apartment too!) and finds her great-grandfather’s letter. Realizing that he’s found the key to her heart, Sam returns to Italy to tell Alice that he loves her.
The rest of the novel is a love story between these two broken people, who somehow find their way back to each other. While in Rome, they meet up with Norton who invites them on a tour of the city’s famous fashion houses, where they discover a kindred spirit in Christian Dior. Back in London, Sam is able to convince Alice’s skeptical family to give him a chance and to sign the contract that will make him a partner in her company. The last scene of the novel features Sam and Alice, who have just closed a major deal, embracing in a passionate kiss.
The movie version of On the Road is faithful to the novel, right down to the voice-over by John Watson. However, it is not a verbatim adaptation. For one thing, the movie cuts out a lot of the narrative exposition, focusing more on the action. Second, the movie adds some new characters and puts others in new situations. For example, in the book, Sam is a single father, while in the movie he is an “empty nester” content to explore Europe with Alice. Some fans have taken to calling the new characters that appear in the movie “twist” characters, due to their unexpected appearance and involvement in the storyline. It is, in fact, a common theme in the movie. Third, the movie gives the characters nicknames. In the novel, everyone has a name. In the movie, they are referred to by their aliases. Finally, the movie includes additional scenes, such as when Sam first meets Alice or when they are in a museum, looking at a Caravaggio painting. While these scenes do not add anything new to the narrative, they flesh out the personalities of the characters and give the story a cinematic sheen that was missing from the novel. Overall, the narrative structure of the book is generally retained, but it’s been funnelled into a tighter, more modern story, filled with interesting characters and a breathtaking array of visuals.
How ‘On the Road’ Mirrors Their Relationship
Given the overwhelming critical and commercial success of On the Road, it’s no wonder that fans have been captivated by the movie. However, it’s not just the general public that has been taken in by this beautiful and passionate love story. Members of the press have been quick to point out that the movie is actually a rather accurate portrayal of the relationship between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Stewart referred to the movie as “a really romantic story.” She explained, “It’s really romantic, isn’t it? A literary agent going on a road trip with her partner. They explore Italy and then Paris, and then they end up in London.” (Yes, a romantic trip. Who knew?)
The similarities between the movie and the real-life relationship of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are pretty uncanny. Like Alice and Sam, Stewart and Pattinson bonded over their shared love of books and the writing process. They were also both able to see the potential in each other, having recognized their connection as a “chemistry that is just palpable,” as Stewart puts it. Like Alice, Pattinson is also a widower, raising his 2-year-old daughter, Ruby, on his own. (Stewart and Pattinson also have a 2-year-old daughter, Astor, together. She was born a couple months after the duo started dating.)