What’s more surprising: That a celebrity publicly apologized for cheating within 24 hours of a report going public, or that that celebrity happened to be Kristen Stewart?
Considering Hollywood’s cheaters are about as common as actors who lie about their age, in the wake of Us Weekly’s cover photo of the “Twilight” star cuddling her “Snow White and the Huntsman” director Rupert Sanders, Stewart could have easily responded the way the rest of Tinseltown does. She could have either ignored the accusations, denied them (Photoshop!) or asked for her privacy to be respected. Instead, the 22-year-old, who in the four years she has supposedly been dating Robert Pattinson has never publicly admitted they are an item, issued a public mea culpa.
“I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected,” she said in a statement to People the day after Us’ scoop broke. “This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.”
Sanders then issued an apology as well, saying he is “utterly distraught about the pain” that he brought his family. His wife, actress and model Liberty Ross played the part of Queen Eleanor — Stewart’s mom — in the “Snow White” film. (Ross tweeted “wow,” then shut down her account.)
So why did this woman, who is oft-mocked by the press for scorning the public eye (she once likened being papped to being “raped” — she apologized for that too), suddenly give up her privacy in such a private moment? She certainly never allowed the public access to her private life before, a fact she explained in an interview with GQ last year. “I’m selfish. I’m like, ‘That’s mine!’ And I like to keep whatever is mine remaining that way,” she said. “It’s a funny little game to play and it’s a slippery slope. I always say to myself I’m never going to give anything away because there’s never any point or benefit for me.”
In this case there was no benefit for her, but there was for Pattinson, the primary person at whom the apology seemed to be directed. A public apology is generally considered a way for one to absolve themselves of a wrongdoing (that old adage the truth will set you free), but in the case of Stewart, it appears to have been her way of absolving Pattinson — a way of freeing him from sharing in her deception. Her “mine!” mantra was suddenly infringing on her significant other’s freedom and telling the truth publicly — a major statement for her considering how rarely she publicly reveals anything — was her way of releasing him from it.
The writer Eleanor Barkhorn theorized that the actress’ “blase attitude toward her own image” was the key to why her apology came so swiftly and emotively. “She didn’t try to see if she could trick the public into believing the affair didn’t happen. She didn’t wait for a damage-control expert’s opinion on what sort of statement would sound best to her fans. She just wanted forgiveness, so she asked for it,” Barkhorn wrote, on the Atlantic.
Some have theorized that the public apology was a desperate, over-the-top play to preserve her star power, at a time when Forbes has just named her Hollywood’s highest-paid actress.
But being forgiven has always seemed less of a concern to Stewart than being real. And even cynical PR people have admitted that her apology appears sincere. She wrote the apology with the same attitude that she poses on the red carpet. “If I took perfect pictures all the time, the people standing in the room with me, or on the carpet, would think, What an actress! What a faker! That thought embarrasses me so much that I look like shit in half my photos,” she recently told Vanity Fair. “What matters to me is that the people in the room leave and say, ‘She was cool. She had a good time. She was honest.’ I don’t care about the voracious, starving shit eaters who want to turn truth into shit.”
In a mere 24 hours, in just three sentences, Stewart showed up Hollywood and turned her lies into truth.