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Kristen Stewart on her perfect L.A. day, her Oscar nom and, yes, wedding plans

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Kristen Stewart sits on a marble floor, back resting against the wall and her legs propped up on the opposite wall.
Kristen Stewart is proud to be a Valley girl.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Kristen Stewart is scrolling through her phone, looking for a song that made her cry. It’s Valentine’s Day. The sun is setting over Griffith Park, and we’re sitting on a sofa at the house of a friend of a friend. This being Los Feliz, that friend is a DJ, and he has a couch rigged up with speakers inside the cushions. But we’re not sitting on that couch, nor are we partaking in the weed growing around back, because, again, it’s Valentine’s Day, and as soon as we’re done talking, Stewart wants to get home to her fiancée, screenwriter Dylan Meyer. They’re staying in.

“We’re kind of peopled out right now, so no fellow humans,” Stewart says. She lands on the song “When I Was a Boy,” a beautiful late-period Electric Light Orchestra ballad that Stewart kept in her back pocket in case she ever had to dive into some deep well of sadness while playing Princess Diana in “Spencer” and needed a little help getting there. Which happened, of course, when filmmaker Pablo Larraín asked her to do this big emotional scene where Diana returns to her childhood home and just starts sobbing and Stewart was too exhausted to wrap her head around it.

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“Remember Pablo telling you that there’s nothing better than a tired actor?” Stewart asks, recalling an earlier conversation we had with Larraín. She’s not completely sold on that notion. But she kept this ELO song in the sort of secured place like you’d house a fire extinguisher, and then on the day, she broke the glass, played the ballad and was properly gutted by it.

Kristen Stewart tugs loose a strand of hair piled on her head
Kristen Stewart has been Oscar nominated for her role in “Spencer.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“Oh, my God, it’s so good,” Stewart says. “You should play it in the car when you leave ... unless you want to play it right now.” We consider it but then get distracted by another “Spencer”-adjacent song, Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” We’d been talking about Los Angeles, and I ask her what she thinks would constitute a perfect day for someone visiting L.A. for the first time. Not surprisingly, given her love for the city (she has an L.A. tattoo on her wrist), Stewart has an answer that’s so sensational in its specificity that it belongs on the city’s tourism board website.

“OK, we’d wake up early and walk up to the [Griffith] observatory,” Stewart begins. “It’s stunning. You look at where James Dean did his thing. You look at that weird bust thing. Then on the way back instead of taking the trail that we came up on, because I hate retracing my steps, I would find the secret staircase that leads you down into a different neighborhood with all these cool homes.

“Then on Riverside Drive, we’d find the truck and get a Ricky’s fish taco. It’s the greatest taco, absolutely perfect, one of the best things I’ve had in my whole life. They’re classic Baja, but they also do shrimp. Get one of each. Don’t forget all the sauces, because they don’t put them on themselves, which is good, because you can control it.” (Stewart would be the first to tell you she’s a control freak.)

“Then I think you should have some alone time and just enjoy the air,” Stewart continues. “Maybe take a walk around Los Feliz, pick some loquats if they’re in season and then go watch a movie at the Vista or the Los Feliz 3.” She laughs. “This is all within five minutes of my house.” Which makes sense, she adds, as she has lived on the Eastside for most of her adult life. (“If it gets below 75 degrees, I’m freezing,” Stewart says.)

Kristen Stewart poses for a portrait surrounded by palm fronds.
Kristen Stewart’s perfect day would include walking in nature.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

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Kristen Stewart poses for a portrait amid palm fronds.
Kristen Stewart grew up in Los Angeles, primarily in the Valley.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

There are endless variations of this perfect day that Stewart would recommend. Take Topanga Canyon to PCH, head north and land at whichever beach isn’t too crowded. “Go to f— Venice,” she enthuses. “Go rollerblading. Bring a sandwich. People-watch.” Go to In-N-Out and have a cheeseburger or grilled cheese. Go have a taco at Yuca’s in Los Feliz.

“I would just go have tacos all day,” Stewart says when I point out a certain running thread in her picks. “I wouldn’t eat anywhere that isn’t a stand or a truck. Like, I would wait for it to get really late, take you to the Valley, skate around and get really hungry and then find a taco truck that stays open all night. Because tacos taste different at that hour ... even if you’re not wasted.”

Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in "Spencer"
Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana in “Spencer.”
(Pablo Larrain/NEON / Topic Studios)

Stewart, 31, has enjoyed a few days of late that, if not perfect, come pretty damn close. She was nominated for her first Oscar, for “Spencer,” which came as a surprise to her, even though her unflinching portrayal of Diana ranked as one of the finest moments in a distinguished career. How much of a surprise? Stewart didn’t set an alarm on the morning nominations were announced, telling Meyer, “Dude. Just doing the movie was enough for me.” Then she woke up at 7, as it was getting light in their bedroom, looked at her phone, saw scores of text messages and emoji balloons and turned to Meyer and said, “Oh, my God, dude, I got it.”

“It was just such a surreal moment,” Stewart says, laughing at the memory. “I will be totally honest and just say it was so cool. I could not believe it.”

The real question — and I’m not going to ask her to choose — is whether she was more stoked about the Oscar nomination or the hole-in-one she scored near the end of 2020 at Roosevelt Golf Course in Griffith Park. Stewart became obsessed with golf two years ago, rediscovering the game she took up with her dad as a kid when they’d hit balls at the Van Nuys Golf Course. The catalyst was finding a couple of friends, “lady golfers” she likes to call them, who matched her size, experience level and enthusiasm.

“We’re all just trying to outdo each other instead of just getting smoked at the golf course,” Stewart says, noting that the sport is demoralizing enough without playing with people above your level. And, she adds, “walking around Roosevelt with your homies” qualifies as another classic L.A. experience.

“We just have these relationships with these little deer and coyotes,” Stewart says. She hands me her phone, showing me a picture she took moments after her hole-in-one. She’s lying on the green at Roosevelt’s ninth hole, looking delirious, like she had been struck by lightning. For the record: Stewart used a seven-iron on the 124-yard hole because it was late in the day and her hands were freezing.

“I was not feeling strong,” she says, wanting me to make sure to note that’s why she wasn’t using, say, a nine-iron on such a short hole. And, as we’ve already established, she gets cold easily.

Stewart can also be prone to moments of self-consciousness. She’s never been one to follow rules, but when she was younger, she used to dread getting in trouble. She remembers growing up in Woodland Hills (“I’m proud to be a Valley girl”) and skateboarding to a little hill overlooking Ventura Boulevard and sneaking through someone’s backyard in order to access the slope and look at the world.

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Kristen Stewart poses for a portrait.
Kristen Stewart is excited to think about her wedding — or at least the reception.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“That was my favorite thing, because that one hill would turn green in the spring for, like, two weeks before the Valley summer turned it brown,” Stewart says. “It was the coolest worst thing I could do, because I had to kind of break into a backyard to get there. But I never got caught. I didn’t have a problem with being slightly reckless, but it was the getting-caught part that always worried me.”

Stewart says she’s more open to being an “embarrassing idiot” now, offering as an example how she has mostly worked through her fear of dancing in public after filming dance scenes for “Spencer.” Still, when we’re talking about how much she loves driving around L.A., listening to music in her car — she grew up on local oldies station K-EARTH 101 and remains a devoted listener, even though she’s “completely rattled” that the station’s idea of what constitutes an “oldie” has moved from Motown to Modern English — she refuses to sing along if someone else is in the car. And don’t even bring up karaoke.

“But if someone asked me to do a musical, I’d be like, ‘F— yeah,’” Stewart says. “Because someone would teach me, and I’d end up having an experience that’s totally outside my comfort zone, one that would change me. That’s immensely appealing.”

Which makes me think about her upcoming wedding — or, more specifically, her upcoming wedding reception. She and Meyer became engaged last year, and Stewart wants to get married, sooner rather than later. The ceremony itself doesn’t mean that much to her. It’s more about the party afterward, the gathering of their friends and families, a big group of people who’d never otherwise be together in the same place.

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Kristen Stewart leans against a marble wall for a portrait.
Kristen Stewart won’t sing in public but says she’d love the challenge of being in a musical.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“I kind of think I want to do that,” Stewart says, drawing out every word in that sentence. “But then when I really think about it, I’m like, ‘Do I want to do that?’”

“There would be public dancing,” I offer. “There’s no way you could avoid that.”

“Definitely ... we would have to dance through that,” Stewart says. “You’d have to take the piss a little bit. We’d have to be like, ‘This is absurd that we’re doing this.’ There was a time in my life where I was like, ‘No, I would never get married. Like married married, like put a dress on and walk down the aisle married. And by the way, I’m not doing that. That’s not going to be the type of wedding that I have. The fact that I’ve already said, ‘Hey, let’s get married’ and that we have rings and stuff ... we’re kind of already done.”

Stewart leans in. It’s been dark outside for a while now, and it’s time to get home to our valentines. But she’s still sorting her thoughts about the wedding, wondering if she’s being too impulsive.

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“The thing is, I always kind of blow presentation,” Stewart says. “I have all these big ideas, like I will get a friend a beautiful present that I’m so proud of. And I just think they’re going to love it. But instead of wrapping it up and like putting a bow on it and giving it to them at the right time, I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I have this thing and I know it’s like a week before your birthday, but just f— have it because I love it and I love you.’ And if I had just wrapped it and put this in their hands on the right day, the impact would have been greater.

“And so I’m probably going to do that with my wedding too.” She cracks up at the thought. “I’m probably going to look back and have to do it again ... which would surprise absolutely no one who knows me.”

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