It’s not as though Kristen Stewart didn’t expect to take a plunge when she signed aboard. Believe it or not, that fear was exactly what made the job so alluring.
“I was never one to get in the water much anyway,” Stewart told the Toronto Sun when the film first debuted. “So this in itself was kind of a challenge. But that element of making this movie was a draw. My fundamental aversion to water, along with my claustrophobia, made me both the worst and the perfect candidate to make this movie because it genuinely did disturb me.”
Though it was obviously a daunting role, it’s comforting to know that Stewart didn’t walk in unprepared. She knew that tapping into her real-life anxieties would be a necessity and didn’t shy away from that. And clearly, it paid off. “Underwater” might be full of cliches and familiar beats, but it manages to strike a refreshing chord. I’d personally attribute that directly to Stewart herself, who carries the film as the badass but perpetually anxious mechanical engineer, Norah. Though she goes to great lengths to keep herself and her crew safe, surviving some impressive close calls, she also wears her vulnerability on her sleeve. Sure, there’s plenty of beeping machinery and ominous crashing to remind us that danger looms, but the most compelling signal is Norah herself who never lets us forget that in this situation, any breath could be her last.
Fear turned out to be Kristen Stewart’s secret weapon, giving her a little something extra to fuel her performance. There’s a reason that shows like “Fear Factor” exist and maybe Stewart was well aware of it: the tension of watching someone face their fears might be discomforting but it’s also extremely compelling.