The Kristen Stewart Cheating Scandal Explained

Kristen Stewart has proved her longevity in Hollywood. The actress starred as Bella Swan in the Twilight series, rocketing her to fame in 2008. By 2012, she was a household name, topping Forbes' list of the highest-paid actress in Hollywood at just 22 years old. As far as her personal life went, after first being linked in 2009, per People, Stewart eventually began a highly-publicized relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson that dominated tabloids and notched a major victory for Team Edward. However, it wasn't long before a scandal rocked the relationship.

In July 2012, the internet exploded when photos were published showing Stewart kissing a man who was decidedly not Pattinson. As one of the most famous couples in the world at the time, the story dominated the news cycle for weeks as Stewart and Pattinson seemingly hid from the media and Twi-Hards melted down online. Years after the scandal, Stewart finally opened up about the situation.

The photos seen 'round the world

The year was 2012 and Twilight star Kristen Stewart was flying high. In addition to being co-stars, Stewart and Robert Pattinson were seemingly cohabitors, as well, with outlets like the Los Angeles Times reporting that they were living together. In terms of her professional life, Stewart was being offered roles in other blockbusters. In June 2012, Snow White And The Huntsman hit theaters, starring Stewart. It was that film which introduced Stewart to director Rupert Sanders.

After filming Snow White And The Huntsman in the U.K., Stewart was back in Los Angeles by July 2012. Back in the United States, the actress was spotted driving around with Sanders with paparazzi catching them making out on "the Westside of L.A." and "on a hiking trail that offers views of the Hollywood sign," per the Los Angeles Times. While the photographs were taken on July 17, 2012, it wasn't until late July 2012 that the images started making their rounds on the internet. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, on July 19, 2012, Stewart was spotted out with Pattinson. Additionally, the couple appeared together at the Teen Choice Awards on July 22, 2012. However, on July 23, 2012, "[r]umors began to circulate that Us was preparing to publish an explosive story that Stewart was caught cheating." By July 24, 2012, US Weekly had published the photos, confirming the story. Twitter promptly exploded, and the fall out was swift.

Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders faced public backlash

On July 25, 2012, Kristen Stewart released an emotional statement, apologizing for "hurt and embarrassment" caused by the photos. Stewart boldly declared her love for Robert Pattinson, writing (via US Weekly), "This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry."

While Stewart seemingly got the bulk of the attention, director Rupert Sanders came under fire, too. Sanders — who is 19 years Stewart's senior and was married with children at the time – wrote that he was "utterly distraught about the pain [he] caused [his] family." Sanders went on to say (via US Weekly): "My beautiful wife and heavenly children are all I have in this world. I love them with all my heart. I am praying we can all get through this together."

As Twilight fans melted down, Pattinson reportedly went into hiding. While the couple did appear to take a break, they were publicly spotted together again in October 2012, per E! News. However, their reconciliation seemed to be short-lived. By May 2013, the two had broken up for good. Sanders also seemingly paid the price for his indiscretion. Per PeopleSanders' wife and Stewart's Snow White And The Huntsman co-starLiberty Ross, filed for divorce from the director in January 2013.

Kristen Stewart looks back on the scandal

While jokes and lingering questions dogged Kristen Stewart for years following the scandal, it wasn't until 2019 that the actress spoke frankly about what had happened years prior. On The Howard Stern Show, Stewart opened up about the scandal and her relationship with Robert Pattinson, in general. "I've actually never been allowed to just say what happened," she reflected, adding "I was so self-conscious about seeming like an attention seeker." 

Stewart has publicly come out since her relationship with Pattinson, dating model Stella Maxwell on-and-off between 2017 and 2019. While Stewart said her love with Pattinson was very real, revealing that there was "nothing [she] could do" about it, she likened her time with the Twilight cast to a college experience. With the scandal firmly in the rear-view mirror, it seems Stewart has learned a lot.