Here’s the video of “Camp X-Ray” Behind The Scenes.
Here’s first Look At Kristen In “Anesthesia” from 2015 Press Reel.
Kristen Talks “Clouds of Sils Maria” With The Treatment.
It’s hard to believe that Kristen Stewart is only 24. With the “Twilight” franchise behind her, she has been enjoying the freedom to make her own choices without worrying about commercial considerations. She scored raves as Oscar-winner Julianne Moore’s daughter in “Still Alice,” and has lined up a healthy slate of movies with Woody Allen, Kelly Reichardt, Ang Lee and Drake Doremus. Truth is, she has always made smart choices. While some of her more indie efforts (“On the Road,” “Yellow Handkerchief,” “Camp X-Ray”) were disappointments, they were noble ones–and she learned from all of them.
Her latest film, Cannes competition entry “Clouds of Sils Maria,” is an intimate English language drama set in Europe and directed by French auteur Olivier Assayas (“Summer Hours,” “Carlos”). She plays Valentine, the high-powered loyal assistant to aging film and theater actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) who is preparing to take on the older role in a revival of a stage two-hander in which she dazzled years ago as the younger woman. The duo wind up isolated in a mountain aerie reading through the play–and discovering more about each other than they had known before.
Anne Thompson: You had gone to Cannes with both “On the Road” and “Clouds of Sils Maria.” For which you won the César. What was that like? Not something you were expecting?
Kristen Stewart: No. Those Frenchies [laughs] don’t like to pass accolades that are not their own. I was really shocked. Even Juliette was like, “Hey, it’s really cool that you got nominated. It’s insane that you got nominated, actually.” If you look at it, she looks more shocked. When they said my name, literally she screamed into my ear so loudly I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t even hear my name be called. I was like, “Wait, what?” She was like, “You won! You won!” She was so shocked, that that’s how I gauged my reaction. “Wow, this must be a really big deal, because Juliette cannot believe this.”
You deserved it. This is my kind of movie. But I respect your past choices too. There’s a modus operandi there — something you’re looking for — and it’s not comfort.
That’s always quite difficult to find. You could find a through line there… I’ve been lucky enough to play characters that really stick out as people that are telling unique stories. I read a lot. I get sent a lot of scripts that are very surface, things that we’ve seen before, and, recently, really incredibly talented people have called me to help them make their movies. But those things really do stick out, and I’ve been lucky enough to jump on them.
In other words, there’s an enormous pile. You’re wading through it, a lot of it’s dreck, and the ones you’ve done are the ones that have popped out at you as the smarter thing. What’s wrong with the stuff you’re getting sent, for the most part?
Probably just that they’re fairly archaic, boring, previously consumed ideas of what a woman can be in a mass-consumed story. I’ve done a lot of independent, smaller things recently that usually don’t lack interesting stories to tell about women.
You have lined up some impressive projects. I feel a maturity coming across now. I know you valued the “Twilight” franchise and the freedom it gave you — what they call “fuck-you money.” So you’re able to say, “I’ll do a Kelly Reichardt movie.” Can you give me a sense of what you’ve learned from these directors you’ve worked with in the last year?
I’ve been lucky enough, at a really young age, to work with people who affirm what I believe in, every catalyst that has existed for me. Everything that’s ever kicked me in the ass and gone, “That’s what you should be doing these movies for.” It’s always been a director; it’s always been somebody who’s telling a story who, subliminally, infuses a project with this honor that is just impossible to deny and disrespect. Therefore, you just give everything that you can to it.
Would David Fincher qualify with “Panic Room”
Absolutely. That was my second movie, and it starts there.
And Jon Favreau with “Zathura?” I discovered you in those two films.
Yeah. Those are two really great directors I worked with at a really young age. I’ve been shaped by every step that I’ve taken to the point that I’m in now. I mean, a whole lot of it has to do with luck, because I happen to have worked with these people who are incredibly influential, and in the right ways, but, at this point, I’ve carved out and identify very distinctly what I get out of what I do and why I do it, and it’s so easy to identify with or discard people who are with that or against it.
How about Olivier Assayas? What does he bring?
He was so hands-off, to be honest with you. It felt like the greatest steps that he took with us was the work he did with the script, and then just casting. Ultimately, he sort of let us live within that.
What was the day-to-day process like working it out with Juliette Binoche?
Any question that was very critical to us moving on — any question that was so completely necessary for us to ask that we did not get an answer to, that was frustrating — maybe there were days where I went home and went, “I have no idea. I’m not sure about that scene. I don’t know how I felt about it. I don’t know what it says.” I now look at it and go, “Oh, my God. You absolute, masterful, conniving, manipulative, knowing genius. How did you put us there?” At the time, I was questioning if he was even really aware of the complexities that he was writing, and now I see that he must have been. I’ve never even talked about what the movie’s “about” to him still, to this day.
Does he shoot with multiple cameras?
No, it’s two. Mainly it’s one-to-two cameras. And he shoots a lot. Very decisive. Really.
You’ve made a film with a French director, and it’s a very European movie. Does that appeal to you for the future?
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
So, Woody Allen: is that something you’d wanted to do for a long time? What character are you playing?
Yeah, why not? Actually, to be honest, I don’t know how much I’m allowed to talk about it. They sent me a script and had somebody sit outside my house. When I finished reading, I had to go back out and hand it to them. The scenes that I auditioned to get the part, I had no idea the context of them. I had one conversation with him.
He leaves you alone, too. Cate Blanchett was a tad freaked out on “Blue Jasmine.” But it worked out okay for her.
Apparently so. Very French of him. It did, yeah [laughs].
You wrapped Nima Nourizadeh’s “American Ultra” (Lionsgate) with your pal from “Adventureland,” Jesse Eisenberg? (That whole cast was amazing–Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig and Ryan Reynolds.)
It was awesome. It’s finished. It’s very commercial, actually, which is different for me lately. Very funny, which is also different for me lately. It’s an ultra-violent, really broadly comedic love story. Jesse’s the star of the movie, and he’s so incredible that there’s no way that movie isn’t fantastic.
Working with Kelly Reichardt: what was that like? She’s a smart lady.
Oh, man. She’s a genius! I wish I had more time with her.
She’ll have you studying the Structuralists. What part did you play for her?
Honestly. She is a very definitive filmmaker. Not a find-it director; she knows what she’s looking for, always. I played a part in a movie that is primarily about driven characters who think they know who they are and are very desirous of something that they can’t have.
That sounds like Kelly Reichardt.
Yeah, right? And I went into this little bar in Montana when we were shooting, and there were a bunch of townies in there playing pool while we were shooting. They were like, “What’s the movie about? What are you doing here? We know you’re here, so tell us what the movie’s about.” And I could not tell them in a sentence what this movie was about. And that’s what I love about the movie, is that I literally was, “Well…” and I said what I just said. That speaks volumes to the way that she makes movies.
And then there’s “Equals”?
Which I just saw, and it’s also quite good. Drake [Doremus]’s mentality is entirely European.
Well, he keeps the camera way back, right?
He’s long-lensing it. Even if its right in your face, the camera is in the back. Everything else is blurred, and all you zone in on is the face. What I look for in an American director is what is more standardized in Europe and France: people that unabashedly make things with full risk and religious faith for what they need to do, rather than what’s going to make them rich and famous. It’s just easier to find there, because it’s more typical. But, here, I am gravitating towards and find the same things in American directors. It’s just that it’s more rare.
Look, you have figured it out at a young age. It takes most people a while. Matthew McConaughey took a while to get to where you are. Although I think people in the industry are starting to figure out that the studio model is not where you want to go.
It’s just not interesting. It’s just safe. It’s just a sure-fire bet, and when is that exciting, if you know you’re going to win?
“Equals” was shot in Singapore. Why that location?
It takes place in a sort of alternate world. It’s not necessarily set in the future, but it is very surrealistic and sci-fi, and the world is very otherwordly, so it’s good to shoot there.
You’ve been exposed to a number of exotic places. When you’re on assignment, do you actually get a chance to go out and see the world?
Yeah. [Laughs] You might not think so, but especially when we shoot in places. When there’s publicity, all I see are hotel-room walls. But shooting in a place really allows you to emerge yourself in a culture. That’s one way I’m so lucky. From a young age, I’ve been able to live in Portland and New York and the middle of the country, in the middle of nowhere, Columbus, Ohio for a while. It shapes you.
And what would be the most exotic place that had the most impact on you?
[Laughs] I love working in New Orleans. We did “American Ultra” and “On the Road” and a movie called “Yellow Handkerchief.”
Sony’s Ang Lee movie “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is a military exposé based on a true story. What part do you play? It shoots later this summer in Texas?
Yeah, and it takes place in Texas. I play his sister, I act as a mouthpiece for anyone who might disagree with why the war is being fought, and also for anyone who might be closely related to someone who’s fought for something they don’t stand behind. I’m the one person in the whole movie that asks the obvious question.
And meeting Ang Lee must have been great. I’ve interviewed him many times, and he’s a very smart, special man. You don’t just go from one genre to the other without a certain finesse.
I’ve only talked to him once on the phone. He was really, really nice. I know! It’s insane.
In “Sils Maria” you are playing a character, the assistant to a star— the opposite of who you are, in a way. You know her well, because women like this are in your life. That must have given you a little degree of comfort. At the same time, you’re digging into a very intimate, very precise kind of duet with this superb actress. It must have been challenging.
The easy part for me, personally, was being someone who could take care of a woman in her position. I would be the best that you could hire as an actress! Personally, I have that experience, and I have that innate, protective nature, because I know what it is to be in that position. That was fun for me, because it was fun to use this mouthpiece as… it’s not like a grand statement. It’s a pretty obvious statement in the movie that we’re making about the surface nature of the business, but the initial attraction was to be able to service somebody in a more similar position to what I am in, and also speak to this aspect of the business that I know so much about in a very candid way.
It rang true to me.
Good. And, subsequently, looking back at the movie — I saw it at Cannes for the second time — just talking about it with journalists and Olivier after the fact, it really did develop into something that was quite heavy. At first I thought it was funny — it was a personal glimpse into something that was esoteric and interesting, because not too many people do what they do. But, at the same time, getting some distance, I look at it and go, “Wow. That’s quite a lofty burden to bear.” And it really does speak to how we consume other artistic individuals, and it really does speak to how we idolize and discard things.
I found that very moving, but I identified with the Binoche character. I don’t think your character is superficial. I see her as devious and manipulative and easily identified with the character she’s reading when they run the lines. That was disturbing for her, so you’re doing two things at once. And there was an erotic charge between the characters.
Yes. They both manipulate each other sort of subconsciously throughout the entire movie.
SPOILERS BELOW But Valentine loves Maria right? She digs it when Maria does well. She’s proud of her.
Absolutely. They both love each other so much. One important thing for me was to make Valentine somebody that was not someone typical. Not someone who you would expect to service another, but somebody that you were curious about — somebody that you go, “Okay, so what has put you in this position? You wouldn’t typically follow suit with somebody you adhere to.” It’s clearly somebody who stands up for what she thinks and what she believes in, yet she’s taking this role as an assistant, and therefore should be voiceless.
Somehow she’s living through the other woman, but then, in this forced, intimate situation, her own needs come to the surface. She needs respect.
Absolutely. I think the only reason she’s there is because, if that respect is not mutually required, then she should be elsewhere.
She bails, and I love the way Assayas leaves it. It seems mysterious, but she quit!
She quit. For me, the entire movie she was trying to make points to her, to get across to her, verbally, and Maria might consider her opinions and thoughts for a moment, and in the next moment they are gone. All that she’s left with are her really personal and narrowly seen thoughts. By the end, Valentine’s like, “I’ve been screaming at you for an entire movie. Now I’m going to show you what I mean and I’m going to leave. So that is what I mean.”
Check out Kristen chatting about channeling Justin Bieber while dressing like a guy in a recent Jenny Lewis music video on Conan!
Conan – April 8
Kristen [04.08.2015] przez korita05
Now you can listen interview with Kristen from Podcast with Takeaway.
When we spoke last October during the New York Film Festival, Kristen Stewart had not yet become the first American female actor to ever win a Cesar — France’s equivalent of the Oscar — for Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria.” But she was still ecstatic about it. In the film she plays Valentine, the harried but cucumber cool personal assistant of Maria Enders, a Juliette Binoche-like superstar played by Juliette Binoche. That allowed her to mock the film industry and the gossip machine from a safe remove. The two actresses paired together to talk about their rapport, and, in Binoche’s case, to whip out one hell of a laugh.
Juliette, your breakthrough, 1985’s “Rendez-vous,” was written by Assayas, and you reunited for his 2008 film “Summer Hours.” You instigated this project. What was your original concept?
Juliette Binoche: I wanted him to deal with the feminine. I didn’t know exactly what it would be, but I was imagining these characters exchanging roles. I talked about Bergman. I said, “C’mon, you love Bergman! You made a book of interviews [from 2008]!” And I was a little frustrated on “Summer Hours,” as an actress. I thought he was shy and hiding. I said, “I was missing you!”
Kristen Stewart: It’s like, “I want to know you!”
JB: “I want to know you,” yeah! And he said to me, “Give me two weeks and I’ll tell you whether I like it or not.” Then he called me and said, “I have the subject.” A year and a half later he gave me the script
It’s pretty honest about what goes on in the life of a middle-aged actress. What was your reaction to it?
JB: I was shocked! I didn’t expect it to be that way at all. I was provoking him [big, hearty laugh] and I got slapped back!
Kristen, you were supposed to be Jo-Ann, a younger actress ultimately played by Chloe Grace Moretz, but you insisted on taking Valentine instead. Why was that?
KS: That part is fantastic, but it’s just not for me. It was something I knew so well that it wasn’t interesting to me. I know Valentine so well, but I’ve never done it before. It’d be more interesting to say I gravitated towards the project because of the statements it made and the commentary that it is. But it was the emotional part that I really loved. And there’s more irony and more layers steeped in her dialogue if it’s coming out of my mouth. It’s just the way it is. I’ve been there, I’ve been smack-dab in the middle. To directly address the media and talk about what precarious bulls— it can be sometimes and how we starvingly consume people — that was fun. I had to erase the glee from my face while saying those lines. [Laughs] I had to try to not look so excited about it.
There are elements of old-school mindf—s here, including bits of “Persona” and “L’Avventura.” But it’s still played realistically.
JB: I love films where you don’t know what’s real and what’s not real. When you dream, you wonder if it’s reality or not. It’s the same with life. You never now if you’re living or if it’s fiction. [Laughs] Film really represents that well. And also to show what roles do to actresses was very meaningful for me. There’s not a lot of films about actors having to go through emotions. Who wants to get up early in the morning and think about death or whatever — of your love or your child or your parents. You have to go through emotions without identifying with them, because the emotions are not yours. But you still have to go through them. My character in the beginning doesn’t want to go through that. It’s hell. She doesn’t want to go through hell. Her life is already difficult and complex.
KS: It’s smart that it acknowledges you can never fully step outside yourself. It’s delusional to think actors are playing other people. It’s always you. It’s versions of you, but it’s going to take a toll. It fills you back up with something else, but at the end of the day it’s [laughs] taxing.
Your characters have such a comfortable rapport. How did you develop that?
JB: We took some appointments to help us develop our relationship. [Big, hearty laugh] When you like someone you like someone. We became close in a natural way.
KS: If we hadn’t, the movie would not have been good. Because I am not a liar. If this [points to her and Binoche] was not solid and this was not stimulating…This woman makes me think more than most people that I’ve worked with. I’m constantly sitting there in between everything going [makes a thinking face]. She perplexes me a little bit, which is absolutely the right dynamic. We didn’t have to fake it.
Kristen, were you consciously seeking European roles?
KS: No. I’ve always gravitated towards American filmmakers who have a bit more fluidity and the balls to explore and live in something and don’t need to control it so much, in a way that’s not solely designed for the consumer. I am so lucky because not many young American actresses get this opportunity. The parts don’t exist.
Is it getting better, or do you have to just go to Europe to get the great roles? Or is that just a cliche?
KS: If you were to get a consensus, then, yeah, absolutely. There are so many conventions in female roles in the States that it almost becomes — I mean, it’s so cliche, as you say — it almost becomes stifling. And it’s contagious. All of a sudden you think it’s not going to be commercial and easily consumable, people are not going to make it. It’s either going to be the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest movie ever, or it’s just never going to happen. I read really great scripts all the time that are different and go against convention and say something new. And they can never find legs. They never get made. It’s a cliche because it’s true.
Watch ‘Clouds of Sils Maria’ stars joke with Peter Travers about acting styles and Ingmar Bergman vs. ‘Twilight.’
“When I first read the script, I thought it was just hilarious,” said Kristen Stewart at last Friday’s Film Independent at LACMA screening of Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria.
The film follows Maria, an aging international film star—played by Juliette Binoche—who must return to the play that launched her career 20 years prior. This time, however, she’ll take on the role of the aging actress while a hot young Hollywood starlet, with the paparazzi at her heels, will play the part that made her a star.
“[Assayas] had no idea that he was going to cast me when he wrote the script,” said Stewart. “It was like really, perfectly appropriate. It added a lot of irony and weight to some of the words that I was saying.”
But in the film, Stewart doesn’t play the young star with the tabloids chasing her. (That would be Chloë Grace Moretz.) Instead, Stewart plays Valentine, Maria’s dedicated personal assistant.
“It was perfect for me assume that position of support,” said the 24-year-old actress, “because you couldn’t be so innately protective unless you had been through it.”
The role also allowed Stewart to offer commentary on her own celebrity. Throughout the film, Stewart gives Binoche updates on Moretz’s tabloid exploits. At one point, she even argues for why the scandal-plagued star matters as an artist, even though she’s making serialized Hollywood blockbusters aimed at pre-teens.
“Because I am so inside of it, I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s so true, it’s ridiculous. It’s hilarious,’” laughed Stewart. “Yet now I look at it, and I’m like ‘Wow… that’s actually quite heavy.”
Even while playing a personal assistant, Stewart said she brought a lot of herself to the role. “So far, I’ve played people that have been really not too outside of my own realm of understanding,” she said. “And so any affectation or trying to distance myself in a way that would show an audience it’s not me—It’s like, ‘No no, it is me. It is fully fucking 100 percent me.’”
Stewart said the immediacy of her approach came into play in working with Binoche.
“I didn’t want to rehearse with her. She was like wrestling me down to the ground to rehearse with her. And I was like, ‘No! Stay away from me.’”
“Is that because you want to save something for the floor and if you rehearse it too much, there’s nothing left?” asked Film Independent Curator Elvis Mitchell.
Stewart nodded. “I’m so scared of losing that. And I think as I get older, I realize that that fear is actually debilitating.” She continued: “Even if you say something once and you have this vague memory of a feeling, it doesn’t taint the one that might come later. Juliette has so much faith in that. And I’m like, ‘No, it has to be the one. It has to be the first time, and if it’s not the first time, then I don’t know what it is!’”
“I’m the most annoying person for a director to hire in the world,” she added, then arching her brow and becoming a director: “‘So we’re going to shoot it from over here now,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh really? I already did that.’”
Mitchell asked if the actress’ inclination toward doing it once and making it real has ever led her to think about theater. In response, Stewart just looked out to the audience with a sardonic expression on her face. The room burst into laughter.
Stewart shook her head. “It’s just I have no experience with it and I haven’t watched much of it either. No, I’m from LA, man.”
In response, Mitchell hung his head and let his microphone slip to the ground.
“What does that mean?” asked Stewart. “I’m not like an idiot, right?”
Then she launched into a defense of her anti-theater stance: “If I’ve really gotten to a point where I’m like, ‘this is what I need, this is the ultimate.’ It’s always when I feel subject to something completely out of my control,” she said. “I don’t want to see you show me something. I want to watch you find something. I want to watch you fall on your face and go, ‘What was that?’ And like, in relation to theater, I’m sure you could do that… I just love making movies.”
And in her film career—which has already spanned more than 15 years—Stewart said she’s finding herself increasingly drawn to smaller movies made by inspired filmmakers. For her upcoming projects she’ll work with such established names as Ang Lee, Kelly Reichardt and Woody Allen, as well as rising talents like Neimah Nourizadeh and Drake Doremus.
“You’re either making movies because you have this compulsion to tell a story or you’re making movies because you want to make a bunch of money, and get super famous and stuff,” said Stewart. “I’m speaking from a position of ‘I did that already,’ but I genuinely would be doing this for the exact same reasons. I swear to God.”
The 24-year-old, who recently became the first American actress to win France’s equivalent of the Oscar for ‘Clouds of Sils Maria,’ asks, “Why aren’t we [as a society] mentioning the fact that it’s so crazy that there are so many people that are so full of it? And why are we consuming them en masse?”
“I’ve never, ever been like, ‘One day, I’m gonna win an Oscar,’” Kristen Stewart told me on Friday when we met up on the campus of Santa Monica College. The 24-year-old, who has been acting since the age of nine, says her dreams have always centered on the work, not the reward. “Truly, my ‘one day’ was always, ‘I’m gonna be a director! One day, I’m gonna direct movies!’”
Most of the reason Stewart possesses this attitude is her understanding — gleaned from her 15 years of experience and from her parents, who are also employed in the industry — that the work is what matters, not the money, celebrity or accolades, all of which have fleeting value. But, she lets on, part of it is also a defense mechanism: “I’ve taken so much shit that I’m just like, ‘I’m not the winner!’ I’m not gonna be let down when I don’t get the pat on the back I’m totally used to the kick in the ass.”
Therefore, Stewart was as surprised as anyone on Feb. 20 when, from her seat in Paris at the 40th César Awards — France’s Oscars — she heard her name called as the winner of the best supporting actress prize for her performance as a movie star’s assistant in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria, making her the first American actress ever to take home a César. (The film, which has brought Stewart some of the best reviews of her career, premiered at Cannes last May, went on to screen at the Toronto, New York and AFI film fests and will finally open stateside on April 10.)
“Oh, man, it blew my head off, to be honest,” Stewart says. “I couldn’t believe that I got nominated, and then obviously I really, really couldn’t believe that they gave it to me, because those people rigidly dole out praise, especially to Americans.” She adds, “It felt really good,” and then says in a fake snooty tone, “I would prefer a French Oscar [to an American Oscar]” before bursting into laughter.
I’ve spoken with Stewart on a number of occasions over the years since then and, I’m pleased to report, each time she seemed markedly more at peace with herself and her position in the public eye. The last time we spoke prior to Friday was in November at AFI Fest, where, on a panel that I moderated, she more than held her own alongside the likes of Marion Cotillard, Jake Gyllenhaal, Bill Hader, Michelle Monaghan and Tilda Swinton, waxing eloquently about the film industry and a year in which she gave strong performances in no fewer than three films: Still Alice, Camp X-Ray and Clouds.
When we spoke on Friday and focused specifically on Clouds, she was more together and impressive than ever, in no small part, I’m sure, because we were talking about a movie that had allowed her to reflect on and ridicule the absurdity of her experience as a famous celebrity. (Note: According to Daniel Boorstin, the late Librarian of Congress, the definition of “fame” is being well known for one’s accomplishments, while the definition of “celebrity” is being well known for being well known; these two things are not mutually-exclusive and Stewart seems to fit both sides of the bill.)
* * *
Clouds focuses on the relationship between a middle-aged movie star (Oscar winner Juliette Binoche) and her assistant (Stewart) around the time in which the star — a true actress — agrees to participate in a theatrical revival of the play-turned-film that made her famous decades earlier. This time, though, she will play the older woman in it, while, in order to get it off the ground, the role of the younger woman she’d played before will be assumed by a scandal-plagued, seemingly vapid celebrity (Chloe Grace Moretz).
In Stewart’s view, the film does the service of showing moviegoers how, in real life, actresses like the Binoche character (“who are interesting and good and strive to do cool stuff and do stuff that makes people think”) — the sort she clearly sees herself as — must coexist now, more than ever, alongside people like the Moretz character (“surface BS, put-together commercial/commodity-type actresses”). Moreover, it makes the point that the former sort are increasingly valued by our society less than the latter, while being subjected more to the sort of invasive media coverage invited by the others, which blurs the line between the two in the eyes of many and makes it harder for true artists to practice their craft. “That’s what I like about the movie,” Stewart says. “Why aren’t we [as a society] mentioning the fact that it’s so crazy that there are so many people that are so full of it? Any why are we consuming them en masse?”
Interestingly, the project almost slipped away from her. She was sent the script a few years ago by Assayas’ regular producer Charles Gillibert, who also produced On the Road and, says Stewart, has become “one of my dearest friends and my favorite producer in the world.” She immediately responded to the material, which includes derisive tongue-in-cheek references — allegedly written before Stewart was even considered for the project — to franchise films, generally, and werewolf films, specifically, among other things. “Oh, my God,” she exclaims, “It became something much more complex as we went on, but initially I was like, ‘Wow, this is hilarious! This is so true! This is so perfect and spot-on and I would love to say those words!”
She told her team how she felt and assumed that they would formally confirm her participation in the project. “I figured that other people would be taking care of things like that,” she chuckles. That didn’t happen, though, and Gillibert “didn’t want to push for an answer.” Assuming she wasn’t interested, he eventually offered the part to another actress (Mia Wasikowska).
When Stewart learned about this, she was devastated and reached out to Gillibert to try to rectify the situation. Gillibert and Assayas suggested that she take on the role of the young movie star, but Stewart expressed reservations. “I just couldn’t really wrap my head around it. It’s a good part, but if I played an actress involved in this scandal, in the extreme way that it’s presented in the film, it would have been satirical for me and just not as interesting,” she offers. “So I fought for it [the part of the assistant],” she says, “and then the stars shifted in some way and it all worked out.” (Wasikowska dropped out of the project and wound up playing the assistant to another fictional movie star at the center of another biting satire, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, which happened to costar Pattinson and premiere at Cannes alongside Clouds.)
Looking back on the making of Clouds, Stewart says she liked playing an assistant, as it offered her a different perspective on a dynamic with which she is keenly familiar. Assistants are a major presence in the life of most movie stars — including her own at various times, although not at the moment — and yet they are people “that we don’t get a glimpse at [in movies], typically,” she points out. Perhaps that’s because their role in the life of a star depends not only on the star but on the moment — they can alternately function as secretaries, gophers, therapists and “paid friends,” who are expected to always stay close to the star, but just outside of the spotlight. “I’ve seen so many of those scenes play out in real life,” says Stewart. “You know, weird stuff goes on behind closed doors, and we [Clouds’ makers] sort of open them up and go, ‘This is what might be going on in this woman’s life.’”
The actress also felt grateful to be part of a different kind of movie than she’s accustomed to: a French, dialogue-driven film anchored exclusively by women. “It’s two women sitting in a room basically talking about being women and movies and their lives and their perspectives,” she says, “and it never really cuts away from that. That would never be greenlit in this country, especially at the level that it was [$6.6 million]. Maybe you could do that movie for, like, a million dollars [in the U.S.], but not with the honor that they [the French] give to the stories that they tell, and how indulgent but completely unfrivolous they are, and how willing they are to take risks. They make movies because they have a compulsion to tell certain stories, they don’t make movies to become rich and famous, and that is a huge, massive divide between European and American cinema. The people who I’d like to work with in the States share that — but you have to find them.”
She also loved working with Binoche, a skilled and no-nonsense actress who was once the “It” girl, too — Assayas co-wrote her 1985 breakthrough film Rendez-vous, which made her an international star — but powered through the BS and has gone on to a remarkable and enduring career. Stewart has had similar role models — and champions — in several other costars, Panic Room’s Jodie Foster, Welcome to the Rileys’ Melissa Leo and Still Alice’s Julianne Moore among them. The reason is clear: If you look at her work outside of the Twilight franchise — before, after and even in-between those five films — there is no question that she has some of the best chops of her generation.
The problem for Stewart is and long has been that vastly more people saw her in the Twilight films and the accompanying coverage than in anything else she’s done — perhaps everything else she’s done put together — which is why many still regard her as a celebrity trying to pass herself off as an actress. Some of those people, particularly the tabloid who hound her and the faceless multitudes who spend more time dissecting her life on social media than living their own in the real world, have the capacity to be very cruel to the people they follow. Joshing references to her habits of biting her lip or running her fingers through her hair have sometimes devolved into truly bottom-feeding stuff. “I’m fully and 100% subject to that,” she says, adding that she hasn’t always found it easy to shake it off: “It has taken serious adjustment time.” But, she says she realized, “There’s just nothing that I can really do about that.”
“If you think about the source of it all,” says Stewart (who clearly has), “which is really the big, big, big green monster of cash, there’s just no way that that’s stopping. It’s a new industry — celebrity news is a whole new form of entertainment — and it’s a huge, booming, f—ing money-making industry, so why would it stop?” Is it all enough to give her second thoughts about continuing in a profession that puts her in that line of fire? Her answer is a defiant no. “I love what I do and so it’s worth protecting,” she says, adding, “Hopefully, one day people’s priorities will shift a little bit.” After a pause, she adds, “Unfortunately, onto somebody else.”
Perhaps Stewart, like Jerry Lewis, is destined to remain more appreciated in France than in America. Or perhaps, as Twilight and her various tabloid appearances fade further into the past, and as people discover her many other strong performances (Adventureland is a personal favorite) and as she continues to do good work (she’s slated to be in a Drake Doremus movie this year and a Woody Allen movie next year), more Americans will eventually come around on her — and more haters and paparazzi will get off her back.
Either way, she’s planning to keep plugging along — and, unlike many actresses, she’s actually looking forward to getting older. “Actresses go crazy when they feel like they want to hold on to what used to be, or whatever,” she says. “I’m so satisfied and happy and absolutely looking forward to what’s to come.” She waits a beat and then adds, “Talk to me when I’m 30 and then I’ll be like, ‘Ahhhhh!’” Turning serious again, she says, “As time goes on, who knows what my ambitions and objectives will be? Who knows how I’m gonna feel about what I do and what that’s gonna turn into? I have a feeling that I’m gonna do this for a while — at least, being involved in this industry.”
“It’s so nice out,” Stewart remarks as we wrap up, and with that, she tucks into her ski cap, puts on her shades and heads off across the busy campus, unrecognized by the many passing students. Were she not accompanied by a big bodyguard, she might have blended in, even to me, as one of them.
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