With a wink to ‘Twi­light,’ Kristen Ste­wart speeds for­ward

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE - BY JAKE COYLE

In “The Clouds of Sils Maria,” Kristen Ste­wart’s celebrity has been in­verted. The pa­parazzi rush right past her.

She plays the ef­fi­cient, con­stantly email­ing as­sis­tant to Juliette Binoche’s famed Euro­pean actress. Read­ing tabloid sto­ries about a Hol­ly­wood star­let (played by Chloe Grace Moretz), she shrugs: “It’s celebrity news. It’s fun.” When she’s run­ning through pos­si­ble roles for her boss, the for­mer “Twi­light” star de­scribes one film as hav­ing were­wolves “for some rea­son.”

“I had to se­ri­ously har­ness the glee that was ex­plod­ing across my face when I was say­ing some of those lines,” Ste­wart said in an in­ter­view. “I don’t think that’s what the movie is fully about. It’s not a com­men­tary about the in­sane na­ture of the me­dia in the States, es­pe­cially. But no one knows about that more than me.”

Ste­wart, 24, doesn’t seem so much like she’s flee­ing her teen idol past as she’s al­ready long gone, maybe just glanc­ing back, with a wink. “The Clouds of Sils Maria,” di­rected by French film­maker Olivier As­sayas (“Car­los,” “Sum­mer Hours”), which opens in the­aters April 10, is part of a string of re­cent and up­com­ing films Ste­wart has made in a head­long rush.

“I’m hav­ing more fun now than I ever have,” says Ste­wart. “Th­ese movies go by (she snaps her fin­gers). We made ‘ Camp X-Ray’ in 20 days. It’s just bet­ter when it’s faster.”

The fre­netic pace is in stark con­trast to the plod­ding de­mands of a five- film fran­chise like “Twi­light.” The movies now are largely in­de­pen­dent, and the roles (like in “Sils Maria”) are of­ten sup­port­ing or part of an en­sem­ble. She co-starred as Ju­lianne Moore’s daugh­ter in “Still Alice” and played a Guan­tanamo guard in “Camp X-Ray.” She’s com­pleted a science-fic­tion ro­mance (“Equals”), a stoner thriller (“Amer­i­can Ul­tra”) and a New York mug­ging drama (“Anes­the­sia”). She’s been film- ing Kelly Re­ichardt’s adap­ta­tion of Maile Meloy short sto­ries, and she’s to co-star in Woody Allen’s next film.

“Be­cause of the lack of ex­pec­ta­tion of any of th­ese movies, there were no mo­ments that peo­ple had read in a book that were the most im­por­tant thing in their lives,” she says, re­fer­ring to her “Twi­light” role. “I re­ally let go.”

Shew adds she’s “got­ten a lot bet­ter at trust­ing my­self and not think­ing that you need to use th­ese nerves and crazy in­er­tia to con­vince ev­ery­one on the set that you’re le­git­i­mate.”

Ste­wart’s post-”Twi­light” work re­veals (or per­haps re­minds) that her na­ture is less as a megawatt star than an actress bent on nat­u­ral­ism, in­stinct and in­quis­i­tive­ness. She has ba­si­cally re­turned to mak­ing much the same kind of indies she made out­side of “Twi­light”: “Ad­ven­ture­land,” “Wel­come to the Ri­leys,” “The Runaways.” There’s a dis­tinct lack of pre­cious­ness in choos­ing projects or any ev­i­dent ca­reer-build­ing.

“All my fa­vorite ac­tors are not peo­ple that go off and make th­ese char­ac­ters that are iron-clad per­fect,” Ste­wart says. “I want to see peo­ple will­ing to go places they’re not de­ter­min­ing. You want to see the sur­prise in peo­ple’s faces.”

As­sayas ap­proached Ste­wart for “Clouds of Sils Maria” on the sug­ges­tion of pro­ducer Charles Gil­lib­ert, who had worked with Ste­wart on the Jack Ker­ouac adap­tion “On the Road,” also a French pro­duc­tion. Ste­wart says she never got the script (“and in their very French way they didn’t call or ask or push”), so the role was cast for Mia Wasikowska. Af­ter Wasikowska dropped out, Ste­wart came aboard.

“It’s re­ally some­thing that you have not seen her in,” As­sayas said at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, where the film first pre­miered. “Kristen, what­ever im­age one has of her, ul­ti­mately she’s just a great actress by any stan­dard.”

She has cer­tainly won the French over. In Fe­bru­ary, she be­came the first Amer­i­can actress to ever win a Ce­sar, France’s top film award, for her per­for­mance in “Clouds of Sils Maria.”

Of the ac­tor-pub­li­cist re­la­tion­ship Ste­wart says: “It’s al­ways more com­pli­cated than: ‘Go get me wa­ter.’” Though she’s play­ing a char­ac­ter on the op­po­site side of fame, it may be the role clos­est to Ste­wart her­self.

“It’s so not a de­par­ture. It’s a world that I know so well and that I’ve ob­served so much of,” Ste­wart says. “I re­ally wasn’t try­ing to be any­one else.”

In per­son, Ste­wart seems to phys­i­cally shrink, balled up in a de­fen­sive pose, her sleeves pulled over her hands. She never ex­actly loosens up, but she’s an­i­mated when talk­ing about her in­spi­ra­tions and her new­found cre­ative free­dom.

When asked about how “Twi­light” changed her, Ste­wart ram­bles re­luc­tantly on how it helped her re­al­ize she’s an ac­tor. But when it’s pointed out that it sounds like “Twi­light” is far from her thoughts, she quickly nods.

“Com­pletely. I only have to think about that when some­one asks me.”

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