Photographed by Audoin Desforges
(On the cover) "Kristen Stewart, the indomitable beauty"
Kristen Stewart, just 24, but already ten years in the business, has made her first steps in the European auteur cinema through Olivier Assayas's Sils Maria. Interview with an actress very comfortable with her star status.
Many assistants, two publicists, a bodyguard, a makeup artist, a cameraman filming her every move: it's surrounded by this armada, walking briskly, that Kristen Stewart joins us. Very far from the image of a young, hesitant woman popularized by Twilight, "K-Stew" seems extremely confident, almost intimidating.
In Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas plays with her star status and gives her the role of personal assistant of another star, Juliette Binoche. Bright and pragmatic, she travels admirably between the theoretical interlacing of the movie, offering herself a nice trip, in first class, in European auteur cinema, twelve years after her first appearance in Panic Room by David Fincher. Between two private jets, she told us about that experience, just as exotic as exhilarating.
Q: Do you feel this changes anything for you, as an actress, to play in Olivier Assayas's Sils Maria?
Kristen: Hmmm... No. Actually, except the five Twilight film, I've only done very different movies from each other, and all of them have changed something. I'm very happy to have played in Sils Maria, but it is not an exception.
Q: Being selected at Cannes, for the first time [note: little mistake, it's the second], does it have a particular flavor?
Kristen: Oh, if you talk about that, yes, of course it's great. In the United States, we have Sundance and some other good festivals, but in terms of pure and hard love of movies, [Cannes] is the place to be. Since I was 10, I work hard, I'm totally invested in my job as an actress and I saw this selection not as an outcome but as a big recognition.
Q: You go to the movies a lot?
Kristen: It really depends. When I'm not filming, I can lock myself in my house and see five movies a day. Right now, I'm filming so I don't have time. But I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of movies anyway.
Q: What are you filming right now?
Kristen: I'm filming a movie in Louisiana called American Ultra, with Jesse Eisenberg. It is a mix of action and comedy, a somewhat strange movie, almost surreal, which, I hope, should be quite funny.
Q: It's the second time you work with Jesse Eisenberg, after Adventureland. It's an interesting movie, even if it had not been very well distributed...
Kristen: Thank you! I'm proud of this movie, Greg [Mottola] is a very sensitive director. And yes, it's an immense pleasure to work again with Jesse.
Q: Did you know well the movies of Olivier Assayas before meeting him?
Kristen: I saw Carlos and... his previous movie with Juliette Binoche, which I can not pronounce the title [L'Heure d'été], when they were released in the United States, but that's all. I had been struck by their artistic integrity, which I got to see by working with him. It's rare to find an honorable director. Especially in the United States. Olivier has just his desire in mind. He does not see things in terms of marketing, he does not think at how much revenue the movie will generate. He is focused on his film, its actors, nothing else.
Q: How was he [Olivier] on the set?
Kristen: He's a fucking badass! He controls everything and, at the same time, he's very cool. His hand.. you see (she makes the gesture with her own), it's as if he was holding everything together tightly, leaving nothing slip through his fingers, but his hand is relaxed, never tensed... I've never seen that before. On the set, we did not have to talk for hours. He let us relatively 'free' with Juliette, we were able to bring what we wanted, but at the end, he always managed to take us to his own vision of things. Here's how I would characterize his method: he puts everything methodically and then he let it go. It's almost like theater: very long takes that never seem to end. This is rare, and very cool.
Q: You are known to love improvisation, Assayas encouraged you to go in that direction?
Kristen: Yes, completely. I learn my lines but I'm not the kind of person sticking to it word for word, or rehearsing the scene a hundred times before playing it. It was totally ok for Olivier and Juliette, who have encouraged me in this way (she pauses). To be honest, I think they were a little destabilized at first, and me as well. It took me a good week to get used to the style of Olivier, who gives just a very few guidances. In Hollywood, we are sometimes directed to the millimeter: "Say this line, go there, mark this pause, turn around 12 degrees," But I think it kills spontaneity. I love when emotion gushed at the time.
Q: And Juliette Binoche, how was she with you?
Kristen: With me? Lovely. She has a crazy energy. She is a powerhouse. She is very eccentric and at the same time, she's not the type of person to get into a tizzy over nothing, you know what I mean. She does not just pontificate, as many actors do.. talking for hours about their craft, their careers, their technique and, once the director said "action" give you the most banal performance you've ever seen... No, Juliette, she, applies her philosophy. She's like Olivier deep down: what she gives never looks like a product. It is such a cliché term but I think it's the one that best describes her: she is real.
Q: With Twilight, you've found yourself in this position of big product marketing. How did you feel?
Kristen: Not very well. Now I begin to take a step back and I realize that this fame and all this hysteria around me were excessive. Even now, I pay the price. I am constantly followed by paparazzi, my life is dissected in the tabloids... Believe me, it's not very pleasant, but I have to do with.
Q: Sils Maria is precisely a reflection on the acting profession and the celebrity. Have you find things in it that reminded you daily life?
Kristen: Yes, even if it is a composition. Let's say that the movie was well-timed, to allow me to take a step back from all that. It's a way for me to say that I'm not fooled.
Q: You knew this "circus", as you say, since you're 10 years old. Do you think it has changed a lot?
Hmmm... not really, no. Of course, it has been intensified in my case. Internet and social networks - on which I'm not much - has changed the relationship we have with the public and media but, globally, these are the same rules.
Q: When you were 10 years old, who were your role models, people who inspired you to do this job?
Kristen: Firstly, Jodie Foster, with whom I worked on Panic Room. She was really really important to me. I still see her from time to time and she remains a model. Besides her, Catherine Keener inspires me. Most recently, Amy Adams is one of the best, I think.. And Cate Blanchette, of course!
Q: Who would you dream to work with now?
Kristen: I'll give a very typical answer: Scorsese.
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