(PART 1) Translation of Vanity Fair France
KRISTEN STEWART, The rebel.
At 24, she has already known a huge amount of fame by being the star of blockbusters.She's had her first loves under the spotlight of paparazzi. And she's discovered the curse that Hollywood gives to those who do whatever they want. After two years of not speaking to the media, the sullen actress is making a come back - obviously - where we weren't expecting her, in a French film by Olivier Assayas, and she takes the opportunity to discuss with Ingrid Sischy, the confusing similarities between this fiction and her reality.
How many people can brag about having wolves hybrid as pets? It's the case of Kristen Stewart, troubling premonition for the one who was Bella Swan in the "Twilight" series, the old-fashioned teenager but romantic, the laughing stock of her high school who falls in loves with a buff vampire and whose best-friend turns into a werewolf on occasion...
Actresses who have the guts of breaking the Hollywood mold don't grow on trees in the United States. When you're lucky enough to croth paths with them, you've got to jump at the opportunity. Particularly when this actress grew up in Los Angeles, with two parents working in the cinema and television industry - because that's how Kristen Stewart ended up on the big screen. She's not a "little rich kid", protected by the cocoon of celebrity and/or a huge amount of fortune, enclosed in a Beverly Hills mansion, surrounded by a perfect high hedge. Kristen Stewart's childhood, in the substantially less glamourous San Fernando Valley, was the complete contrary. Her parents, Jules Mann-Stewart and John Stewart were employed by celebrities. And they knew very well how some of them can make your life a living hell.
When their daughter Kristen, who was wearing the exact same clothes as her brother Cameron, in other words, was dressed like a boy, as in wearing tracksuits, even in class, said she wanted to go to auditions, her mother warned her: "I work with those kids - they are crazy. You are not like them." But as she won't stop doing it after that, Kristen held onto her dream, and, at 11, she gets the role of Jodie Foster's daughter in "Panic Room", the thriller by David Fincher. An inspiring cast. Stewart isn't pretending to be cute, she's more like the kind of kid that you would bring with yourself in adventures. I talked to Jodie Foster about Kristen - who also survived through the tricks of getting famous at a young age - a few years ago, and she defines her with those few words: "Kristen doesn't have the usual personality of an actress. She doesn't want to dance on her grandmother's table with a lampshade on her head."
To say that the "Twilight" films didn't bring in a lot of money would be a euphemism [400 million of dollars worldwide only for the first one]. Needless to say, these films weren't the best. But Stewart never despised them, just like the millions of fans of the books. It would have been so easy for a hipster like her. But Robert Pattinson - her lover off and on screen at the time - and her seemed to have a real respect for the fans of the sage. And for one another as well.
[Mentions 2012 but no1currs] Contrary to France, the United States never hesitate to get on their high horse when it comes to morality, but it went even farther than that. The public was disappointed. And I think that the most interesting part is that Stewart herself was the most disappointed in herself. No one would have ever expected her to end up in that kind of common situation. But the truth is, it's precisely this burning humanity that sets her apart from this other horde of falsely cheerful actresses, and incredibly redone that obstruct the pages of magazines. Even if "On The Road", the adaptation of Kerouac's novel, that she loved a lot, came out in the US around the same time, she has more or less disappeared from radars since. In the interview that you're about to read, she remembers: "I came down from this giant wave and I wanted to shelter myself a little bit. That I would come back later."
The moment has come. After not less than five films shot that will come out in the next few months, beginning with "Sils Maria", the mediation of Olivier Assayas on the cinema industry and the ultra modern celebrity, the actress was more than busy. In Assayas' film, she proves that she can make fun of herself. The fact that it's a French film isn't a coincidence. As many Americans before her - From Gertrude Steing to James Baldwin, stopping by Nina Simone, who chose France to find the road to freedom -, Stewart found her own on the other side of the Atlantic. While we're at it, you might realize that something is different in this article: it's an interview, in the tradition of those like "Playboy", or the conversations that Andy Warhol used to love so much when he launched the magazine "Interview" and that he wanted to "remember everything from the horse's mouth", as he said. That's how I met Kristen Stewart for the first time. She was barely 12 years old, she was just starting and I was the redactor in chef of "Interview". I remember thinking: "This kid really has things to say." It hasn't changed. And while this interview isn't like the usual Vanity Fair France interview, rules are meant to be broken. Kristen Stewart is a real rebel. To describe this rebellion, she uses an image that I find funny: "I put my boxing gloves on with 'no' written on them." So we broke the rules, we put on our gloves with 'yes' on them and we went on the boxing ring to cross swords, laugh and talk.
Kristen Stewart: What's up?
Vanity Fair: You first! I know how much you love 'red carpet' questions. What are you wearing for this interview?
Kristen: I'm not wearing my pajamas. I'm proud of myself. What time is it, noon?
VF: It's time to talk! You know that we've changed the usual way we do interviews just for you?
KS: Cool. I love reading interviews of people that I find interesting. When they play the game for real. You can't cheat. I know that you love it! Go ahead, it's your thing!
VF: We haven't seen you much these past two years. But you're going to make a lot of noise with all these movies to come. I've seen the first yesterday, "Sils Maria" by Olivier Assayas. Frankly, I didn't think I'd love it so much. I thought I would get bored and it's the total opposite. I was transported. It's a real reflexion the limitations on Art and life with one another. Sometimes I even wondered if you had inspired the screenplay.
KS: It's kind of crazy. Sometimes you have to look for the character. This one was on my knees, I had a lot of fun playing it.
VF: There is also an aspect "America against Europe" in the film. Past againt present. The values of the old world against the new digital one, where everything ends up on Twitter, Instagram... But it's the way the film reflects real life which is fascinating. What did you think when you read the script?
KS: I was terrified at the idea of not getting the role, because Olivier had already given it to someone else. But it wasn't even even possible for me not to get this one. Thank God, the planetes got aligned.
VF: It's funny because the role of the young actress [Played by CGM] seems written for you, but for someone to know you for real, the character of the working assistant that you play seems destined to be played by you. Did everything go well right away with Olivier Assayas?
KS; We first met in a restaurant in Paris. It's the first time he talked about the project, not exactly in silence because even if he doesn't say much, he says a lot of meaningful things. But we didn't speak much. We stayed like this, sitting down, and I immediately thought that we would work together on this film. We just exchanged a few words and it was a done thing.
VF: Talk to me about your character...
KS: I play Valentine, the personal assistant of Maria Enders, a famous actress [Played by Juliette Binoche]. In the film, these two women are at different stages of their lives. Their point of views are totally different, yet they are almost the same and they have a lot to share. At the same time, everything that brings them together, divides them. It's that fucking emotional thing on which they can't put their fingers one. They aren't friends. They aren't colleagues. They're not lovers. They're not mother and daughter. They're all that at once and it's strange. That's why I wanted the role. I'm her partner in every sense of the term.
VF: All this personal assistant thing, it's a mine field. Yourself, you've got to see relationships between assistants and celebrities?
KS: As an actor, we tend to end up isolated, we're on edge and it limits the exchange with people. It seems normal to me to hire friends or people to support us. But the line can be very blurry, because they work for you. You hire them, but they are also your friends or creative partners. After, you can become dependant or obsessive. It's a really destabilizing and unhealthy relationship, unique and quite common. I know that by heart.
VF: Juliette Binoche really go into your roles, and the film really shows the complication of this relationship between celebrities and their assistants. Because there's no clear limit. Show-business is a real cultural stock for this kind of situation because it's often 24/7, far from home, family, friends.
KS: It's interesting because one person has to want to be at the service of someone else. And when lines are blurred, you can feel like you were used, or that you ended up being duped way too easily. In the film, Valentine arrives at the breaking up. The fact that we know nothing about her pleased me a lot.
VF: Because the Inherent narcissism of this relationship makes it so we know everything about the famous actress but nothing about the anonymous assistant?
KS: Exactly. It was wanted. We really wanted it to happen that way. I just wanted to drop hints without saying the rest, like the tattoos for example. She comes from somewhere, no one knows where. She has interests, but we don't know them.
VF: And aside from that, how is it to play with Juliette Binoche? Were you intimidated? Excited? Nothing at all?
KS: I was beyond stressful at the idea of meeting her for the first time. She has this crazy ability of pushing others, of revealing things about yourself that you didn't even know you had. She looks like what I imagined, some kind of fucking eccentric philosopher, open, a little bit cuckoo. Like Juliette Binoche, you know. [We suddenly hear dogs barking] What's happening, guys?
KS: Bear, Bernie and Cole. My true security, it's them (Kind of weird to translate this)
VF: DId you just use the word "cuckoo" to describe Juliette Binoche, just now?
KS: Yeah. I don't think it's totally because of the fact that she's European, because it would be disminishing this huge merit that she has, but she is just like I wanted her to be. Instead of saying: "Fuck, I'm so hungry." which is what I would say, she will say: "I'm feeling this need to eat, deep within myself, in the most profound..." You see what I mean? She can't say something as simple as "I'm hungry." She isn't hungry. She has this profound need to eat.
VF: Let's talk about your thirst to work with hard working people. From the start, you've been working with directors and actors who matter. You were only 11 when you filmed with Jodie Foster in 'Panic Room' (2002), 16 when you Sean Penn directed you in "Into The Wild" (2007) and 21 when you did "On The Road" by Walter Salles (2012)... At first, we can think that it's luck, even if there's a real guideline and it's not an accident. Even in "Twilight", your partner Robert Pattinson was an actor already established, and there are a lot of rumours about how you two fought hard against the studio to keep some part of risk, of melancholy, emotion, authenticity to the story. It's like you choose carefuly how to pick your enemies.
KS: Oh yeah. Totally. I'm not the kind of actress who can play without a mirror. Everyone knows you're so much better with actors who are really there, with whom you can share something, and whether it works or not, it makes me stronger or makes me weaker. If I have to work with someone, someone who doesn't thrill me, or with someone I have to fake things, it's sad and I act badly.
VF: Has it ever happened?
KS: Absolutely. I haven't totally fucked things up, but I've had to force myself to do it. I just had to think: "Thank God, we only have a small number of scenes together." As you said, I've been very lucky and I've had way more good experiences than ones less euphoric., but yeah, I know the difference. Fuck, it's so good, it's like a drug.
VF: What do you do when it's bad? What happens to you?
KS: It's really uncomfortable. It takes a few days, or a few scenes. At first, you tell yourself that it's just because there's a problem or rhythm. But once you've exhausted yourself trying to find out why, you put yourself in default mode and you act like shit. It's not funny. And it's not good. When I looked back at those scenes, I'm juste like "ew". I don't like to see this.
VF: It reminds me of what Elizabeth Taylor told me one day. I've had the chance to interview her a few times before she died. We were talking about "Butterfield 8" (1960), a film for which she received the Oscar for Best actress, she said something like: "I thought this director was such an asshole and I hated him so much that we ended up not talking and I ended up directing myself." Crazy, huh?
KS: Wow. It really says a lot. It's crazy when stuff like that happens on a set, and us, the public know nothing about it.
VF: Elizabeth was someone so uncontrollable. Actresses today are monuments of calm next to her. Because of Internet, scandals have lost all of their glamour. In Sils Maria, you do everything against that. In fact, you defend the young actress whose life is a complete mess and that people can't help but look at, like a car accident. Tell us about this character played by Chloë Moretz.
KS: Chloë plays a young actress, Jo-Ann Ellis, on the edge of something huge but also in the middle of a scandal. She has this freshness, a desire and a naive courage that attracts people. In Chloë's character, there's something raw, a juvenile honesty. It's a young girl with a different point of view.
VF: This role might not be based on a particular person but it looks like a portrait from the present. This character could be the summary of all these American actresse who end up in the eye of the storm in the media for whatever reason. One of the strong point of the film is when you run to defend her. You say something like: "She's young, but at least she's brave enough to be herself. At her age, it's courageous, in fact, I think it's pretty fucking cool. Right now, she's probably my favourite actress." Myself, being American and who has followed what happened these past few years, I can't help but think that, in a way, this dialogue that Assayas gave you describes your career. Not in an self-absorbed way, but as a nod to the public. I mean, how many times have you heard; "Oh, Kristen Stewart never smiles" or, "Kristen Stewart is never happy" It makes me laugh that these words come out of your mouth. I've heard them so much about you!
KS: I have to admit that in certain parts, I had to calm myself down because I was so happy about saying those words. Olivier didn't write them for me. But it was like destiny that I was pushed to do this role. I've reacting to this in a more familiar way than I should have, but it's like that. It's crazy. It's a strange and funny coincidence.