Whenever you sit down to talk with a big movie star, there’s some degree of preconceived notions that come along with the territory. Rightly or wrongly, you have in your head the personalities you’ve seen put forward on-screen and in the media, so there’s a person already somewhat formed before the conversation even begins. In the case of Kristen Stewart, I was delighted to find that regardless of how she’s portrayed in the media, in person she’s casual, expressive, funny, and most of all, real.
In conjunction with this week’s release of Woody Allen‘s latest film Cafe Society, Awards Circuit was given the opportunity to chat with Stewart. Moving from one wildly topic to another, she had plenty to say. The highlights can be found below:
Stewart values authenticity and she never appears to be putting up any shields or putting on a performance. It was just her, sitting on a couch, answering questions about Allen, Cafe Society, and what excites her about the world of acting/filmmaking.
Stewart starts by saying:
I don’t like draw this huge, there’s not that much of a divide between like my life as mine, and then my job. Like, I don’t go to work, do you know what I mean? Yeah. So, usually, I could, if I looked back at choices and things I was drawn to and experiences that seemed to be the most, not fulfilling, but the ones that seemed to be the most worth, the ones that really got me going, I can in retrospect pinpoint why, and it’s always coming from something personal. I’m never trying to hide behind characters, like I don’t want to hide.
A lot of actors say they can hide behind this person and it makes me feel better, and if it’s just me I can’t open myself up to like, whatever. All I want to do is become visible! I definitely don’t want any degree of separation.
So, if I’m playing a character that’s different to me, I can get rid of my default settings and personality traits in prep, and then ultimately that is a version of me. And then, the way I choose is that if I’m drawn to someone and dying to have this conversation and it goes on for like an hour, we should probably explore why we’re still talking about this script. So it’s literally just this gut feeling of wanting more from that, as opposed to just the experience of reading it.
On if she’s ever thought about working with Allen and his way of writing so well for women
I never really thought about it until it came. I mean, I like his movies a lot, but I didn’t insert myself into that equation until it was in front of me. Yeah, I feel like he has this casual approach to things that feel really poignant and even in the way he shoots, he never overtly discusses or directs anything. Once you’ve said your lines you’re done, and I feel like when you watch his movies you get the same feeling. All of a sudden a moment passes you by and maybe it’s seemingly normal, someone said something off the cuff, but then it’s like “oof”. That to me is truer to life than some drama in movies, which is so focused. So that was cool.
She continues to go on about his directing style and his notorious lack of engagement/praise
I know! It’s so straightforward. It’s weird. I am totally guilty of that, because it’s how directors typically treat actors. It’s just something you’ve become accustomed to. But, recently, working with Olivier Assayas, it’s…ughh! I hate that fucking default setting of needing assurance, because it’s a distraction. It totally doesn’t offend me anymore.
If Woody came in and said “that was great, but I fell asleep halfway through that take”, I’d be like “ok, faster, got it”, you know? It’s not personal, he’s not, the idea that he has to protect your sort of little precious ego to get the right performance is not something that he wastes his time doing. But, because of that, he says things that are so blunt and so straightforward, since you’re putting yourself out there as an actor in the first place, most people are sensitive. I definitely talked to every actor who came in with a small part, and they all said the same thing. “Is he saying anything to you?” I’m like “dude, if it’s moving quickly and he’s not saying anything to you, it’s going really well”.
Discussing her preparation for certain characters and certain roles:
I honestly think, to be a good actor, it’s not like a skill. You don’t like learn how to like, it’s not a skill. If you have a good imagination and are invested in something you care about, anyone can sort of pretend and then derive lessons and shit. Yeah, so I don’t have a particular process, it totally changed with every movie. For this one, I needed to sort of shed my sort of, like again, my “isms” and find hers. Then again, they’re still mine, and they would be mine if I was there, you know what I mean? So, I have no way of really answering that because for every single movie, I go out and I find my way in.
Finishing up a bit with a few words on her impending directorial début and her dream project:
Yeah! I want so badly, and I’m not alone in this, but I have it so bad for East of Eden. How do you do that? It’s a tough one, and also I think Ron Howard has that, so that’s great. I’m directing a short that I wrote in three weeks! I wrote it like three years ago and I’ve been thinking about it forever, and I never stopped to take a second, and then I realized that I’d never stop to do it unless I just stopped taking jobs. So, I did that and I’m like elated. I can’t believe I’m here right now!