Kristen Stewart is currently in Cannes at the esteemed French film festival, serving as a member of the female-majority jury. As if we didn’t have reason enough to love her, the actress talked gender and adapting her first queer-friendly screenplay.
Stewart is known for her lip-biting acting roles, but she’s finally ready to delve into a behind-the-scenes role as a screenwriter. The 28-year old wants to write “the best fucking female role.” For her, that journey begins with adapting the life story of queer novelist Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water.
“I love her novels but her memoires… it’s deeply personal to her,” Stewart says in a video interview with Cannes. “She’s in my blood and I knew that before I met her.”
The actress will write and direct the film, but she doesn’t plan to star.
“I’m making the movie this summer but other than that, my only goal is just to finish the screenplay and hire a really spectacular actor: I’m going to write the best fucking female role,” she quips. “I’m going to write a role that I want so badly but that I’m not going to play.”
Yuknavitch is a bisexual woman, and according to the book’s description, the memoir details the author’s developing sexual attraction to both men and women, as well as tracing her struggles with addiction, self-destruction, and “ultimately survival that finally comes in the shape of love and motherhood.”
Stewart also talked gender fluidity, in regards to one of her previous roles. When asked about the fluidity of her character’s blurred gender lines in Personal Shopper, she said, “I think that the loss of my character’s brother is so central, it’s almost like she wants to be him in order to have him closer to her, in order to not have to miss him and she’s going through this really difficult grieving process,” adding, “I love that there in an ambiguity in the character, you really never quite know who the fuck she is because she doesn’t know herself.”
The actress also spoke on her own relationship to gender. When asked if she could play a male character, Stewart said, “Totally! Gender is a bit of a myth if you ask me. Everyone’s individual relationship with gender is totally theirs to define. But I really think because of the flexibility inherent to gender, there’s room for all types of approach.”
As for the future, Stewart hopes to keep acting, as well as writing and directing. The Chronology of Water will mark her feature film debut as a writer.
There’s something simultaneously light and dark about Kristen Stewart. The elusive actor rose to worldwide fame in the Twilight saga before emerging as a rebellious silver-screen icon with an impressive filmography under her belt. Adored by the public, lauded by the industry, Kristen Stewart made an impact on Cannes in no fewer than three In Competition occasions, first in On the Road by Walter Salles, and then with Olivier Assayas in Sils Maria and Personal Shopper. Last year, the Festival followed the actor’s first forays behind the camera with her début short Come Swim, a poignant, heart-wrenching film.
Festival de Cannes, Olivier Assayas, a César, Chanel… are you French at heart?
Almost! I’m getting as close as I can. I’m playing Jean Seberg in Benedict Andrews’ Against All Enemies. A lot of the dialogue is in French, although her accent is terrible. So I have to learn more than I ever have, which will be fun. I’m getting a little closer to being even more French!
Did you go on a French film binge?
Not as much as I should have. I’ve watched a lot of movies but I wouldn’t describe myself as a film buff. My experience has been really incredible because I literally feel like I’m attending film school. Everyone can have an emotional response to a film. It’s a universal language. I don’t feel intimidated. French film is home to a really diverse group of people who are all very different, yet all really eloquent and informed. They’re kind of like my teachers.
Olivier Assayas says you create a sense of space in the way you act. How do you feel about that?
That space is something he gives me. I made five movies in which I felt the opposite of free. I think an environment that gives you the room to create something unexpected actually takes a huge amount of planning and preparation, and a brilliant mind who knows how to put it all together and make sure everything’s working together as it should. Once you have all those ingredients in place, you create space that actually provides you with the room to completely lose control.
“When I work with him, to be perfectly honest, we don’t even talk about what we are doing, we don’t necessarily tell the same story, but somehow we come together.”
I don’t try to generate any specific emotion, I never felt like he wanted me to achieve anything in particular. It’s a different way of working and it’s great, although I prefer feeling more directed, having someone waiting with a safety net ready for me to fall into.