Few have done that lately with the diligence of Kristen Stewart. As the “Twilight” series began to wind down several years ago, Stewart began using her leverage to try on all sorts of on-screen guises, including the teenage Marylou in Walter Salles' adaptation of “On the Road,” a tough-minded soldier in the military drama “Camp X-Ray” and, as of its Cannes premiere a few days ago, a personal assistant to a famous actress in “Sils Maria,” a drama about the performing life from the French polymath Olivier Assayas.
According to the director, at least, it is a role that will change radically the actress' public standing. “I think people will have a completely different notion of Kristen after this movie,” Assayas said in an interview. “They'll see all the places she can go."
Stewart actually was given the choice by Assayas to play Jo-Ann, in what would have been a sly, if somewhat gimmicky, riff on her own career. But she turned it down, a decision the director hails as one of several bold choices Stewart has made.
“To me it shows how brilliant Kristen is,” Assayas said. “It shows how she understands the need to eradicate any confusion between her public persona and the characters she plays.”
Assayas initially believed he would have a hard time persuading Stewart to star in the film. “I really thought she wouldn’t do it, that it would be too scary for her. (He also allowed her to have some fun with her off-screen fame, giving Val a line in which she wonders why so many modern movies must contain werewolves.)