To be at all familiar with Kristen Stewart — she had a small role in some vampire movies, maybe you’ve seen them — is to know that she’s not particularly comfortable in the spotlight. She’s a kinetic speaker, elliptical and often self-deprecating, so perhaps it’s no surprise that at 24, she’s already making the move to the other side of the camera. As part of its ongoing Blank Check Series, the denim/lifestyle brand Buffalo David Bitton offered Stewart a modest-but-undisclosed amount of money to “embark on a new creative journey,” which the Twilight star used to co-direct a music video for her friend Sage Galesi of the country-rock outfit Sage + the Saints.
“I’ve been saying I want to direct movies since I was 10 years old,” says Stewart, on the phone from somewhere in New Orleans, where she is currently filming the action comedy American Ultra. “And then I started making movies and working with such incredible people that I realized what I was up against. So it was like, no way, now I’m gonna get more attention than I ever should just because of who I am. Basically, I’m grateful to Sage, because she was like, ‘I have this little thing, no one could tell the story better than you. . .just do it and stop being such a pussy.’”
So Stewart, along with co-director David Ethan Shapiro of Starlight Studios, cinematographer/editor James Gallagher, and some mutual friends, decamped to Tennessee for five days in February to shoot the video for “Take Me to the South,” a song off of the Saints’ 2013 EP I Will Lie. (Galesi just launched a PledgeMusic drive to help fund a full-length album.) Filming in and around the L.A. songwriter’s adopted hometown of Nashville, Stewart and Co. shot documentary-style footage of Galesi performing at the High Watt, playing downtown street corners and goofing off with pals in the back of a pickup truck. “We wanted it to feel like a glimpse of her life,” explains Stewart. “And that’s fucking hard. As soon as you start rolling, everyone turns into deer in the headlights.”
The video for “Take Me to the South” premieres later this month. In the meantime, Stewart, along with Galesi and Shapiro, was enthusiastic to discuss her directorial debut via conference call: “It’s so much nicer doing interviews as not what I usually am.”
Your Twilight costar Nikki Reed produced a video for a song called “Edie Sedgwick” from Sage’s solo days, right? That’s how we met, yeah, It was on the set of a movie in Vancouver seven years ago, and then we became really good friends.
The video has an improvised, homespun feel. What, if any, narrative did you come up with? Sage lived all of this; we fabricated nothing. I wanted the video to feel really captured and found rather than set-up and executed. The story is that she’s insanely courageous to be this kid from L.A. who doesn’t hang out with anyone that listens to country music — and suddenly she realizes she wants to be a country star, and drives to Nashville by herself to see if she can meet people and be in a band. Then she did it all. It was so easy, once she presented me with the idea. I was like, well, that’s what the video is. It’s done. Basically, I didn’t want it to feel…I mean, nobody wants their shit to be pretentious, but like, I didn’t want it to seem like we wanted to be cool at all. Country music’s not cool. It’s truthful and it’s sweet.
Are you a fan of country? No. This is what’s so funny. This is something that Sage and I have not shared, and most everything in our friendship is. . .we have so much in common. So I was like: What? You want to do a country song?
Did you do anything to prepare? Well, I sat down and watched a lot of country videos before we started doing this. I just didn’t really see anything that wasn’t trying so fucking hard to be something. But I need to specify something about what I just said: I wasn’t talking about all country music. The country music that Sage is playing — she’s not trying to be cool. And the story was so clearly in front of us, I didn’t need to look elsewhere to get inspired. Also, you go to Nashville and everyone eats, breathes and sleeps country music, [so] being there was this transformative thing. All of our friends were, like, “Hey baby, hey darlin’, how you doing?” It’s a really contagious and super-welcoming place.
What was the primary challenge you faced as a first-time director? It’s such a different pressure than the one that I’m used to when I act. It’s this very consistent strain that never lets up. Whereas with acting, there’s small bursts. . .you alleviate bits of tension for the camera and then you go off and, I don’t know, wait to stress out again. But there wasn’t one second that I wasn’t sitting with my head in my hands. It’s your responsibility to hold this thing together, and I was always concerned I was missing something. Missed opportunities are the most gut-wrenching, painful, nauseating thing. As an actor, your job is to lose yourself in the moment. Losing yourself is the last thing you want to do as a director, so it goes against my instinct. I had to harness my energy rather than let it explode all over the set.
Sage and David, how would you describe Kristen’s technique? Shapiro: She’s very passionate. She either loves something or she hates it.
Galesi: She was a natural. She was good at not over-directing, but making sure that certain beats were captured, and telling me which moments they were going for. Being friends just makes it easier, because she could tell me something very easily.
Stewart: I felt so funny making Sage do things more than once. It was a strange experience, because I wanted to never have to do that. But there were a couple of moments where I made her do something 10 times. Most of the time it felt like we were doing a documentary, but that’s when it felt like a movie.
Like in which scene? Stewart: We’d done so many takes of this one shot of her looking over her shoulder and it felt planned, like she was on cue. But then I caught her standing backstage for a show, looking at this guy, and she doesn’t necessarily have a crush on this dude. . .
Galesi: Let’s make it very clear that I do not have a crush on that guy!
Stewart: Yes, that’s one thing we made up. Anyway, basically she’s standing there watching this dude play, and he just so represents everything that makes Nashville so different to anything we grew up with in Los Angeles — because he’s so goddamned country and I just loved pointing a camera at him. I caught her looking at him, and it’s very silhouette-y, so you’re straining to see it more, which I really love, because she’s having this private moment. And I was like: “Hey, Sage, what are you doing? You’re being so obvious.” She’s like, “What? No!” Cut. We got it.
You’ve worked with an impressive list of actors and directors: David Fincher, Sean Penn, Jodie Foster. Is there anybody you’ve learned a lot from or tried to channel here? I mean, specifically, no, but absolutely everything that I’ve done has changed my every desire. It sounds ridiculous naming these people but [On the Road director] Walter Salles and [Into the Wild's] Sean Penn work the same way I would like to work. It’s about being able to always, always, always sniff out bullshit and refuse to eat it. You honor whatever you’re working on so much that to make a mockery of it would be so principally wrong. That’s the feeling those guys have. I feel so safe with them as an actor, because I know for a fact that I can try things and fully let go and they will never allow me to do anything untrue. I definitely want to explore this avenue of my life, and that’s the way that I would definitely strive to do it.
Do you have any plans to direct any future projects? I have been working an insane amount recently. I definitely need to take a break and reorient my mind, because if I’m going to put that much time in, it needs to be something I’d die for. There’s a couple of shorts that I’ve written that I want to do really badly. I’ll probably move forward and fuck up a few times. Typically you’re allowed to throw stuff at a wall and see what sticks. You don’t have people staring at it, going, “K-Stew’s making a movie!” It’s embarrassing. I have to figure out who I want to work with. This video is four of us — me, Sage, David and James — collaborating, and that’s not me not wanting to say I directed something. It’s people, for lack of a better word, “vibing.” A director is only as good as the people they work with. I gotta figure out who my boys are!
Kristen is on the cover of Les Inrockuptibles’s special Cannes 2014 issue (using an old V Magazine photo), and the magazine interviewed Oliver Assayas for some great info about working with Kristen and creating Kristen’s character. Thanks so much to itsoktobeyou for the translation!! It looks like there may be more translation to come.
In Sils Maria, Olivier Assays organizes a few confrontations. Confrontations between two characters, an internationally renowned actress and her young American assistant, both isolated in the outback of Tyrol to prepare a play. But it’s also a confrontation between two real actresses: Juliette Binoche in a mirror role that she interpreted in her debut in André Téchiné’s Rendez-Vous (1985) (written by Assayas), and Kristen Stewart, the Twilight star (2008, etc.), reinvented here as an American student a little tomboyish with an incredible finesse and comical nature. The filmmaker explains for us some facets of this magnificent portrait of actresses, sensual, wily and kaleidoscopic.Danger
“I wrote the movie thinking only of Juliette (Binoche). The movie is constructed around her. Next to this character of a French actress with an international career, I imagined the character of a young assistant and I instantly envisioned for the role an Anglo-Saxon actress. The character had to have this pragmatism that Anglo-Saxon people have, really be of her time, to the point of incarnate some sort of hardness. And it was also important to me that the dialogues are in English. Because I wanted to go search into Juliette something different than what she can do in French. I was looking for an actress who could put her (Juliette) in danger, shake her up.”Identification
“I saw the first Twilight, which I like, but I didn’t see the next ones. Before that, I had already noticed Kristen in her role pretty fugitive, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild (2007). Then I saw her in The Runaways (2010), who isn’t a good movie, where the reconstitution of the rock industry in 70s is very artificial. But she believes in it and we totally accept that she is Joan Jett. In The Runaways especially, we discover in her something pretty rough, tensed. I hoped to find behind this wall some form of humour, something human, close, who produces identification. I found it beyond what I expected.”After
“I ran into Kristen a few times thanks to my producer Charles Gillibert, who also produced On the Road (2012). We spent some informal time together after premieres, in small groups. We didn’t talk about my work, or hers, but the contact was nice. I had the intuition that it interested her to work in one of my movies.”On the side
“She really understood well everything that was going on in the movie, the mapping of feelings, including the more ambiguous ones… But she mostly seen, I think, how this role, which is not in appearance at the center of the movie, was interesting for her. Kristen has a slightly sulfurous reputation in Hollywood. In the movie, there is a character close to that, a teen star played by Chloë Moretz, and the character of Kristen judges her, never cease to comment what she represents. This step aside a little reflective, it’s what attracted her to the project, I think. It allowed her to say: I have this distance, I have this step back and I fuck you.”Star and novice
“I made sure that her status in international cinema is never perceptible on screen. I wanted to deal with the role as if it was played by a young actress fresh out of drama classes. Somehow, I saw Kristen as a novice. When I chose Chloë Sevigny in Demonlover (2002), it was because I admired her in Larry Clark (Kids, 1995). There, I wanted to work with Kristen because of a delightful meeting and the feeling that, until then, she had exploited a very a small portion of her high potential as an actress. She’s a superstar but hasn’t done much yet. So she’s available to go in directions where she has never been.”One take
“Kristen is not an actress who rehearses a lot. She learns the text twenty-five minutes before the take and knows it to perfection. Her precision, malicious intellect, quick comprehension impress me. She thinks she’s never as good as during the first take. And most of the time it’s true. Her implication is due to the fact, I think, that in the movies she shoots in Hollywood the system doesn’t allow to do just one take. They do, for everything, a lot of rehearsals, we can’t know this special shiver of the one and only take.”No look
“The style of the character, in collaboration with Jürgen (Doering), the costume designer, she really built it. She wanted this androgynous look, these big walking shoes, these glasses. She liked the idea of leaving the glamorous to Juliette and to slip into the skin of an American student a little bit ‘no look’.”Liberty
“In the scene where they both swim in the lake, I let them free to undress completely or not. I simply said that Kristen would go in water first and Juliette would follow her. Kristen undressed and kept her underwear. Less because of modesty, I think, she felt sexy like that, with her thong under her panties.. But Juliette took her by surprise, by getting naked and ran in the water the first. Kristen was quite admiring of a certain freedom that belonged to Juliette, a capacity to live in the moment, to try risky things, that could’ve been aberrant. So, Juliette wanted to impress her, to go get her.”
Kristen Stewart can’t understand why people make such a big deal when she swaps stilettos for sneakers after walking the red carpet.
“For some reason it pisses people off when I change after a red carpet. If I think about why people have these expectations of me it makes sense, but I genuinely think that if people thought about it for two seconds they’d be like, ‘Oh my God, why do I care that that girl just put some f—ing sneakers on?’” the actress tells PEOPLE. “Are you seriously mad that I put on some Vans after an hour of being in heels? I’m so sorry to have upset you, you crazy person.”
Though Stewart hasn’t made many appearances since navigating the red carpet at the 2013 Oscars – wearing a single platform heel and a pair of crutches – Shailene Woodley seems to be following in her footsteps. Are the actress’ shoe choices a shared act of sartorial rebellion?
“It’s for logistical reasons — it’s not comfortable to stay that way for long. It’s funny, because it’s not a rebellious thing. I think Shailene’s awesome and I guarantee she’d say the same thing; It’s like I’m not trying to piss anyone off. I’m sorry, it’s just that my feet hurt!” Stewart explains. “I think it’s so ridiculous when that shatters the initial reaction to whatever outfit was put together I didn’t ruin it! I still put the dress on and … I rocked it. But then I wanted to run around and talk to people.”
Though she doesn’t have much in common with the string of Hollywood blondes (including Keira Knightley, Blake Lively and Diane Kruger) who have posed for Chanel ads in the past, Stewart says her new campaign for the label’s Paris-Dallas collection makes perfect sense.
“Not many people would assume I would be the perfect fit for Karl and Chanel…but the cool thing about this line was it was the perfect fit,” she says of the ads, which were shot in Paris by Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld last February. “I didn’t feel I had to push outside myself. I didn’t have to try to turn into someone else.”
In addition to the clothes, Stewart says she fit in perfectly with the whole Chanel team.
This year for my birthday they sent me a signed Patti Smith album. They didn’t even send me anything from Chanel…some [bag or] pair of shoes that they wanted me to go get photographed in,” she remembers. “They’re just cool people. “You’re like, ‘Wait a minute, you guys are the supposed to be the ones that are the snootiest people imaginable but you’re not!’”
What a gift to wake up to today, lovelies! She looks gorgeous.
WANTED: A wild gal with enough gun slingin’, thigh slappin’, ball-breakin’ attitude to front Chanel’s Paris-Dallas collection campaign. Creative Director, Karl Lagerfeld needed to cast a cutie with more kick than a buckaroo to do justice to his haute hoedown of blanket ponchos, holster belts, Deep South denim and billowing frontier frocks; actress Kristen Stewart was the dame for the job. The news broke in Grazia magazine this morning and here on Grazia Daily you can also see the accompanying video…
Last December in Dallas Kristen sat front row in a straw-strewn gigantic replica barn to watch this incredibly crafted Metiers d’Art collection storm the runway, but Mr Lagerfeld had bigger plans in store for the actress… Karl’s love of rebellious leading ladies is well documented – Alice Dellal, Lily Allen and Cara Delevingne have all previously graced Chanel campaigns – however, Kristen admits to being surprised at the maestro’s decision. ‘Typically I wouldn’t see myself as being the quintessential face of Chanel with the pearls and the classics but I liked stepping into that role and this suits me a little bit more than past collections because it is very American,’ she explains. ‘I can’t use the word bad-ass but there is something about it that is fun… fierce.’
The girl who famously ditches heels for sneaks on the red carpet has certainly found her high fashion footing in this Lagerfeld-lensed shoot – knotting the shirts herself and slipping convincingly into character. ‘I’ve had a budding relationship with Chanel and Karl since I was quite young. The first time I wore Chanel was in 2007 at the “Into the Wild” premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, then at my first Met Ball experience, The Baftas… It always felt like a privilege to wear Chanel and to be around Karl who is an artist that, for me, constantly inspires.’ With the black star gown earmarked as her favourite, and an admiration for the designer’s chic take on a Stetson-boater hybrid hat, there’s no doubting this Hollywood darling will be cutting a swathe in the ranch-ready range over the coming months.
Here Kristen answers a series of questions regarding her new fashion job…
- What do you think of Karl Lagerfeld?
Kristen Stewart: ‘He was born to fulfill the role he does, not just in the world of fashion but also in the arts. You know the reason people are intimidated by him is not because he projects that but because of what he has accomplished and everything that he represents. And then when you meet him, he’s the opposite of intimidating, he is everything that my experiences taught me about true artists which is that they do what they do because they love it and they need to do it and they have fun doing it. Therefore, when I get to collaborate with those people it’s nothing but everything that I want, all I want to do is to create things with people that are good at what they do and you sort of don’t get better than him. And just to put it sort of dumbly, even just in the way that we were shooting, if you have to try too hard to do something it’s probably because it’s not right. Everything today [on the set] was like breathing, it was so easy and he knew as soon as he saw what he wanted, it was like ‘done! ‘It was effortless and he’s awesome and he’s so sweet.’
- How does the fashion world, and the experience of a fashion show, compare to the movie world and events such as the Oscars?
Kristen Stewart: ‘I love sitting down to a show and experiencing it with all of my senses, it’s about the music, the feeling in the room. Everything about a show is supposed to evoke a feeling and not all of them do, sometimes it’s just about the clothes and when you see a show that tells a story and has a setting and it has a context, it’s like watching a film. And so to be around that energy, that’s what I look for in my job and so I have nothing to do with fashion necessarily, I don’t make the clothes, I have nothing to do with it but just to be around that, is why I do what I do. I want to feel that creative energy and when you find yourself on a movie set and its right, it’s like to stumble upon a miracle and you can’t really take credit for it, you can’t control it, it just happens. And when you go to a good show, it’s like you are watching history, it’s like you are watching something that is like lighting a bottle, you know they hit something. I’ve been to two of the shows and each time it was a full experience, it wasn’t about the clothes or picking out what dresses you liked, it’s about watching it as a whole, watching the story unfold.’
- What was the atmosphere like at the Paris-Dallas show? What inspires you most about this collection?
Kristen Stewart: ‘We were all transplants, none of us were from there so I think we all got there and felt fully transported into not just another place but another time. Without being remotely derivative it’s very referential of something that I come from. Chanel is this quintessentially French brand and they are really pulling from art, history and making a cowboy hat which you would never think would ever work for Chanel but they knocked it out! You know not just chic and elegant and beautiful which it all is but it’s also just so cool.’
- What is your favorite piece?
Kristen Stewart: ‘My favorite dress is the long black tulle one with embroidered stars, and the shoes that I’m wearing in the ad campaign.’ (Kristen Stewart is wearing patent calfskin lace-ups)
- Why did you decide to collaborate with Chanel?
Kristen Stewart: ‘I’ve had a budding relationship with Chanel and Karl since I was quite young. The first time I wore Chanel was in 2007 at the “Into the Wild” premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival , then at my first MET ball experience, The Baftas, the Vanity fair shoot were I posed with Karl for Mario Testino. It always felt like a privilege to wear Chanel and to be around Karl who is an artist that, for me, constantly inspires. He manages to never stop moving forward while remaining completely quintessential. Being accepted into the family that is Chanel is very full circle for me.’
- What has been the most eye opening or fun experience shooting this campaign?
Kristen Stewart: ‘The idea of Karl, what he has accomplished, the role he has created for himself in the arts and in society. The only intimidating thing about him really is that scary unapproachable facade which is something people project onto him I think. Because when you meet him or you have the opportunity to watch him work or in my case “work with him” he is so awesome. And you can really reap the benefits of being around someone who knows so much and is so creative and driven and excited. It shocked me what a well-rounded and talented photographer he is. How truly into it he actually was. Basically and obviously, he is so much more than a fashion designer; he is a true renaissance man, one of the greatest artists of our time.’
Kristen turns 24 today, yay!! In celebration, we’ll be updating this post today with the latest happy birthday messages and goodies from social media that pop up
Jules Stewart (Mama)
@4Wolves “Looks like spring has sprung. Happy birthday my angel. Love you heaps. Xoxoxo Mom”
“@joshuahorowitz My birthday present to Kristen Stewart is this embarrassing outtake from Happy/Sad/Confused.… “
A Thank You from CureAlzheimers! WAY TO GO, EVERYBODY!!
@Cure Alzheimers “@KSbdayproject Happy bday to Kristen Stewart & a HUGE thank you to all her fans who donated! You raised over $21,700! pic.twitter.com/Bc13lAyZRG“
@jilliandempsey “Happy birthday, DEWD! x”
@taraswennen “HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of my favorite peeps on this planet! Love you girl!!”
Ben Lyons (via Twitter)