Made more ‘feminine’ in Woody Allen’s Café Society, is Kristen Stewart saying goodbye to her legendary ability of seducing as an evanescent tomboy? Not likely.
By Anouk Brissac | Photos by Sabrina Lantos
Woody Allen wanted her more feminine than ever. Bare legs under very short skirts at times, covered by a sheath sometimes or with a fur stole over the shoulders. In Café Society, we are far from Bella’s eternal hoodie (Twilight), the gothic princess who turned her into a star – the same she wears like a second skin in her “real life”, prefering grunge rags rather than the razzle-dazzle of a pretty girl. But if Allen managed to turn her into a coquette doll, he’s faced with a reality about the actress: She’s totally indifferent to the noise she creates with her beauty, yet deafening. She imposes, against all dogs and everyone filming, to keep a low profile when it comes to her ability to seduce spectators, in the blink of a mint-colored eye, covered by a dark strand of hair. So yes, when Vonnie appears in Café Society, it’s immediately implied that she will be (once again) the object of every desire. That every man in the story will fall into her arms or into a deep sadness if she doesn’t want them. But quickly, the discreet and passive nature of the actress that we love and are looking for takes the upper hand. And we’re faced again with the tomboy with the worried eyes, this young and awkward look, and that sweet smile that gives Stewart a power which borders on bewitchment, on a spell and even on the pain implied by every attractive slaps. ** [**Loose translation] Even more deafening because of how harmless it is.
“K-Stew” is the new muse of Mister Woody, who makes her the irresistible bait of Café Society, confirming the legitimacy of the 26 year old megastar in arthouse cinema. Illimité called her in Los Angeles to debrief her. Let’s go Kiki.
ILLIMITE: You’re now with Woody Allen! It’s the ultimate consecration and legitimization, isn’t it?
KS: When I did the audition, my first big challenge was to beat my lack of confidence. I was terrified at the idea of working with such a huge cornerstone, and in his universe which is so singular, with his own “alien” vocabulary. If you can’t understand his codes, it’s over. I auditioned without having read the script, without knowing what the film was about. I was just given a piece of paper with some dialogue. But you know, a Woody Allen film is so well-written, so smart…
ILLIMITE: Did he doll you up, like “the new shiny toy”?
KS: His film are like a genuine form of luxury craftsmanship, he’s like a master craftsman. On set, he brings you into his world. He does everything in his power for you to be at ease, to have fun, so much that at the end of the day, you don’t feel like you were working.
ILLIMITE: I would like to come back on what you said: you still audition for roles?!
KS: Yes! My character, Vonnie, you can’t get farther away from the character I’ve played in the past. She’s soft, bubbly, she has qualities that I don’t naturally give off. I imagine he wanted to see if I was capable of playing them. You know, I don’t mind having to audition. It’s rare but I wouldn’t mind if I was asked to do them more often. I like to prove to myself that I earned what I have. And it gives you confidence to know that you were picked after being judged on your own right.
ILLIMITE: It’s true than Vonnie is happyy and ingenuous, she twirls around in short skirts with a bow in her hair. It will be a change for the public that knows you as mysterious and quiet..
KS: Again, it’s so well-written that I didn’t have much to do to get into those skirts. I worked on my Californian accent and tried to stay as natural as possible, not “cartoonish”. And mainly, I had Jesse (Eisenberg) as a partner, with whom i’ve already done a few films (Adventureland in 2008 and American Ultra in 2015). We’re friends, we saw each other grow up on three different sets. It’s funny by the way, to see the evolution of the three couples we formed, from young innocent teens, to two people who are faced with the harsh reality of life and bad sentimental choices. Between us, it’s easy. We can get vert nerdy together. So, i’m at ease with him. I’m not ashamed of anything, it’s THE partner with whom I can relax.
ILLIMITE: It’s harder because you have no technique to hold onto if you mess up. You’ve always said you never took acting classes, never worked with a coach and liked impro better…
KS: I’m not against it, it’s just that until now, none of my roles have required the help of a coach. If i got one that would need me to access emotional zones that I’ve never explored, I would think about it. But even rehearsing too much bothers me. They destroy what I can give when the camera is rolling, the vertigo of that first take. They kill the reality, the moment, then we fall into a rehearsal of life, and then I don’t think about how everything is “fake”. To be coaches, it’s like doing a therapy. You end up knowing yourself so much that you’re faced with a situation, you know which buttons to push to get the right reaction. This intentional aspect of things bothers me. I need to tremble with fear, with stress, with energy, not to be well-prepared, ready and confident. Is that unprofessional? No, that’s how I’ve built my career so it’s working for me. For now at least! (Laughing)
ILLIMITE: Café Society shows the cruelty in Hollywood, the celebrity, the star system, the downsite of your job that you’ve publicly criticized. Already, in Sils Maria by Olivier Assaya, as the assistant of a celebrity, you were basically already telling them “Fuck You!”…
KS: I’m not saying ‘Fuck you’ to celebrity. I love my job, and yes, I’m not fond of what’s on the side but you know, movies and what we say in them, it’s fiction… It’s fake.
ILLIMTE: True but even then. RP and you became international stars with Twilight. The saga over, he is playing a crazy limo driver in Maps to the Stars while you’re doing Sils Maria and soon, we’ll see you in Personal Shopper with Assayas again, where you’ll be again at the service of a celebrity. You don’t think it says anything to people?
KS: Maybe those characters done by another actress wouldn’t have seemed so relevant, this is true. If a director wants to talk about that, then yes, it means something that he’s giving these roles to people who know what it means to begin with, who really lived in it. Olivier and Woody Allen got that…
ILLIMITE: After Twilight, these type of directors, did you realize you wanted to get closer to them and work with them in order to erase the impact that Bella Swan had?
KS: I’ve never done anything with this goal in mind, even If i’m aware that this aspect of things is really strong. In my choices, there’s also the “life” aspect. Even if a film is not that good, if it allows me to feel something, I go for it, without necessarily caring to see if i’m going to be in a masterpiece. There is no strategy or cautious choices in my career.
ILLIMITE: But it’s important to be supported by the intelligentsia...
KS: I’m aware it’s cool to be associated to these type of directors. As an American Actress, to be able to work away from home, it’s a real chance. There is a real difference with the United Stated. It’s the fact that you take risks and you’re motivated. Like Olivier, they don’t sell their souls. In france, people don’t make films for money or to become famous, they do it because they are passionate, they’re full of it, because it’s needed and uncompromising.
ILLIMITE: Thanks on her behalf. She repays you in spades since Cannes selected Café Society and Personal Shopper…
KS: It’s my favorite red carpet in the whole world. You know why? Because you don’t have to talk to anybody and nobody talks to you, you don’t walk the stairs alone but with the whole cast and the director. You watch the movie and as in the room, you can feel all the prestigious ghosts from the past, even if everybody hates the film, it goes well. It’s great.
CAFE SOCIETY out on May 11th in France and opening the Cannes Film Festival.