At age 26, Kristen Stewart has already built a film career that many a young actress would envy. Perhaps best known as Bella Swan, the heroine of the “Twilight” vampire franchise, Stewart has achieved commercial success while earning critical respect. Last summer, she could be found on the cover of Film Comment, the bible of serious moviegoers.
Her latest film, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” opens Friday. Based on the novel by Ben Fountain and directed by Ang Lee (“Life of Pi”), it’s the story of a heroic soldier, his experience in Iraq and his doubts about being put on patriotic display at a football game. Stewart portrays Lynn’s sister Kathryn, who objects to his plans to return to the war.
In a recent interview, Stewart said that in addressing a soldier’s perspective, two-time Oscar winner Lee has created a film that “externalizes a very internal feeling.” Although Kathryn is a supporting role, she said, it’s one that she felt was worth taking on.
“The part is really economical,” Stewart said. “But it’s really impactful and definitely provides this emotional space.”
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” allowed Lee to experiment with technology. Among the options available is screening the film at 120 frames per second rather than the standard 24, creating an effect that viewers have called hyper-real. But in most theaters, including those in St. Louis, the film will be presented in the usual format.
Stewart said the technology posed unique acting challenges.
“I was out of my element,” she said. “Usually, I’m very aware of the process and really kind of nosey. In this case, it was like swimming around in an Olympic swimming pool. But it was really cool.”
Lee took a similarly experimental approach to “Hulk” (2003), in which he sought to mimic the design imperatives of a comic book.
A native of Los Angeles, Stewart has been acting since she was 9 years old. One of her earliest big-screen roles was as Jodie Foster’s daughter in director David Fincher’s “Panic Room.” Since then she has become one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses.
Critics were impressed with Stewart’s supporting work as Julianne Moore’s daughter in “Still Alice” and as Juliette Binoche’s personal assistant in “Clouds of Sils Maria.”
“I’ve known Julianne since I was 12 years old,” she said. “I worked with her husband (director Bart Freundlich) on a movie (‘Catch That Kid’), and she’s always felt like family to me. So playing her daughter, there was an ease to it. We approach our work quite similarly, and I think she’s a really impressive, deeply inspiring woman.”
Stewart describes Binoche — a French actress perhaps best known to American audiences for her Oscar-winning supporting performance in “The English Patient” — as “so powerful and so smart.”
Both Moore and Binoche, she said, are actresses whom she looks up to and who made her “want to rise to the occasion.”
As one of the film industry’s most in-demand actresses, Stewart has her pick of projects. What she looks for in a script, she said, is something that moves her.
“There’s a really particular emotion that occurs inside when you read something that you feel you’d like to join,” she said. The screenplay for “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” written by Jean-Christophe Castelli, “just articulated something really human and something that I really believed in.”
Stewart is just as likely to sign on to a low-profile indie project as to a potential mainstream blockbuster.
“In the case of Ang’s film, the only way to tell that story is big,” she said. “And I have no aversion to big movies if they’re motivated by something important and worthwhile — and they don’t feel like they’re being made for purely cash-in entertainment. That, I’m not into.”
Source: St Louis Today