Kristen Stewart goes back to work
In my recent career prospectus on Kristen Stewart, I suggested it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a break after the last year she’s had, but that if she did continue working, she needed to pick a direction and focus on it. According to Deadline, she is not going to be sitting out the summer but will be making back-to-back movies, both smaller, character-driven indies. So the latter it is, then.
Stewart has picked two diverse projects, one a politically-charged drama about a young soldier (Stewart) who becomes friends with an inmate at Guantanamo Bay, where she is a guard, and the other is an Olivier Assayas film, Sils Maria, which will star Juliette Binoche and Chloe Moretz, with Stewart taking a supporting role. IFC has already bought the rights to Sils Maria, but the soldier project, though slated to film this summer, has no current deal in place. That one is going to be a tough sell, but that’s where Stewart’s lightning rod quality comes in handy. Her involvement sparks interest, which drives sales. It’s still the kind of movie that will be lucky to make it into half a dozen theaters, but without an actor of Stewart’s standing, it wouldn’t get made at all. It’s kind of a Pyrrhic victory.
I will always and forever believe that the answer for actor burnout is a break, but actors, especially young ones, have a hard time committing to time off. (I believe Emma Watson wants to complete her education, but I also believe she is incapable of staying away from the industry for more than six months at a time.) But if Stewart wants to work, then these are solid choices. One starring vehicle that four people will see but which might also garner her good notice for her talent, and the other a supporting role in a prestige piece she isn’t required to carry. It’s a nice balance, and the split between portraying a soldier and a celebrity assistant is a good way to answer her detractors when they say she has no range.
But for the fans, these are also the frustrating movies. Sils Maria at least has a distribution deal—with IFC, it’ll most definitely be a day-and-date deal with video on demand—but the soldier project is the kind of thing that can very easily slip through the cracks and end up cooling on a shelf for a while. The vast majority of Stewart’s fans have never been tested. If they skipped out on Adventureland or The Runaways, there was always a Twilight coming out to feed their interest. But for the foreseeable future, there is no easily accessible blockbuster. If you want to see Kristen Stewart, you’re going to have to track down tiny indies in theaters that are never convenient. Time to test how loyal that Twilight-spawned fan base really is.