All in the Family
US actress Kristen Stewart was like a sister to the cast of new war drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Kristen Stewart's protective instincts kicked in during the filming of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
In the Lee Ang-directed war drama, Stewart plays Kathryn, the older sister of the titular soldier who returns home from Iraq. The story, based on Ben Fountain's novel, documents Billy's struggles with PTSD on his victory tour.
"I'm the only girl in my family. I'm the youngest but I feel like the older sister. I feel responsible in some way," the 26-year-old US actress tells M at the Essex House hotel in New York City.
"I completely relate to Kathryn because...even when you're angry at a sibling, you're still sort of just chemically addicted to being protective of them. And it can be frustrating because they don't always do what you want them to do. I know that feeling definitely."
Kathryn is a pacifist who doesn't want Billy (Joe Alwyn) to return to the war in Iraq. Disfigured in a car accident that caused her fiance to dump her, she feels guilty that her brother has to enlist in the army to avoid jail because he went after the guy with a tyre iron. Though the family is incredibly dysfunctional, the siblings share a love for each other, even though they don't understand each other.
SIBLINGS: Kristen Stewart plays Kathryn, the older sister of returning soldier Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), in the movie Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
Here she tells M about working with Lee, bonding with her co-stars that include Vin Diesel and Garrett Hedlund, and being a film-maker herself.
What was it like working with Lee?
It's funny, my favourite directors don't talk very much. It's this environment that Lee creates that really makes you stand at attention in a way that is super intrinsic. There's a pressure that is immense, but it's actually really gentle. This movie was scary for everyone, yet Lee's very calm.
He's incredibly Zen. There's something about the way he sees things and his encouraging desire to find the truth. It sounds super cliche, but he's so good at it. And I've just never seen a group of people work harder.
How long did it take to bond with your co-stars?
I only had a couple of days on this movie. I got there and I could see these people who had been through so much. It felt so real to me; I felt like an older sister. I felt really protective of these boys. It was real. Stepping into that for just a moment speaks volumes to what Lee's capable of. It's remarkable. I think he's one of the greatest directors of our time.
You just directed a short film. How did that go and would you do it again?
It went really well. I loved it. I'm not completely finished with it yet.
I don't draw a huge distinction between acting and directing. They kind of go hand-in-hand. I guess the difference between the two would be there's something more immediate about acting that I like. You can do something and walk away from it.
Directing is like navigating a city. It's the best feeling I've ever had. I've never been happier doing anything. I can't wait to make more video art. I can't wait to write my feature. I feel more driven than I've ever felt. I feel like my eyes are wide open. Sometimes in life you reach certain stages where everything feels possible. I feel like I'm really feeling possibility right now.
What is the subject of the film?
Oh, it's pretty impressionistic. I don't want to blow it. It's 15 minutes. It'll speak louder than what I can say right now.