Kristen Stewart on How 'Personal Shopper' Ghost Plot Resembles Social Media Use

Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
'Personal Shopper'

The star of Olivier Assayas' psychological thriller spoke about her own paranormal beliefs and shooting "some of the sexiest shit I've done onscreen."

In Personal Shopper, Kristen Stewart plays Maureen, a high-profile assistant who also half-believes she's in contact with her late twin brother. But the Paris-set ghost story is a universal one, as the supernatural interactions parallel the widespread use of social media.

"Maureen wants to be entirely invisible and at the same time wants to be really seen — she really struggles with that, and that's pretty much everyone right now," she explained after a New York Film Festival press screening on Thursday. "I don't hide anything, and I don't have any public social media engagement, but I ultimately want to be seen. It's weird — we think we have more control over that now than we've ever had because we have it in our hands, but we have none. I don't know, this weird preoccupation with other people that is so unbelievably distracting. Much cooler productive things could be happening. I know I sound ridiculous; everyone says this and I sound like an older person, but we could be doing way cooler shit. It's so time-consuming."

"You're totally alone when you're doing it, and it gives you this false impression that you're connecting or something," she continued. "The base desire of it is to get closer to other things, but then it's like, 'I change myself to then get closer to other things, I could do research to make sure I do that properly and cultivate my tastes based on knowing everything and how everyone is, and now I can be what I need to be to get close.'"

One scene in Olivier Assayas' psychological thriller has Stewart pleasuring herself while texting the other-worldly presence. "Literally, Maureen is interacting with something on a phone, and my heart started racing," she said of shooting the scene. "Some of the sexiest shit I've done onscreen I'm alone! Oh my god, that is crazy, and that's what people do all the time — such massive disconnection, yet you're just fabricating a wonderful reality."

Assayas noted of crafting the titular character, "She's like any one of us — she spends a lot of time with her phone. The film is very much about loneliness, and our loneliness is incredibly populated. There's so much happening in terms of what we interact with — ideas, people we know or don't know via social media. … It has to do with how images and modern means of communication invade us and invade our lives."

So does Stewart believe in ghosts? "If it's real for you, then what the hell else is there? There's so much that we don't see that we know to be true," she answered. "I don't know what the f— energy it is, but there's something that doesn't go away, and whether I'm making that up or I'm actually being left with some residual debris, I feel people f—ing intrinsically. I think it leaves shadows."

IFC will release Personal Shopper in theaters March 10.