Toronto: Kristen Stewart Talks Politics, Privacy and Sensing Jean Seberg's Presence on Set

Venice Film Festival
'Seberg'

The 'Seberg' lead plays the French New Wave icon under FBI surveillance for supporting civil rights groups.

Kristen Stewart on Sunday defended the right of artists to be outspoken politically while attending the Toronto Film Festival.

"People shouldn't put politics in art? Have you ever heard of art? What are you talking about?" Stewart told a press conference for Seberg, a 1960s Los Angeles-era thriller directed by Benedict Andrews that portrays the FBI investigating French actress Jean Seberg (played by Stewart) for supporting the Black Panther Party and other civil rights groups.

"How you react to the world is political and human and there's no difference between those two things," Stewart explained. Seberg, which recounts the French New Wave icon under FBI surveillance, for Stewart found another parallel with her own life and Hollywood career in which personal privacy is undermined by fame.

"We both absolutely share this fierce commitment to not try to overtly control our public perception. It's just you're inside of it. Maybe you don't agree with someone's impression of you, but that's their impression of you," Stewart explained.

She added, however, that the ability to prove oneself as an actor can be cruelly undercut by salacious gossip and untruths. "We're actresses that want to be looked at because you have things and you want to share them and you want all of it back. So when that's stolen and distorted and used against you — I've tasted that in the most superficial way, compared to her. But I thought, I know that feeling and it's terrible," Stewart told the Toronto media.

One key difference between Seberg and Stewart is social media has allowed the Twilight star, unlike the French icon in a pre-Internet era, to go online and set the record straight. "She was so subject to whomever was interviewing her. We don't have as much of that, unless you want that," Stewart argued.

The Seberg star and director Andrews also talked about ghosts, and more specifically feeling Seberg's presence on their movie set. "Any time there was a cat going running cross the set, anytime something strange happened, it felt spooky, ghostly. There was shit going down that didn't make sense and I felt, there she is," Stewart recounted.

Andrews recalled Seberg's specter felt on the first day of shooting. "With the first shot of the movie, we're setting up on a street corner and this cat walks into frame and sits there and says I'm in the movie. I said...that's Jean," he told the TIFF presser.

The Toronto Film Festival continues through Sept. 15.