Kristen Stewart will play actress Jean Seberg in the true-life political thriller Against All Enemies. The film centers on Seberg’s involvement with militant civil rights activists in the late 1960s, and her subsequent targeting by the FBI’s illegal surveillance program COINTELPRO. Seberg suffered severe personal trauma as a result of the FBI’s concerted efforts to destroy her reputation.
Famed Hollywood director Otto Preminger discovered the 18-year-old Iowa native Seberg during a talent search. Preminger immediately cast the inexperienced actress in his 1957 production Saint Joan, hoping to groom her as a star. Though she did achieve some early success in Hollywood, Seberg became a true icon when she worked for French New Wave master Jean-Luc Godard in his groundbreaking 1960 classic Breathless. Seberg’s life would contain more tragedy than triumph however, and she died at the age of 40 in a probable suicide.
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Deadline reports that Stewart has signed on to play the complex and ultimately tragic Jean Seberg in Against All Enemies. Benedict Andrews (Una) will direct from a script by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (Race). The movie’s cast also includes Jack O’Connell in the role of an FBI agent tasked with following Seberg. Anthony Mackie plays Seberg’s lover, the civil rights activist Hakim Jamal. Margaret Qualley and Colm Meaney also star. La La Land producer Fred Berger and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones of Automatik are producing together with Kate Garwood and Stephen Hopkins, and Andrew Levitas of Metalwork Pictures.
Interestingly, there are certain parallels between the careers of Kristen Stewart and Jean Seberg. Like Seberg, Stewart began her movie career very young, and found herself somewhat roughly thrust into the spotlight. Stewart, like Seberg, has sometimes received harsh treatment from critics and the public, and has struggled to live down her early, fluffy roles. And like Seberg, Stewart finally received her first positive recognition not in America but in France. Long after the Twilight hype had died down, Stewart received a Cesar award for her performance in Olivier Assayas’ The Clouds of Sils Maria. She followed that up with another acclaimed performance in Assayas’ Personal Shopper.
It’s possible that Stewart feels a true affinity for Seberg, an actress who in many ways never got her due in her native land. Perhaps by playing Seberg, Stewart can finally begin achieving some recognition in America, where despite her award-winning performances overseas, people largely still think of her as that girl from Twilight. And maybe if the movie succeeds, Hollywood will start casting Kristen Stewart again.
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Against All Enemies begins filming this summer.