Countless fans watched actress Jean Seberg become an icon of French New Wave cinema in Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless during the 1960s. Though Seberg died 40 years ago, Kristen Stewart — who leads an upcoming political thriller about the late actress’ life — spent much of her time on the project’s set wondering if the departed screen legend was watching her from the afterlife.
“Whenever you do a movie about a real person — especially if they’re no longer living — [it feels] like that thing where, if someone passes away, you wonder if they can see you pick your nose or something,” Stewart told EW during an interview about her 2018 Lizzie Borden biopic, the filming of which reportedly saw the 29-year-old’s costar, Chloë Sevigny, experiencing supposed supernatural communications from the film’s real-life, deceased subjects. “You wonder: Are they overlooking? I just played Jean Seberg, and [I would feel it] every single time there was a cat that would run through the frame!”
Announced Thursday as part of the 2019 Venice Film Festival lineup, Seberg‘s plot sounds spectacular enough to command anyone’s attention — even from beyond the grave. The Benedict Andrews-directed film (a first-look photo of which can be seen above) follows the actress who, in the late 1960s, was reportedly targeted by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI because of her support for the Black Panther Party and her relationship with civil rights activist (and cousin of Malcolm X), Hakim Jamal.
“I always wondered if we were doing things right,” Stewart continued of her portrayal of the complicated figure, whose life ended by suspected suicide at age 40 in 1979, after she had undergone psychiatric treatment in the wake of the FBI’s campaign against her. “In this weird fantasy world, I became so close to her in my own little psyche of making this movie. If she [would’ve been able to] walk into a room, I would [feel] like a sister, or if someone said a bad word about her I’d [defend her] like, ‘Hey! She existed!” like I knew her. Anything that would happen on set that was a little eerie, I always attributed it to her!”
Seberg — also starring Vince Vaughn, Jack O’Connell, Margaret Qualley, Anthony Mackie, Colm Meaney, and Zazie Beetz — is expected to be released in the near future, though an exact date has yet to be announced.