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The Yellow Handkerchief – Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne on working with William Hurt

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The Yellow Handkerchief - Eddie Redmayne and Kristen Stewart
Gordy (Eddie Redmayne) and Martine (Kristen Stewart) © Samuel Goldwyn

Three years ago, way before Kristen Stewart was even thinking about loving a vampire, as she does as Bella Swan in the Twilight Saga franchise, she made an indie movie called The Yellow Handkerchief. In it she plays Martine, a trouble teenager who has just been ditched by her boyfriend, who latches onto a young kid named Gordy, primarily to make her boyfriend jealous.

Gordy, portrayed by British actor Eddie Redmayne, is a young drifter who clings to dubious associations with a Native American past. On the road, Martine and Gordy encounter Brett (William Hurt), who is also making his way across Louisiana, with the thought of maybe confronting his former love, May (Maria Bello).

At the press day for the movie in Los Angeles, Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne did their interviews together.

Was this your first big starring roles in a film? Was that an adjustment?

The Yellow Handkerchief - Kristen Stewart
Martine (Kristen Stewart) © Samuel Goldwyn

Kristen Stewart: Anytime you have to play a person who is not yourself, you’re stepping out of a comfort zone but that’s what we do and if the role is bigger that’s just more to chew on and that’s always good.

Eddie Redmayne:: There is more of a sense of responsibility.

What was great about this film is it’s an ensemble piece in the sense that it really is about the four of us. I’m certain Kristen and I felt in incredibly safe hands having William and Maria around us and because of the intensity of the film, having three of us in a car for three months shooting, we ended up being close as a trio which is wonderful because any fears or problems you have, you have the other two to turn to.

Kristen, your character Martine has bad luck with guys. Her dad has a new girlfriend and is ignoring her and her guy dumps her. So, what do you think it was about Eddie’s character than finally won her over?

Kristen Stewart: I think she probably wouldn’t have needed to be won over had she just opened her eyes and not been so affected by the other guys who had hurt her. I think that she’s the type of girl who really wants to let her face hang out and every time she does that or puts herself out there, she gets embarrassed or disappointed by people. I think the journey that they take, there are a lot of revelatory things that happen.

It’s about a girl who is dropping prejudices that she really didn’t know she had. She’s becoming more open to people. She was very closed off in the beginning and realizes, ‘I don’t want to be like that at all’.

The Yellow Handkerchief - Eddie Redmayne
Gordy (Eddie Redmayne) © Samuel Goldwyn

Eddie Redmayne:: A lot of the film is about prejudice, pre-judgment. And that’s what I love about it. Even though these characters have been prejudiced against, they also have their own prejudices and that’s what’s kind of overwhelming about all of it.

It’s about everyone dropping their guard and seeing people for who they really are beneath the veneer, whether it’s the eccentric quality of Gordy or the self-guardedness of Martine or just the holding back of Brett’s character. It’s about seeing through that translucency and finding something real.

Eddie, being British, how much a fish out of water did you feel when you started this movie and when did it click in and you felt the part?

Eddie Redmayne:: That’s a wonderful question. The truth of the matter is, when I got sent the script and was asked to audition for it, I thought it was madness, I thought it was absurd and I said, ‘Really? Go to New York and audition for this? Guys, it’s never gonna happen. It’s playing a Native American from northern Oklahoma. Do you really think it’s gonna happen?’

What was wonderful about it, was I’d never gone to an audition caring less because I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in Hell and I went in five minutes, threw this ridiculous audition down, and left the room not caring what was going on, ‘I’ll never hear back from that’. And, when it did happen, I then had a meeting with Udayan (Prasad) the director, in London going, ‘Now look, what I did in that audition was completely random and I can’t really make a character of it’. He just sweetly coaxed me into it.

The Yellow Handkerchief - Willian Hurt, Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne
Brett Hanson (William Hurt), Martine (Kristen Stewart) and Gordy (Eddie Redmayne) © Samuel Goldwyn

What was it like for you, as young actors working with William Hurt?

Kristen Stewart: We’ve been talking about that all day.  He’s absolutely the most attentive hardworking actor I’ve ever worked with. He just makes you work so much harder, I wouldn’t understand this movie as I do if it wasn’t for him. I’d have a completely different impression I’m sure.

Eddie Redmayne:: And the rigor with which he works, he would have us in his trailer reading a book of short stories about the South. It was so important to him that the fifth character in the piece was Louisiana, about getting under the skin of what that place was about. His commitment to it was never-ending. I’ve never seen someone work with such continual commitment that, for both of us, raised our game, no question.