In a constant state of trying to distance herself from her sparkly vampire past, Kristen Stewart continues to line up powerful roles in unusual films. She is now in negotiations to appear in Oscar-winning director Ang Lee’s upcoming Iraq War drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
Sources tell The Wrap that the 24-year-old actress is in talks to play Kathryn, the older sister of the title character. Stewart joins a cast that already includes newcomer Joe Alwyn playing the protagonist, as well as Steve Martin and Garrett Hedlund. This will actually be the second time that Stewart and Hedlund have had the chance to work together, having previously collaborated for the 2012’s adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is based on Ben Fountain’s best-selling debut novel. In the story, Billy Lynn, a 19-year-old infantryman from Texas, survives a harrowing firefight in Iraq in 2005. Billy and the other surviving members of his squad are brought home by the Bush administration to celebrate their service, and are honored during the halftime show at a Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboy’s game before getting shipped back to Iraq. Most of the story takes place on the day of game as they are subjected to a rigorous media "victory tour," and Billy hooks up with a cheerleader - though there are scattered flashbacks throughout where he remembers the past, his family, the war, and his dead comrades.
In the wake of her star-making turn in Twilight, Stewart has made it a point to take on interesting, out of the mainstream projects (with maybe the exception of Snow White and the Huntsman). Last year she won tons of critical acclaim for her roles in films like Still Alice with Julianne Moore, Clouds of Sils Maria, where she held her own with Juliette Binoche, and the Guantanamo Bay-based indie drama Camp X-Ray.
And that was just 2014. Coming up she’ll appear opposite Nicholas Hoult in Equals, an intriguing sci-fi drama from Like Crazy director Drake Doremus; the Max Landis-penned action comedy American Ultra with Jesse Eisenberg; and this summer she’s slated to star in Woody Allen’s next picture with Bruce Willis. Not a bad line up. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is scheduled to start shooting later this month in Atlanta.
Ang Lee is working from a script by Simon Beaufoy, the Academy Award-winning writer of Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, who has adapted Fountain’s novel. The Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain director also plans to shoot Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk with a high frame rate 3D camera, which seems like an odd choice given the material. No matter the story, Lee is always going to create visually interesting films, but for what sounds like a very personal, intimate drama, this is a curious pick. Then again, this strategy could lend an immersive feel to both the war scenes as well as moments in the massive crowd, putting you right there with the characters.
Right now there is no word on when Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk will be released, but with all of these people involved, you can bet it’s going to be positioned for a run at some big end-of-year awards.