At Sundance this year Kristen Stewart proved that she’s ready for more dramatic roles, and how her unique style of acting can blend into a larger genre than just the teen box-office. Stewart made it to Sundance to promote ‘Camp X-Ray,’ a film that won over the majority of the crowd at the festival, but now all eyes are on Stewart’s next big project, and it’s one that can dominate the box-office in the year to come.
For the past few months Stewart has been on the radar, attached to the film ‘Equals’, along with Nicholas Hoult. It’s a film from Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) but little was known about the film at the time Stewart’s involvement was discovered. Now we know that the Equals will be a loose adaptation of George Orwell‘s classic novel 1984. Dystopian futures like ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Divergent’ and ‘The Giver’ are all the rage in Hollywood right now, and a studio will want brand names in the credits, and almost anyone would agree that Stewart is a brand name. We mentioned that the film would also be starring Nicholas Hoult and fans may know that he is dating Jennifer Lawrence, she would also be a shoe-in for the role of a dystopian female-lead again, but it was earlier reported that Lawrence passed on the role.
It was the Associated Press that reported Stewart describing the movie as a “a slightly updated version” of the 1956 movie (also based on Orwell’s 1949 novel), adding that it included “a love story.” The original book did not center on a female lead, instead it was a man that began to doubt, and ultimately reject the oppressive government that ruled him. Since female leads are such a hit a movie-theaters, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if the new adaptation takes on a female protagonist, adding the male lead as the love-story.
The original novel did have Winston and Julia as a romantic interest, though that wasn’t the center of the novel by any means. The adaptation would be for a YA audience, hovering around a PG to PG-13 rating if it follows the same structure as other popular films. Stewart has already proven to be a strong drawing force in this demographic, cleaning up the box-office with ‘Twilight’ for several years straight.
There was a strong backlash when it was first discovered that Stewart may be added to the film back in October, but this was before ‘Camp X-Ray’ was released at Sundance. With the positive reaction to the film at the festival, and more positive press following Stewart’s work, the tide may turn in favor for Kristen playing the part. Her melancholy, somewhat stoic, responses on screen would fit perfectly in the bleak harshened future that the book takes place. Stewart’s emotionless appearance was perfect for ‘Camp X-Ray’ and it could be the same fit in this adaptation.
With the NSA taking headlines almost daily, the time for a 1984 remake couldn’t be better. The novel also offers a unique opportunity to reach a broader audience than some YA adaptations have in the past. Films like ‘Mad Max’ or ‘Elysium’ are usually considered to be more male-driven films, in an audience sense, they often have gunfights or laser-blasts, a male lead and a lot of explosions. Films like ‘Divergent’ have female-leads, a more specific love-story and are often about overcoming a personal story with one just one specific character, rather than fending off aliens or surviving the Thunderdome.
In 1984 you could have a strong mix of both, something that ‘The Hunger Games’ did exceedingly well with the (albeit pointless) love-triangle in the Capital and Districts, the strong fight within a family, all mixed with the large-scale survival and death-dealing in the Games.
Stewart has easily proven that she can do more than be the romantic-lead in YA novels, though it is still her strong-suit at the moment. Though initial pushback from fans of the novel may have been harsh, Stewart seems nothing but determined to continue her work, and is getting better at finding films that fit her strengths.