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CANNES WATCH: 'Warm, funny, witty': Assayas gives raves for Kristen Stewart for 'Sils Maria'

CANNES, France - Olivier Assayas says moviegoers will see Kristen Stewart like they've never seen her before in his Cannes entry "Clouds of Sils Maria."

"It's really something that you have not seen her in," says Assayas. "She's warm, funny, witty."

The film, which debuts Friday at Cannes, stars Juliette Binoche as a popular actress who's shattered by the competition of a young rival (Chloe Grace Moretz). She and her assistant (played by Stewart) withdraw to Sils Maria, Switzerland. For both Assayas, the French director of the Carlos the Jackal miniseries "Carlos" and the family drama "Summer Hours," and Stewart, it's an atypical collaboration connecting European art house and Hollywood.

"Actors are actors," says Assayas. "They are more or less the same in any culture."

Stewart was first suggested by "Sils Maria" producer Charles Gillibert, who produced the Jack Kerouac adaptation "On the Road" — which brought Stewart to Cannes two years ago. The "Twilight" star was unavailable, so Assayas and producers then cast Mia Wasikowska. But Wasikowska had to drop out, at which point Stewart's schedule opened up.

"Kristen, whatever image one has of her, ultimately she's just a great actress by any standard," says Assayas. "I was just completely amazed by the range of Kristen. I'm so honoured to be working with her at this moment when she's blossoming."

— By AP Film Writer Jake Coyle, http://twitter.com/jake_coyle

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