Kristen Stewart stars in the Clouds Of Sils Maria director’s latest feature, which plays in Competition at Cannes.

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Olivier Assayas and Kristen Stewart first appeared at Cannes together in 2014 for Clouds Of Sils Maria and are back in Competition this year with ghost story Personal Shopper.

In a haunting, revealing performance, Stewart plays Maureen, who is trying to contact her dead twin brother whilst also holding down a job as a stylist to a narcissistic celebrity.

Assayas speaks to Screen about casting Stewart and delving into a spirit world.

Did you have Kristen Stewart in mind when you were writing Personal Shopper?

It was a complicated process. I would never have written the part of Maureen this way if I had not worked with Kristen on Clouds Of Sils Maria. At the time, I thought this might be a bit too extreme for her.

What changed your mind?

Kristen happened to be in Paris when I was finishing the screenplay. We sat down and at the end of the conversation I thought I was out of my mind to imagine that I could make this film without her.

Why a film about a stylist?

I am interested in the tension of our inner and outer life. I thought that doing the personal shopping for a celebrity, there is not a job that could more define what it means to be involved in the materialistic aspect of modern society.

I wanted to see someone who was trying to deal with her job as well as she could, but simultaneously she is involved in something else that is bigger than her and that is where her dreams are.

That part of her life involves ghosts and the afterlife. Why the fascination?

Fantasy elements have always been part of art and literature but it’s been absorbed by genre filmmaking and become very serious and conventional.

I think the notion of injecting a fantasy element in everyday life with everyday characters, it just adds a dimension.