Personal Shopper director Olivier Assayas on the afterlife

The director talks ghosts and casting Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper

The supernatural meets intense human drama in Olivier Assayas’ film Personal Shopper (finally in UK cinemas from 17 March), which divided audiences at Cannes last summer and sees a personal shopper communicating with the dead.

Assayas revealed he finds the paranormal intriguing because it’s a part of our imagination. “The paranormal is our thought process,” he said. “We are aware that there is more to the world than the material world that our imagination, our feelings, constantly give us a sense that there are dark areas, or certainly areas that we’re not completely aware of or that we can’t exactly define.”

He’s also a believer when it comes to ghosts, and said that we’re constantly having conversations with them: “Ghost is a codeword for the presence of the departed and anyone that has had the experience of grief, of mourning.

“The conversations we have with the departed never really stop. I think what we call ghosts is a way of externalising something that’s very much part of our inner conversation.”

Kristen Stewart stars in the film as said personal shopper Maureen, who lives in Paris, hates her job, and also happens to be a medium. Stewart was very familiar with Assayas’ working style having previously starred in his 2014 film Clouds Of Sils Maria.

“For some reason I was a bit superstitious and I didn’t admit, even to myself, that I was actually writing for Kristen,” Assayas told us.

“It was only when I gave her the screenplay, when she read it, loved it and related to it that I realised how much she had been instrumental in creating the film… If it had been another actress it would have been a completely different film. The thing that I needed was someone as grounded as Kristen, so connected to everyday material life. She’s like us in that sense.”

Personal Shopper is in cinemas from 17 March. Get all the latest horror news with every issue of SciFiNow.