Actors use Sundance to revamp their profiles

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Actors use Sundance to revamp their profiles

LOS ANGELES - As Kristen Stewart, Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have learned, the Sundance Film Festival in the mountains of Utah is the ideal destination to get away from it all and work on that career shift.

Robert Redford’s two-week celebration of independent cinema kicked off its 30th year yesterday in Park City, Utah, with a lineup that includes 117 feature films. One of them is “Camp X-Ray,” in which Stewart plays against type as a Guantanamo Bay guard who befriends a prisoner.

Stewart, who was last at the festival in 2010 when she was promoting her role as Joan Jett in “The Runaways,” says “Camp X-Ray” was one of the rare scripts she’d read that made her want to work again after her two-year acting hiatus following the “Twilight” movies.

“At my age it’s difficult to find stuff that isn’t completely derivative,” said the 23-year-old in a recent interview. “Most parts are imitating something else that was popular.”

With “Snow White and the Huntsman 2” coming in 2015, Stewart’s big-budget franchise days are far from over. “But it’s a little bit more difficult to create the environment that I thrive in on a bigger movie,” she explains. “I prefer doing smaller ones. They’re quicker. I like intensive things and then I like to walk away.”

For Gordon-Levitt, persistence has paid off. This will be his seventh consecutive year at Sundance, and he’ll be presenting the first three episodes of “HitRecord on TV.” It’s the cable TV extension (airing on the Pivot network) of his, a website dedicated to giving artists a platform to share and develop their work.

“HitRecord started at Sundance in 2005 in a way,” says Gordon-Levitt. “But it was more of an informal hobby.” Then, in 2010, it was launched at Sundance as an official production company.

Gordon-Levitt says the fest “feels like a home away from home,” which made it the perfect place last year to debut his first feature film, the porn addiction tale “Don Jon.”

Looking back on a whirlwind year full of “HitRecord on TV” development and the success of his acclaimed debut feature, Gordon-Levitt says TV has required far more effort than film.

Back at Sundance with two films this year, “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss stars in “Listen Up Philip,” a New York-based comedy about an angry writer (Jason Schwartzman) anxious for the publication of his second novel. Moss also stars in “The One I Love,” in which she and Mark Duplass portray a married couple on the brink of separation hoping to reconnect on a weekend getaway.

In comparison to her role as Peggy Olson on AMC’s “Mad Men,” both films “have really different sensibilities,” said Moss in a phone interview.

It’s an especially appealing factor for Moss, who shot the films during “Mad Men’s” hiatus. “I wanted to explore things that were closer to my every day.”

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