September 13, 2015 04:20 PM

Life might seem a lot simpler in a world without emotions, but if given the choice, Kristen Stewart says she’d rather take the hard way out.

“I think the only way to be truly progressive and truly move forward is to not ignore your heart and your feelings,” the actress exclusively tells PEOPLE at the Toronto International Film Festival, where her new sci-fi flick, Equal, is screening.

In the movie, directed by Drake Doremus and costarring Nicholas Hoult, humans live in a future totally devoid of emotions. Stewart and Hoult’s characters suffer from SOS, Switched On Syndrome, which allows them to slowly begin to tap their feelings for the first time.

“We’ve stifled every emotion, anything to do with anger, fear. We’re completely neutralized,” Stewart explains of the film. “So it definitely begs the question, would you even get out of bed? Would you exist anymore? Probably not.”

Kristen Stewart
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

But she also notes that just as our feelings make us who we are, they can also be extremely painful. “You go through something a little too hard and the first instinct is always, ‘I hate this, I don’t want this. If I could just not feel this way.’ ”

Stewart says that drawing on her personal relationship experience was an important, but difficult piece to forming her character.

“One of the reasons I was so intimidated by this movie is because I was like, ‘This is gonna hurt. I don’t want to think about all that,’ ” she recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

But, in a true testament to the movie’s message, the actress says that exploring her emotions felt better than burying them. “It’s good, it’s cathartic, it’s worth it. I feel good now on the other side of it.”

For full coverage of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival – including the hottest premieres, the biggest stars and the buzziest films – check out people.com/tiff, instyle.com and ew.com

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