The stellar cast didn’t come free but they did come cheap. Bel-Ami is, in Donnelan’s phrase, “an easyJet film”, with a paltry budget of around £7.5 million, Budapest standing in for Paris on 10 days of the eight-week shoot. Everyone worked for less than their usual pay cheque, including Pattinson.
“He read the novel and also a book I wrote about acting,” says Donnellan, 59, “and he insisted on four weeks of one-on-one rehearsal before we shot anything, which is unheard of in Hollywood. He wants to expand as an actor and he takes it very seriously. He has genuinely never said anything negative about Twilight but no one wants to be in a franchise for ever.”
Pattinson clearly relished the chance to stamp on the romantic image of Edward Cullen, and Ormerod’s camera picks up something lizardly and quite ruthless in his handsome features.“He was determined to keep it tough,” says Ormerod. “That’s why he did it,” adds Donnellan. “He said, ‘I’m playing a character with no redeeming features’.”