Robert Pattinson wasn’t expecting to star in Cosmopolis. In point of fact, he didn’t think a director like David Cronenberg would even consider him for the project.
“I never really took myself seriously as an actor before,” he says, barely awake the morning after the movie’s gala Toronto premiere. “And [then] you get cast in a movie like this, and it gets to Cannes and it’s not a total disaster, and I haven’t brought down David’s entire career…”
Cronenberg’s eyes crinkle. “We’ll see,” the director says. “That’s still in the future.”
On the verge of burning out after shooting the two-part Twilight finale, Breaking Dawn, Pattinson had been thinking seriously about pulling back from movies.
“I was fully intending on hiding for a couple of years,” Pattinson says. “I only wanted to do small parts. The time is gone – for me, especially – when you could learn on the job. I mean, even the idea of going to a repertory company or something – everybody’s going to be filming it on their phone, and it’s exactly the same thing in movies pretty much. So I wanted to try to do small parts in movies I thought I could learn something from. But then this came up.”
“This” was the role of Eric Packer, a billionaire financial wizard who experiences a professional and personal collapse over one very long car ride across Manhattan in Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s allegorical novel. The way Cronenberg structured the movie – shooting in sequence, often sealing Pattinson and his co-stars into a limousine and directing them remotely – pushed Pattinson to a kind of creative epiphany.
“It takes away a lot of the problems of self-consciousness,” he says. “I did a movie where a lot of it was underwater” (that’d be Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, which put him on the map as doomed golden boy Cedric Diggory), “and it kind of felt a little bit like that. You feel like you have very little to prove when you’re in such a tiny space. There’s very little of the outside world coming in, so it’s pretty simple.”
Cronenberg so enjoyed putting Pattinson through Packer’s paces that he’s eager to repeat the experience, possibly with another member of his repertory company.
“You meet people that you work with and you feel you’d really like to work with them again,” he says. “I felt that way about Rob, and I felt that way, obviously, about Viggo [Mortensen]. And then I started to think, ‘Wow, Rob and Viggo in the same movie would be terrific,’ because I know they’d get along, but I also think creatively, onscreen, it’d be fantastic. But I don’t have a project, exactly; we have some possibilities. So we’re talking about it. It’s possible it’ll never happen, because it’s just so hard to get things made, really – especially anything interesting. That’s sort of where I am, making movies that are hard to get made.”
In all seriousness, though, the two do expect to collaborate on another picture.
“We feel that fate will bring us together again,” says Cronenberg.
“I’m setting up a PayPal account,” Pattinson laughs.
“Yes, that’s right,” Cronenberg says. “We’re crowdsourcing. Please, if you’ve got any money on you right now, just put it on the table.”