Fond of boxing, British Rob Pattinson is inspired by the noble art’s codes of honor and Arsenal’s elegance to manage his career. Meeting in Los Angeles with the new face of Dior Homme fragrance.
Sprawled on the sofa of the suite 111 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Hollywood, eyes unfocused, Rob Pattinson is obviously tired. The blame to a party that lasted late the night before. However, he welcomes his guests with respect and sincerity leaping suddenly to his feet. Backwards baseball cap, black shirt, jeans and sneakers, Diet Coke in hand, Robert Thomas Pattinson has very little to do with Edward Cullen, his character in the Twilight film series. At 27, Rob is more than just an English actor who conquered Hollywood, or even any international star of TV series. This discreet Londoner, cultured and elegant became a global icon adored by millions of fans. A comfortable but temporary status – and above all extremely cumbersome – that the actor is changing slowly and very cleverly: against type casting roles (‘Bel Ami’, ‘The Rover’ by David Michôd) adoption of a Cinema “father” in the person of David Cronenberg (‘Cosmopolis’ in 2012 and a new movie in preparation) and a sensational entrance in the fashion world this fall by becoming the new face of Dior Homme fragrance. Lots of consistent evidence which tell us at Sport & Style, that we should not miss Rob Pattinson. Here he is sitting again and it’s our turn to play vampires to elicit informations
When did you start to be interested by comedy and realise the expressive potential it represents?
I started late in a drama club because I was a very shy child. It was a revelation: it was the first time I confront myself to my fears and the adrenaline rush was intense. Then, there was the first time I had the feeling to “build” something. It was for ‘Little Ashes’ in 2008, a weird film where I played Salvador Dalí. I really wanted to give credibility to this character and therefore to my performance.
You’ve also been a musician?
At the be beginning, I wanted to be a musician. It was still the case until Twilight. At that time, I was touring with a band in pubs around London. We were playing folk-pop but I’ve always prefered soul music more – Otis Redding, Van Morrison – than folk music.
What is elegance for you as an actor?
It is surely a balance between magnetism, aura, behavior, gestures, look. But elegance is also being able to listen and to speak.
What about style?
This is a way of expressing yourself, or rather a means of expression. Style is often viewed as a kind of cosmetic, a way of hiding yourself in a suit. On the contrary, i think that true style is first to have a good knowledge of who you are and also be very honest with yourself.
Is it difficult to find good scenarios when you are a superstar?
Yes, because it’s difficult to know how the audience see you. Today, people know a lot of things about the actors outside of their profession. The choice of scenario is made by the intrinsic interest of the script, but also on what is almost a personal manifesto: choosing this character, it’s me too!
Why did you choose ‘The Rover’ by David Michod which will be released soon? To go in the opposite direction of your public image?
Probably a little, it’s part of the equation. I really wanted it, I auditioned twice! The script was wonderful, i worked hard. The story is fantastic, very original, told in a very innovative way. It was something that seemed very different from everything else and I wanted to be part of it.
Was your participation to a movie brand like the one you did with Romain Gavras for Dior, a way to help change your image to the public eye?
I hope. This adventure was very strange. Never would have I had imagined filming for a brand. However, the decision was easy to make and I never doubted it. If it was that easy it’s cause it meant a lot to me, the fact that we all shared the same ideas and ambitions.
Romain Gavras was very admiring of your involvement in the project and of the way you played along…
This is why I wanted to do this project with him since the beginning because I knew he was as involved. In commercials, you always feel this feeling of discomfort, this distance between the director and the actors, between the product and the actors, between the movie and the audience… I didn’t want that. In Romain’s work, there is life, blood and sweat. A rawness you could almost touch. There was no way I’d be the guy who only poses but all the merit should go to Romain. He’s the one who sparked off and inspired this kind of honesty.
You trust him completely?
Absolutely. As soon as I met him, I liked his attitude. He was a bit reserved, didn’t say yes right away, he wanted to know me first. He told me who he was and what he wanted to do. I felt the same, we were on the same wave length. But we were right to be cautious because a misunderstanding between a director and an actor can create some abominations. I had complete faith in him. It said in my contract that I had the last word on what shot and kept but I never used it! I wanted Romain to produce what he had in mind, for it to be his movie.
So, no fears then…
None and it was incredible. Most of the times, working with big companies implies stating everything in the contract, but in this one no one was doubting or afraid.
What would be the American cinema without British actors?
It’s true! It’s incredible, isn’t it? British or Australians. Or Canadians! It’s annoying them, too. (laughs) When I first arrived in Hollywood, we were only a few, and people mocked our accent. Today, it’s more: ‘Go home!’ I’m very curious to see how things will evolve.
It’s a matter of different culture and backgrounds so of richer acting chops maybe…
Exactly. British actors’ profiles have changed a lot those last few years. Comedians all come from middle class, and private schools where we learned theater. Just a few years ago, they came from every social background because they got scholarships from the government. It’s evolved now, to be an actor in England, you need to have the means necessary or it’s very difficult.
When we look back on your career, it feels like you were looking for something? Are you ambitious?
Yes. When you do one Twilight movie after another, you wonder if you ever gonna do something different. And then it happens with Cronenberg or someone else and you realize you can play stuff you never even thought about before. You have to take your chances.
What drew you in with Cronenberg, with whom you’re working again after Cosmopolis?
He’s an incredibly intelligent man for starters. Then, he’s an artist with a complex integrity, who never did a movie for bad reasons and definitely not for money. He’s an honorable man, if that word has any sense. Everyone feels it on set and he’s one of the last who keeps pushing the limits, who keeps searching and that’s great. He managed to keep his passion and curiosity intact.
What about sports? Are you still an Arsenal fan?
Yes, even if I don’t keep up with the First League because the games air too early in California.
Lately, I’ve taken a big interest in boxing, I like to watch the lightweight categories: middleweight, welter, super-welter and the flyweights too.
What do you like about boxing, is it the choreographic aspect?
Yes, certainly and there’s no other sport where defeat can be as terrible and painful. It’s a sport, a terrifying discipline where honor has a big place. It’s beautiful, really.
Do you think Arsène Wenger should stay in charge of Arsenal?
Yes, I always liked him but with time, he kind of developed a fear of winning.
That’s a pretty French attitude…
Indeed. Arsenal is probably the only team in the First League that plays like a French team. They’re more busy playing with elegance than trying to win! We don’t win but we sure play well…