DETAILS: Did having someone as marketable as Robert Pattinson in the lead help get Cosmopolis made?
DAVID CRONENBERG: It’s not just Rob, but this was a Canadian-French co-production so actors like Juliette Binoche and Mathieu Amalric really do contribute to the strength that you have when you’re trying to find money. What matters is, do you have a good actor working with you?
DETAILS: What made you want to cast Rob? This part is so far removed from what his enormous Twilight fan base would normally see him in.
DAVID CRONENBERG: Surprisingly enough they were very interested in it and developed websites for Cosmopolis just because of Rob. And a lot of the girls were talking about reading “Cosmopolis.” I think the only thing they had read, probably, was “Twilight” and “Harry Potter,” and suddenly they’re reading Don DeLillo.
DETAILS: There’s a very slick, high-tech fashion to the film. What was your inspiration for the look of Rob’s character?
DAVID CRONENBERG: It all comes from what the characters are supposed to be in the movie. They’re both very wealthy. They’re both very comfortable with their wealth. It’s interesting because some people have asked, “Is Rob’s fame a parallel to Packer?” And I say, “No, quite the contrary. Eric Packer is not famous at all. He doesn’t want his name in the paper.” He dresses well, but sort of conventionally. In fact, Rob said that he wanted the guy to be dressed in almost a non-descript way. It’s expensive clothes, but it’s not flashy.
DETAILS: Maps to the Stars is supposed to start shooting in May. Have you been able to sign Robert Pattinson, Viggo Mortensen, and Rachel Weisz?
DAVID CRONENBERG: I don’t think Viggo will be able to do it, but with the other two, so far, so good. Have they signed? No. But they have a verbal commitment if everything works out and if other things don’t come along. It’s still very possible for the three of them, but it’s far from certain. That’s life in the indie film world.
Cronenberg: Honestly I don’t have an agenda, and I don’t have a plan. It really is project by project. When I’m making a movie it’s as if I’ve never made another movie, honestly. I don’t think about my other movies. I think sometimes people think you say: “Yyes, now looking at the arc of my career I should do a movie like this.” But it’s never like that. First of all, it’s so hard to get movies financed that you can’t really control when the movie gets made. For example with Dead Ringers people said to me, “why now?” And I said, “well actually I tried to make it ten years ago, and if I’d gotten the financing together I would have made it happen then.” So, first of all, you don’t really have that control to pick and choose when you’ll do this kind of movie. And the other thing is, as I say, it’s just an individual response. When Cosmopolis the book was presented to me by the producer it was completely unexpected, and yet my response to it was immediately positive. My response to the book without thinking about Don Delillo’s other books, although I had read a lot of them, or my other movies. When I cast Rob Pattinson I’m not thinking about his other movies other than, “okay he’s famous enough to get us financing.” Other than that I’m just thinking about whether or not he’s a good actor. So you have to filter out the noise. There’s a lot of noise, and you have to filter it out and have a 1:1 relationship with the work that you’re doing, and I find that’s natural for me. I don’t find that hard to do.
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“I really think he’s a terrific actor. He’s extremely inventive. He surprised me every day on ‘Cosmopolis’ with the nuances and things that he did which were unexpected. Of course I was very familiar with the dialogue and yet he would surprise me,” Cronenberg enthused. “And I thought, this is a guy who I would like to work with some more, which is how I felt with Viggo Mortensen. When you find an actor who surprises you everyday, you figure, he could do it some more with a completely different role in a completely different movie.”
“Maps to the Stars” mention-
“It’s kind of a satire on Hollywood. It’s very typical of Bruce Wagner’s writing. And it’s sort of a condensed essence of Bruce. And while it’s satirical, it’s also very powerful, emotionally, and insightful and funny,” he explained about the movie. “And it would be the first time I’ve ever shot a foot of film in the United States. It’s strange, just because of the way the co-production deals work, that even though I’ve had movies that are set in the U.S. like ‘Cosmopolis’ or ‘The Dead Zone,’ I’ve never shot in the United States. This would be the first time. And I’m really excited about it.”
The Blu-ray release of Cosmopolis is coming out in the heart of Oscar-campaign season. I get the sense it doesn’t bug you too much that this film isn’t being discussed more as a contender.
Yes. Every year I try to be as disconnected as possible. This year it’s been very easy because we haven’t been nominated for any awards. It’s not sour grapes, it’s not compensation; it’s a relief. It’s very easy to get caught up in it if you are nominated. The people who are releasing the movie get excited, they want you to do more, and you understand it because the awards can maybe get more people to see the film. This, on its face, is a good thing. However, it is all bullshit, it is all annoying and it is all very problematical. But it gives people stuff to write about, gives structure, we understand. But I won’t be watching any of the awards shows.
Would you give me a hundred grand to write that Cosmopolis is the best movie of the year?
No! [Laughs.] But it’s a thought.
[...] Sorry, so… Cosmopolis on Blu-ray. Special deleted scenes on here?
I’m usually reluctant to include deleted scenes. They’re deleted for a reason. I like the the magic. On A History of Violence I included one or two because they were unusual, but that’s the only time I’ve done that. On the other hand, I really appreciate a good “making of” documentary. I find that film students and film fans who might otherwise never get on a film set might really see something if you, the creator, are honest. Of course, I’m not doing the “making of” myself — I’m too busy making the movie — but I do encourage the reality principle. I don’t want the “making of” to just be a promotional spot. Similarly, when I do a commentary, as I’ve done for Cosmopolis, I don’t bullshit. I don’t just say how wonderful is to work with or how much fun we had at the wrap party. I talk about the making of that particular moment we’re looking at.
Is your next project ready to go?
Finishing my novel right now, and I hope to be shooting Maps of the Stars in May,written by Bruce Wagner. However, it is an indie project which means, therefore, that it could fall apart.
Twilight vamp Robert Pattinson plays a bloodsucker of an altogether different kind – the Wall Street kind – in his new movie Cosmopolis, on Blu-ray and DVD New Year’s Day, and the film’s director David Cronenberg tells ETonline that he was actually quite impressed with what Rob brought to the table, and that after the baggage of casting — once you get to that point when you’re on set and cameras are rolling — “Twilight is irrelevant.”
“He surprised me every day with good stuff,” says Cronenberg. “I don’t do rehearsals, and I try not to shape the actor’s performance at first. I want to see what his intuition is going to deliver. And then if there’s a problem then I start to shape it, nudge it, manipulate it a little bit. I did very little of that with Rob.”
Based on the novel by Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis follows one day in the wild life of multi-billionaire asset manager Eric Packer, who travels aimlessly through the streets of New York City in his limousine while conducting investment trading from the back seat. As the day progresses, it devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart.
“He absolutely would say to you right now, ‘I had no idea what I was doing at any time,’ and he would mean it,” says the veteran director of Rob’s performance. “I think he really didn’t realize how good he was. … He was surprising himself, but he was surprising me by his accuracy. It was just dead on. I mean, by the end of it we were doing one take. Honestly the whole last scene, the whole last shot in the movie with him and Paul [Giamatti] — one take. And it’s a long take as well. And it’s very emotional, and very subtle. One take for both of them, it was so good. … In fact, we finished the shoot five days early, and a lot of that was due to Rob.”
Of course, when Cronenberg first cast Rob, he had to overcome what he calls Twilight “baggage,” explaining, “You often have to consider what we call baggage for an actor, and you have to decide whether it’s a problem or not. I hate the idea of it because I know I’m going to be on the set with the guy at three in the morning shooting in the streets of Toronto, and none of that stuff is relevant. We’re just two people trying to make the movie work. So his past performances, or his fame, or lack of it, or whatever the factor is, is at that point irrelevant. What’s relevant only is what we can do creatively with each other.
“On the other hand, when you’re financing a movie you have to have lead actors who have some weight and some substance and will attract investors so that you can get your movie financed, so it’s a weird situation,” he continues. “Aside from the fact that yes, he was an exciting and interesting, surprising choice in terms of how investors viewed it — and it worked because we got the financing for the movie — after that Twilight is irrelevant, you know?”
What mattered most to Cronenberg was that his lead could carry the scene and had the proper charisma: “It starts very simply with is he the right age, does he have the right look, does he have the right presence onscreen?” he says. “He is in absolutely every scene in the movie, and that’s really quite rare. Even in a movie with Tom Cruise, you don’t see Tom in every scene. But in this case you do, and so he has to have some charisma. You have to want to watch him for that long and that intensely, because I knew I was going to be crawling all over his face with the camera.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a David Cronenberg film without a little oral or anal fixation – themes prominently placed in such films of his as Naked Lunch, Dead Ringers and Videodrome – and there’s an especially amusing scene during Cosmopolis in which Rob gets examined by a doctor in his limo and discovers that he has an “asymmetrical prostate.”
“Orifices are the entry and exit of our bodies, and that really talks about identity and where the boundaries of an individual identity end and where the environment begins,” says a straight-faced Cronenberg, adding with a laugh, “I could do an academic analysis of my own movies, but that wouldn’t help me create [my new] movies. … You could do that analysis and make those connections amongst the movies, and you’d be correct.”
Source: ET Online
A lot has been said about your unconventional choice of Robert Pattinson for the lead role.
The thing I liked about Rob Pattinson as an actor is that he’s a serious actor. And you could lose sight of that, because he’s had this big popular success with the Twilight movies, but he is not afraid to play a character who is difficult to like, you know, because some actors are afraid to do that, because they feel it is too personal, that they themselves will not be liked by their audience, and so on. But a real actor is not afraid to play an unsympathetic character, and Rob is a real actor.
Also, I think to be an actor, you need intelligence, first of all. For example, Rob immediately realised that the script was quite funny, and most people don’t get that. Then you want sensitivity to the subtleties of the movie, in terms of what is going on in the movie, the dialogue and so on. And Rob, personally, is very knowledgeable about cinema.
(chuckles) I don’t think his Twilight fans realise this about him, but he’s really an aficionado about art cinema. I mean, on the set I’d find him talking to Juliette Binoche about obscure French cinema, (chuckles) so you know, he brings a real depth of understanding of the history and art of cinema and all of those things mean that you have a lot of power and a lot of responsiveness from your actor as a director. It’s like driving the Ferrari instead of driving, you know, a Volkwagen Beetle. And you get that with Rob. I must also add, he’s very down to earth and very easy to work with. He’s not diva at all, you know. He’s really a sweetheart.