Anne Thompson: Why did you cast “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson as your ice-cold 28-year-old Master of the Universe?
David Cronenberg: Of course you begin with the basics. Is he the right age for the character? Does he feel convincing as a screen presence? Obviously you need someone with charisma to hold the audience for the entire movie. He’s in every scene without exception, that’s unusual. You want someone proven, who people want to watch, who will never be boring. I knew I would be crawling all over his face for the entire movie, so I wanted someone whose face is constantly changing, through all the angles. And he had to have chops for tricky dialogue. The art of casting is to intuit, to see from what he’s done before that he could do this.
Was there a particular performance that gave you confidence?
I saw him in “Little Ashes” as the young Salvador Dali. He does a Spanish accent, he was not afraid to play a character of ambiguous sexuality and eccentricity. That probably of all the things I saw made me think he was the right guy.
Did you cast Pattinson with a certain likeability factor in mind, so that audiences would like him in spite of the character he is playing? Feel some vulnerablity?
I really don’t care. I want the lead character in a movie to be interesting, fascinating and complex, but to be likeable to me is way down the list. It’s not on the list, because it is a simplistic thing for the lead character to must be likable. He has to be watchable, that’s the key, and fascinating, and likeable if it works for the project, fine, let him be likeable. If not I don’t worry about it.
There are actors who do not want to play unlikeable characters, afraid it will damage their credibility as stars or effect them personally. Actors who are more interested in being actors than stars, like Viggo Mortensen, don’t worry about being likeable or not on screen.
How did Pattinson surprise you?
He literally surprised me every day, as he read dialogue and interacted with the other actors. We were throwing different factors at him almost very day because of the stucture of the screenplay. He really has extended scenes. With one actor at the end, Paul Giamatti, he really let it fly, in that he didn’t cling to a preconceived idea of what he should be doing. He reacted spontaneously to other actors as they surprised him and he surprised them. He was terrific and not predictable and dead-on accurate.
How many takes do you do?
One or two. The whole last shot was a long take with Giamatti, three minutes in that last 22-minute scene.
Read the full interview here.
Rob comments on how be obtained the role of Eric Packer in Cosmopolis:
“Out of the blue,” he says. Pattinson, having never met or spoken to Cronenberg, did a little research: He looked him up on Rotten Tomatoes “and it was like 98 percent approval,” he says.
“It was like: OK, that’s my next job,” says Pattinson.
Further into the interview, Rob talks about how intimidating it was to take such a different dialogue style. DeLillo is known for this odd flow in his work.
The stylized language and atypical nature of the film made it a risky and intimidating choice for Pattinson.
“I couldn’t hear the voice of the character at all. There was nothing,” he says. “It was scary to say yes to something which you didn’t know what it was. I knew it was interesting, I knew there was something special but I had no idea how to do it or what I could add to it. But when you start saying no to Cronenberg because you don’t think it’s good enough, it’s a stupid decision to make.”
Cronenberg commented on the business perspective on casting Rob as the lead in Cosmopolis,
“The fact that somebody who has clout is willing to do a movie that’s difficult is a gift to a director because you’re not only getting the right guy as an actor, but you’re getting financing interest and you get to make the movie. This is not an easy movie to get made.”
Rob talks about moving on from Twilight, focusing on whether this new freedom has allowed him to explore is acting talent:
Asked if he now feels certain he’s an actor, he quickly replies, “No. As soon as you start existing in a certain world, you feel like you have tremendous amount of baggage all the time. You get stuck in this rut where you want people to think you’re something else, but you’re too scared to do what that is to actually be the other person. Then you get a gift like this movie where it’s way easier than I thought it was. You just do it. It doesn’t really matter if you fail.”
Read the article in its entirety here.
Eric Michael Packer
Thanks to RPLife
Here’s an excerpt from the GILT interview where Denise Cronenberg talks about how it was like dressing Rob for Cosmopolis. One thing that she seems to emphasize in this interview is how well Rob wears a suit, and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I most definitely agree with her
We would have tried to take the wardrobe home after shooting wrapped. Does that ever happen?
Yes, people do take, or try to take, clothing home during and after a film. Rob did take one of his suits home (we had seven of them), but I asked him if he would like one. He has so many suits personally that he really doesn’t need any more.
You did one hell of a job dressing Rob for the film. What advice would you give him, if any, for dressing for the red carpet?
It’s not difficult to dress Rob and make him look terrific. He wears suits so well, and Gucci fits him so well. My advice to him is to keep doing exactly what he has been doing—wearing Gucci. You can’t go wrong.
And how about for daily life?
Rob’s off-camera look is very relaxed, and it’s his personal taste. There’s also an element of trying to hide, with something like a baseball cap, but really, it’s comfortable. That’s who he is.
Picture Source: eOne Entertainment
Cronenberg talks about why he chose Rob for Cosmopolis, what it took to get him to accept the role, and Queen of the Desert with Rotten Tomatoes. Here is a brief excerpt of the interview:
Robert Pattinson. There were plenty of people who were a little surprised when you picked him for the role, but I have to say he gives a really sublime performance. You knew what you were doing, clearly — so what was it that drew you to Robert?
Cronenberg: Well, casting always starts in a very pragmatic way. It’s, “Is this guy the right age for the character?” “Does he have the right sort of physique, the right screen presence?” “Is he available, and if so, can you afford him? Does he want to do it?” You know, all of those things. But then you do your homework as a director, more specifically, and you watch stuff. I watched Little Ashes, in which Rob plays a young Salvador Dali; I watched Remember Me; I watched the first Twilight movie. And I watched — interestingly enough, I suppose, because people wouldn’t expect it — but you watch interviews with the guy on YouTube, you know. I want to get an idea of his sense of humor, his sense of himself, the way he handles himself, his intelligence — all of those things you can’t really tell from watching an actor play a role in a movie. I suppose in the old days you meet the guy and hang out, and go to a bar or whatever — [laughs] — but these days nobody has time for that, or the money, and so you do it some other way. And once I’d done all that stuff, I thought, This is the guy I want. I thought, He’d be terrific and I actually think he’s a very underrated actor — and it would be my pleasure to prove that by casting him.
I think a lot of people will share that opinion after seeing the film. Was he difficult to get? I mean, he’s clearly up for it, based on his performance, but how do you go about getting Robert Pattinson?
Cronenberg: Basically, I wrote the script before I went into production on A Dangerous Method, so Rob got the script about a year before we were really shooting. He’s a very down to earth guy, and he was surprised that anybody would want him. [Laughs] It sounds odd, I know. Of course, he knows that his name adds value because of his star power, but he knew my movies, and he knew I was a serious director, and I think he was nervous, you know — I think he was afraid, because he knew it was good. He immediately loved the script, especially because he thought it was very funny — and the movie is funny; a lot of people maybe don’t see that the first time around — and the script was funny as well. But also he had seen enough of the now conventional stuff that he gets offered to see how different this was, and how it stood out — and the quality of Don’s writing, because the dialogue is really 100 per cent from the novel.
So I really had to convince him that I knew he was the right guy and that he could do it. And you’d be very surprised that a lot of actors, and very experienced ones, too — not just young ones — they worry that they don’t want to wreck your movie. They don’t want to be the bad thing in your movie that brings it down. They need to be convinced that they’re good enough, especially if they know it’s good. He said — and I know this ’cause of interviews that we’ve done together, and I hear him saying these things — that usually the dialogue is so bad that you, the actor, figure that you are responsible for trying to make it interesting, just by the way you spin it. But in this case the dialogue was great, and it’s a completely reversed worry: “Am I good enough to get the best out of this?” So it took me about 10 days, and Rob said he was afraid to call me back because he’s used to bullshitting directors, like all actors do — but because I’d written the script he couldn’t do that with me. [Laughs] You know, actors can really tie themselves in knots, when really he just should’ve said, “Yes, I’ll do it.”
Read the full article here.