Rob Interview With BuzzFeed

Talking about The Rover and his post- Twilight career.

In The Rover’s bleak universe, there is virtually no backstory — illustrative of a world in which nothing really matters — and we know little about Robert Pattinson’s Rey other than that he and his older brother (Scoot McNairy) are in a small band of thugs who were violently thwarted during a criminal act we don’t see. An injured Rey has been abandoned for expedience’s sake, which is how he becomes a hostage to Eric (Guy Pearce), whose car has been stolen by Rey’s former friends. (Eric really wants that car back, for a reason that is revealed only in the movie’s final moments.) As Rey, Pattinson plays a “half-wit,” as Eric calls him, a far cry from Twilight’s Edward Cullen, the emo vampire who served as a tweenage fantasy.

The Rover is David Michôd’s second feature as a director, following up on 2010’s lauded, provocative Animal Kingdom. And though it takes place in Australia, where Michôd is from, Rey and his brother inexplicably have American Southern accents. It’s good for Pattinson to sound nothing like Edward, the character that made him famous. Rey starts out fearful — in one scene he folds himself into a fetal position. But he also changes as the movie goes on (to describe would be to spoil). In Variety, Scott Foundas called it a “career-redefining performance” for Pattinson.

In an interview with BuzzFeed this week in Beverly Hills, Pattinson discussed The Rover (which premiered at Cannes last month and comes out in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, and will be released nationally next Friday), and his post-Twilight career. And he has been working a lot: In addition to David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, which also premiered at Cannes, he will soon appear in Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, Anton Corbijn’s Life, and Olivier Assayas’ Idol’s Eye with Robert De Niro, which has not yet begun filming. As someone who tripped into huge stardom after he was cast in Twilight, and then fell into a viper’s nest of paparazzi as one-half of a tabloid couple while he dated his co-star Kristen Stewart, Pattinson, now 28, described life after Edward as a “process.”

He has now lived a good portion of his life hunted, both by paps and fans, but in person, he is neither brooding nor tortured. Actually, he was quick to laugh. And he seems to have figured out how to live a sane life, if not a normal one.

You do a Southern accent for this movie, as well as a number of vocal and facial tics. Were those as written or did you develop them with David Michôd?
Robert Pattinson: It said he was from the South, but not a specific place. I guess all those sorts of tics and things — it was just quite jerkily written? So when you start saying it out loud, it just ends up coming out in your body.

The Rover seems like it was grueling to make. It looks hot, and there are all those flies. Was it? And was that helpful for the role?
RP: I thought it was really easy. I think the most stressful thing in movies is when the weather is really random. Then everyone is just panicking all the time. But it was just sort of hot all the time. If you were trying to play someone who was clean, then it would be incredibly stressful. To have someone coming in and touching up your makeup every 10 seconds — but you were just sitting in a pile of mud, it doesn’t really make a difference. You could just play in the dirt.

You were wearing the same thing the entire time.
RP: I don’t even think they had doubles of the clothes. It took a long time. We went through hundreds of pairs of jeans. It was mainly about the feel — the way the costume department distressed them. We literally put glue in it to make them sit a certain way. They were, like, thick. But I just kind of knew how I wanted to feel. Also, the T-shirt, I knew from the audition exactly what T-shirt I wanted to wear. The colors and everything.

I want to ask about the scene when you sing along with “Pretty Girl Rock.” It’s out of nowhere, and lovely.
RP: When I got to that part in the script, that was one of the main turning points: Wow, this is completely on another level to most things I’m reading. And so brave as well — doing something that could be completely baffling to people. I thought it was going to be a tiny insert, and when I walked in to do the scene, David’s got this massive push-in on a track that’s like a 100-foot-long track. And just pushing in for almost the entire song. It was kind of great.

It was a sweet moment — you really feel for the character who’s never lived a different kind of life.
RP: He’s never really learned how to think like a normal person. He has no concept of what his decisions will affect, because no decision he’s ever made has ever affected anything before.

Twilight made you a rich movie star and paparazzi target. Now that it’s been almost two years since Breaking Dawn Part 2 came out, how do you look back on the experience?
RP: I knew when I signed up after the first one came out, I knew it was going to be about a 10-year process to really — I’m not sure what! To get to the next plateau. I’ve been extremely lucky as well, but it kind of does seem like there’s little gradations — every year, every job, something happens, and people’s perception changes a little bit. I don’t look back on it being a different part of my life. It’s all one road, really.

A lot of are actors go back and forth between big studio movies and smaller indies. But since Twilight, you seem like you’ve avoided studio films. Is that deliberate?
RP: It hasn’t really come up. Maybe there was a little period after the first Twilight where just because you’re the new thing, you get offered a bunch of big budget things. And nothing really connected with me. But I think my energy and also how people perceive me — I don’t fit too many roles like that. I never played team sports in school, and I think people can tell! As I get older, the parts become a little bit more open. But the young guy parts in big budget movies, you can always tell the guy has played team sports. I hated them.

I was going to ask you whether you feel Twilight has held you back, but now I think I should ask whether or not playing team sports has.
RP: It’s just weird. I think I just gravitate toward loner parts. I feel my emotional reactions to things are quite off a little bit. I remember doing Twilight and Catherine Hardwicke just being, like, “Why are you looking at her like that? You look like you want to kill her.” I’m, like, “I do? That’s, like, a love look!” I try to do things with Cosmopolis and this — it’s an emotional spectrum that’s slightly off. I feel like I can commit to that a little bit more than hit the traditional beats.

You seem very director-focused in your choices.
RP: You try and limit the margin for error as much as you can. Even if you end up doing a shitty movie, but you’ve been working with Herzog or something, you’re not doing a superhero movie that’s supposed to be something completely different. And then if you make a shitty superhero movie, it’s like, what do you expect?

Did you just say that the Werner Herzog movie you’re in, playing T.E. Lawrence, is shitty?
RP: No, not at all! I’m hardly in it anyway.

Oh, is that right? I couldn’t tell.
RP: I was only there for like 10 days. No, I think it’s going to be cool. I saw some of the stuff with Franco and Nicole Kidman that looked really good. It’s insurance. With Michôd, I wanted to work with him for ages. I thought Animal Kingdom was one of the best debuts in the last 10 years.

You have a bunch of movies coming up, but one that jumped out at me was Life, the story of James Dean and Dennis Stock, the photographer. A lot of the parts you’ve taken since Twilight seem to have nothing to do with your life experience — but the idea of photography and a young star does intersect.
RP: It’s funny, I didn’t think about that. What I liked about it was that it was about professional jealousy. It was before James Dean was famous, but obviously he loved having his photo taken. Both of them were super arrogant, and they both think they’re the artist. Dennis was so filled with neuroses and jealous of everything. I didn’t really think about the celebrity aspect of it. I don’t think Dennis ever thought about it. Also, I think afterward, he was pissed that that was his legacy.

I read an interview with you recently in which you said you weren’t sure whether you’ve found your feet yet as an actor. Do you think you ever will?
RP: I don’t know. In some ways, hopefully not. The only thing I deal with every single job is trying to overcome confidence issues. I think in some ways, it’s helped me just having fallen into it, and not really being, like, I need this. That’s when you go crazy and you lose control of your personal life. In some ways, it is very frustrating when I’ll know how to do something in my head, and something inhibits it. It just drives me nuts. I think it’s good when there’s no expectations of the character. And then I’m fine.

What do you do when you find you can’t do something?
RP: It’s just, like, horrible. There was one moment when I was doing Life. I knew exactly how to do this scene. I’d been planning the whole scene for the whole movie. And it just, for whatever reason, it was just not happening. And no one else knows. I’m just, like, losing my mind on the set. Everyone’s so uncomfortable. Also, with a little bit of experience you realize, OK, I’m just going to not let anyone else speak, and deliver each line in about 10 different ways. And hopefully they’ll fix it in the edit! Can you just make my performance for me?

Is it frustrating?
RP: It’s the most horrible thing ever. Especially because most of the time, especially in big emotional scenes, it’s just because you feel like you’re faking it. And you know how not to fake it, but it’s not happening in your body. And there’s nothing you can do. At the end of the day, people watching it half the time can’t tell at all. Or 90% of the time, you can watch a scene you think is the worst scene ever and you’re completely faking it — and no one knows.

I recently reread that Vanity Fair cover story about you from 2011 during which your life seemed pretty unlivable because of the paparazzi. Have things improved at all?
RP: I remember doing that interview, and I thought I was, like, telling jokes. Then the interview comes out and it sounds like I’m about to kill myself.

Oh! Part of it was her commenting on what she observed about what your life was like.
RP: I was, like, How have you observed this? We just sat in someone’s house. Whatever. I guess from an outside perspective, there’s a period of contraction in your life where you have to get used to what feels like your life becoming impossibly smaller. But that was about four years ago. I felt a little funny then. But you realize what you like doing, and suddenly it becomes easier. Some people get OK getting photographed doing their groceries or going out of whatever. I realized I cannot handle that at all. And so, I just don’t go to places where I get photographed. And as soon as I made that decision — don’t worry about it, stop complaining about it — it was a massive weight taken off.

So, there are ways to live your life not being photographed?
RP: Yeah. 100%.

Even here in L.A.?
RP: There are a very limited amount of places you can go. If you go to The Grove, you’ve got to accept something is going to happen.

You can’t go to the Apple Store at The Grove.
RP: I miss that place. Watching the fountains!

So, you like living in Los Angeles? I mean, you could live wherever you want.
RP: I always thought I was going to move back to London, but London’s changed so much since I left. A lot of my friends have left and stuff, or they have families. It’s different. Also, my main interest in my life at the moment is film, and this is the best place to be for film. Also, I like the kind of levity of living here as well. People want to get stuff done — they’re not downers all the time. In a lot of big cities, most people are just, like, Oh, god, it’s impossible. People aren’t like that in L.A. And I really like it.

In that Vanity Fair interview, you said you admired Charlie Sheen —
RP: I did?

I’m sure it was very of the moment! You said you liked that he was a crazy person who doesn’t give a fuck. And in The Hollywood Reporter recently, you talked about being a fan of Harmony Korine’s for what I imagine are the same reasons. Could you not give a fuck if you tried?
RP: I do, in a way. But I don’t want people to hate me. I basically do whatever I want. But one of the aspects of what I want is, I want people to like me!

Source: BuzzFeed

Rob Interviews with The Daily Beast – June 12


For awhile, it seemed as if the eerily handsome British actor would have an impossible time getting past the iconic Twilight role that first brought him global fame and fortune. The series was too popular. His looks were too vampiric. And no one who plays the same part more than, say, three times ever really shakes it. (See: Connery, Sean.)

But in the years since the final Twilight installment came and went from theaters, Pattinson has begun to accomplish the impossible. Again and again he has chosen to work with brilliant auteurs—Werner Herzog, David Cronenberg, James Gray, Olivier Assayas—and again and again he has stunned audiences with his smart, sensitive, and very un-Cullen-like performances.

Pattinson’s latest movie, a spare, dystopian Western called The Rover, is his finest work yet. Under the direction of David Michod (the excellent Animal Kingdom), Pattinson stars as Rey, a gut-shot simpleton from the American South who encounters Eric (Guy Pearce) in the sweltering, lawless Australian outback ten years after a global economic collapse. In the wake of a botched heist, Rey’s gang—which includes Rey’s brother—has left him behind to die. The gang has also stolen Eric’s car. And so Rey and Eric team up to track them down. Pattinson is absolutely magnetic in the role, transforming what could have a been an embarrassing caricature of a man-child into empathetic portrait of a wounded human being struggling to think for himself for the first time—and ultimately succeeding. Not many actors can make cogitation look so compelling. Pattinson, somehow, is one of them.

To discuss his work in The Rover—and his career more generally—Pattinson recently sat down with The Daily Beast in Los Angeles. He was as striking in person as he is on screen—thin, white v-neck t-shirt, two-day scruff, artful bedhead. His demeanor is more boyish, and less confident, than one might expect of a movie star; he rarely made eye contact as he spoke and he laughed, half-nervously, whenever he said something revealing.

“I forget how to act in between every single movie,” Pattinson confessed.

He went on to talk about why Twilight has become a burden; why he could never do what Jennifer Lawrence does; and why he loves to work with auteurs such as Harmony Korine, with whom he’s planning to collaborate next. Pattinson also shot down the rumors that he will be taking over for Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or Han Solo in the near future—although he didn’t shut the door on all future franchises.

“You’re sort of floating. You don’t know how it happens, but it’s amazing. And it’s nothing to do with the audience or anyone else. You’re still probably shit. But it’s so addictive, and it’s so rare as well.”
You’ve said that you “really, really fought” for the role of Rey. Why?

Weirdly, I got sent the script and misread the email. I thought it was an offer. I was like, “Wow. I know exactly how to do this—and I never get offered stuff like this, ever!” So I call up my agent and I’m like, “I want to do it! I want to do it right now!” I had wanted to work with David Michod for years before this. But then they were like, “No, it’s just an audition. What are you talking about?” [Laughs] I suddenly had this pang of terror. I’ve basically messed up every audition I’ve ever gone for.

So what did you do?
I just realized I have to get it, so I just put in an enormous amount of time—way more work than I’ve ever done for an audition before.

What do you mean by “way more work”? What kind of labor are we talking about here?
I mean, I would just run it literally 10 hours a day for, like, two weeks.

Completely obsessively, to the point where I was dreaming about it and stuff. I don’t know particularly what I was doing—just constantly thinking about it.

I guess it paid off.
[Laughs] Most auditions you don’t go in like you’re actually doing the movie. You do it like you’re doing an audition. But this I was just doing the movie in someone’s house. Full on.

You said you don’t usually get offered roles like Rey. How so?
Little weirdo roles. There are about five or six actors who have had a lock on them for years. [Laughs] I’m not sure what place I was really put in, but I wasn’t really part of that group of strange character actors—people who are a little bit “weak.” A little fragile and broken. I guess I wasn’t interpreted as being one of those people.

What was the biggest challenge for you in making The Rover?
Nothing really. Even before I got the part, I was so clear about how I wanted to do it. Really the only strange aspect was walking into the audition room and being like, “Am I doing this entirely wrong? I have no idea.” I had one little moment of panic. But as soon as I got I knew what I wanted the clothes to be, what I wanted the look to be—I knew everything. I wanted someone who couldn’t quite fulfill his emotions. He’s just constantly stuck between two things. And also someone who’s never really been required to think and is suddenly forced into thinking for the first time. Basically like playing a baby as an adult. It just felt so right, right from the beginning.

Did you base your portrayal of Rey on anyone in particular?
He’s a little bit like one of my cousins, actually. [Laughs] The clothes, the walk.

How was making The Rover different than making the Twilight movies?
It wasn’t freezing cold. [Laughs] I think that’s actually the biggest thing. When everyone’s so miserable because it’s so freezing cold…the boiling hot Australian outback I would take over the freezing cold any day.

The cold makes people stressed. There wasn’t as much light in the day to shoot with in Vancouver. And this was just, like, the same weather every day. There’s no one pressuring you to do anything. It’s David’s movie and there are basically only two people in it. You don’t have to rush anything. There’s only two egos you have to deal with. [Laughs]

The fewer egos, the better. Let’s rewind for a second: What made you want to be an actor in the first place—and what made you think you could do it?
I joined this drama club when I was 16 because I fancied this girl who went to it. [Laughs] I’d never done any acting before. But they were doing Guys & Dolls, and I’d never sung but for some reason I really wanted to be in it. [Laughs] I have no idea why, to this day. I did that, and another play afterwards, then randomly got an agent. But I think it was just the first time you do something—performance—it’s incredibly addictive. I remember doing Tess of the d’Urbervilles—the Thomas Hardy thing. I did this scene where I slapped Tess in the face. And just seeing people in the front row going [gasps in horror]—you suddenly have this massive burst of energy through you. Suddenly seeing people look at you like that—you’re like, “Wow! No one has ever looked at me like that before.”

It’s a strange feel. And then you start to feel it for yourself as you get older. You realize that you can get lost. It’s like doing music—you can do a scene and be like, “I don’t feel like myself at all.” And you don’t know where it came from. It’s kind of nice.

Getting away from yourself is an addictive feeling, isn’t it?
Yes. I used to play music all the time, and that was all I wanted to do in music—get to the point where you’re sort of floating. You don’t know how it happens, but it’s amazing. And it’s nothing to do with the audience or anyone else. You’re still probably shit. [Laughs] But it’s so addictive, and it’s so rare as well. You’re just constantly trying to go for that, every time.

Twilight was obviously a blessing to you. But how has it been a burden?
There’s been a lot of hate, actually. Honestly, though, I don’t understand the backlash against Twilight. The first movie, everyone liked it. But then it was suddenly… I don’t quite get why people turned on the other ones. There are plenty of successful franchises which everyone accepts. But for some reason there were all these political arguments against. People saying, “Oh, it’s a bad example for women.” Blah, blah, blah. As if we were all a bunch of dumbasses. We’re not playing it that way! That’s purely your interpretation! We’re not trying to make a movie about subservient female characters at all.

In a lot of ways, people have decided what Twilight is about before they’ve even thought about it, and then they’ve labeled us, the actors, as part of whatever that may be. Even the sparkling thing. I get so many sparkly criticisms! But I don’t actually remember a moment of in any of the movies where I sparkle. [Laughs] Maybe one second in the first one. It’s like, really? All these fanboys are like, “You’re sparkling!” And I’m like, “Really? You must have freeze framed that one second.” [Laughs] It’s just the idea of sparkling—people lost their minds over it.

But at the same time you find that the people who think they hate you can be incredibly loyal. They go to see your movies to hate on you. [Laughs] That’s fine with me!

What about artistically? Has all the Twilight hubbub—the cultural obsession around it—given people an inaccurate sense of who you are as an actor?
I don’t know who I am as an actor. I’ve found that the Twilight movies were probably the hardest jobs I’ve done. You have so many parameters to play the character within, and also you’re doing five movies where you have to play the same point every time and figure out different variations on it. It was really hard. It was like trying to write a haiku.

Did Twilight make you a better actor?
Yeah. It’s funny, because the reviews got worse.

But now that you’re doing movies like The Rover—darker, deeper, more artistic movies—do you feel like you’re trying to escape from Edward Cullen?
No, not at all. I never even thought of all the Twilights as a single entity. They were all separate movies for me. I mean, I forget how to act in between every single movie. [Laughs] But I’ve always thought that nothing comes for free. You get paid a bunch of money. You get a bunch of opportunities. And you’ve got to pay for it somehow. And in my case, I paid for it by having to figure out how to walk down the street [without getting mobbed]. I paid for it by people thinking I was one thing. That’s my major desire as an actor—to have no one know who I am. To have no preconceptions. So obviously when a character becomes iconic, you have to deal with the baggage that comes with it.

Since Twilight, you’ve been making a point of working with auteurs: Werner Herzog, David Cronenberg, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, David Michod. Why? Is this your way of making sure that people don’t peg you as “one thing”?
Those are the people I’ve loved since I was a teenager. It almost seems like a joke that I’m working with them now. They’re also people who have gotten performances out of actors that made me want to be an actor, before I even was an actor. Especially James Gray—Joaquin [Phoenix]’s stuff with James. That guy can get really singular performances out of people. And with Harmony Korine as well. Really it’s just limiting your margin for failure. I genuinely think you can’t fail doing a Werner Herzog movie or a Harmony Korine movie. You know they’re not going to just phone something in. They haven’t ever. Take Cronenberg. I still think Cronenberg is so cutting-edge—and he’s been working for 45 years. Whereas some people now are already flopping on their second movie. Already selling out.

Speaking of Cronenberg, you once said that making Cosmopolis “reinvigorated” your “ideas about acting.” How?
I just made me realize that I could be in those kinds of movies. All throughout doing Twilight, I got asked whether I was afraid of getting typecast. I started thinking, “Yeah, I guess I am.” Then I got cast in Cosmopolis, which was just so far from my wheelhouse, and I was like, “Oh, I guess I shouldn’t be afraid of being typecast anymore.” It freed me up. And I loved the experience so much—getting into Cannes was such a massive deal to me. I’m just trying to go after that again.

Which actors do you look at and say, “That’s the kind of career I want to have?”
I like what Joaquin has done. I’m always looking at his stuff—he’s been the most influential actor on me. And in a lot of ways I like Guy’s career as well. But he also does Australian stuff all the time, and I feel weird doing English things. I feel like I’m really naked.

What about someone like Jennifer Lawrence? She’s balanced two studio franchises with lots of meatier parts.
She’s amazing. She’s absolutely incredible. But also we’re different types of people. She seems like she’s super-confident—and I don’t have the kind of confidence. She glows. I think you can fit that into quite a few different areas. Whereas I’ve got a kind of sneak-through-the-cracks style.

The rumors are circulating, so I have to ask. Will you be the next Indiana Jones?
No. [Laughs] But I mean, I don’t know. That would be so funny if I suddenly got offered it. I’d be like, “Oh shit!” [Laughs]

So the rumor has no basis in reality?
No, no.

What about another famous Harrison Ford role: Han Solo? The buzz is that you’re being considered for a standalone Solo movie.
Oh no. I think all of these things are made up so I get tons of bad press.

Bad press? Those are two of the greatest characters in the history of Hollywood.
But literally this random story comes out and I get 50 other stories saying, like, “THAT GUY? NOOOO! What an asshole!”

For the record, though: you’re a fan of Han and Indy?
100 percent. Everyone is.

But that’s all for now.

Would you ever do another franchise?
Yeah. I’d have to put a lot of thought into it first. But in a lot of ways, those are the only big movies that are made anymore. [Laughs] So unless you just never want to do studio movies, you have to realize that you’ve got to do The Fault in Our Stars 2. [Laughs]

Source: The Daily Beast