On the list of life’s great pleasures, walking down a grim street in a one-horse Australian town probably doesn’t rank very high.
Yet if you’re one of the world most recognized — and harangued — faces, it can have a remarkable effect on your psyche and work.
So it went, at least, for former “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson. The actor made the new post-apocalyptic Western “The Rover” in the otherworldly solitude of remotest Australia — veritable ghost towns with names such as Leigh Creek and Quorn — allowing him to escape the maddening swarms and focus on his acting as never before.
“It was great, just being able to be out there with no one around,” the British heartthrob recalled of making David Michod’s Aussie indie, which opens Friday, before giving his trademark laugh: a nervous chuckle that can seem to go on a half-beat too long and is decidedly at odds with the suave sullenness of the vampire role that made him famous.
Added Michod: “I don’t think I ever saw an actor so happy as when I saw Rob coming down the street toward me all by himself. He was practically bouncing.”
Maybe big stars should shoot in a down-under desert more often. In the waning years of his “Twilight” period and in the two years since, Pattinson, now 28, tried to redefine himself several times. He made a romantic melodrama, a period circus piece and a tale of the French nobility adapted from a Guy de Maupassant novel.
Yet though there have been shards of promise — his oddly introspective Wall Street tycoon in David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” in 2012 — Pattinson has never shown the range he does here.
The tabloid fixture plays a vulnerable-yet-resolute man left for dead by a cruel older brother (Scoot McNairy) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (10 years after “the revolution,” in the movie’s cryptic title card). He’s able to tap into new acting depths opposite Guy Pearce, the veteran Aussie actor who also does some of his most notable work in years.
Set in a futuristic world that resembles the violent desolation of the Old West as much as anything in “Blade Runner” (though “Mad Max” comparisons are inevitable), “The Rover” centers on Eric (Pearce), a stoic survivor type who seems to have lost any ability for human connection. When his car is stolen by a gang led by McNairy’s Henry, Eric sets out on an unexpectedly zealous quest to find them, and it.
Soon he comes across the apparently slow-witted Ray (Pattinson), left for dead by the side of the road after an altercation with Henry. Eric and Ray then become an unlikely pair, each haunted by their particular circumstances but united in their desire to track down the man who wronged them.
Though some viewers have objected to Michod’s deliberative narrative pacing, the director is after something different than a conventional road movie, an exploration of theme and character as much as where its heroes are literally going. Pearce and Pattinson exchange few words in the film, but “The Rover’s” ultimate takeaway is of the bonds of human connection that persist (sometimes) despite the lack of civil society.
These relationships, the actors say, came naturally to them.
“We didn’t have to go out of our way to connect,” Pearce said. “When you’re living like that in a small town and doing nothing else besides the movie, a relationship can’t help but develop.”
As he speaks, he and Pattinson find themselves in the opposite of an apocalypse, hanging on a couch together on the rooftop deck of a Cannes Film Festival hotel, the Riviera coastline stretching out glitteringly below them. “This isn’t terrible,” Pearce said, grinning. Pattinson is wearing the kind of moth-eaten clothes that look trendy only on famous people.
But the actors went the extra mile for the movie, shooting in southern Australian towns that time forgot to serve the vision of Michod, the indie darling who returned to difficult terrain after his debut crime drama “Animal Kingdom,” also starring Pearce, garnered him Hollywood attention.
Pearce bicycled and jogged early in the morning before shooting, or late in the evening after hours of takes, trying to keep focus in the sweltering heat for a role that often required him to convey complicated emotions without speaking a word.
Pattinson too spent long hours hammering out an accent — it’s somewhere between an exaggerated Southern drawl, an Australian outback dialect and Lennie Smalls — that even he assumes (not incorrectly) can’t always be understood. He also arrived in Australia two weeks early to work on the character and, while shooting, demonstrated a curiosity about the role that his colleagues describe as surprisingly diligent.
“I think Rob was really inspired that people were so into it,” said the Australian actress Susan Prior, who has a key scene opposite the film’s two stars. “In a way, maybe he hadn’t experienced that before because on the bigger ones an actor isn’t really part of that process of exploring.”
She cited one scene in which Pattinson gamely agreed to lie motionless on a tabletop while Prior’s character, a doctor, sutured him up, even though he had a body double and could have left at any point. (The film’s producer, David Linde, called Pattinson “really intellectually curious.”)
Still, working on an indie requires a certain adjustment for a star such as Pattinson. When his agent first called with news of a conversation with Michod, Pattinson believed he had been offered the part. “’No, no,’ he said,” Pattinson recalled, quoting his agent, “‘it’s just an audition.’ I had to stop celebrating.”
The actor wound up going for an audition at Michod’s house in which he became so hesitant to do a scene he hadn’t prepared that he nearly walked out. “Rob said he hadn’t prepared it but I think he just didn’t want to do it,” Michod said. “But we started working on the scene in the audition, and then it became play, he swam to it like a little fish.”
Pattinson said that despite having to audition, he was grateful for the shot at the “Rover” role. “I was quite conscious that I was not part of a group that gets roles like this,” he said. “In my experience, a part like this goes to the skinny little weirdo.”
He added, “The one for us and one for them doesn’t exist anymore. There’s no guarantee of getting a cool indie after a big studio movie.”
For all the perceptions that he can write his own ticket, Pattinson said that assumptions about his career — including the one that he’s routinely offered big studio parts — are mistaken too. “I’ve never really been part of that group either,” he said. “Maybe because I don’t work out enough,” he added, giving the nervous laugh again.
Pearce said he didn’t give Pattinson acting or career advice but did find himself wondering about aspects of the actor’s fame. “There was this curiosity about how Rob does his job with all the attention he’s gotten, just how he copes with it.”
He said he did tell Pattinson to avoid the kind of movies, especially bigger ones, that he might cringe at later, no matter the money or advice of his representatives. The “humiliation,” as Pearce called it, isn’t worth it, and if you don’t feel it, chances are the audience won’t either. (The veteran added that this philosophy has motivated him to work more with directors such as Michod, or a then-green Christopher Nolan in “Memento,” rather than take the mostly villainous supporting parts in studio blockbusters. Incidentally, and perhaps tellingly of this post-”Twilight” moment, as this story went to bed, Pearce was being cast in another indie, the sci-fi love story “Equals” — opposite Kristen Stewart.)
Not that Pattinson entirely has a problem with embarrassment.
He was so taken with the solitude of the “Rover” set and the absence of paparazzi that came with it that one day before shooting he decided to shock the crew — a Pattinson specialty — by relieving himself on the set just outside of camera range.
“’Rob, we’re ready,’” he said, mimicking the voice of an assistant director. “And I walked onto set and I could almost hear them saying, ‘This guy is weird.’”
Pattinson said he believes that some of the real value of doing an indie like this is on the marketing side, because it will help new audiences discover the movie.
“That would be amazing,” he said, when asked if some of his teenage-girl devotees might now see a violent Western they never would otherwise come out to. Then he gave the nervous laugh again. “I don’t know. I might end up losing a bunch of fans.”
Source: LA Times
The five blockbuster “Twilight” films aren’t fondly remembered as an actor’s showcase, but since saying goodbye to the franchise that made them into overnight superstars, both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have proved their worth as performers by taking on challenging fare not tailored for the Twihards of the world.
This was especially obvious at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where the duo were both on hand in support of what many deemed the best performances of their respective careers. For Stewart, that was as an assistant to an actress in Olivier Assayas’ “Clouds of Sils Maria.” For Pattinson, it was as Rey, a socially awkward American struggling to stay alive in the Australian outback in David Michôd’s grim follow-up to “Animal Kingdom.”
With “The Rover” opening in select theaters on June 13, Indiewire spoke with Pattinson about this challenging post-apocalyptic role.
David said he put you through the “wringer” during your three hour audition for the part. What did he make you do?
I mean, he did it at his house in LA. I don’t know, it was kind of, it was slightly nerve-wracking. I always get incredible anxiety attacks when I audition. I try to avoid them at all costs. But I loved the script so much. I had an idea of how to do it as soon as I read it.
[The audition] was just long. Normally you do two takes in an audition and that’s that. I think that’s why I’ve always messed them up over the years… I also had a really good actor reading with me as well, which helps. But yeah, I mean, it wasn’t like it was grueling or anything. It was quite exhilarating. You could tell that David was great even in the audition. I would have almost been happy not getting it. It was a great experience just doing the audition.
You obviously sold him on your interpretation of the character. What specifically was it about Rey that clicked with you?
I really like the structure of the character. There’s basically only two long dialogue scenes where he reveals anything about himself, when he’s not under total duress. But I really like having these incredibly dense dialogue scenes that are filled with subtext. Even the rhythm and the cadence of his speech reveals a lot, and it’s put in the context of a sort of stark story, where people don’t really speak in any other scene. It just allowed you to do tons with the character. It was so loose. That really appealed to me.
Rey speaks in a really specific halting manner. Was that all in the script, or was that something you brought to the character?
Sort of [laughs]. I remember reading it the first few times… It didn’t even say which state he was from. It just said the South in America. I kept saying to David, “I think there are some Australian accents in the Southern.” Australian speech is very staccato and clipped. And Southern is kind of lilting and wistful traditionally. I think that’s what created the halting thing. But that’s just how it read in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of repetition in the script — just to make repetition engaging, you have to figure out something weird to do with it instead of just repeating yourself.
My favorite scene in the film is also its most unexpected, when you break out into song, singing along to Keri Hilson’s feel-good “Pretty Girl Rock.” Did you have any say in the choice of song?
I think it was originally the Pussycat Dolls song, “Don’t You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?” I remember reading that in the script and thinking, “That’s incredible.” Then they found the Keri Hilson thing and it was the absolute perfect choice of song for it. I sing basically the whole song. I thought it was kind of genius.
You sing the track with complete conviction, which I found oddly touching in a way.
I liked the idea of this guy who’s just about to make probably the biggest decision of his life, as a normal film moment. He’s deep in concentration but there’s nothing going on. I kept thinking about that moment in “The Simpsons,” where you see what’s going on inside Homer’s head — the organ grinding monkey [laughs]. I kept thinking it was kind of that moment.
The film is so bleak and unforgiving. It looks like it must have been hell to shoot. Was it?
Oh, no! It was literally one of the most fun shoots I’ve ever done. That always seems to happen when you’re doing something that’s incredibly depressing. It was one of the most fun characters to play as well. You’re so free to do almost anything that you don’t even know what you’re doing to do when you turn up to work. It was quite exciting. Also I hadn’t done a movie in a long time where the whole crew is there with you. It’s such a different environment when you’re working like that. It’s like camping. I thought it was really fun.
You’ve worked with David Cronenberg twice now, and have upcoming projects with Werner Herzog and Oliver Assayas. Are you drawn more to the director rather than the character you’ll be playing?
It’s a bit of both. It also kind of depends on the size of the part. Most of the parts I’m playing in the last few things are supporting roles. In the Herzog movie I was just working for ten days or something. When you’re doing a lead in something, you obviously have to think about if you can do it, for one thing, or if you can add something to it. But I think it was just that after working with Cronenberg, it’s working with really ambitious, confident filmmakers. I’ve got a checklist of directors I want to work with and a lot of the time I’ll do anything in their movies. But it’s not just kind of willy-nilly, I’ll do any movie. I do think about it a little bit. [Laughs]
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Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Via: Twitter / Gossipgyal
The vampire is dead. Or at least by now he should be. With The Rover, the new film from Animal Kingdom director David Michod, Robert Pattinson has finally shaken off the Twilight tag that threatened to define him forever as an actor.
In The Rover, he has an accent from America’s deep south, bad teeth and a strange emotional dependency on others. It’s a role that has attracted some very positive reviews: Variety critic Scott Foundas talked about ‘‘a career-redefining performance … that reveals untold depths of sensitivity and feeling’’.
Pattinson is a relaxed interview subject. He has a hearty laugh, and the air of someone who hasn’t worked out all his lines in advance, but he’s also ready to explain and explore what interests him. He’s serious about his work, and keen to make movies with people he admires and respects.
He’s aware that he’s getting favourable reviews for The Rover. He’s happy about this, of course, he says, ‘‘because I really love the movie’’. But when it comes to his performance, he admits, ‘‘I always think of it as a work in progress, and it just gets frustrating, thinking about things you could fix.’’
At the same time, when he read the script, it was one of those rare occasions when he connected immediately with a role.‘‘Maybe because it was so loose – you could really do almost anything with the character. You could project anything onto it. But I don’t know, I could hear the voice in my head almost immediately, I could feel a walk … and that’s only happened to me three or four times since I’ve started acting.’’
Michod plunges the audience swiftly into the world of the film, a near-future in which Australia has become a run-down, devastated, hand-to-mouth economy. There’s an almost documentary-like immediacy, as there’s virtually no explanation of how this collapse has happened. Early on, Pattinson’s character, Rey, is taken in hand by Pearce’s character, for reasons that gradually become clear. Yet there are many things about Rey that don’t get spelled out or remain ambiguous: this is another aspect of the film Pattinson appreciates.
He spent almost no time with Pearce before shooting started. ‘‘I guess because I’d auditioned a year before, and talked to David a lot. I already basically made my mind up how I wanted to play the character. I had to keep my mouth shut, figuring out what he wanted to do, it was kind of scary.’’ He wondered what would happen if Pearce’s interpretation was totally at odds with his vision of his own character. ‘‘It’s worked out great now,’’ but there were a couple of moments at the beginning, he says, when it felt as if they were in completely different films.
American actor Scoot McNairy plays Rey’s brother, from whom he has become separated. Pattinson’s a big fan of the chameleon-like actor whose recent films include Killing Them Softly, Monsters and 12 Years a Slave. ‘‘The funny thing about Scoot is you can never recognise him,’’ Pattinson says. “I was talking to him about Argo the other day, and I didn’t realise he was in it. Absolutely no idea.’’ He gives one of his heartiest laughs. ‘‘Our whole conversation, he thought I was joking.’’
He doesn’t mind telling stories against himself, and has a self-deprecating way of talking about certainties. ‘‘I don’t know if I’m necessarily any good at ‘sculpting a career’ or anything,’’ he says, ‘‘but I know what I want to do. I’m not very good at finding or getting massive movies.’’ It turns out that he’s talking about life after Twilight. What he means, he says, is that ‘‘I don’t get approached very much about superheroes and stuff.’’
He has, however, plenty of interesting projects under way or awaiting release. The Rover premiered at Cannes, and so did Maps to the Stars, a dark comedy about Hollywood directed by David Cronenberg. He’s also made Queen of the Desert, a biopic with Werner Herzog, about British traveller, writer and political figure Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman). He’s playing her ally T.E. Lawrence – inevitably inviting comparisons with Peter O’Toole.
He’s recently been working on Life, an intriguing double portrait of James Dean and Dennis Stock, the Life photographer who took a famous series of portraits of the actor just before he broke through as a star in East of Eden. Pattinson plays Stock, and people assume he was attracted to the part because it is a reflection on celebrity, but he says that’s not the case. ‘‘A lot of what I was interested in was nothing to do with James Dean, or fame, or anything like that.’’ What drew him to Stock, he says, is that the character is depicted as ‘‘a really bad dad. And you don’t really see that in young guy parts. He just doesn’t love his kid, or is incapable of it, and it kind of pains him.’’
The film is also about conflicting visions of creativity, he says. ‘‘It’s a little ego battle, and a lot of it is about professional jealousy, and who’s a better artist, who’s the subject and who’s the artist.’’ Life is directed by Anton Corbijn (Control) who was a photographer before he turned to movie making.
Pattinson says his own opinions on photography are ‘‘kind of weird’’. He’s not a fan of digital image-making, he says: he feels it’s too easy, that it doesn’t require the same level of artistry as analogue photography. And, of course, he adds, experiences with paparazzi haven’t helped him appreciate photographers. ‘‘I have a very negative attitude towards photographers in a lot of ways, so it’s interesting to play one.’’
In October, he starts work on Idol’s Eye, to be directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, making his Hollywood debut. Robert De Niro has just signed on. ‘‘I’m really, really excited about this one,’’ Pattinson says. It’s a true story about a group of thieves at moments of transition – from the changing face of technology in burglar alarms to the shifting realities for the Chicago Mafia.
He’s also starring in an independent post-World War I drama called The Childhood of a Leader due to shoot in September. It will be directed by actor Brady Corbet (Mysterious Skin, Funny Games), from a script he has co-written. ‘‘I’ve known Brady for 10 years, he’s great and the script is phenomenal.’’
Corbet has said he really appreciates the way Pattinson uses his celebrity to help ensure that films he admires get made. Pattinson laughs when I mention this. It’s a power he might as well use while he can, he suggests. ‘‘We’ll see how long it lasts.’’
The Rover is currently screening.
Source: Brisbane Times
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