When making his new film, The Rover, director David Michod may have uncovered the only location on Earth where Robert Pattinson is not followed by a hoard of paparazzi. The poetically sparse film, out nationwide this Friday, takes place in a desolate world 10 years in the future after the collapse of society, and reveals what could happen if humans are forced to survive by any means necessary. To create that world, Michod took Pattinson and his co-star Guy Pearce to the Flinders Ranges in the Australian desert, an area several hours north of Adelaide with few roads and fewer people. The cast and crew spent eight weeks shooting in early 2013, moving around to various locations throughout the desert, including the town of Marree, which has a population of 90.
“I didn’t quite realize how remote a lot of it was going to be,” Pattinson tells TIME. “It’s quite a big paparazzi culture in Australia. So I was expecting more of that. I remember setting up the contract and really thinking ‘If we’re going to be shooting exteriors all the time there’s going to be tons of people around. It’s going to be awful. I’m going to be playing this part and everyone’s going to think I’m weird.’”
“For Rob to shoot in a city like here or London you’re going to have a hundred people following the film set around,” Pearce adds. “Imagine if that’s how your work environment was all the time. So it’s not surprising that Rob thought it was going to be awful. But it wasn’t like that. There was like one person and the crew stopped them. I pity that one photographer that managed to find where we were.”
It was a hot, dusty environment that lent itself to the film’s bleak narrative, which follows a weathered man named Eric (Pearce) who encounters a simpleminded young man named Rey (Pattinson) and uses him to find his stolen car. It’s a minimal premise that showcases the grittiness of this future world, packing a subtle but hefty punch at the end. For the actors, the landscape helped channel the visceral survivalist nature of the story. “You know you’re going to be out there when you read the script and you’re aware of that being an aspect of the whole piece,” Pearce notes. “You almost can hear your own heart beating and you can hear yourself breathing. That feeling of possibly left out there alone is really palpable.”
The production moved from small town to small town over the eight weeks. Pearce, who drove himself the long distances, scored a crack in his car windshield that grew each leg of the journey. Pattinson, who says he was not allowed to drive himself, found the nomadic process fascinating and unlike any of his previous filming experiences.“The driving was incredible because there’s one road,” Pattinson says. “There’s so much wildlife [that has] not quite figured out that there’s a road. Literally every day someone would hit a kangaroo. There was blood all over the cars. It was crazy.”
Michod, who wrote the initial story for The Rover with actor Joel Edgerton back in 2008, selected this as his follow-up to 2010’s Animal Kingdom, his debut feature, largely because it embraced this elemental sense of survival in a hostile place. There is little explanation of what has happened that caused society to crumble in the story, but Michod’s underlying idea feels realistically possible.
“There wasn’t one single, sudden, almost unimaginable event that destroyed everything,” the director explains. “There was just a breakdown that was, in all likelihood, caused by a Western economic collapse probably running in tandem with the effects of extreme environmental degradation. Possibly the kinds of wars that might come as a consequence of peoples and countries fighting over limited resources. My hope is that you would just generally get the sense that things have just broken apart as opposed to exploded.”
Pearce and Pattinson’s characters are our window into this broken world, one with a brutal, animalistic instinct and the other with no real method of self-preservation. Pattinson embodies Rey as a twitchy, awkward migrant worker with a deep Southern accent. Michod sees the character as “not fully comfortable his own skin” and was impressed with Pattinson’s immersion into a role that is so different than his prior work, particularly in the Twilight series.
“I didn’t have any concerns,” Michod says of casting an actor as recognizable as Pattinson. “I don’t think I really had any idea how that baggage might manifest in terms of the film is received. And if anything I really liked the idea of taking someone so recognizable and giving them something wildly different to do. I found it kind of exhilarating watching him demonstrate that he’s actually a really wonderful actor.”
“I had quite an obscure, kind of obtuse, backstory for him,” Pattinson says of Rey. “Part of the whole thing with Rey is that his brother has played all the positions in his life. He doesn’t even really have memories – maybe there are memories of a place but it’s not like he had to put any particular effort in as he was growing up. Everything is blended together. It’s like being an actor – you can’t remember anything.”
The film takes on a meditative literary quality, falling somewhere between The Road and Of Mice and Men, which makes its moments of violence even more jarring. The Rover is the first film where Pattinson has really had to use a gun and he was not entranced by the opportunity. “I’m quite anti-gun, especially for idiots like me,” Pattinson says. “I didn’t like it at all. I don’t like the feeling of it. I get the thrill and the power trip of it but I felt silly as well holding a gun, especially pointing at targets and stuff. It’s just this bang-making machine. After a while it loses its luster.”
“I, too, have a real issue with guns,” Pearce adds. “I think they should be banished off the face of the earth. They’re awful things. There is an incredible thrill and sort of power as soon as you have one in your hands. That understanding of what you’re capable of doing with this thing is off the charts. It’s ridiculous and it’s enticing and it’s awful all at the same time and it just astounds me that so many people own guns in the world.”
Seeing as this possible incarnation of the future involves a lot of weaponry and the ability to commit violent acts, would either actor survive a similar collapse? “I think I’d end up in the opium den flophouse,” Pattinson says, referencing a depressed drug den seen briefly in the film. “Just hanging out like ‘I’m good.’” Pearce agrees, “Yeah, I’d probably end up there as well.”
Via: Kiki Duh / YouTube
New featurette about rob’s character, Rey with lots of new scenes, BTS footage and more from Rob’s interview from the set. Guy and David talk about Rob.
Source: Coming Soon
‘The Rover,’ David Michod’s highly anticipated follow-up to ‘Animal Kingdom,’ is set in a world ten years following the collapse of the western economic system, where Australia’s mineral resources have drawn the desperados and dangerous to its shores. With society in decline, the rule of law has disintegrated and life is cheap. The film follows hardened loner Eric (Guy Pearce), who travels the desolate towns and roads of the Australian outback. When a gang of thieves steals his car they leave behind the wounded Rey (Robert Pattinson) in their wake. Forcing Rey to help track the gang, Eric will go to any lengths to take back the one thing that matters to him. ’The Rover’ opens in the US on June 20th and in the UK on August 15th.
You really get a sense of the heat in the film, and the exhaustion that the characters are likely feeling. How was it immersing yourself in in the true environment of ‘The Rover’? I imagine that allowed you to slip into character more efficiently?
Guy Pearce: It was great being out on location, and the heat obviously was a big part of what it was we were experiencing in the story anyway. So it was grueling and it was hot, but it was mixed with those incredible locations we were in. So it was all a part of the experience we were in. It’s kind of amazing being out there. It always helps to be in real locations. That extreme heat, those flies, and that vast expanse of desert – it just adds to it, like you’re putting on a costume. It takes you there.
Robert Pattinson: I genuinely couldn’t have answered that better (laughs). But I’d never shot like this anywhere before, there’s nothing for miles and miles. It’s fun to work with a crew in a tiny little town where everybody’s hanging out with each other all the time. You develop a great bond, and I haven’t had that for a while. You don’t get that with big studio movies.
So much of the film is within a precise balance of mood and atmosphere. How do you stay on top of that while shooting?
Guy Pearce: I’d worked with David before, but that aside, I’d seen David’s work as well and I know Rob had. Obviously I’ve seen ‘Animal Kingdom,’ I’m in it, but I’d seen David short films as well. So…. not to suggest he has a tone that he sets and it’s gonna be the same on every film, but in looking at the script and seeing those films and talking with David before we start, I really got that sense. One of the things I really respond to is the tone of a movie, whether it’s a comedy or whatever it happens to be – not that I do too many comedies (laughs). I think it’s one of those things you really absorb and you feel through your skin. So in a sense that enables you to understand the rhythm of the character. It’s the kind of stuff you are aware of to a certain degree even if you don’t necessarily talk about it everyday.
How do you see this relationship you have with Guy’s character in the movie? How does it relate to your own life experience?
Robert Pattinson: I think loyalty is probably the most important trait in a friendship. And I was really lucky to have pretty great friends growing up. All of my closest friends I’ve known them for at least 10 years. And it’s an interesting relationship in ‘The Rover,’ as Rey’s loyalty is so easily swayed. By the time he gets back to his real brother at the end of the movie, I kept thinking how to play it when he first sees him again. It’s almost like he’s forgotten who he is, he’s forgotten what that relationship was. That’s why he’s so conflicted at the end.
Simple and naive, Rey’s too young to remember a time when things were anything other than what they are in ‘The Rover.’ And although he’s described as halfwit during the film, your character seems pretty self-sufficient to a point. How did you prepare for your role?
Robert Pattinson: I’m not entirely sure he can really get around by himself particularly well (laughs.) As soon as he’s on his own for one second – that one moment he’s sitting under that tree at the beginning – he has absolutely no idea what to do. It’s just a fluke that he sees the car there. I think if his brother’s car didn’t end up being there, he’d just sit under that tree and die (laughs). But I think he responds to things out of instinct. In a lot of ways, he’s basically been kidnapped by this guy. It’s not like he’s done anything for him. He could easily get another car (laughs). But how did I prepare for it? It was the script. It was all in the script. When I first read the script, it was quite instinctive I think.
The film is set in a world of survival pure and simple, where it’s kind of shoot-first-or-die. How familiar were you with firearms, and was it awkward for you?
Robert Pattinson: I’ve done a couple of gun things. I’m quite anti-gun, especially for idiots like me to have them. I was actually supposed to do another film, playing a soldier where I did some stuff with guns. But I’m not particularly familiar. I don’t think I did any particular training either. Rey’s supposed to be pretty rubbish, but he ends up being incredibly accurate (laughs). The training, I didn’t like it at all. I don’t like the feeling of it. Obviously, you get a little thrill, the power trip of it. I felt a little silly holding a gun, though. Especially while shooting targets. You just have this bang-making machine (laughs)… after a while, it just loses its luster.
Guy Pearce: For me, I’ve done tonnes of movies with guns and I’ve shot a lot of people, and I’ve been shot a few times. I too have a real issue with guns. I find… they should be banished from the earth. They’re awful things. I feel really comfortable with them now, as a prop, because I’ve done so many things with guns. They’re fascinating as well. There’s this incredible thrill and power you feel as you have one in your hands because of that understanding of what you’re capable of doing with this thing is off the charts. It’s ridiculous, and it’s enticing, and it’s awful all at the same time. It just astounds me that so many people own guns in the world.
I imagine you were intrigued by the violent but complex nature of your role…?
Guy Pearce: Definitely. Strangely with this character and this movie, he’s cut off emotionally from a lot of things. I kill a number of people in the film, and there is a certain level of difficulty and regret that he feels, but at the same time there’s an ability to just kill another one, if he has to. It’s kind of a horrendous line that he treads, I think.
Eric’s really a shell of a man when we meet him in the film. He’s experienced harrowing personal events along with the evident demise of humanity. He’s a man questioning his own moral standing but feels he can’t answer that. Society has proven to be questionable itself, so he has no real marker to be able to gauge this anymore. On some level Eric has reached a very calm state. But it’s also clear that he’s lost and has come to the end of his metaphorical road. He has one last thing to do before possibly ending his life, and that task has been stifled by the theft of his car.
This is an abandoned world and there’s a lot of silent moments, but what were you thinking of during those moments… so much isn’t said? Did you come into it thinking a lot about your character’s backstory…?
Guy Pearce: For me, if there’s any backstory that’s not necessarily what I’m thinking about. That’s stuff I know that works for my character and gets you into a place of confidence to be able to go and play the character. It’s interesting as an actor, because you’re half thinking about what your character should be thinking about, and you’re half thinking about the technical stuff… I do sometimes. The camera position, and which way is going to evoke more of the appropriate emotion – if your heads down or across. I like not to think about that stuff too much, but sometimes you can’t help it. And whether or not you’re thinking of that or whether or not you’re just kind of conscious of that on some sort of level… and it changes all the time. But I think, particularly with a movie like this – it’s so subtle, but heavily laden with deeply rooted emotional stuff. You’re just trying to be in that stuff and sit in that emotional place, because that’s what’s going to translate the most honestly I suppose.
Robert Pattinson: That first moment, looking at you when you’re asleep in the chair. I suddenly remember that because I kept trying to play being stuck between two channels. It was interesting being in those moments, because it’s about not trying to think about anything at all (laughs) – being stuck between channels.
Source: Flicks and Bits