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Robert Pattinson and David Cronenberg talk about Cosmopolis, fans, fame and more with The Boston Globe
Robert Pattinson and David Cronenberg interview with The Boston Globe
Q. You both have said that you filmed this movie in chronological order, and I know that with many movies, the last scenes are shot first. Was that a luxury — to film from start to finish?
Cronenberg: One of the trickiest things that I had to learn as a director was exactly that. I mean, suddenly you’re forced to shoot the last scene of the movie first. And it’s hard for the actors because they don’t know who they are yet and they’re doing their death scene. As an actor myself, I was in Clive Barker’s movie “Nightbreed,” and the first thing we shoot was my character getting killed. And I said a typical actor thing. I said, “How can I know how to die when I haven’t lived yet?” So it is kind of a luxury. I think Rob can talk about that.
Pattinson: I agree. (Laughs) I don’t think I can add to that.
Q. You have both been very candid in interviews about the fact that you didn’t necessarily know how this novel would translate to film and what it meant to you. Do you have a different interpretation of the text now that you’re finished with the film?
Pattinson: Well, I like it. I don’t think that confusion is necessarily a bad thing. We’ve done hundreds of interviews now and I still find myself coming up with new things to say.
Cronenberg: Those statements that we made, which were very candid, can be misinterpreted as meaning we were inept, incompetent. But not at all. You know, I don’t do storyboards, for example. I don’t really know what I’m going to do at every set up and every shot. It’s all very spontaneous and of-the-moment, even what lens to use. That’s what we’re talking about. We don’t have it all mapped out. We’re trusting the script and trusting the dialogue that is all 100 percent Don DeLillo’s and taken from the novel directly. We know that if we respond directly to that . . . the movie will have its coherence.
Here are some fan pics of Rob from the Cosmopolis Premiere in New York
From Rotten Tomatoes
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 firstTwilight 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.
NEW YORK – Robert Pattinson was nearing the end of shooting the last “Twilight” film, concluding a chapter of his life that had picked him out of near obscurity and was preparing to spit him out … where exactly? “Twilight” had made him extravagantly famous, but his next steps were entirely uncertain.
“Out of the blue,” he says, came the script for “Cosmopolis” from David Cronenberg, the revered Canadian director of psychological thrillers (“Videodrome,” “Eastern Promises”) that often pursue the spirit through the body. 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.
Pattinson now has the unenviable task of releasing his most ambitious movie, his most adult role, into a media storm that instinct would suggest should be run from like a pack of werewolves.
The awkward circumstance, he says, is “dissociated” from the film, and he’s thus far declined to use the attention to make any kind of public response to the scandal. Rather, he’s sought to deflect it to “Cosmopolis,” a film that, in an earlier interview before it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, he said “changed the way I see myself.”
If Pattinson is understandably guarded about his private life, he’s refreshingly openhearted and humble about his anxieties as a young actor. At 26, Pattinson may be one of the most famous faces on the planet, but he’s still getting his bearings as an actor _ a profession, he says, he never pined for, fell into by chance and has always found uncomfortable. His unlikely trajectory began with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and “Little Ashes,” in which he played Salvador Dali.
“Then I got `Twilight’ and it suddenly became a massively different world to navigate,” Pattinson said in a recent interview in New York. “Most people who get their big hit have figured out what their skills are, and I hadn’t, really.”
“Cosmopolis” is a radically different kind of film that will surely confuse not only the hordes of diehard “Twilight” fans who will line up on Friday to see it, but art house moviegoers, too. Pattinson himself has watched it four times to try to get his head around it.
The first movie adaptation of a Don DeLillo novel, “Cosmopolis” is about a sleek financier, Eric Parker (Pattinson), slowly making his way in the airless sanctuary of his white stretch limo across a traffic-jammed Manhattan with the simple goal of a haircut. But the journey, which includes visits with his new wife (Sarah Gadon), a prostitute (Juliette Binoche) and Occupy-like protesters (Mathieu Amalric), is a kind of willful unraveling for Parker, who dispassionately watches his fortune slide away on a bad bet on the Chinese yuan.
“He’s an egomaniac who wants to see some kind of spirituality in his egomania,” says Pattinson. “It’s kind of like how actors feel about themselves.”
Pattinson is in every scene of the film, which relies on his callow, hyper-literate performance to carry the movie through its limited setting and DeLillo’s heightened dialogue _ much of which Cronenberg transcribed verbatim from the novel. Though some reviews have found the film static and impenetrable (perhaps intended responses), most critics have praised Pattinson’s performance, with many citing it as proof that the heartthrob can indeed act.
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.”
It’s clear that his “Twilight”-fueled celebrity weighs heavily on Pattinson, who says he knows people watch his films “through a cultural context.”
“Rob, he’s popular,” says Cronenberg with deadpan understatement.
“I couldn’t have cast Rob without `Twilight’ just as I couldn’t have cast Viggo (Mortensen) without `Lord of the Rings,’” says the director whose previous three films _ “A History of Violence,” “Eastern Promises,” “A Dangerous Method” _ starred Mortensen. “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.”
Pattinson seems energized by the freedom of choice in front of him following the final “Twilight” installment, which will be released in November. He’s lined up parts in gritty films far from blockbuster size: “Mission: Black List,” a military thriller, and “The Rover” by Australian director David Michod (“Animal Kingdom”), a role he says he fought for more than any before.
Embarking on “Cosmopolis” appears to have been a process of letting go for Pattinson _ of self-awareness, of worry, of fear. 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,”he says. “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,” he says. “You just do it. It doesn’t really matter if you fail.”
Great interview. They talk about Cosmopolis, working with each other, David talks about the first time he met Rob, Rob’s preparation for the role and more
From The Playlist:
To say that Robert Pattinson has been filling his post-“Twilight” calendar with ambitious films would be an understatement. This weekend brings his trippy David Cronenberg odyssey “Cosmopolis,” and over the past few weeks and months, the actor has signed on to a handful of interesting films, including “Mission: Blacklist” about the hunt for Saddam Hussein, Werner Herzog’s historical tale “Queen of the Desert” and “Animal Kingdom” director David Michôd’s “The Rover.” And it’s the latter about which the actor has shared some tantalizing details.
Catching up with Pattinson as he did press rounds for “Cosmopolis,” he filled us in on what we might expect from Michôd’s follow-up to his crime drama “Animal Kingdom.” Set to shoot next year, “The Rover” boasts some pretty big ideas behind its deceptively simple set up. “It’s a kind of a western,” Pattinson explained. “It’s very existential. It’s really interesting. I couldn’t really explain to you what it’s about but it’s sort of about how much pain can the world take and how much disgust and cruelty before love dies. I think that’s kind of what it’s about.” (Cronenberg, who was in the room, chimed in with: ” That sounds pretty heavy!”)