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.”
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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
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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!”)
“Media culture is a monstrous thing,” Pattinson lamented Wednesday afternoon, jamming fries into his mouth between puffs on his electronic cigarette. “You can’t win. The annoying thing is that you can’t attack them, but you can’t defend yourself. The best thing you could possibly do is punch a paparazzi and give them their big payday.“
The 26-year-old actor has run a gantlet of publicity this week that was nominally about promoting his new film, “Cosmopolis,” which opens Friday.
Sitting alongside Pattinson for moral support at the Mandarin Oriental hotel on Columbus Circle was “Cosmopolis” director David Cronenberg. The Canadian filmmaker, whose challenging art house films almost never garner such wide attention, was there as a sort of buffer but also appeared to be quietly amused by the media circus. The actor’s manager would not allow Pattinson to sit alone for an interview with The Times, and even suggested that reporters not ask him about his personal life, or “Twilight.”
*VIDEO* Preview of Robert Pattinson and David Cronenberg’s Interview with Showbiz – NYC Press Junket
*VIDEO* New Robert Pattinson and David Cronenberg interview with Movie Bytes – NYC Cosmopolis Premiere
Here are some MQ pics of Robert Pattinson and David Cronenberg at the New York Stock Exchange.