This is an interview with Robert Pattinson from the Cosmopolis Promo in the UK earlier this year. We think it got missed in all the action happening at the time. Great little interview, read on…
Written-off Robert Pattinson as just another fleeting tween sensation? Then listen up. Because Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg’s smart adaptation of Don DeLillo’s futurist novel, is about to announce the 26-year-old Brit’s true arrival. LWLies met up with Pattinson recently to chat about the making of Cosmopolis and why he’ll always be up for a challenge.
LWLies: We were in Cannes when Cosmopolis first screened. How was that whole experience for you?
Pattinson: It was kind of terrifying, but mainly because I’ve never been to a premiere with potentially a hostile audience. It’s a film which could potentially be quite divisive because it’s quite wordy and in Cannes there’s the added complexity with the language barrier. I remember sitting there and looking around at all these blank faces. No one was laughing. I genuinely thought it was going to get booed. I was so grateful it wasn’t savaged.
The whole Cannes booing thing is kind of a carnival, you can’t take it too seriously.
I know, I know. But then David [Cronenberg] was telling me about when Crash screened and people were screaming in the audience. Like, actually going wild during the movie. And I was speaking to Gaspar Noé the other day and he was saying that with Irreversible everyone was yelling ‘How would you like it?!’ and all this nonsense. He was sitting next to the guy who plays the rapist [Jo Prestia] thinking, ‘Fuck, I’m going to get killed after this’.
Did it put you at ease being in David’s company?
Yeah, totally. He was really relaxed. The thing is, normally when you go to a premiere you don’t often stay for the whole movie, but in Cannes you sit through it wondering if you’re going to get clapped or booed afterwards. It’s a pretty terrifying experience and a strange environment to watch a film in. But I’d seen the film before Cannes and I knew I loved it, which is a pretty rare thing for me because I don’t normally like the stuff I’m in.
Was Cosmopolis something you chased or were you approached?
I read the script about a year before we made it. Someone sent it to me on the basis that it was just a really well-written script. I really liked it then but we didn’t act on it right away because initially Colin Farrell had been cast, but he dropped out and suddenly I was in a position to go for it.
What was it like working in an environment where you’re in a small closed set, in the back of a limo for most of the film, and you only share a few minutes of screentime with the other actors?
I worked with everyone for about two or three days, but actually the further we got into the shoot the less time the scenes took. So where the early scene with Jay Baruchel took, like, three or maybe four days, a the others were generally much shorter. After two weeks of shooting a movie you normally just relax into the routine of the work, but with Cosmopolis we had big names coming in every few days shooting their scenes and then going. It really keeps you on your toes and in many ways it’s like shooting loads of different, or smaller movies. But you get used to it and actually you get quite comfortable because you’re so familiar with the set.
Was it difficult having David direct you remotely from outside the limo?
It was a little odd a first. But you know I did this Harry Potter movie where we filmed a lot underwater, so I was kind of experienced in not having the director standing next to you. It was similar in some ways to that because you can’t see anything apart from what’s inside the limo and a camera that’s mounted on this remote-controlled crane. David always had the camera positioned incredibly close to your face as well, with a really wide lens on it. So you have a totally different relationship with the camera because normally you’re trying to communicate with the guy behind the camera, you ignore the camera. Here you’re doing everything for the camera, but it’s like no one’s watching, like no one’s ever going to see it. It’s like you’re close friends with this little machine.
Do you see this as a significant juncture in your career?
Not really because the film is so obscure. It’s not like everyone’s going to get it. But yeah, it’s definitely a good step in terms of my career and where I’d like to end up.
Having done a lot of mainstream films are smaller, more out-there films now more appealing to you?
Um, I mean… Sometimes. But it’s not like I went out looking for the highest risk project. To be honest what attracted me was working with David and the quality of the writing, which was just insane compared to some of the garbage I’d been reading around the time. I’d never read any Don DeLillo before, so it was a bit of an eye-opener. But I’m not looking for obscurities the whole time. The movies I’ve signed on to do after this aren’t quite as odd as this but they’re certainly artistically ambitious.
So few actors ever receive the level of exposure you have right now, do you feel a pressure to try to maintain that by taking on bigger roles?
I don’t really know. If I could stay at a level where I was consistently working then I’d be happy. But I can’t predict the way the industry is going to go. Things change so quickly, there are so many people who were huge a few years ago and now can’t even get a film made. Right now people seem to care about me, but I’m sure that won’t last. Frankly I find it all a bit absurd. I’m just trying to do as much interesting stuff as I can for as long as I can.
What do you love about movies?
I think it’s the easiest was to educate people about, like, a million things. I remember watching Godard movies when I was younger and being introduced to Henry Miller and from there discovering Tom Waits and suddenly you’ve learned so much. Cool movies taught me so much more than books in school ever did. I didn’t even realise I was interested in working in movies when I was watching them when I was younger. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
DAVID CRONENBERG & ROBERT PATTINSON COSMOPOLIS INTERVIEW - Robert Pattinson stars in director David Cronenberg‘s adaptation of the 2003 Don DeLillonovel, Cosmopolis. The story of Eric Packer (Pattinson), a 28 year-old finance golden boy dreaming of living in a civilization ahead of this one. Riding across Manhattan in a stretch limo in order to get a haircut, his day devolves into an odyssey with a cast of characters that start to tear his world apart. Screenslam sat down with the director and star who spoke about the atmosphere on set, Robert as Eric Packer and why Robert took the role.
On the atmosphere on set:
“I’ve never really worked on something where a director has ultimate control, it looked like very little people were questioning decisions, where as my experience on every film set I’ve ever had is just an unending series of everyone questioning the director, everyone questioning everything about everything and with this there was a very confidant atmosphere on set.” - Robert Pattinson
On Robert as Eric Packer:
“I could tell that he (Pattinson) knew it was good and that he wanted to do it, but he was afraid of it afraid of it in the way actors are often afraid really, which is they don’t want to the one to screw it up because of they weren’t good enough or they’ll be on set and they’ll realize that they don’t understand it and cant deliver it the way they want, but in Rob’s case he was the one.” - David Cronenberg
Great read from Inside Movies:
Robert Pattinson, after years of puckering his sparkling vampire lips and gaining female fans with every perky strand of his swoopy hair in theTwilight films, has finally graduated with alumni cred at the box office, showing he has what it takes to draw in moviegoers beyond the romantic realm of blood-lusty (and just lusty) Edward and Bella.
Pattinson’s whoozy, philosophy-laden pairing with director David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis, racked up a solid $70,339 in three theaters this past Friday through Sunday, when it opened in tightly limited release domestically, according to box office tracker Hollywood.com. The film, about Pattinson as a disillusioned, overly sexed billionaire making his way across Manhattan to get a haircut, has made roughly $266,900 in North America, including theatrical screenings in Canada. Next weekend the film jumps into nationwide limited release in 60 theaters across the U.S., said Dylan Wiley, vice president of theatrical marketing and distribution for the movie’s distributor Entertainment One Films U.S.
“Rob, with this performance, has shown there is more to him than just Twilight,” Wiley tells EW. “This is a very serious actor playing a very serious role with a very serious filmmaker.”
Others agree – somewhat.
While EW’s review — similar to other critical takes — panned the film itself as flat and robotic, it noted that Pattinson delivers his purposely emotionless role with “rhythmic confidence.” The New York Times said Pattinson “made a fine member of the Cronenbergian walking dead, with a glacial, blank beauty.”
Last year’s traveling circus romance Water for Elephants with Pattinson and blondie Reese Witherspoon ranked No. 3 at the box office in more than 2,800 theaters its opening weekend, making $16.8 million at the box office, a far cry from the latest Twilight installment, last year’sThe Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, which reaped $138 million during its opening weekend, in 4,061 theaters. But Pattinson didn’t fully carry Water for Elephants — Witherspoon did.
In Cosmopolis, he’s the main star, going toe-to-toe with the likes of heavy hitters Paul Giamatti and Juliette Binoche, with the oeuvre of Cronenberg (The Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method) pounding behind him. As Wiley notes, Pattinson’s also in every single scene.
Plus his theater-going fans are growing older. That shrieking TwiHard tween with her tattered copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight book in hand at 2008’s first film premiere? She’s older now, and maybe, just maybe, her tastes have skewed as well.
“The theatrical audience in general ages up every year. When you think about Rob’s fans, andTwilight’s fans, you think of 13-year-old girls. But Rob’s fans now are five years older,” says Wiley.
Box office experts also see some hope in Pattinson, a relatively shy, musically inclined intellectual sort, compared to other Twilight graduates (Taylor Lautner, anyone?).
“Perhaps of all the Twilight folks, he’s the one, with this movie, who has gained credibility,” says Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com. “His personal life has not been great, but his acting life is just beginning. I think Pattinson has a lot of gravitas, and that translates on screen.”
Mostly, to straddle the hurdles of both mega movie franchise fame and artsy indie flick gusto at the box office, he needs guys to go out and watch him too, not just women.
That may or may not happen with upcoming films such as the Werner Herzog-directed Queen of the Desert, in which he’ll play T.E. Lawrence — Lawrence of Arabia — alongside Naomi Watts. There’s always The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the franchise’s fifth and last installment, set to premiere in November.
“The challenge for Pattinson is winning over the male fans, who stayed away from the Twilightfilms,” says Dergarabedian. “I think he can do it… If he were to work with a [Quentin] Tarantino or [Steven] Spielberg, who have that kind of credibility themselves, he’ll gain credibility. He’s still pretty young, and has time to build his career. He may be able to bounce between the big budget films and independently minded films. Look at Jeremy Renner.”
He won last year, can he do it again this year? We think so! This year he’s up against the likes of Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Andrew Garfield, Taylor Lautner and Joe Manganiello as well as old favourites like Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.
Vote for Robert Pattinson in Glamour Magazine’s Sexiest Man of 2012, HERE!
In casting Robert Pattinson, it’s kind of a double-edge sword, isn’t it? You have hisTwilight fans anxious to support him in whatever he chooses to do and then you have the people who dismiss him because he is ‘that guy from Twilight‘.
“Yeah. In a weird way, on the one hand of course I’m completely aware of all of those elements and also of course when you’re making a movie that for an independent movie was relatively expensive, you have to have a leading character who is very charismatic and who can carry the weight and has the star quality and so on, because you’re going to be looking at him. He’s literally in every scene in the movie, and that’s pretty unusual. I mean even in Tom Cruise movies, Tom is not in absolutely every scene of the movie – but Rob is. So he has to have that. But at the same time, you want to forget the movies, you know? You want to forget his movies and my movies because we’re creating this completely new thing and you don’t know what audience you’re going to get. You can anticipate it, you can think about it, but really you don’t know. So ultimately when you’re making the movie you’re saying, ‘Okay, I’m here with these actors. They’re wonderful actors, I cast them because they’re terrific and they will bring great stuff to the script,’ and then at that point you’re just making a movie and you’re not thinking about any other movie.”
Needing an actor to carry the film by being in every scene, how did you figure out Robert Pattinson was the right guy to play Eric?
[Laughing] “Well, this is the magic of casting! I think as a director, it’s part of your job. It’s a really important part of your job. I think a lot of people don’t even realize that the director’s involved in casting. Some people say, ‘Did you choose your actors?,’ and I say, ‘Yes. You’re not a director if you don’t.’”
“Of course, you’re juggling many things, like I say. You’re juggling, for example, their passports. This is a Canada / France co-production and we were limited to one American actor. Most people of course don’t know that – nor should they. Paul Giamatti is the only American in this movie even though it takes place in New York City. So from that kind of aspect to just finding the right guy…of course he’s got to be the right age, there are a lot of things that are just basic. And then after that, though, there are no rules. You as a director just have to intuit that this actor will be able to carry off this role.”
“We often talk about chemistry, for example, in movies between actors, let’s say. When I was doing A Dangerous Method, Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender - how do I know they have chemistry together because I had never seen them in a movie together? They’ve never been in one; they’ve never met each other. I don’t see them together until I’m actually directing them, so I have to be this kind of dating master who can anticipate that this couple will be good together. It’s a strange kind of thing. So you give yourself credit when it works, and you have to berate yourself when somehow it hasn’t worked. That’s basically where you’re left.”
It strikes me with Cosmopolis that the chemistry actually needed to come between you and Robert more so than between Rob and any of his co-stars.
“There’s truth in that too. That is the unspoken thing is the chemistry between the director and the actors is the key. And at a certain point I think Rob would…you know, he’s a serious actor and he didn’t want to be the one who was going to blow this movie. He was kind of thinking, ‘Well, I’ll be alone in that limo because I won’t have one person who is always playing opposite me. It’s really a one-man show with a lot of day players coming in.’ And I said, ‘No, you won’t be alone because I’ll be there. I’ll be with you every moment.’ And so that is a real element.”
Do you think that you view the character of Eric the same way that author DeLillo did? Or do you think that you two don’t necessarily agree on how an audience should look at him?
“I think we actually illuminate things for each other. I’ve been on the road doing publicity with Don in several countries and I think he was pretty intrigued by seeing what would happen. Because, after all, once you put Rob Pattinson in that role, that’s a very specific thing. You’ve got a particular face and a particular voice and a body, and that’s something that the novel can not have. That’s one of the things that movies can do that novels can not do, and so it immediately shapes the character in a way that he wasn’t shaped in the novel. So, there are differences, I think, but it’s not a major split or divergence. It’s just really shading and shaping things. It’s just really hearing the dialogue spoken, which was something that when I read the novel, I thought, ‘Yeah, I really want to hear this spoken by really great actors.’ Just doing that immediately changes your reaction to the characters and to the words. So there is a difference, definitely.”