Total Film had the chance to give Robert Pattinson a call to chat about his film, ‘Cosmopolis.’ Check out the interview below:
Robert Pattinson will soon be bidding farewell to the Twiverse, with Breaking Dawn – Part Two hitting cinemas in November. He’s not wasting any time moving on, though, as Cosmopolis blasts into cineplexes this month.
Directed by David Cronenberg and adapted from Don DeLillo’s novel, Cosmopolis is a blackly comic drama in which 28-year-old billionaire Eric (Pattinson) gets caught up in a whirlwind of chaotic activity as he attempts to get across Manhattan.
We gave Pattinson a ring to ask him a few quick questions about the film…
How’s it going?
“Good. Although I don’t why we’re doing this [interview] at 9 o’clock at night on a Friday in London. It just shows how much of a loser I am! It’s the one time I’m free…”
Cosmopolis seems like a game-changer performance for you…
“I felt, doing this film, how I felt doing films before the first Twilight. Where I didn’t have to worry about anyone’s reaction… and now I’m incredibly worried about everybody’s reaction! I’m absolutely terrified!”
It’s a film open to interpretation. What do you think it’s about?
“I definitely didn’t think it was a Wall Street movie and that was what I was most afraid of. Because Eric’s wearing a suit and seems apathetic I thought people would write it off as American Psycho. I never read it as that but the tone has similarities.
What I thought is that it’s about Eric trying to find some kind of alternative reality. It’s really sad.
“I read a thing that described is as a guy who’s trying to throw everything away in one day – he’s not trying to throw anything away, he’s trying to find something else. If the guy was totally nihilistic, it wouldn’t be sad. I did an interview with a French magazine the other day and the journalist was saying ‘this is a movie about the end of the world’ and was like,‘oh, YEAH. It IS.’
“David was saying at the wrap party,‘Oh, it’s much funnier than anything I’ve done in ages’ and I completely forgot that I found the script funny because I was playing it totally seriously the whole time. It’s confusing! David said to be ‘I didn’t understand it at the beginning and I hope to not understand it at the end’.
“It’s that that thing that Fellini said – as soon as you understand it, it’s dead, it has no more interest. It’s this thing that’s swimming in nothingness and has no land or sky… and that’s the most pretension thing I think I’ve ever said in my entire life.” Did you base Eric on anyone? “It’s just the words – there was such a specific voice from the very beginning. It’s just really well written. Most scripts are really shit and you’re just thinking ‘how can I make it better?’ but this one, all you had to do was just say it. A really shitty actor could just sit there and say it and make it sound really good.”
There’s a lot of crazy scenes in this… what were your favourite and least favourite scenes to film? “The prostate exam scene got cut down, the last line of that scene was [Eric saying] ‘I wanna bottle-f**k you slowly with my sunglasses on.’ I remember reading that scene [when reading the script], with a doctor’s finger up your arse – and having absolutely no idea how to say that. Or even if I could get on set and have a camera in my face and say that. But that fear is what made me want to do it.”
Do you think this will take you to a different audience?
“When you get some kind of success quite quickly you have to pay for it somehow, pay your dues and stuff. I want to support the whole part of the industry that I like and got me interested in film. With the limited amount of power I have I would love to use it to get indies which never would be made or seen, hopefully seen. And also I just want seem cool!”
What do you think the Twilight fans will think of this?
“I think they’ll like it. I’m not particularly worried about that at all. The only thing they wouldn’t like is the same thing that anyone wouldn’t like – if it was shit. But I think it’s a good film. Some people will be like ‘whaaat?’ but no-one’s going to be offended by it. It’s quite a funny film, essentially.”
What was it like working with Paul Giamatti?
“I shot a lot in the limo and all the other actors had to enter my world there. Then my scenes with Paul were huge scenes in a different environment and probably the most nerve-wracking scenes. We had 5 days to shoot 19 pages and we ended up shooting it in a day and half. Almost every take in it is the first take. And the scene where I shot myself in the hand was all one 4-minute take. It’s crazy.”
Seems like you work relentlessly – do you ever take a break?
“I inadvertently took a really long break. I didn’t want to, but I haven’t worked for 10 months – I mean, not working on a film, I did other stuff, I didn’t just sit there – but I’ll probably work for five years now. I really want to do something soon.”
Cosmopolis opens 15 June 2012.
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Robert Pattinson talks Cosmopolis, Critcs, “R-Patz” & more With The Guardia UK“I don’t really know how accepted I am,” says Robert Pattinson as he sips on an enormous paper cup of Coke. “Nothing ever matters to me apart from the people with negative opinions. That’s literally it. That always drives me on to the next thing. It’s funny, you just focus on them and then the next movie. That’s the only thing you’re thinking about when it comes out.”
For someone with the world at his feet – he has the Twilight franchise behind him and David Cronenberg’s icy drama Cosmopolis as his next release – Pattinson gives a good impression of a man plagued with self-doubt. “I’ve never really taken myself seriously as an actor,” he says, fresh off a plane from Germany, where, he notes by the by, everybody seems to hate him.
“It is surprising the amount of people who think I’m going to be really dumb,” he says. “I think they think anyone who has done teen movies is just an idiot. I don’t know, maybe I am. Some of the best actors, if you talk to them, they’re not the smartest people in the world.”
Eric Packer, the character Pattison plays in Cosmopolis is not stupid. The film, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel set mostly in Packer’s limousine, concerns a financial whiz-kid who is either having sex, having a finger inserted into his bottom (an on-the-move prostate exam), engaging in lengthy overblown monologues, losing vast sums of money, dodging an assassin, seeking a haircut, or all of the above. The film premiered at this year’s Cannes film festival. The majority of reviews have been positive, particularly in Pattinson’s favour, but frankly, it could have gone either way. It is not the most easily palatable of films.
‘It’s so different to other films, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it. You read the script and you’re like, “Is this actually getting made? It’s set in a car, there’s so much talking about experimental economics”‘
“It’s funny. It got such divisive reactions in Cannes,” Pattinson says, before confessing to having compulsively sought out those reactions himself. “I was sitting in the car on the way back from the press conference, refreshing, refreshing, refreshing on my phone. I’ve never really done anything where people have hated it, or really, really read into it. It’s so different to other films, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do it. You read the script and you’re like, ‘Is this actually getting made? It’s set in a car, there’s so much talking about experimental economics, and it’s getting a wide release? But I think that’s important, I would do a lot to get movies like that into the cinema again. There is some weird thing that’s happened where the only thing that can be shown is a superhero movie that has cost $250m to make. It’s the most ridiculous thing ever.”
Of course, Pattinson has had his own part in that ridiculousness. By playing abstemious bloodsucker Edward Cullen in the five-part Twilight franchise (the final instalment of which comes out this winter) he has made studio Summit Entertainment two and a half billion dollars and himself into an international teen sex object. Moving on from that role will not be easy, and this is not Pattinson’s first attempt at departure.
There was also, to name but two, this year’s Bel Ami, the adaptation of the 1885 French novel, which, as Pattinson puts it, “kind of came and went”, and Water For Elephants (2011), another relatively underwhelming book adaptation in which he co-starred with Reese Witherspoon as a circus vet. Neither particularly helped him to break into the acting mainstream. Now it’s Cosmopolis, and a role Pattinson seems equally thrilled and baffled about.
“It’s like nothing I’d really done before, and I didn’t really understand it,” says Pattinson, 26, now chewing on a toothpick, partly to rid himself of the remnants of a quarter pounder with cheese and partly because he is trying to give up smoking.
“I kept asking David, ‘What have you seen?’ I just thought, ‘Please don’t let this be a financing thing.’” He pauses. “But you need to piggy back on other people’s credibility, because people are so judgmental. Once you’ve made one impression, that’s it. I planned for it to take ten years for that to dissipate, so to get into Cannes the year that [Twilight] is finishing was fairly ridiculous.”
Cannes, it seems, was a huge deal for Pattinson. While he and girlfriend Kristen Stewart, his co-star in the Twilight movies, became paparazzi and fan obsessions overnight, you sense that he has yet to make peace with his fame. A reluctant heart-throb, today he wears a black cap, a grey shirt over an off-white T-shirt, black jeans and black trainers. There is nothing about him that says superstar, give or take the chiseled features and minder outside. Neither is there much that projects the confidence you’d expect of someone who’d driven themselves to the top of one of the world’s most competitive industries.
“Everybody liked [Cronenberg's] A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, but they’re much more accessible than this,” he says. “That made me nervous, because I thought everyone wants to see Viggo Mortensen shooting people, and this is just sitting around talking about currency markets. But the first few reviews were pretty good, and I’ve never really felt like that with a movie. It’s definitely the best-reviewed thing I’ve ever done. Most of the time, I don’t read them, especially with the Twlight films, where people are overwhelmed by what their opinion of the cultural relevance of it is. But with this, I read a lot, and I was terrified.”
Cosmopolis, without any actual intent, has found itself tapping into the zeitgeist. Just as shooting on the film commenced, so did the Occupy movement. In the movie, Packer is driven through New York City, through protest after protest about the failings of a capitalist society. In life, Pattinson found the images he was filming being mirrored on news channels.
Once again, however, his memories are tinted with ambivalence. “I remember when Occupy happened in LA,” he says. “I knew a bunch of actors who went down to it. They all drove down there, because no one takes the train, and parked one stop away, because they didn’t want to be seen driving their free Audis, and then got on the train. I was like, ‘What are you doing? You’re probably ruining it for the other people!’ I guess that’s kind of a bubble; you want to say things, but you are being hypocritical. I’ve never really been in a position to give my opinion on political stuff before, it doesn’t really come up. But suddenly you’ve got to take an enormous amount of responsibility.”
‘I was always shit at auditions. Since Twilight, I’ve done two. One of them was for a job I’m doing now and it was really hard’
Pattinson’s career to this point hasn’t given him much of an opportunity to develop a huge rapport with an audience of his own age, or older. But Pattinson is also an interesting casting for Cronenberg. The director’s most recent outing, A Dangerous Method, had Michael Fassbender spanking Keira Knightley, while Viggo Mortensen analysed their every move (Mortensen, of course, being a favourite of his). But, from almost every interview that has come from Cronenberg, it seems that he does not have a single regret about plucking Patinson from teenage dreams to front such complex subject matter. And while Pattinson admits getting his head around the script was no mean feat, you sense he hopes the commitment to justifying Cronenberg’s risk-taking could change his career.
“When I got this part,” he says, adjusting his cap, “every single article that came out, was, ‘R-Patz’s struggle for credibility!’; I don’t understand who invented that thing, ‘R-Patz’, I want to strangle them. But once you’ve made that step, everything afterwards is not like, ‘R-Patz’s continuing struggle for credibility!’ You’ve got to come up with something else, so it gets a little bit easier. I was always shit at auditions. Since Twilight, I’ve done two. One of them was for a job I’m doing now and it was really hard. Two really, really long auditions that everybody was going up for. I was so happy afterwards when I got it. And it was purely because of Cosmopolis that I was thinking, ‘You can go and do this as an actor, rather than just as the guy from Twilight, because you’ve got some foreign value now.’”
For every positive review, it will be the negative that stays with Robert Pattinson. But if our conversation is anything to go by, it seems that he’s shaking off the self-censorship that came with being the face of a massive movie brand. If that happens, he might just start to enjoy himself, too.
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