THE NEW FACE OF ROBERT PATTINSON

        Rocketing to international star status at just 22 for his role as the vampire Edward in the Twilight saga, Robert Pattinson definitively reinvented his image in 2012 with a masterful performance in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. Since then, he has sought to work on unique films and auteur projects. At Cannes, we will see him play Connie,a person living on the margins, in the Safdie brothers’ Good Time. After the festival, it’s right back to work on the set of the next film by French filmmaker Claire Denis. For Crash, he stepped onto the set of artist Torbjørn Rødland and once again shattered his image… In June, Torbjørn Rødland will hold an exhibition in the French capital at Galerie Air de Paris.

How was the photo shoot with Torbjørn Rødland?
It was fun! It was interesting and definitely not your typical magazine shoot. But it was fun and I really like him.

He’s really an artist. He usually exhibits in galleries and art museums. He’s not the usual fashion photographer.
Yeah, it was definitely an interesting shoot. I liked his work a lot, and he gave me his book, too. He’s really great.

Tell us about your upcoming movie Good Time. How did you meet the filmmakers, Josh and Ben Safdie?
I saw a still from Heaven Knows What quite a long time ago. There was something ma- gical about the energy in that still of Arielle Holmes, the star of the movie. So I got a hold of Josh and Benny and met them in LA. I really liked them. They’ve got an in- credible energy and I just had a feeling that something good was going to come out of it. I basically committed to doing whatever they wanted to do right there in that first meeting. Based on where their careers are going, I guess I was proven right.

You can feel that energy at the begin- ning of the film. It’s very dramatic, the music is excellent, and it’s truly original and different… And it’s also a completely independent project…
I get the same feeling from the movie: it feels very much like its own thing, es- pecially among films coming out now. It feels so strange, but also the filmmaking is very confident. No one else makes movies like these guys. So I’m excited to see how people react to it.

And it’s such a small production, too…
Yeah, it’s tiny. But tons and tons and tons of energy went into it. It was really long hours: a minimum of 16 hours almost every day. By the end we had enough material for three or four movies.

Would you like to work with them again?
For sure! I would do anything with them. In a heartbeat.

Good Time is a very moving film. It fea- tures two brothers, one with a mental disorder and his older brother who tries to help him out. How do you see their relationship?
One brother, Nick, is mentally handicapped, and Connie, who’s my character, is kind of mentally ill, as well ! He’s not just a normal guy making normal, rational decisions. He starts convincing himself he can do anything he wants, as long as it’s for his brother. But really he’s making disastrous decisions again and again. He just doesn’t relate to the wor-
ld on a normal level. We did quite a detailed backstory of Connie and Nick’s relationship before we started shooting. Our idea was that Connie and Nick are not actually that close. Connie has just got out of prison and he’s got it in his head that he needs to re- connect with his brother, but he doesn’t really know him. So it’s kind of an unusual relationship.

Connie has no real family. It’s really just his brother…
Yeah, and when you look at his character, he’s definitely the type of guy who gets pushed away by pretty much every single person who’s close to him. I think everybo- dy knows someone like that, the guy who just keeps testing the limits of what people close to him will accept. He’s definitely been kicked out by his family a long time ago.

Was it important for you to see a film like this go to Cannes?
Oh, for sure! Especially knowing the whole story of how the film developed. It started out just so small and it turned out so well. I loved the movie the first time I saw it. And Cannes is my favorite place to release mo- vies. It’s an entirely different experience than anywhere else, even at other festi- vals. I think the Safdies really deserve to be there, especially in competition. I was so happy when they made it into competition.

You’ve also done a few blockbusters and bigger productions. Is it important for you to work on smaller, independent projects, too?
Yeah, though I haven’t done a big block- buster for quite a long time now. It’s very difficult to find interesting material to do. Someone might have a really good script, but they don’t have what it takes to make a good final product. The Safdies are genui- nely exciting artists. Everybody is looking to work with people like that. I just got really lucky.

You also made two films with David Cronenberg. What was it like working with him?
I did Cosmopolis with him about five years ago. It was a completely life-changing expe- rience. I didn’t realize that I could ever make movies like that and work with people like Cronenberg. And because David believed in me then, it set a trajectory for my life and took me in a totally different direction. Da- vid’s the best.

He’s the best filmmaker you’ve worked with?
Everyone is really good, but the movies David has done are something else. I was watching Videodrome the other day. He made movies in the early 80s that still feel original today. But everyone I’ve worked with have all been amazing.

Yes I agree, his films from the 80s were really radical. Their style was really new then and is still really new today. The idea for Cosmopolis is also very original. Was it intimidating to shoot a movie that takes place entirely inside a car and focuses entirely on you?

The writing was so amazing. But I love people with an interesting moral compass. Good Time is like that, as well, in that it’s not telling you how to feel. There’s no clear good or bad. I try to find people who can see the gray areas of existence. They just end up being more intelligent people. There are a lot of similarities between the Safdies’ outlook on life and David’s, as well.

Do you want to work in Europe more than America now?
Yeah, I’m doing a movie in Germany with Claire Denis this summer. I think I’ll be there for three months or so. I don’t know why it took me so long to work in Europe. It just worked out that way.

Are you based in England or the United States?
I basically live between London and LA.

Can you tell us about the Claire Denis movie, High life? Is it in French or English?
It’s in English. It’s all set on a spaceship. It’s about a group of criminals serving life sentences who are given a chance to go on a mission into deep space. But it’s also about a father’s relationship with his daughter. There are a lot of psycho- sexual themes in it. All of Claire’s movies are very dense and interesting. I’m really excited about doing it. I’ve been waiting for about three years for the project to come together.

Is this the first time you’ll be working with a French filmmaker?
I think it is, yes. I was going to do a movie with Olivier Assayas, but it fell apart the day before we were going to start shoo- ting. Twice in fact. So I think Claire is the first one.

What happened with the Assayas mo- vie? Did it get canceled?
He was in full pre-production. I was there doing rehearsals for about two mon- ths. And then the day before we were going to start shooting, the money just collapsed. And then I went back a few months later and the same thing happe- ned. It’s something that happens with in- dependent films. People find the money to make them wherever they can and it’s always a little unstable. But I loved the movie. Maybe one day we’ll get back together.

It’s crazy how some projects get can- celed at the last minute. Are you also involved in producing films?
Yeah, but it has to be such a specific pro- ject. I’ve only recently been able to trust directors. Earlier in my career I would ne- ver be able to commit 100% to someone else’s idea. I just realized that if you let the director be the director, and you be the actor and only the actor, it’s weirdly freeing in a way. I think you learn how to get a bit better. But I’m always looking for things to produce. I just haven’t found the perfect thing yet.

It can be interesting to get involved in production, but it’s also another job…

On Good Time I loved how open all the producers were with me. It’s nice to feel like you’re a part of the entire process, rather than just doing your job as an actor and then no one ever talks to you again until the premier. I’ll definitely try my hand in production again, but that’s a few years down the line.

You’re still pretty young for taking on those roles…
But getting older! (laughs) I still think I’m really young, but I’m actually not that young.

You started making movies at a young age…
It helps when making a movie like Good Time, where you’re shooting at night and for long hours. You can’t have too much of a life to make movies like this. You can’t have an enormous amount of responsibi- lity to other people. But then again, I just watched King of New York the other day. That movie feels like it’s got a totally wild energy, and Abel Ferrara must be getting up there in age by now…

Do you move right from one film to the next? Or do you take breaks in between? Do you have enough time for yourself and your personal life?
I want to go from film to film, but the projects I like take so much time to put together. So I end up pacing around my living room for months at a time, praying for the project to start. I finished Good Time a while ago and it’s just coming out now.

Can you still have a “normal life” ?
A few years ago it was way more intense, but I’ve got a pretty normal life now. I do very little aside from walking my dog and reading some books occasionally. I do basically no- thing. I’m definitely a creature of habit. Once IgetintoasystemofhowIwanttolivemy life, I’ll do the exact same thing for weeks. It drives everyone else crazy, but I could eat the same meal, do the exact same thing, and go to bed at the exact same time for a year…

What other projects are you working on?
I think I’m doing a movie with Antonio Campos, who did Afterschool. It’s a kind of Southern Gothic thriller. Hopefully that will happen after I finish the Claire Denis movie.

Will you start shooting the Claire Denis movie right af ter Cannes?
Yeah, and it will take quite a lot of time. So I think I’m shooting all the way into fall.

So no summer vacation for you…
Living in LA is basically like being on va- cation all the time. I’ve had enough now. (laughs)

You’re so lucky! One last question: do you remember when you decided to be an actor? Was it a clear decision that you made at one point?
There were a few decisions. I did my first audition at sixteen or so, when just part of me wanted to be an actor. Gradually I started to take it more seriously as time went on. Though with every job I thought it was probably going to be my last, so I just wanted to make the most of it. I don’t think I ever made a solid decision like, “this is what I want to do.” But I can’t imagine doing anything else now. I’ve spent almost half my life doing it now. It’s kind of crazy!

Do you know how many films you’ve made?
Twenty-three or something? I have no idea actually!

That’s not too many. You have a lot left to do…

Yeah, I’ve got to get my numbers up!

Interview by Armelle Leturcq

 

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Photography : TorbjØrn RØdland
Fashion: Andrej Skok
Grooming: Diana Schmidtke
Stylist Assistant: Jaclyn Kershek

 

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Sep 13, 2017
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