NEW: Robert Pattinson talks about hearing Rey's voice, being excited for Idol's Eye, Childhood of a Leader and more!
TheBrisbaneTimes.com The Rover puts Robert Pattinson on road to redemption
The vampire is dead. Or at least by now he should be. With The Rover, the new film from Animal Kingdom director David Michod, Robert Pattinson has finally shaken off the Twilight tag that threatened to define him forever as an actor.
In The Rover, he has an accent from America's deep south, bad teeth and a strange emotional dependency on others. It’s a role that has attracted some very positive reviews: Variety critic Scott Foundas talked about ‘‘a career-redefining performance ... that reveals untold depths of sensitivity and feeling’’.
Pattinson is a relaxed interview subject. He has a hearty laugh, and the air of someone who hasn’t worked out all his lines in advance, but he’s also ready to explain and explore what interests him. He’s serious about his work, and keen to make movies with people he admires and respects.
He’s aware that he’s getting favourable reviews for The Rover. He’s happy about this, of course, he says, ‘‘because I really love the movie’’. But when it comes to his performance, he admits, ‘‘I always think of it as a work in progress, and it just gets frustrating, thinking about things you could fix.’’
At the same time, when he read the script, it was one of those rare occasions when he connected immediately with a role.‘‘Maybe because it was so loose - you could really do almost anything with the character. You could project anything onto it. But I don’t know, I could hear the voice in my head almost immediately, I could feel a walk ... and that’s only happened to me three or four times since I’ve started acting.’’
Michod plunges the audience swiftly into the world of the film, a near-future in which Australia has become a run-down, devastated, hand-to-mouth economy. There’s an almost documentary-like immediacy, as there’s virtually no explanation of how this collapse has happened. Early on, Pattinson’s character, Rey, is taken in hand by Pearce’s character, for reasons that gradually become clear. Yet there are many things about Rey that don’t get spelled out or remain ambiguous: this is another aspect of the film Pattinson appreciates.
He spent almost no time with Pearce before shooting started. ‘‘I guess because I’d auditioned a year before, and talked to David a lot. I already basically made my mind up how I wanted to play the character. I had to keep my mouth shut, figuring out what he wanted to do, it was kind of scary.’’ He wondered what would happen if Pearce’s interpretation was totally at odds with his vision of his own character. ‘‘It’s worked out great now,’’ but there were a couple of moments at the beginning, he says, when it felt as if they were in completely different films.
American actor Scoot McNairy plays Rey’s brother, from whom he has become separated. Pattinson’s a big fan of the chameleon-like actor whose recent films include Killing Them Softly, Monsters and 12 Years a Slave. ‘‘The funny thing about Scoot is you can never recognise him,’’ Pattinson says. "I was talking to him about Argo the other day, and I didn’t realise he was in it. Absolutely no idea.’’ He gives one of his heartiest laughs. ‘‘Our whole conversation, he thought I was joking.’’
He doesn’t mind telling stories against himself, and has a self-deprecating way of talking about certainties. ‘‘I don’t know if I’m necessarily any good at ‘sculpting a career’ or anything,’’ he says, ‘‘but I know what I want to do. I’m not very good at finding or getting massive movies.’’ It turns out that he’s talking about life after Twilight. What he means, he says, is that ‘‘I don’t get approached very much about superheroes and stuff.’’
He has, however, plenty of interesting projects under way or awaiting release. The Rover premiered at Cannes, and so did Maps to the Stars, a dark comedy about Hollywood directed by David Cronenberg. He’s also made Queen of the Desert, a biopic with Werner Herzog, about British traveller, writer and political figure Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman). He’s playing her ally T.E. Lawrence - inevitably inviting comparisons with Peter O’Toole.
He’s recently been working on Life, an intriguing double portrait of James Dean and Dennis Stock, the Life photographer who took a famous series of portraits of the actor just before he broke through as a star in East of Eden. Pattinson plays Stock, and people assume he was attracted to the part because it is a reflection on celebrity, but he says that’s not the case. ‘‘A lot of what I was interested in was nothing to do with James Dean, or fame, or anything like that.’’ What drew him to Stock, he says, is that the character is depicted as ‘‘a really bad dad. And you don’t really see that in young guy parts. He just doesn’t love his kid, or is incapable of it, and it kind of pains him.’’
The film is also about conflicting visions of creativity, he says. ‘‘It’s a little ego battle, and a lot of it is about professional jealousy, and who’s a better artist, who’s the subject and who’s the artist.’’ Life is directed by Anton Corbijn (Control) who was a photographer before he turned to movie making.
Pattinson says his own opinions on photography are ‘‘kind of weird’’. He’s not a fan of digital image-making, he says: he feels it’s too easy, that it doesn’t require the same level of artistry as analogue photography. And, of course, he adds, experiences with paparazzi haven’t helped him appreciate photographers. ‘‘I have a very negative attitude towards photographers in a lot of ways, so it’s interesting to play one.’’
In October, he starts work on Idol’s Eye, to be directed by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, making his Hollywood debut. Robert De Niro has just signed on. ‘‘I’m really, really excited about this one,’’ Pattinson says. It’s a true story about a group of thieves at moments of transition - from the changing face of technology in burglar alarms to the shifting realities for the Chicago Mafia.
He’s also starring in an independent post-World War I drama called The Childhood of a Leader due to shoot in September. It will be directed by actor Brady Corbet (Mysterious Skin, Funny Games), from a script he has co-written. ‘‘I’ve known Brady for 10 years, he’s great and the script is phenomenal.’’
Corbet has said he really appreciates the way Pattinson uses his celebrity to help ensure that films he admires get made. Pattinson laughs when I mention this. It’s a power he might as well use while he can, he suggests. ‘‘We’ll see how long it lasts.’’
The Rover is currently screening.
There's also a great interview from Indiewire under the cut!
Rob talks Pretty Girl Rock :)
With "The Rover" opening in select theaters on June 13, Indiewire spoke with Pattinson about this challenging post-apocalyptic role.
David said he put you through the "wringer" during your three hour audition for the part. What did he make you do?
I mean, he did it at his house in LA. I don't know, it was kind of, it was slightly nerve-wracking. I always get incredible anxiety attacks when I audition. I try to avoid them at all costs. But I loved the script so much. I had an idea of how to do it as soon as I read it.
[The audition] was just long. Normally you do two takes in an audition and that's that. I think that's why I've always messed them up over the years... I also had a really good actor reading with me as well, which helps. But yeah, I mean, it wasn't like it was grueling or anything. It was quite exhilarating. You could tell that David was great even in the audition. I would have almost been happy not getting it. It was a great experience just doing the audition.
You obviously sold him on your interpretation of the character. What specifically was it about Rey that clicked with you?
I really like the structure of the character. There's basically only two long dialogue scenes where he reveals anything about himself, when he's not under total duress. But I really like having these incredibly dense dialogue scenes that are filled with subtext. Even the rhythm and the cadence of his speech reveals a lot, and it's put in the context of a sort of stark story, where people don't really speak in any other scene. It just allowed you to do tons with the character. It was so loose. That really appealed to me.
Rey speaks in a really specific halting manner. Was that all in the script, or was that something you brought to the character?
Sort of [laughs]. I remember reading it the first few times… It didn't even say which state he was from. It just said the South in America. I kept saying to David, "I think there are some Australian accents in the Southern." Australian speech is very staccato and clipped. And Southern is kind of lilting and wistful traditionally. I think that's what created the halting thing. But that's just how it read in a lot of ways. There's a lot of repetition in the script -- just to make repetition engaging, you have to figure out something weird to do with it instead of just repeating yourself.
My favorite scene in the film is also its most unexpected, when you break out into song, singing along to Keri Hilson's feel-good "Pretty Girl Rock." Did you have any say in the choice of song?
I think it was originally the Pussycat Dolls song, "Don't You Wish Your Girlfriend Was Hot Like Me?" I remember reading that in the script and thinking, "That's incredible." Then they found the Keri Hilson thing and it was the absolute perfect choice of song for it. I sing basically the whole song. I thought it was kind of genius.
You sing the track with complete conviction, which I found oddly touching in a way.
I liked the idea of this guy who's just about to make probably the biggest decision of his life, as a normal film moment. He's deep in concentration but there's nothing going on. I kept thinking about that moment in "The Simpsons," where you see what's going on inside Homer's head — the organ grinding monkey [laughs]. I kept thinking it was kind of that moment.
The film is so bleak and unforgiving. It looks like it must have been hell to shoot. Was it?
Oh, no! It was literally one of the most fun shoots I've ever done. That always seems to happen when you're doing something that's incredibly depressing. It was one of the most fun characters to play as well. You're so free to do almost anything that you don't even know what you're doing to do when you turn up to work. It was quite exciting. Also I hadn't done a movie in a long time where the whole crew is there with you. It's such a different environment when you're working like that. It's like camping. I thought it was really fun.
You've worked with David Cronenberg twice now, and have upcoming projects with Werner Herzog and Oliver Assayas. Are you drawn more to the director rather than the character you'll be playing?
It's a bit of both. It also kind of depends on the size of the part. Most of the parts I'm playing in the last few things are supporting roles. In the Herzog movie I was just working for ten days or something. When you're doing a lead in something, you obviously have to think about if you can do it, for one thing, or if you can add something to it. But I think it was just that after working with Cronenberg, it's working with really ambitious, confident filmmakers. I've got a checklist of directors I want to work with and a lot of the time I'll do anything in their movies. But it's not just kind of willy-nilly, I'll do any movie. I do think about it a little bit. [Laughs]
Thank you Cersei! xx