Berlinale is the festival that keeps on giving! Another new print interview with Robert Pattinson, this time from Szene Hamnurg. It is similar to other interviews you've already seen here but has some new information. Rob talks filming in -40 weather and avoiding frostbite!
SZENE HAMBURG: A talk with Robert Pattinson
During the Berlinale we met the actor, who talked about his new movie LIFE, bad fathers, and photography as art and frost bite on fingers.
What was it like to play a photographer under the direction of a legendary photographer like Anton Corbijn?
(laughs) Luckily I didn’t really see Dennis Stock as a photographer in the beginning. For me he was someone who wanted to be an artist but wasn’t sure if he had what it takes to be an artist. I had the feeling that the camera was a means for him to express himself.
How did you work with the camera? Did you only pose with it or did you really use it?
The great thing was that I got the camera a couple of months before we started shooting. It was loaned to us from the Leica museum and it’s the same camera Dennis Stock used. There aren’t many original old cameras left, but they are great and I used mine extensively.
What did you photograph?
I started doing the Werner Herzog film 'Queen of the Desert' right after that and I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the location. I took hundreds of pics of the sets and Marrakesh. I didn’t really do it seriously or because of the movie, but more because it was fun. I figured I could ask Anton how to use the Leica correctly later, but he couldn’t really help me with that (laughs)
But he did show you some tricks, didn’t he? I mean he has to be the best teacher for that.
That’s what I thought, that he would show me how to hold the camera and move it, but Anton told me that I needed to understand the camera myself. Eventually I understood him because he is a different photographer than Dennis Stock was. Anton loves photography, he likes moving on the sidelines and observe everything as oppose to Dennis Stock, who acted more like a painter. Stock wasn’t only focused on his counterpart but also on himself and he was looking for validation. He didn’t really enjoy his role as a photographer because he wanted to be more extravagant.
Is that the reason you were interested in the role?
To be honest the first thing that interested me was that he was a bad father. Usually at my age there aren’t many father roles to play and in this one the father doesn’t love his kid and doesn’t understand why. There is this beautiful scene where James Dean is playing with his nephew and Stock is watching them and wracking his brains how Dean can be so natural and loving with a child. That broke my heart. Another thing is, that everybody thinks that someone like that is an asshole and I thought it was exciting to present him more likable despite of that. Contrary to that Dennis Stock’s pictures are full of feeling.
You can really see that, in his own way, he really loved James Dean. He couldn’t really tell him that but it seems like Stock put a crown on James with the pictures. At the same time bitterness and jealousy also shine through those pictures and one could also see the influence James had on him. I love Stock’s pictures from that era, the jazz musicians whose pictures showed how much he admired them. I think photography was a way for him to show his love for others.
Did the role change your view of photographers that follow you all the time?
Not really. Even if a photographer wanted to be paparazzi back then, it wouldn’t have been easy without a lot of knowledge and skills, especially trying to use the flash (laughs) Apart from that people like Dennis Stock had a different aspiration to photography. They were searching for a new imagery and they wanted to present people in a different light. They want them to vibrate and discover new sides of them and the reader’s wanted that as well. Today one doesn’t really need to do a lot to push the release and paparazzi are kind of trying to humiliate people. It’s as if they don’t really like what they are doing themselves and so they look for the bad things in others. I don’t really understand it and it’s annoying.
Is that really Anton Corbijn standing on the red carpet playing a photographer in the movie?
Yes, that’s him and he used more takes for his scene than any other in the movie (laughs) He would say ‘Oh I didn’t do that right’ and we shot until 10 am. It was crazy.
Is James Dean still important for young actors today? Is he still a role model?
I still remember when I was 16 and he was one of my idols. Everyone knows the picture on Times Square and he was the ideal model of understatement. When I started acting I was very timid and I didn’t want to overact. I wanted my acting to be more like his: calm and full of feelings that he was able to internalize.
Was there a James Dean scene for you in the movie?
Yes, especially where the staying calm is concerned (laughs) we shot the scenes on Dean’s farm in Toronto and it was -40 degrees and I really couldn’t understand how one can shoot outside in that cold. The camera froze to my fingers and I had to stand in front of a heater to get it off my fingers. We were really close to getting frostbite and I started to get annoyed, but then I was over that and I got really calm.
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'In the footsteps of Robert Pattinson' page thanks @Inthejungle for the translation!