Saturday, March 6, 2010

National Post Talks About Rob and Remember Me: Rebel, Rebel

The consensus is that Robert Pattinson has mastered the James Dean art of brooding as the sullen poster boy for the latest generation.

Pattinson's heartthrob status has been defined by his portrayal of the conflicted vampire-in-recovery, Edward Cullen, in the popular Twilight film series based on the Stephenie Meyer novels.

First, there was Twilight in 2008, New Moon last year and Eclipse set for release, to a great deal of anticipation, on June 30. Breaking Dawn, the finale, is expected to be released as two movies over the next few years.

In other words, the English actor is committed to the Edward sulk for at least another few films. But that doesn't mean Pattinson's become self-entitled or satisfied with his accomplishments.

His latest effort to expand on his brooding horizons arrives with his role in Remember Me, which opens March 12.

In the romantic drama, set in life-altering new millennium times, Pattinson plays Tyler, a rebellious young New Yorker who clashes with his overbearing father (Pierce Brosnan) in the aftermath of his brother's sudden death.

Only when Tyler meets up with the charming Ally (Emilie de Ravin) does he find some peace of mind and a reason to believe, though this may be threatened by Ally's protective Manhattan cop dad (Chris Cooper).

To say that Pattinson as Tyler redefines James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause angst is not an exaggeration, although the actor expresses some reservations about the assessment.

"I think it's a fairly typical state to be in," notes Pattinson of the classic rebellious posturing of his character. "And yes, I think there's that element, but I was also interested in the arrogant things about Tyler."

The good news for Pattinson is that he could protect the delicate tone and texture as a producer on the film. Yet, he's hesitant to take credit.

"I'm kind of embarrassed about the producing thing, because I wasn't really acting like a proper producer," he confesses. "I only came on after filming to help make sure the product was the product we all wanted to make at the end."

Indeed, Remember Me is precious to him, so he wanted to ensure the project wasn't modified or diminished in the post-production phase.

"The way Tyler reacted to specific things seemed very relatable to me," Pattinson admits. "I hadn't seen a character like it in a hundred scripts, so when it came available between filming New Moon and Eclipse, I went for it, because it seemed like a perfect fit."

He has lots of choices available to him, thanks to Twilight. Before his debut as a vampire, the London-born Pattinson was introduced to the modelling world by his mother, Clarie, who worked for an agency in the city. He was successful as a teen and found time to get involved in a neighbourhood theatre group while performing pop music as well.

Subsequently, a TV and movie agent liked what he saw and signed Pattinson. As good fortune and timing would have it, Pattinson eventually won a high-profile cameo in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, portraying the doomed Cedric Diggory. Shortly after the release of that Potter picture, he was dubbed the next Jude Law.

But that's not why Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke selected Pattinson to play Edward opposite Kristen Stewart's Bella.

"Their chemistry was instant," recalled Hardwicke just before the release of the first film. In fact, Stewart and Pattinson connected so convincingly, they have been linked romantically.

What Hardwicke didn't mention is that a determined Pattinson had to endure multiple Edward auditions to beat out more than 5,000 other actors from around the globe. He has that kind of drive.

Still, Pattinson says he never anticipated the overwhelming -- and constricting -- attention that arrived with his Twilight role. Indeed, he's still baffled by the intensity, just as he was when filming began in New York last year for Remember Me.

"The first two weeks were kind of crazy, because I was all around NYU and Washington Square Park where there would be tons of people around anyway," he says, referring to the hundreds of Twi-hards who showed up during shooting there. "I just tried to block things out."

Mind you, that's all the Twilight series and Remember Me have in common -- and Pattinson is thankful for that. He insists that he doesn't take roles "that are polar opposites of Edward Cullen," but he does appreciate the change of pace.

Currently, he's enjoying his against-type performance in Bel Ami, an R-rated drama with a racy sex sequence due in theatres next year.

"I think there's a kind of irony in Bel Ami, because a lot of the women are attracted to my character," says Pattinson, smiling ever so slightly, "and then he kind of screws them over and steals their money, which I think is quite funny compared to my Twilight character."

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