Water for Elephants is a romantic drama where lovers are played by Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. The star of the movie is however its biggest star, elephant-Tai, who made her way to the Pattinson’s heart.
Robert Pattinson plays veterinary student in a film based on Sara Gruen's bestseller Water for Elephants situated in 30’s depression in United States. Life treats Jacob (Pattinson) hard until he gets a job from circus as a veterinarian. It is lead by cruel ringmaster August (Christoph Waltz). His young wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) is the draw of the circus and Jacob becomes attracted to her. The movie is directed by Francis Lawrence.
For the last 6 months Pattinson has been filming the last two parts of Twilight saga in Louisiana. The actor made a quick stop in Los Angeles before heading to Vancouver to finish the filming of Breaking Dawn.
Water for Elephants was mostly filmed in California near the farms where exotic animals are kept for filming purposes. The movie begins were tragically but these events lead Jacob to animals and love.
"Basically life flipped him finger. He has no way to turn back to his old life so the only possibility is to leave distress behind and look forward. Everything happens so fast that Jacob didn’t even have time to wallow in self-pity. I thought that it must have felt like a shock. I didn’t have many lines in the beginning so I just played with gestures, expressions and other physical ways," Pattinson tells.
The beginning of the movie was also otherwise challenging for Pattinson because as a rookie his job in the circus was only to listen.
"When I read the script for the first time I thought that all the pressure are on Christoph and Reese. Then I noticed that I was in almost every scene even though I didn’t have any lines. It was slightly stressful but Francis was very good at calming my nerves. He knew all the time what he wanted so I trusted him. On the other hand the movie isn’t only based on actors’ performances but we are a part of spectacle which biggest star is the elephant."
The elephant who played Rosie made great impression on Pattinson.
"When I went to meet the elephant, Tai, she was in hand stand on her front legs. I spent hours with her and we tossed a ball. Tai snatched the ball with her trunk and tossed it back. I knew then that whatever the movie will be, at least I get to work with this amazing elephant for three to four months."
Pattinson admits that he is a friend of animals but doesn’t like circus."When I was five I was in Zippos-circus in London with my mother and sister. I remember when the clowns came to the circus in a little car. One of the doors exploded and I thought that the leg of the clown was broken. My sister said that the clown died! I was in that belief even two years ago when I was telling the story. My mother heard my rambling and wondered what I was talking about, the clown didn’t die. Anyway, I was so traumatized about it that I haven’t been in circus since" Pattinson laughs.
Water for Elephants was a better experience for Pattinson because no injuries were required this time. Pattinson thanks the director for that.
"He had so much to do in practical arrangements only but was always sure about everything. The budget wasn’t big but Francis had the responsibility of 200 animals, 300 extras, circus tents and trains. He took huge risks all the time. For example the scene in the beginning, where the circus tent is put up by hundreds of men, was shot by one take. Francis wanted to shoot it right before sunset and we had 20 minutes time to prepare for the scene and 7 minutes to shoot it. I didn’t believe that it could be done but Francis didn’t hesitate a second," wonders Pattinson.
The other massive scene in the end of the movie where the tent is pulled down was also shot with “all or nothing”-attitude.
"We shot that on the last day during sunset. In the inside and round the tent was piled with explosives and when they exploded the area was covered in enormous trail. When the sun was set behind the trail was seen a flagpole with American flag. It was the only thing standing up after explosion. The crew couldn’t believe their eyes. No one could have imagined that something like that will happen and that it is captured on film. Francis just followed calmly eating peanuts. He never stressed about anything."
Pattinson is on his way to becoming a specialist playing in movies where the theme is forbidden or unusual love. The proof are the Twilight saga, Remember Me and Water for Elephants.
"In the movies love is always connected with problems. If everything went smoothly from the beginning to the end it would be a bad movie. But I like this story because it is the beginning of Marlena’s and Jacob’s love story. I didn’t want to be supposedly good guy who comes and seduces August’s wife and ruins his lifework. The most important thing for Jacob is that he gets Marlena to believe herself and that she deserves a better man than August – Jacob or someone else."
The humble star also knows his limits because he thinks that he can only handle certain genres.
"I don’t think that I could play in every genre movies. Most of the scripts that I read aren’t for me. No one would take me seriously in the movies based on those scripts. I say yes to a movie when I read a script that has role which I believe I can play."
With Twilight there has formed a permanent “circus”, that consist of passionate fans, paps and other curious people, around Pattinson. The actor assures relieved that the situation has calmed down a bit.
"Nowadays I always go inside from backdoors. That is why there is a less hustle and I wouldn’t even have time for that. In the beginning it was unusual experience when the crowd went crazy. Now I go to the events tired. I film half a day, go to the airport, a car is waiting me at the destination where I fall asleep immediately, I spend 10 minutes in the event handing out a award or show myself, go back to the car, to the airport and to the filming location."
In order to relax, Pattinson compose and plays guitar. "I always travel with my guitar but it isn’t so fun anymore because I can’t drink whole night and stay up till 5 am," Pattinson laughs.
Scans and Translation: Tiina at RobStenation