Since so many interviews came out, we posted a few separately at first, but then decided to have a compilation entry with all the latest ones. Lots of different articles, a great read. So many amazing words about Rob.
We also included a few very interesting interviews with Natasha Braier, The Rover cinematographer, where she mentions Rob - bottom of the post.
The Film Stage
Getting to the casting, Guy Pearce is just so fantastic in this movie. Every glance he has, he conveys so much. I’m curious since Robert Pattinson is such a great counterpart to that. It definitely feels like in the last few years he’s trying to segue into more films like this. When you met him and what he brought to the table, how much was on the page versus the many nuances he brings to his character? What was the process like of casting him?
One of the things I liked about Rob, right from the outset — other than meeting him and just finding him beguiling and fascinating — was that when he came to test for me, he came both with a really beautifully considered and specific reading of the character, but also a full understanding that on the page, the character can be played a hundred different ways. So straight away that said to me that I had in him a collaborator who would help me find the character. I talk about the fact that I kind of tested him over two days for something close to four hours, but I sort of knew that I wanted him in the first five minutes. The other three hours and fifty minutes were him and I exploring the character. He had a lot to contribute on that front.
When he came to Australia about two weeks before we started shooting we had lots of conversation about things that were seemingly cosmetic. Hair cuts and wardrobes say a lot about the character and the character’s backstory and the character’s sense of the world and he had lots of things to say on that front. He was the one who initially agitated to have his monkey haircut. That rationale for it, in a way, was that this was the point of his character. Unlike Guy, this is a kid who still feels like there’s something out there for him and his monkey haircut is his delusional way of styling himself on the off chance that there’s a kind of pretty girl in the next town that he might fall in love with.
I loved the selection of the Keri Hilson song. It starts as almost a fun idiosyncratic kind of way and then you cut right to Pattinson’s character and it’s sad because it’s part of a life his character will never come back to. Can you talk about using that song and you obviously knew about it beforehand because he sings it in the movie.
Yeah, the motivation there is not dissimilar to the one I was describing before with regard to his haircut. It’s just a reminder at a particularly crucial point in the movie that this kid is a kid who, unlike Guy’s character, still weirdly has a sense of the world being a place that is still to be explored, that he still has music that he likes. The ways in which those sorts kind of cultural interests feed into your whole sense of your place in the world and perhaps the girls he might meet, all of which is stuff for Guy’s character has just entirely evaporated.
Thompson on Hollywood
How much is the Pattinson character derived from John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men"?
You set up a relationship like this, somewhere in the back of your mind you're thinking it's Steinbeck. But one thing that appealed to me was being able to make something lean and muscular and elemental. And that basic relationship between a seemingly loveless murderously embittered man and an open naive simple boy was for me the perfect prism for that elemental story.
Why was Pattinson the right casting?
One thing that was clear to me when I was testing people, and Rob already knew it, was that there were 100 different ways you could play this character, differing degrees of mental problems-- just uneducated, developmentally slow.
He's a good gunslinger.
One of the key reasons for that scene telling Guy when he was a kid on the farm and his neighbors was to make it clear that he has a rich imaginative life, he's not an idiot, he's looking for someone to love. Guy realizes too late that's what he's looking for too. Rob gave me a character who felt plausibly simple without having to push it too far into the mentally disabled world. He was totally open and engaged. That's why I had a feeing he was going to be my favorite, when I met him. Even thinking about the bubble Pattinson is forced to live in, I was taken aback by how wonderfully open and engaged he was when I met him as a stranger.
Pattinson's character, on the other hand, he describes more as "a blank canvas".
"For one reason or another, I didn't have a particular actor in my head as I was writing it, and so then I got to go through that exhilarating process of seeing people bring it to life [in auditions]… Rob was the person who came in with a version of the character that was beautifully in tune with what I had always imagined. It was instantly clear to me that he was a really good actor, but it was also clear that he had a really beautiful understanding of the character's vulnerabilities and aspirations."
"It's always nerve-wracking when you're casting," Michôd continues, "because this is where the movie lives and dies. It's kind of a cliché to say that 80 percent of a director's work is in casting, but it's kind of true. If you cast the movie wrong, it can be very difficult to salvage."
Speaking with David Michôd, he intended the scene to be a reminder of the kind of life Rey would have had in other circumstances, one that included more pop songs than acts of revenge.
But as important as the choice of “Pretty Girl Rock” was to Michôd (a guilty pleasure of his), it wasn’t the only option. “We went into the shoot knowing that that was the song that we were going to use. One thing that did happen was when we were rehearsing the shot, Rob was sitting in the car singing some really beautiful Southern gospel type thing,” Michôd said. “I remember going up to him at a certain point during camera rehearsals and said ‘What is that you’re singing?’ He said, ‘I don’t know. It’s something I’ve just made up.’ We did a few takes of him singing this thing. It was really beautiful.”
Michôd ended up deciding against Pattinson’s improvised gospel song, but only because of how much he liked the Hilson song, which he interpreted as having a darker meaning than the poppy hook might let on.
“There was something about that one that I really like, in part because it’s not only very poppy but also it’s one of those songs that — as so many great pop songs do — has a strange, dark undercurrent.”
This 'big fruity circle' wasn't totally useless, however. It was during the period of incessant LA meetings that Michôd met his future 'Rey' - Robert Pattinson.
"In amongst those 40,000 meetings I had after Animal Kingdom, a number of them were with actors, which happens a lot in Hollywood, you just have these general meetings," Michôd explains. "And one of them was with Rob. I hadn't seen the Twilight films and I still haven't, but someone said to me, 'you should go meet him, he's really interesting.'"
"I liked him a lot. I liked his energy, I liked his face. He had an interesting face! I didn't know anything about him. I always thought he was kind of like this super chiselled male model guy and then I found myself sitting next to him and looking at his face and saying, 'Wow, your face is actually really interesting. I like your face.'
"He was also really smart and very well-read, he was very familiar with everything that I and my friends in Sydney had been doing and making."
But it was Pattinson's later audition for the role - a character about as far away from Twilight's brooding vampire poster boy Edward Cullen as you can imagine - that really blew Michôd away.
"It was just exhilarating," he says. "We were auditioning really great people. They were all good. We didn't see any bad tests but Rob was just the one who came in and instantly made me feel like I could see half of the movie now."
"One of the magical things about making a film out in the desert is that it's a big school camp. We were all together, everywhere, all the time," muses Michôd. "That evolving relationship between Guy and Rob was not just a professional one. In our regular working day it was also one that would always spill over into evenings. Being so isolated out there, it became very easy for all of us to embrace the madness of the world of the movie. Especially when we ended up in Marree, way up north, eight hours north of Adelaide. None of us had phone reception for three weeks. None of us had phones, we only had very limited internet. We were in this tiny town in the middle of the desert and all we had was each other. It was both incredibly intimate and rewarding and totally crazy making it at the same time."
In contrast, there is Pattinson's character, who I think is extraordinary in this film. Can you talk about bringing him into the role? How did you work with him on attenuating his performance, making sure it didn't get too broad?
In a way, the answer to both questions is that Robert came in and tested for me and his tests were just extraordinary.
I, like everyone else, didn't know what he was capable of. Certainly his previous work didn't give you a clear indicator.
I met him before I even knew I was going to make The Rover, and there was something about him that I really liked. He's obviously intelligent and really wonderfully emotionally available.
When [Pattinson] came in to audition for me, he came in with a really beautifully defined and sophisticated reading of the character that seemed from the outset to avoid all of those possible moments of caricature that that character could so easily slip into.
How did Pattinson get hooked into the project?
I had a meeting with him maybe a year before I made the movie and it became immediately apparent to me in that meeting that he not only loved Animal Kingdom but had seen all of the shorts that I had made with my friends. Je had beyond that a really eclectic, sophisticated interest in cinema. He was actively looking for interesting things to do and actively looking to meet interesting filmmakers.
Had he done any of his Cronenberg work when you first started working together?
Yes, I had seen Cosmopolis. I had even had a phone conversation with Cronenberg to see what working with Rob was like generally. [With] Cosmopolis, that is another character that is quite brooding and still in a way that's not similar to the stuff he does in Twilight. It didn't give me a clear indication that he could do the 180 degree shift that I was going to ask him to do on The Rover.
I always needed to see an audition. He was willing to do it because he knew that he wanted to play the character and that he needed to work hard to get it.
I love that whole notion of you as a director in Australia just calling up Cronenberg and asking him for advice. Is that a common thing? I picture some secret handshake between directors where you exchange private numbers.
I think in the world of filmmakers and generally those kinds of phone calls are reasonably easy to facilitate because they're reasonably important. I didn't want to ask David whether or not Rob was a good actor. I felt that I had seen that in the tests and long auditions that he had done for me. What I wanted to know was what he was like as a human being on set because those things can be important. David shared his experience which turned out to be much the same as mine, that he was delightful and hard-working.
Total Film (Click to see all scans and read the full interview) [Scans source]
Your character in The Rover is emotionally shut down. He reconnects through his relationship with Robert Pattinson's character. How was it working with Rob?
He's had a very different existence as an actor than I did. He's just this megastar. I don't know if he struggles with feeling like a valuable actor, as I did, but he shouldn't, if he does. He's amazing. On the second day he was doing the scene where he falls out of the truck and he's sitting there bleeding and I was watching it on the monitor. I looked and David and said, "Wow, he's really good, isn't he?" What he was offering up with regard to the power shifts between us meant I had such great stuff to work with.
IGN: Your character also has a unique relationship with Robert Pattinson's character Rey. What were your initial thoughts on that dynamic, even before you met with Robert, just actually reading it on the page?
Pearce: Well, I can't remember, funnily enough, to be honest. I really can't remember. Obviously their relationship really developed once I saw Rob's work and the work on this film, once I saw what he was doing. We had some rehearsal beforehand and stuff. But I don't remember what I thought about that dynamic beforehand, and I think it was probably because I was so fixated on trying to understand my character. I think, to be honest, I probably didn't really understand the slow development of empathy with their relationship until we actually started shooting. Because it's very clear from the outset, I say to him, "I don't care about you. I don't care if you die. I'm just using you to get to your brother. Simple as that." I knew there was going to be more to that, and we talked about the fact that that had to develop into something else over the course of the film. But I don't feel like I got a handle of that until we really started shooting. Once I saw what Rob was doing -- and he's so vulnerable, as you see in the film -- there's a lovely naiveté to him in the film. Like a puppy-dog, he wants to keep following me. So it just really developed into an interesting relationship, I think.
IGN: Was it kind of interesting for you, just as an observer, to see him play a character like that, that's so different from what we're used to seeing?
Pearce: Well, the only thing I'd seen him do was Water for Elephants. I've certainly seen him in lots of interviews and in clips of Twilight, so I've seen lots of bits and pieces, but the only full film I'd seen was Water for Elephants. I just went, "Wow, he's a movie star. Amazing." So of course it was fascinating for me to see him do this -- and to do it so well, because it's hard to do that stuff and pull it off; you know, to play anxiety and play that "trying to find your power." It's hard to do that s***, and do it well, I reckon.
Den of GeekWere you guys uncomfortable during the shoot and did you want to be, to help get into the spirit of the film?
Well, there is a certain level of uncomfortability that's necessary obviously because you're out there in the heat and it's dusty, but I find it awe inspiring as well because that landscape is incredible. You feel like you're just away from everything. You're away from all the noise of the city and all those things that you sort of live your life by these days, iPads and iPhones and all the i's, you know, all that stuff slowly didn't work the further north we got. The phones didn't work and then we sort of lost Internet connection. So it's sort of tough but it's equally kind of inspiring because you're aware of it being put down on film and it being part of this film that you're making. Every kind of difficult and fascinating location we got to, you would just think, "Oh wow, this is going to be incredible on film." We had pretty hot weather but we had breaks in the weather too occasionally, like it would rain and cool down for a bit so we kind of felt like we were okay. I mean it was pretty brutal and pretty hot a lot of the time, and I know it was hot for Rob because he wasn't so used to it. I've done a couple of films in the desert now. I love it out there.
How was it working with Rob? His fame maybe has overshadowed his talent to some degree.
Well, I mean, that performance that you see him deliver in the film -- I detected that on the first or second day or whenever I went to set and watched him work, I was like, "Wow this is going to be great." I mean, Rob is a pretty quietly spoken guy. I think it is difficult for him dealing with all of the publicity that he gets and all that sort of stuff and so he just sort of wants to get out of the way and not get hassled. You don't get too much of a sense of who he is and then he starts performing and you just think, "Wow, this kid's incredible." And you think about the popularity that he has and how amazing he looks, and you couple that with that talent and you think, "Wow, this guy is going to have just the most incredible career." He has an amazing career already, but for him to now be able to just string together one more interesting role after another I think will be fantastic.
He was great to work with. He was so relieved to be out there and not be hassled by paparazzi and press and fans and stuff that he had a really great time. We didn't really know each other very well, in fact we didn't know each other at all and just slowly got to know each other through the course of the film, which was good because we're not meant to know each other at the beginning anyway. We all just sort of slipped into it kind of nicely. There was a nice respect for David and for the movie he was making and for each other, and the characters we were playing. I think what was interesting was once I started to realize what that dynamic between us was going to be -- I got it on the page on an intellectual level, but once I started to see what Rob was doing and how needy and vulnerable the character was, then I really knew what was going to work as far as what I offered up and what I delivered with him. It's always interesting when you are reading relationships in a script, the transition between that and the actual doing of it, once you start meeting actors. Something can go wrong and another actor would be horrible or they could think you're horrible and you just think this is going to be really difficult. But then other times you just go wow, this whole thing is opening up now. Now I get it so it's interesting.
David Michôd and Guy Pearce
Huffington Post (They talk about Rob at 10:50)
Q: David - what drew you to Rob for this project? As a longtime fan of his I've felt like all he ever needed was a great director to guide him and show what he's truly capable of. Where you surprised he had it in him? Obviously you knew he could be good, but were you expecting him to be THAT good?
David: really simple - i didn't know much about him before he came in and did a beautiful audition for me. it wasn't surprising. it was just really impressive and exhilarating because i could see the movie coming alive.
Q: David - you said in an interview that you did a few takes of Rob singing a southern, gospel tune he made up in place of Pretty Girl Rock. Would that be something that could show up as DVD special features?
David: one day it'll rear its little head, i'm sure...
Q: I have read great reviews of this movie both from the Cannes showing as well as in the LA Times. I am a big fan of both of you in the movie Animal Kingdom.
Question for both of you one of the big points of interest was the casting of Robert Pattinson in what would definitely be considered an atypical role.
For David how did that casting take place and for Guy how was it like working with a teen idol in the hot Australian desert?
Guy: It was great watching Rob deal with the flies, whilst not having to deal with ANY paparazzi!
Q: Guy - what scenes in The Rover stands out as one of your favorites and one of the more challenging scenes to shoot?
Guy: One of my favorite would be when Rob (Rey) confronts his brother played by Scoot McNairy towards the end of the film. I can't think of what was the most challenging.
The Rover's Cinematographer, Natasha Braier
Thompson on Hollywood
"I think the scenes that were more powerful dramatically were the conversations between Guy and Rob. For instance, when they talk in the diner near the hotel before Rob [inadvertently kills someone].I think those were very important to define the dynamics and the tension between the characters. But at the same time, they are straightforward shots and it's all in the performances. So maybe they were not the more exciting for me as a cinematographer. But those were the scenes where I looked at David and we said, 'OK, we have a movie now.'"
While Braier expected Pearce to deliver a powerfully non-verbal performance, she had no idea what to make of Pattinson, who sheds movie star glam for his grimiest character turn yet. She hadn't even seen him in "Twilight." "But I was just blown away from the first moment I saw him. I think he's a natural. He's just born with this quality. There are a lot of actors that have this technical ability. They've been working for many years and have learned and refined [their craft]. And Rob has something very instinctive, which is why he's so famous and loved by girls all over the world.
"He's a very intelligent person but also very emotional. It's quite connected. So I think that gives him a gateway to channel whatever character he's playing from someplace deep. And he came up with backstory about being abused and treated badly. He was always the one in the family that they would bully. And he feels so abandoned. So he's coming from that psychology where he can fall into this abusive relationship with Guy.
"But David had a clear idea from the very beginning, which is that everyone in this movie comes in pairs because this world is so hard that you cannot be on your own. So everyone that Guy meets on the journey is with somebody else, except Rob who gets left behind and they team up."
And that's when they both discover a sense of humanity that transcends mere survival during this global crisis.
And for those that love behind the scenes' secrets, that are three very interesting articles/interviews with David and Natasha (with a few Rob mentions).
MovieMaker.com - How They Did It
SBS.com.au - How We Made The Rover
American Cinematographer - A Road Through Ruin (scans) [Scans source]