Here it is. Enjoy all the new Rob interviews, from LIFE promo. The ones in this post are from Berlinale. There's an audio interview at the bottom of the post.
Robert Pattinson -not unlike James Dean- became a star overnight. Subsequently he has difficulties to loose the shadow of the vampire and that is what we talked about.
Mr. Pattinson would you have played James Dean if you would have been offered the role?
I would never have accepted the role of James Dean. Especially because I do't even look like him. Dane DeHaan does, I would have made a fool out of myself.
In the movie you are not the one in the limelight, but you are on the other side of the carpet as the photographer of the beautiful and famous. That must have been unusual for you.
My character Dennis Stock isn't really made for the red carpet. there is a scene in the movie where it's visible how embarrassing it is for him to do those gossip pictures but he has no other choice because he needs the money. So he becomes part of the photographers that push and shove to get the perfect picture.
How do you deal with popularity? That is the key question for famous people, isn't it?
It is weird, because I never really knew what popularity means. Some people got to know me better in these past years and they know that the character that people cheer for doesn't really exist. It's different for a popstar, because their name is the main focus whereas an actor plays different characters all the time. It is weird when you are cheered on for something and that is not really you, but at the same time this popularity helps you because you are not really hyped up as a person, it's more the character you play.
The movie shows a star before he becomes a star, it's about the months before it really started. I talked to you for the first time in 2008 just after the first Twilight movie was finished and no one knew if the concept would add up. You were a star that wasn't a star yet and a few weeks later everything changed. How did you feel in that moment before the storm started?
There hasn't been another phase like that in my life. Everything fit back then: I think I had the right age for a hype like that. At 21 I was young enough, but not too young and I was able to have a youth. The year before Twilight came into the cinemas was a lot of fun. I experienced the good sides of fame and not really realizing what was happening around me. The very first touch with fame is amazing, some ridiculous things like getting into clubs for example. I got into clubs they threw me out of before (laughs).
Nevertheless you stayed pretty grounded. How did you manage to do that?
I don't know. I think I still have to prove a lot to myself in different aspects of my life. Sometimes I really wish I had a bigger ego. That would help me to take more out of this thing.
Someone like you should not have a problem with ego.
Of course I have an ego. A certain amount of it is necessary to even go in front of the camera, no? Apart from that I see myself as shy and as a control freak. It is weird, because you can't really say it like that. Whenever I work with seasoned directors they always ask me: "Why do you always say you don't know what you are doing? I can see that you are doing something." I always answer: "Yes, but I don't know how."
Is there a little after the hype for you?
Yes, and it's just happening. It's very frustrating when you loose control over your life and try not to drown all the time. After the hype of the first Twilight my agent told me: "It will take ten years until you reach the next chapter in your life." Today I know he was right. Seven years have passed and my life is rearranging itself completely. I'm a different person now than I was back then. I think Leonardo Dicaprio experienced the same thing after Titanic and it's behind him today.
What is your key to surviving career traps?
I think I'm led by my head unlike some of my colleagues and that allows me a distant look on myself. At the same time I worry too much about everything. I always have the problem of wanting to prove myself with my roles.
You are doing more art-house productions now, a farewell to mainstream?
Maybe. I just want to work with people that do good stuff. The point is: I don't care if a movie is well-payed or does well at the box-office. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against commercial movies and I like doing them, but if something is done for the art and for art's sake, those are the best projects. The day I do my last movie and I know there won't be another one I want to ask myself: "Why did you do that movie and if the answer is 'I did it for the money', I would want to smack myself in the head.
Picture of life: In Anton Corbijn's beautiful drama LIFE, Robert Pattinson plays Dennis Stock, the photographer who shot the iconic picture of James Dean on Times Square.
Boy band, TV star of movie vampire, becoming famous as a teenager sex symbol can be a blessing or a curse for young artist, but there is almost no other way to gain market values this quickly in show business. On the other hand getting rid of the reputation as a teen heartthrob is something many failed spectacularly. Contract to those who failed, Robert Pattinson seems to have been able to move past his history as a pale Twilight vampire in several ambitious movies he showed true acting talent, like in LIFE the fascinating story about the creation of one of the most famous pictures of the 20th century directed by the Dutch photographer, Anton Corbijn.
Are you a James Dean fan?
I was never really interested in him as a person, but as an actor he was huge. He was fearless in his acting and his movements were like ballet. What fascinated me, especially now where I looked at so many pictures of him, is that there is no bad picture of him. But that is not because he looked great, he played with the camera and he did that in a time where one wasn't photographed everywhere.
What about you? Do you like playing with the camera?
I'm definitely not a natural talent like James Dean (laughs), but I'm getting there. I wasn't able to control it. When the first Twilight movie came out I thought I had some kind of control about the pictures of me that were out there and you could see my panic over loosing that control.
Did you ever have a relationship with a photographer as James Dean had with Dennis Stock?
Not with photographers, but with journalists. When Twilight came out, there were a couple I got along with great. I remember when the first feature about me came out in a big British magazine, it was cool how that came about. The journalist and me went to a bar and got drunk (laughs) I can't do something like that anymore.
Is that something that annoys you? That you can't just simply go to a bar and see what happens?
It's slowly getting possible again. When something is as massively hyped as Twilight people don't care for individual nuances or details anymore. Everything you say creates huge reactions, but it has really calmed down a lot.
Do you wear a disguise when you go out?
No. A few weeks ago I decided I won't need to cover my face with a scarf unless it's cold. So I stopped with that and survived.
Sometimes your life seems like a soap opera. Do you also see it like that yourself?
Yes, of course. I was always adamant that I won't talk about my private life, but that didn't make any difference (laughs). People would always make stuff up. I became a part of a story that was told by someone else and I could do anything about it.
Dennis Stock sacrificed a lot for his career. Do you sacrifice as well?
Not really. I don't believe that Dennis sacrificed anything. He just told himself he did. In the end it's just about him and his fear of failing as an artist and so he looks for people he can blame for his failures. He doesn't think about his little son at all, only when he sees him as a burden. He is only focused on himself and waits for things to change and suddenly make sense, but that doesn't happen. He really is a tragic figure. If you look at recent interviews of him, you can see he didn't learn anything. At 80 he still complains of only being known for the James Dean pictures, but they are the only job he ever made money with.
(Note: Similarities with the 'DIE PRESSE' interview we posted before, but some nice extra details and questions that are interesting enough to post this interview too.)
Do you see parallels between your life and James Dean's life?
A little, but funnily enough I wasn't really interested in James Dean's life, maybe because I experienced something similar.I didn't find my own life very interesting.I was more interested in Dennis Stock from the beginning.
Dennis Stock sacrifices the relationship with his family for his career. Do you know that feeling?
Not really. I don't believe Dennis truly sacrificed something, he told himself he did. He never thought about his son only when he used him as an excuse. That's what drew me to the role: here is a person that doesn't love his kid and waits for his life to make sense, but that never happens. He is a tragic figure. In later interviews you can tell he didn't learn a thing. At 80 he still complained about only being famous for the James Dean pictures although those were the ones he made money with.I really don't want to badmouth him, but I met his son Rodney and he says he was a bad father, but what can you do when you don't love your child? Everybody hates you for it, but you still have to live your life.
Is James Dean important to you as a role model?
I think every young actor has a James Dean phase.If you think about it: his movies were made in 1955 and 1956 and he still has such a huge influence. His gestures are a bit over the top, because he was just starting out. There isn't one bad picture of him and not just because he had such a good face, but because he had this intuition about how his face was seen by the camera.
How do you deal with being the object of photographers?
It's difficult. When the first Twilight movie came out I wanted to be seen a certain way. I thought I could control which pictures would be put out there. But that was impossible and I got scared of that loss of control. At the beginning of my career I had some friendships with journalists, we went out together, but I can't do something like that anymore. Now everyone tries to get an exclusive detail out of me and the worse the detail, the better.
Your life resembled a soap opera in the past few years. How did you feel about the reports on your life?
I never talked about my private life, but that didn't make a difference and people just made up stuff.I made the decision not getting my picture taken because I thought without new pictures people couldn't write stories, but they just used old pictures. It's gotten better now, I decided not to hide anymore and wear a hat and a scarf. It just drives you crazy.
So the worst is the paparazzi then?
Not only them. I used to get scared when people stared at me. It makes you feel like you are being judged, but I learned one thing: never Google yourself. That can become an obsession. Just imagine there are people talking about you in the next room, of course you are going to listen to it! It's worse on the internet and especially when you live a lonely hotel existence like actors do, you end up sitting in front of the computer to remind yourself who you are.
How do you manage not to loose your mind being alone in a hotel room?
Who says that that didn't happen already?
Also teen-idols grow up and in case of Robert Pattinson they even become an actor. Rob about his new movie LIFE, a biographical drama by Anton Corbijn, about the relationship between photographer Dennis Stock and film legend James Dean.
Pattinson: “I understood immediately why Anton wanted me to play Dennis Stock and not James Dean”, explains Pattinson about the surprising, but clever choice. “People would have immediately drawn a comparison between us. But I don’t look anything like Dean, not when it comes to looks and not as an actor. I also didn’t die at 24 years old. The only thing we have in common is that we are both famous. Dean owes his fame to people who looked up to him and asked him for advice about life, through his movies, the photos by Dennis Stock, his personality and mystery. I owe my fame to people who were fans of the Twilight books and thanks to the fact that they accepted me as the face of one of their favorite characters.”
For Dean fame was a heavy load to carry. How do you handle it?
Pattinson: “It’s easier for me now than in the beginning. When I had my breakthrough with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (in which Pattinson had the supporting role of Cedric Diggory) I was recognized in the street and people asked for an autograph, but during Twilight it became a madhouse. I couldn’t leave the house without having screaming fans or paparazzi following me. For two years I had an enormous problem with this and I was regularly in a slump. There were moments that I felt lost, disconnected from everything and everyone. Because I missed the ordinary everyday things. Walking in the park, having a drink with friends, but after seven years in LA I got used to my new life. I feel comfortable. I also notice that the worst part is over. Recently I went out with friends in London and that was fine. People let me be. A full beard and wearing a dirty sweater always help (laughs).”
And that for a style-icon and the poster boy of Dior.
Pattinson: (laughs) “Me a style-icon? I think it’s funny that people even dare associate me with fashion. I’m absolutely no fashionista. I always wear the same jacket and tee shirts. Sometimes for weeks on end. And because I moved frequently the last few years, there are hardly any clothes in my closet. Which is really weird. I stole almost every piece of clothing that I ever got for a premiere. Just don’t ask me where I left all those things.”
Back to LIFE: Dennis Stock died in 2010, but if you wanted advice about photography of course you could always turn to Anton Corbijn.
Pattinson: “That is right. Apart from director Anton is also a photographer who has photographed many famous people and given them their public image. Think about Joy Division or Depeche Mode. Immediately you think about Anton’s iconic photos as soon as you mention those names. Anton knows perfectly what kind of impact an image can have and how revealing or manipulative it can be. The first thing Anton did was to push a camera in my hands and encouraged me to make a reportage. That’s how I discovered that there are many similarities between acting and photography. Dennis was a shy guy who feared that he would never become as good as he hoped he would be. That insecurity hindered his potentials for a long time. But eventually he got to know Dean and he understood that he was dependent on the material and the people in front of his lens. The same applies to acting if you want to make it your profession. You can only be good when the script is good, when the director is good and you know where you want to go.
James Dean was an icon of a generation. And the story of that young actor who starred in Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden before dying tragically in a car crash at the age of 24 makes for an intriguing if sad tale, one that has been endlessly documented and retold in both film and written form. But in the film Life, directed by Berlin-based director Anton Corbijn, the obvious story of James Dean is turned on its head. Rather than the life and death of Dean, it’s the ambitions of a young photographer hoping to to document James Dean’s rising profile that Life takes as its subject matter.
In Life James Dean is still a largely unknown actor who is on the cusp of fame, with the two films that made him famous on the verge of coming out. Photographer Dennis Stock (played by Robert Pattinson), senses James Dean’s (Dane DeHaan) rising star and seeing the opportunity for his own photography career, is determined to pin down the rebellious, and press-shy Dean for a photo-shoot. While Dean agrees in principle, actually pinning him down for a shoot proves anything but straightforward. Based on the true story behind the LIFE Magazine photos of James Dean which would cement the young actor’s reputation as an icon, and become some of the most celebrated photos of the last century, Life explores the tension between photographer and subject, fame and authenticity, and what it means to be an artist.
Before taking on this role, did James Dean mean anything to you personally?
I certainly went through a period where I was really into him. I'd watch all of his old interviews and stuff. I remember when I first started acting, I'd really look at a lot of his body language on camera, and I remember being really into him then. Even if you don't appreciate him as an actor, it's astonishing especially given it was 1955, how ahead of his time he was in terms of camera technique and style.
Given your fascination with him, were you tempted at all to play the James Dean character in this movie?
No, not really. It's just not who I am at all. I always related more to being kind of someone who’s getting in his own way all the time, which is very much like Dennis Stock. His battle is only with himself, and that's something I can understand.
In what way?
Well Dennis is trying to be an artist but really he has this enormous fear of not being as good of an artist as he thinks he is, and so he'll blame it on anything else – like having a kid, or having to be in LA, any excuse he can point to. And he does this because he has this huge fear. It's basically the fear of not being the person who you imagine yourself to be. And that fear is debilitating to him, and it stops him from doing anything all.
And you have the same feeling?
I sort of go in and out of it...
Why? Is it because your fame was too big, and so the expectations on you were too high? Where does this come from?
I think a lot of actors just sort of fall into the job, or end up doing it, and feel like they're going to get found out as a fraud at some point. I think loads of people feel like that. But I think what I see as the parallel between an acting career and a photography career is that both of them are almost entirely dependent on the material at hand. Dennis Stock took photos of famous people – really talented people, who are incredibly interesting and charismatic, and those are his famous photographs. In fact Dennis Stock, afterwards was resentful that that's what he was known for. And as an actor, you want to be an artist, but you're so dependent on everybody else. Even if you're great in something, there are only a few actors who the audience acknowledges that they were the reason something was good. So as both as an actor and a photographer, it's hard to claim credit I think.
But you must be able to identify with some of things that James Dean went through as well, in that people expect so much from you, and that so many things are written about you…
Robert Pattinson: I mean I've never really acknowledged people's expectations at all. The thing with James Dean in this film, which is the same reason I think a lot of actors get disillusioned, is that he's saying "I thought it was going to be one way, and it's something else". But I never thought anything was going to be an particular way at all. And so, in the good times and the bad times, they're all just new experiences, and it's not like I can't really be disillusioned with anything because I didn't have any expectations in the first place.
Have you ever thought about not attending one of your own film premieres like James Dean does in the movie?
I think these days you'd literally just get sued for that. Maybe you could. But I don't even think you're allowed to be like that anymore. Like if you do that now, you just don't get employed at all. But doing press doesn't really bother me. You want people to see the movie, especially when people like it.
Could a story like the relationship between James Dean and his photographer Dennis Stock be possible today? Where a photographer approaches a young aspiring actor, and they become friends?
I think definitely. It happens quite a lot I think. But I think it only works until you get to a certain level of fame. I remember when I did the first Twilight, before it came out there were a couple of journalists who I got on with. They wrote good profiles on me and they kind of championed me for the first year or so. But then, after a while I think if you do too many interviews, people aren't interested in the nuance of what you're saying anymore – because you've just said too much and you end repeating yourself. And so editors are suddenly telling their reporters, "Get him to say either something that makes him sound like an idiot, or something controversial." And at that point you can't really be that close with journalists, when you see them needing you to say something bad, simply for their own job. Also it's a dangerous position to be in if you're courting it. Especially if you're courting photographers. I know actors who have made deals with the paparazzi, and it always backfires. Always.
Were Dennis Stock and James Dean friends? Or was it strictly a professional relationship?
I mean they must have been kind of friends. You can see it in the photos of them together that the vibe isn't just professional. But it's not like they were best friends either. And if you look at interview with Dennis Stock, he's a total asshole. I mean that's why I liked the role. And he's so envious of Dean. They're both insisting that they're the artists in this dynamic. Dennis is saying, "I'm the artist, you're just the subject of my photographs," and Dean is like "No, I'm the artist, and you're just a photographer!"
And why did you love that tension?
Because I think people feel like that a lot. Especially when you're trying to be an artist, as soon as you let competitiveness get into it, which is so easy to do, it completely ruins things. It ruins the creative energy. And that's why I liked the role when I first signed up for it. It's interesting playing a part where you're envious as an artist.
Life opens in Berlin cinemas on September 24.
Q: RP, is there also a photo of you which you would call “your Time Square photo” …..
Rob: it is weird, because I have so many pictures taken, at premieres and stuff. There are singular photos which people want to have signed, and that are always the same. I can’t understand it, because it’s not my taste. I think, why this picture? I don’t know if there is THE ONE picture… I think I am the wrong person to judge… And the James Dean picture was like a campaign, the pictures were staged in a certain way. they should show the lost soul. should he go back to the family farm or not? they wanted to show the inner conflict of the young farm boy and artist. Pictures of me is like covering every base possible… it’s like he’s a fourteen year old (laughs) or something… it’s kind of dilute a bit.
Q: Isn’t it annoying to be photographed all the time?
Rob: I’m a lot more comfortable now than before. I don’t really know why. I guess when people have seen you a million times in a certain pose then they look through you. Either you stand there like a Madam Tussaud figure or you look just frightened, all the time. I avoid to take photos now.
Q: But sure now you know how to look to get a good photo?
Rob: When I was younger I suddenly caught myself posing. then I told myself to stop. it’s embarrassing.
Q: What did you know about JD?
Rob: Like pretty much any actor goes through a period, I was a bit obsessed with him, with 16 or 17. Everyone in this age studies his body language, and then in a casting they all do JD, that is quite embarrassing. I didn’t read his biography or anything, but I watched a lot of his stuff.
Q: but then Anton Corbijn didn’t ask you to play JD, but Dane deHaan. Were you disappointed then?
R: I mean, he is a very interesting person, it’s an interesting part, but Dennis stuck out to me anyway. They way the JD role was written he is very self confident. He knows that he will break through. But I never was one who thinks success is inevitable. When there are problems I think at once: you don’t make it. Dennis Stock was full of fear, I can relate to that much more than the kind of free spirited artist.
Q: We don’t know as much about Stock as we know about JD. We see Dennis Stock in a very unsatisfied situation, also in private life. What was the point you wanted to show?
Rob: He is a quite negative character. he is an asshole. that’s what I loved about it. this is deceptive. Many people who want to be an artist are afraid, and the fear holds them back from becoming the artist they want to be. And then they blame wife and kid, and the city, because they are afraid they aren’t as good an artist as they think. that was Dennis personality, and I can relate to this. And then there is JD, and Dennis is so jealous, he’s living the life the way he wants to live it. And he is fulfilling his potential as an artist. He is like: I don’t understand.
Q: how do you cope with pressure and expectations for yourself?
Rob: I go back and forth. People always say: don’t listen to anyone. But obviously you have to listen to people. It’s a difficult balance. On the one hand you are supposed to entertain people, and on the other hand it can hurt you so much when the audience doesn’t like you. At the same time you can’t do anything interesting without the fear. it’s a difficult balance. one day you say: f… it. the next: please love me! and without this pressure it would be boring. I don’t have a solution. Everytime I take a new job I go crazy, everything in me breaks down, I get depressed and think I’m the worst actor ever. My dad says then, I like you this way, it means you will be doing a good job. But I can’t find the idea romantic that you have to pay with pain. I don’t understand it, it’s so weird. Because once you are working it’s fine, it’s fun. But the weeks before are awful.
Q: Maybe you don’t see it in your hotel room, but the fans are standing early in the morning at the red carpet to see you in the evening. I see similarities to JD, the hype, the screaming since TW - can you compare it?
Rob: I see a difference. Twilight was one of the first movies where the distribution company has seen the potential of the internet fanbase. they let them create the hype. With JD it was that people wanted him to be their leader. that is the difference. In Twilight the audience wanted to find themselves. Fans felt like a part of it. the JD fame - and that’s why the pressure was so much higher for him - people were looking at him: where are you taking us, tell us how to live! well, no one has asked me how to live at all!
Q: When did you realize what has happened to you? Twilight was just a movie but has caused such a hysteria….
Rob: I feel I was in sort of shock for four years. In the last two years I start to realize things slow down a little bit. And i understood who I am and what I want. When I had signed for the Twilight sequels I knew it would take ten years until the next chapter of my life can start. And it feels exactly like this. It’s seven years now, things calm down. I can go to the supermarket now. it’s amazing, this glorious experiences like going to McDonalds! (laughing)
Q: maybe one day you’ll go to the supermarket and no one recognize you. Would you miss it?
Rob: No. I never really found that much… I mean, it’s nice when people come to premieres, and when suddenly no one came I’d wonder. I like my job and want people to see the movies. but the hysteria doesn’t fill me, on the contrary, it makes me nervous, I don’t need it. The only scary thing is when you get to a point where people still recognize you, but they just don’t care. (laughs) that’s the worst.
Q: Do you photograph yourself? I don’t mean selfies, I mean real photos.
Rob: I don’t have a selfie face. there are some people who can take selfies, and they look really good. and then there are people with asymmetric faces, and depending on the side the picture is taken they look like an idiot. that’s what I have. If not for this maybe I’d be all the time on Instagram and twitter and stuff with my photos. But because i don’t have a selfie face, it’s just, it’s not, I can’t be a part of it. (laughs)