Robert Pattinson, always twice (bad French joke because Pattinson in English sounds like the word ring in French… So this joke is like ringing twice)
Since twilight, the British man, who received the Hollywood Rising Star award at the Deauville Festival, has not stopped bringing his casual stance in movies by demanding authors. Yesterday, David Cronenberg, now, Anton Corbijn. The teens idol is, in LIFE, the photographer who will reveal the James Dean aura. Interview at the dawn of his second career.
Robert Pattinson enjoys some days off in his London apartment before going on set for ‘The Lost City of Z’ under James Gray’s direction, first in Belfast and then in South America. As soon as the questions star, we can feel the actor is not comfortable with interviews. The phone makes the exchange colder. But, as time passes, by this hot summer day, the ice breaks. We discover, under the young shy man, a funny and very cinephile actor.
Studio: Before filming LIFE, who was Anton Corbijn for you? The musicians photographer or the director of A MOST WANTED MAN?
Rob: It is impossible not to know Anton Corbijn’s pictures. But I am first of all a big fan of CONTROL (first movie by the director about Ian Curtis’ life, Joy division leader). I saw it several times. I really wanted to work with him.
Studio: Is it then because of the director that you choose a project?
Rob: A movie is always a bet. When we sign, we never know if the result will be good or bad. I love having guaranties. By filming with director I admire, the risks are limited. I have dreamt, for years, to film with James Gray, for example. TWO LOVERS is, for me, a masterpiece.: the actors are perfect, the story’s architecture is very subtle. A few directors are capable to film these kind of movies. James Gray makes a very peculiar cinema which possesses a classical breath. We had three projects together. Three years ago, I already told him yes for THE LOST CITY OF Z, the fascinating story of an explorer who disappeared in the Amazon. The script kept evolving. At first, brad Pitt (movie producer) should have played the role Charlie Hunnam has now. But I would not have given up. I was ready to wait more.
Studio: Where does your love for movies come from?
Rob: My first shock as a spectator, at age 15, was A BOUT DE SOUFFLE, by Godard. After the screening, I wanted to be Belmondo even if I did not want to be an actor yet. The movie style was still new… After that, I discovered Milos Forlan, Bob Rafelson. And, a bit later, I trembled in front of SCREAMERS, by David Cronenberg.
Studio: The list of directors you worked with is really impressive: Werner Herzog, David Cronenberg, James Gray, Harmony Korine for next year. Do you only desire to have a career in independent movies?
Rob: The most passionnating roles are found in independent movies. It is impossible to have a blockbuster giving you a subversive role because it is only made to entertain the large audience. I don’t want to have an artist’s pose, I am not interested in a movie if it is only to act in it. I want roles which make me take risks every time (which endanger me).
Studio: Endangering you in which way?
Rob: I don’t know. I act since eleven years ago and I begin knowing what I like and what I can act or not. Indeed, I am looking for complicated roles. I love the idea of looking into a role without knowing hos to act it. The experience as a scientific sense seduces me. Not the experience as a skill.
Studio: Are you going towards this type of career because of what happened with the Twilight saga?
Rob: I started with strange roles, even before filming TWILIGHT. There were small movies. And even TWILIGHT, if we really think about it, it is not really conventionnal. Indeed, I don’t even know how to be convincing as a person said normal in a role.
Studio: Did you refuse a lot of franchise?
Rob: Impossible to answer to that. My agent knows what interests me and just sorts it out, I think. To make fun of me, he usually says, ‘what if a studio comes to you with a hero who had a whooden leg or something repulsive, would you accept it?’ I just follow my dreams: work with directors I admire. Be reassured, the list is not that long, I am coming to the end soon. I have 14 favorite directors and I already filmed with 6 of them. But I have the chance to discover new directors as well, like Josh and Ben Safdie with ho I am going to film a dark comedy, GOOD TIME, in which I almost be the only professional actor.
Studio: What about the project you had with Olivier Assayas, IDOL’S EYE?
Rob: Last autumn, I went to Toronto for the movie and the day before filming, everything stopped. It happened three times. Horrible. I don’t know where we’re at.
Studio: Why did you want Romain Gavras as the director of the Dior ad?
Rob: I just fell in love with his movie, NOTRE JOUR VIENDRA. And on STRESS, his music clip for Justice. I like the frenetic energy whiwh come from it. I know that the video (which shows kids from suburbs being aggressive by breaking everything) has been considered subversive. Romain told me that the day it was released, the extreme left wing views said he was a fascist and the extreme right wing views said he was an anarchist.
Studio: Hard to link this to the luxury brand…
Rob: I was a bit anxious to film an ad. I did not really like to idea to find myself in a position where it would likely say ‘Look at me look at me’. With Romain Gavras, I felt as if the movie would be more visceral and less esthetic. Of course, it is still an ad. I am pleased they added a girl, Camille Rowe Pourcheresse. She draws the attention to herself.
Studio: You must hate being photographed. It is a bit paradoxical you accepted a role as a photographer…
Rob: For me, LIFE is not a movie about photography. What really attracted me, was the path a man chose to become an artist. Dennis Stock sees James Dean as a subject which will open the doors of his artistic career. As James Dean thinks he is the artist and that Dennis’ pictures will only be famous because of him. I love this paradox. Dennis Stock was actually a bit bitter that the only thing we remembered of his career was the JAmes Dean’s pictures. He said he photographed beautiful landscapes and a jazz photoessay. He hated the reason he was famous. I find it really interesting. It happens sometimes for actors.
Studio:Dennis Stock is a little pleasant man. Does it bother you to give this unpleasant image?
Rob: No, it is why the role is passionnating. After reading the script, I imagined Stock’s walking way. I could almost feel his clumsiness, his frustration, his lack of confidence. I understood this man who became a father at 20 without knowing how to be one.
Studio: How did approach the role?
Rob: Anton Corbijn gave me a Leica. I walked around with it during four months. I wished I could be a born photographer, but no miracle happened. My photos were nothing formidable. Nevertheless, these four months made me understand the photographer’s position. We feel at ease everywhere, as if we had a good excuse to be there. Holding a camera in you hands is like having powers. It was particularly true in the 50s because only the professionals could walk around with a camera. Those for non preofessionals were just invented and a few people could actually afford them. There is solitude as well – theme cherished by Anton Corbijn – because photography is one of the only art where you can hide your face. Dennis wanted to be a star too but he could not break the window behind which he hid. This separation becomes stronger when you photograph famous people.
Studio: Did LIFE changed you?
Rob: Yes because I try finding roles which will make me understand who I am better and to improve myself as well. For me, LIFE is a story about self confidence. I have, since, accepted roles I would never had. Extreme films, like the Safdies. And then the next Claire Denis, whom I am a fan of since I discovered WHITE MATERIAL. It will be her first English language movie, and her first scifi movie!
Studio: LIFE questions the eternal youth myth. How do you imagine your thirties, being 29 today?
Rob: I find men’s roles more attracting while aging. So I am not afraid to change. On the contrary. When you’re in your twenties, it is difficult to find good charactrs. As a teen, I loved how James Dean moved. He had an incredible elegance. If we look into his interprétations, he does a lot of gestures which look like dance moves.
Studio: What is your relationship with your body?
Rob: I have always been ill at ease with my body. I am just beginning to get comfortable with it. But foolow a dance class like JAmes Dean did, it is the portray of hell for me! I don’t like body building as well. I think I should get on with it.
Studio: Do you feel pressed by the business to stay Young and handsome?
Rob: As soon as I would need it, I will run to the esthetic surgeon and will replace evrything that needs to be! It seems silicone super muscles have been invented…
Studio: Leonardo Di Caprio’s career, whom you are often compared to, is it an example for you?
Rob: Yes, he had an incredible career… I would love to work with David Michöd once again, who directed me in THE ROVER, as Leo did with Scorsese. The truth is, I don’t really know where I want to go. And I don’t know what I am capable of. I trust the destiny.
Scans | Translation