Source: Numéro Homme magazine - March 2016
by Olivier Joyard
He has become one of the most bankable actor of his generation by winning the heart of a million fans mad about the vampires saga
‘Twilight’. Far away from the Hollywoodians Blockbusters, Robert Pattinson is nowadays inventing himself a destiny no one could have
predicted: Dior Homme Perfume égérie & Dior Homme apparel égérie is blossoming in demanding acting performances, sometimes radicals.
When Robert Pattinson appeared to the world’s eyes, ten years ago, it was as an agitated Poudlard student in ‘Harry Potter and the
Goblet of fire’. The ‘Twilight’ saga then sacred him, in only five movies, as a star with a stupefying success. Face grimed white,
he played a vampire, charming bad boy never forced, turning teenage girls’ head around. Behind the fiction for emotive girls, a kind
of elegance already showed up. The one we find back in the boy who will celebrate his thirtieth birthday in Spring, asking himself
thousand of questions. How to find yourself credible? What to do when everything happened so soon? He could have capitalised on the
dollars he fully gathered and he could have accepted more roles to always win more – which were propositionned to him again and
again – or else, in a well known manner as well, he could have exploded in the famous world and drowned into it, offering to the
gossip fans one more sad hollywoodian story based on drugs and despair. Nevertheess, Pattinson stayed focused on what no one, except
himself, could have seen coming: the blossom of an artist. Even behind these formatted blockbusters, hearts can beat.
The turning point began in 2012. The last ‘Twilight’ episode year, Robert Pattinson stepped on the Cannes red carpet, next to the
most respected film maker of the last thirty years, David Cronenberg. Shooting down the ultra-liberal billionnaires’ customs,
‘Cosmopolis’ (from a novel by Don DeLillo) opened the eyes of some people in the audience and shows the actor’s explorations. He
went back to his forgotten teenage movies’ loves when rented Godard and Bunuel’s DVDs from his local videoclub in London’s suburbs.
The indie movie came back as a boomerang in Robert Pattinson’s life and it is anything but hazard. Even if he, more than anyone, can
take any risks (the projects create themselves financially thanks to his name), this kind of attitude makes him mostly intriguing.
Instead of researching Oscar roles in the most respectable way and mostly vain in the prestigeous cinema world, Pattinson looks for
alternative experiences. He once again films with David Cronenberg, in a ferocious game of massacre directed at the movie industry
in Los Angeles (‘Maps To The Stars’), and gets on with mad German master Werner Herzog, with as his co-star James Franco (‘Queen of
the Desert’). During the six first months of 2016, he will realise a copletely unexpected double blow. After filming with the Safdie
Brothers, New Yorkers icones in mad indie movies, the British guy is getting ready to hold the lead role in Claire Denis’ new movie
– the Frenchy’s first try at science fiction. The era has the symbols it deserves, and the model of freedom Robert Pattinson
represents brings it higher.
Numéro Homme: Three years ago, after the ‘Twilight’ saga, you changed paths, filming with David Cronenberg. You balanced between
ecstasy and angst about your future career. Where are you at nowadays?
Robert Pattinson: I learned it takes time for the most unbelievable projects to simply exist. The craziest things are the most
fragile. Sometimes they scrumble. I am looking for movie makers who I deeply want to work with. It has been years since I wanted to
work with the French Claire Denis, and now it is coming true. We will film together a sci-fi movie from next May. The Danish platics
technician Olafur Eliasson is going to create space vessels and black holes. It will probably be crazy! I don’t know if my being a
part of it helped financially but, nevertheless, in the movie I am going to film in the next few days (this interview dates back
from January 19th), there might be a slight possibility I influenced that a bit. The project is signed by Josh and Benny Safdie, New
Yorkers indie movie makers totally underground, in the best sense of the word. Josh told me about making his first movie, ‘The
Pleasure of being robbed’, with the money of a handbag ad. Thanks to a simple ad he made an entire movie!
The Safdie brothers said in an interview you were untamable. A really nice compliment from them…
I adore them. I found a photogram of their movie ‘Heaven Knows What’ even before the trailer came out. Stupefied
by the strength of this image, I instantly sent an email to Brady Corbet, with whom I filmed, because he became a director. I knew
he had lots of connections in New York City. Evidently he knew the Safdies. I met them, and two months later, they sent me one of
the best script I have ever read. With them, I am going to discover another cinema. The actors I am going to act with are not
professionnals, because Josh and Benny do wild casting. I won’t be looked at as a classical actor there.
By going towards a demanding cinema, do you feel like you found your path/way? The ‘Twilight’ era seems to be
I imagine the audience kept a certain image of me. I always feel like I have to prove myself. I did not have
enough lead roles to make them forget about it or to see me any differently. Waiting for that, I follow my path, with the constant
reminder to diversify myself. I just came back from filming with James Gray in Colombia (‘The Lost City of Z’): an adventure movie
with costumes where the characters are subjected to hunger. They stray in the jungle and find ancient ruins. James Gray is adulated,
here in France, right? He is a perfect guy. I have never met someone as New Yorker as he is. He truly is the best companion to be in
the jungle with (laughs). When he went into a river, he wore scrubs like scientists to avoid contaminations!
Did this set’s environnement, in the middle of nowhere, suit you?
A lot. I love uncomfortable, surprising atmospheres which make you enter a new dimension. It is simplier than what
I am used to but at the same time more difficult. I had a chaotic progression, with moments of explosion. It took years to digest
what happened to me, the movies’ success, the celebrity… Younger I did not have a career’s plan, no particular ambition. I had to
create them from time to time.
Was your family, from afar or not, a part of the cinema industry?
Not at all. My family did not really go to cinema or to see plays in theaters. My dad sold cars, my mum worked in
a model agency. But the idea of acting interested me. I attended a drama school so it had a weird effect on me: the other students
were so sure of themselves becoming actors that I just shut down on myself. I came from a very strict establishment where I got
expelled from and it is then that everything changed because the school was more liberal I guess. It really was later on that I
could invest myself in a theater company in my district, in which I was comfortable in.
As a teenager, did you watch a lot of movies?
A whole lot. But what I saw on screen was foreign to my own life. Every day I would watch movies, without even
thinking about making that into my job. For me, cinema represented a kind of forbidden way of living. I wanted to see what I was not
supposed to see at my age. And for that, I had an ideal accomplice: the videoclub salesman. As he had a crush on my sister, he let
me rent the most audacious movies, often rated R so for 18 and more – I was 12 – at the condition he was the one selecting them.
That is how I discovered indie movies as ‘The Killing of a Chinese Bookie’ by John Cassavetes. He actually hoped my sister would see
it and be impressed by his choice. It never happened (laughs).
And now you are the one in indie movies. The circle is completed…
These movies represent my tastes, that’s for sure. When I look at my DVDs collection from my seventeens and the
movie makers I film with nowadays, some are a part of it: Werner Herzog, David Cronenberg, for example… I still have difficulties to
believe it… I still see Werner Herzog as a name on a DVD cover than a real person!
Do the directors from your generation interest you?
Yeah, more and more. Before ‘The Childhood of a Leader’, by Brady Corbet, who is 27, I never filmed with someone
as young. It was a completely different experience than filming with a master. Another vision of cinema. I see it clearly with the
Safdie brothers. They are used to everyone saying no to them. They live in a world they don’t control so they just go with strength
right into it. A few weeks ago we made tests for the movie in a car wash point in New York City. We just came in and filmed something.
Employees and clients looked at us like we were mad: “Just leave guys, what the hell are you doing, go jeez!” But before they got to
call the cops we finished to film the scene.
You have been collaborating with Dior since 2013. You first filmed the Dior Homme perfume campaign, directed by Romain
Gavras. The most recent was directed by Peter Lindbergh. How do you see this collaboration?
Since the beginning they have all been adorable with me. At the first appointment, they told me “you do whatever
you want”. The decision was easy to make because Dior never forced me to do anything. I think there are some clauses in my contract
they never told me to respect (laughs)! Publicly appearances for example… It is quite cool. Our collaboration just extended to the
clothing campaign from this year on, which will premiere in April. I feel really at ease in this non corporate atmosphere.
Your success cannot be denied, nevertheless you often talk about your doubts, which is a driving element…
I still have lots of doubts about myself. The people I work with know this. Three weeks before filming, I just
panic and call my family or friends telling them I will never be able to do it… At that moment I really think it is the truth, my
confidence leaves me, reduced in tatters. And then it is back when I enter the set. Even knowing this, the next time, it happens
again. The people around me don’t even listen to me anymore…
What do you do of your time when you are not filming? You also play music since you were young without having worked
on an album…
I just let myself breathe. It is like in love relationships, if we go into it giving it all without any perspective,
things are condemned from the start. Polluted. I love letting other domain in on my life, in the creative area. Leaving Los Angeles
contributed to my equilibrium as well. When we are there, the brain works weirdly, we imagine that leaving the city for a week will
make us disappear from the radars. In England, where I came back to, all the people I meet don’t work in the cinema industry.
Don’t you think about writing or directing?
I began creating clothes. Since two years ago, I visit with manufacturers and craftsmen. There are a lot of pieces
already. My style is influenced by the cities I go to, the origin of the materials as well as the local competences. In Los Angeles
it is really easy to work on denim and clothes inspired by the workswear. In England I mostly go with wool and pullovers. What I do
is multi-form, clothes for men and women, things I create with friends… But I don’t really want to go into details, I don’t want to
Will it be possible to hear more from it in a bit?
When we type ‘Robert Pattinson’ on Google, the first occurrences always happen to be about your love life. Do you hope
it will change at one point?
Sometimes I go through times when it makes me completely mad. I wonder what people are looking for when they type
my name. Certainly gossips. Are they alone at home? That said, my career has not suffered from it, I am not blacklisted anywhere yet.
I am working with whoever I want in universes interesting to me. So, I don’t have the intention to force the audience to change
their point of view. I need things to go in an organic way. Maybe one day I’ll be seen differently. Well, I must admit I still fall
into the trap, to fall into Internet limbo by looking at what is said about me. At least I never felt the need to leave comments!
The celebrity golden rule is to not answer these trolls…
Sometimes, I would like to and I would like to have a twitter account to do so. But I know I would spend too much
time on it. I would lose myself into it all night long. Nevertheless, I hope to avoid this kind of life. It is the reason why I
don’t sign up! (laughs)
What you cannot avoid though is the time passing by. You will turn 30 in May. How do you see this passage?
Honnestly, it is terrifying! It has only been a week I thought about it going to happen, result is, today, for the
first time in weeks I shaved with precisions before the photoshoot. I tried some clothes yesterday, the model on the presentation
image must have been 14. And looking at myself in the mirror I wondered “But why does my arse look like this?!” (laughs)
Do you have a focus for this following ten years? Do you have a goal?
All the works I accept open new doors for me and unexpected perspectives. Every time I am astonished by it, and I
want to be more and more surprised. It is why I don’t focus on one particular goal. I am just being open minded to everything that
could come to me.
When the first ‘Twilight’ episode was released, some people in Hollywood, seeing you arrive with your lad British
attitude, tried to temper your behaviour. They asked you not to drink alcohol during premieres, for example. You rebelled against it.
Do you still feel like in rebellion?
Nope, I fell asleep, I have been broken by the system. (laughs) To be honest I don’t put myself in a situation
where people order me around or try to change the way I am. The freedom I have to choose the people I work with produce something
really interesting: those who take me to be a part of their movie don’t have a false idea of me. So, they don’t try to bend me or to
change me. I don’t regret being a rebel in the past when it was time to do so. If we try to be a part of a mold when we are young,
it is for sure leading to a disaster. We just end up not knowing who we are and we just begin destroying hotel rooms! (laughs) I
know who I am. At least, almost. Everything resides in the “almost”…
Scans & translation by Laura - thank you so much !