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''[Water for Elephants] makes you think about opportunities and missed opportunities and how important it is to live a full life.'' —Reese Witherspoon
''That was the other thing about Water for Elephants. There was something about the posture of the '30s, something that I felt my body could fit into — it was quite languid, which I find easier. I think modern-day things generally, I don't understand. I can watch actors move and there's something, there's some kind of snappy thing to it and I don't... I'm not snappy. There is a lack of snappiness." —Robert Pattinson
''There's something about her. She's just this genuinely nice person. I don't know if she puts an effort into creating a nice aura, but her mood dissipates over the whole set. It was a completely different environment from when she wasn't there. All the kids and the animals were just drawn to her.'' —Pattinson talking about Witherspoon
''He's dedicated. And he loves what he does. It's amazing, he got such an incredible opportunity so young and he intends to use every bit of it to make creative choices from here on out.'' —Witherspoon talking about Pattinson
''Well, it's a boy thing, right? To have dirty fingernails and dirty hair, and his clothes were dirty all the time. It was a nice escape for him to be tan and in the sun all the time instead of the vampire gear.'' —Witherspoon talking about Pattinson
The real prototype of these generational mutations is Rob Pattinson: 24 years old, and Englishman in Hollywood, where he became famous worldwide playing the pale vampire Edward Cullen (and, even before, Cedric Diggory, a model student at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series). He jokingly admits to be “nothing special, one of those who live in hotels and travel the world”. However, he created a new masculine identity, surprising even for the Facebook sub-culture who’s made him a star via the social network. Today is the eve of an important test for him: his new movie, WFE: he’s the protagonist of a melodramatic film, set in a circus, from the bestselling book by Sara Gruen. […]
Having been labelled as a teen idol, you’re now being tested as a true actor.
I had this chance to act with Cristoph Waltz and I fall in love with Marlena (Reese), his wife. Travelling with the circus, I visit areas of America far from Hollywood. There are dark secrets in this movie, as in life. And there’s this idea of life-saving love, which I believe in. I’m not cheesy, but I have a romantic soul.
Do you get on well with girls?
I grew up with two older sisters, and I have a great respect for women. I hate the lack of prudishness, I get bored when people are ostentatious of their body. Sex and feeling for me walk side-by-side.
Your rock side: people say you spend nights with your friends listening to Tom Waits, Van Morrison and the late Jeff Buckley.
Music is a key aspect of my life. I wish I could play a movie about Buckley, his voice, his songwriting gave me a lot. I’m interested in his creativity, in his existence, even in his death by drowning in 1997, in the Mississippi.
What kind of use do you do of Internet?
A practical use. My favourite movie last year was The Social Network and one day I’d like to work with David Fincher. Everything he does is interesting, and he got the best out of an actor I really admire, Jesse Eisenberg.
Mr. Pattinson, you’re an idol. Who’s yours?
Jack Nicholson. He had a huge career and he always owned his characters. Whereas, in the end, for a lot of people, I am just Edward the vampire and in my life I’m just Robert. We share the same hairstyle. But when I read an entire article about my hair, I laugh my best British laugh.
By the way: what brought you from London to Hollywood?
Difficult work perspectives. I didn’t have great experiences as an actor, I had posed rather awkwardly as a model; then, cinema. In Vanity Fair I was Reese’s son, while in this last movie I’m her lover.
To be honest, not a great curriculum.
No, and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to be an actor; I had always thought I was going to be a writer or a musician. But then I fell In love with the adventurous aspect of cinema. And I found the discipline, the ethic, and let me tell you, the inner call, which helped me to give a proper structure to my life.
Fame was next, a non-human fame: the vampire. How did Rob Pattinson protect his persona from fans only interested in a celebrity?
I am a cinephile, I’ve always loved cinema. It’s a passion. Cinema has the most important, and the truest communicative task: it makes us dream, it broadens our imagination, and yes, it can help us become better people. I started studying French just because I was interested in the nouvelle vague director Godard. All of this doesn’t make me a “celebrity” even if I later entered the Hollywood system.
How important was your family in your education?
I have a solid family behind me, two sisters, Lizzie is a musician like me; yes I play piano and guitar and I even wrote songs for Twilight. I remain an Englishman, I still remember my days in a public school, the Harrodian, where I wasn’t an extraordinary student, but always curious and open to cultural variety. My family taught me a sense of reality, of duty, the refusal of any kind of hysteria and I’ve never considered myself superior to Americans because I’m from London. I hate every kind of snobbery: it has often racism behind it.
We know very little about your life. As a man and an actor, how would you describe yourself?
My father Richard sold cars for years, my mother works as an agent in the show business. I started acting almost by chance at school and I played in a band. I never asked for too many clothes and shoes, and I’ve never been a social climber and I’ll never be. I read a lot and I still do; my favourites are the Russian writers, Dostoevskij, Nabokov. They make fun of me on set because I’m always reading stuff. Lately I’ve been reading again my favourite English writer, Martin Amis. His books are extraordinary accounts of contemporary life and psychology.
What was the turning point from the status of young actor to superstar?
I came to a point where I said: I’m going to be a professional actor, looking for the origins of my characters, making something real out of this ephemeral job. This will allow me to live the life I want to live, to be active in green politics, to be a citizen of the world. Fame is an handicap, not a privilege, it often complicates things. I try to not fall in the web of top class hotels, first-class flights, designers sending you tons of stuff, thousands of girls everywhere..
Can you resist everything? Can you define yourself by what you refuse? You’re immune to gossip?
My private life is off-limit. I’ve never spoken about my flirts, I’m not a man for short and superficial love affairs. I don’t talk about my relationships with female friends, not to mention how I don’t talk about my relationship with Kristen Stewart, an actress I admire because she’s a real person, and a real actress. It was the chemistry I had with her helped me to get my role in Twilight. I don’t let people take pics of the houses I rented both in New York and London. When I’m in L.A. I live mostly in hotels. You can live very well in the anonymity of a hotel room, especially when you have a piano to play.
How important do you consider your style, the clothes you wear?
I like dressing Calvin Klein, English shoes, Tshirts and comfortable jeans. I’ve always been influenced by James Dean’s look. Yesterday elegance was conformism, today it’s individuality. Maybe we should find a balance.
Memorable travels around the world?
I avoid going on vacation to trendy places, I prefer road trips with friends, like students who choose nice motels, cafes in the depths of America, where a lot of people can’t even recognize me. Simple people who teach me how life is not Twilight. I travel to keep my feet firmly on the ground.
Are you interested in the real world?
I’m still interested into green politics and animals, preferably without paparazzi following me around. I have a dog, my true life companion, that’s never going to be in a photo shoot. This whole animal welfare thing is deeply in my heart: it was a real joy to be able to work with so many different species in WFE. I have a democratic and liberal concept of my life.
Congratulations. But don’t you think this is a super-serious attitude for an actor famous like you?
This is me, just me: I’m not interested in casual relationships, I need to know people, I’m not making an existential statement here: simply, I want a family, with 2 or 3 kids. Not funny? I really wish I could talk to animals more than to people who think they know me just from my movies.
Cosmopolis, Cronenberg’s move, is really going to be super-serious, from DeLillo’s novel, a metaphorical trip into America before 9/11.
I portray a contemporary man: ambitions, velleity, subterranean anxiety. Great stuff.
You're incredibly busy. What is it about Water for Elephants that made you decide this was the film you wanted to do next?
When I first met Francis, we met at the elephant sanctuary where Tai the elephant lived. I got along with him really, really well in the car. We arrived at this place, met the elephant and he was showing us all the tricks that it was going to do in the movie—it was such an incredible day and just the environment of being around elephants was the first major thing. I loved the idea of working on such a peaceful set because just being around them is incredibly peaceful. Also, having done so many stressful things over the previous year, when I read the script and the book and loved them both, it just felt like I could add something to it. Then it had Reese and Christoph on it and I felt like you can't really get a better cast, and that was about it. I thought it was kind of a no-brainer, really.
It's interesting to hear you talk about the animals because one scene that stands out is the first time you walk through and meet all the animals by yourself. You just seemed so comfortable in that circus environment.
There was something about where we were shooting and just the wildness the story created—there's something kind of magical about it. We were shooting out in the middle of the desert and everything was in this authentic '30s circus tent and there was hardly any kind of modern day film equipment anywhere. You could really believe that you're in the '30s. There was just something about the way the light comes through the tent. There's this real mystic quality and then there's extremely hot, tired animals, exotic animals in these period cages. There is something incredibly beautiful and strange when you see a hyena and tigers and zebras and they're all in the same room together all passed out sleeping—and a baby giraffe at the end. One thing about that scene specifically, the baby giraffe was completely clueless to the fact that there's the tiger in one cage and lion in the other cage directly opposite it. They're both staring at the giraffe during the scene and I was just trying to make the giraffe not realize what was happening and keep him looking in one direction.
That sounds like a metaphor for something, although I'm not exactly sure what.
It's funny because the giraffe wasn't born in the wild or anything so it had no idea of the threats posed about four feet away from him. I mean, everyone always talks about, "Never work with children and never work with animals," but I just found that it's always been a part of me. I enjoy working with children and animals more than adults the majority of the time because they're a constant source of inspiration because they're just doing their own thing. They don't know they're in a movie.
They're the ultimate method actors.
They're really, really, into their characters. [Laughs]
As a kid, did you want to run away with the circus?
Not really. I only went to the circus once when I was about six or something. The clowns were in this little car and the car door blew off and my sister told me that the clown had died, which is completely untrue but I thought it was true up until a year ago. I think that was one of the things that set me off from ever going to the circus again. It's funny because so many people always think the circus is creepy and then you watch Water for Elephants and it doesn't seem even like a circus, really. Some people have asked me, "Is it scary? Are there freaky clowns?" No. Why is that the first thing that comes to your head when you think about a circus? That is just very strange.
So many people are afraid of clowns. What happened to them when they were kids?
I know. It's so weird. Maybe in my generation, most people want to be miserable all the time so they're scared of someone trying to make them laugh. One of my favorite movies was It when I was younger. I kind of always liked the idea of a psycho clown.
I think I actually do blame It for a lot of that. I remember watching that when I was really young and just being terrified—especially of spiders, too.
I watched it again recently and it's really not very scary. I was terrified of it when I was younger for years.
My parents let me read that book when I was ten. I don't know what they were thinking. I wanted to ask you, this film has such an American feel to it. Since you're from London, I was wondering what you drew on to give it this great '30s frontier spirit?
I think it's always been my favorite period of America. Whenever I'm driving through the countryside in America and just see flat land going for ages and ages and tiny little towns with their little gas station and stuff. That's what my idea of America is. I never think about New York or any of the cities. That's what it seems to me. That period, that's the end of the Wild West. That energy I find really attractive. I like the idea of romanticizing America because England in the '30s, there's nothing I particularly want to romanticize. There's something about America at that point in time that seems very symbolic of hope for some reason. As soon as I saw the way Jack Fisk the production designer created the sets, and also just the days and the times of the day we chose to shoot on-we were always shooting in magic hour-it just felt incredibly American all the time and I really liked it. I don't know if you could make a modern movie feel the same. I don't what you do to make something seem really American if it was modern day. Before the '40s, people are essentially still cowboys and that's what Americans are to me. And then it became all white picket fences and something totally different. But the '30s are cool.
Twilight-fans, take heart: Robert Pattinson is every bit as good-looking and thick-maned as he appears onscreen. But don’t confuse him with his brooding characters — the 24-year-old actor is surprisingly open, chatty, and quick to laugh. Pattinson talked with EW last week about his upcoming film Water for Elephants (in theaters April 22), in which he plays a traveling-circus veterinarian who falls for the show’s star attraction, played by Reese Witherspoon. He also discussed what his future might look like once he’s finished with Twilight. “You can never really predict what an audience wants or how to maintain a career,” he says, “other than doing what you think is cool.” But, Pattinson laughs, “Generally, what I think is cool is what everyone else hates.”
Filming for the final two installments of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn will wrap next month, and there’s one thing Pattinson says he won’t miss — the contact lenses he’s had to wear to play Edward. “My God, I’ll be glad to see the last of those,” he says. “I actually want to get some kind of plastic explosive. I want to reanimate them into something so I can kill them. It’s so embarrassing for me — after so many years, it’s still a process every single morning. Everybody else has figured out how to do it, and then there’s two people holding me down because I can’t do it myself.”
“Pattinson says that signing on to Elephants, directed by I am Legend’s Francis Lawrence, was a no brainer, and that he’s considering his post-Twilight career very carefully- though ultimately he knows whatever will be, will be. “It’s impossible to predict anything,” he sighs before grinning. “When it all goes down the toilet, you can just weep.” After the labour intensive shoot for the final two Twilight films, Breaking Dawn parts 1 & 2 (in theatres Nov 2011 & Nov 2011), wraps in April, he’ll start shooting David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, with Juliette Binoche and Paul Giamatti. “He’s an incredibly hard working person with an incredible work ethic,” says Witherspoon. “He doesn’t ever complain. Not once. Which is sort of lower than the national average for actors. They’re always complaining. Especially the men!”
Twilight lovers will be happy to know that Pattinson is as good looking and thick-maned in person as he appears on screen. But they shouldn’t confuse him with any of the broody characters he’s played. He’s talkative and laughs easily- about the intense fame that’s followed him since Twilight became a phenomenon (“How is this still a story? It’s boring.”), about the darkness of the Breaking Dawn movies (“It’s going to be sooo weird.”), and most of all, at himself. “I’d love to play a big fat person,” he says, contemplating a different look in a post-Edward Cullen era. No doubt it would just mean more of him to love.
EW: You and Tai, the elephants, have a special bond in Water for Elephants. Do you think she’ll remember you at our photo shoot tomorrow?
Robert Pattinson: I don’t know. I’m terrified that she won’t. I’ll be so so happy if she does.
EW: There were a lot of animals on the set. What was that like?
Pattinson: It could be really scary. The bars of the cages for the lions and tigers were too wide, and they could fit their arms out completely. There were tigers like, battling at the top of the Steadycam operator’s camera. But Christoph! I’ve never seen anything like it. Once he was in character, he somehow managed to take away every bit of fear and walk down this passageway that was only a foot wide, and there were all these tigers literally jumping out, and there wasn’t a single flinch! I was like, “That’s not acting, that’s actually schizophrenia.” [Laughs] It was crazy, because I’m genuinely terrified.
EW: And then there are your human co-stars. How was working with Reese?
Pattinson: There’s something about her. She’s just this genuinely nice person. I don’t know if she puts an effort into creating a nice aura, but her mood dissipates over the whole set. It was a completely different environment from when she wasn’t there. All the kids and the animals were just drawn to her. It made it incredibly easy to do my part- all my reaction shots are just watching her work brilliantly. She’s really cool and she’s just…never, ever annoying. God, that’s the worst description isn’t it?
EW: You played her son in 2004s Vanity Fair, but your character didn’t make the final cut.
Pattinson: Yes, my big break. [Laughs] Me and my best friend- it was both of our first jobs, and we had adjacent scenes. We went [to the premiere] and we saw his scenes but not mine. They forgot to tell me. I was jealous of him for about 5 years.
EW: Did you and Reese remember each other from that time period?
Pattinson: Yeah, completely. No, actually, I don’t know what I’m talking about, not really. I only worked with her for two days. But she was lovely to me, I remember that. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was freaking out. It’s pretty much the only time I’ve forgotten my lines, and it scarred me so much I’ve never let it happen again. We did a scene where she cries, and we started doing the scene and immediately there were tears…and I couldn’t remember a single thing in my head. And then they say, “Cut” and she wasn’t crying anymore. I was like, “How are you doing that? That isn’t fair. I want to be able to do that!”
EW: Do you feel like you’re getting better, or at least more confident, with each film?
Pattinson: I think so. The tiredness helps as well. I’m just so constantly clouded in self-consciousness all the time because I didn’t grow up as a very dramatic kid. I did this movie called Bel Ami at the beginning of the year, and we did a lot of rehearsals, and we were doing all this body language stuff, and I was so embarrassed doing it in front of other actors. And they were so comfortable with it! I felt like the biggest moron ever.
EW: Do you think they’re really comfortable or just that they’ve learned how to fake it better?
Pattinson: Genuinely comfortable, I think. I was watching the other actors- the director would be like, “Just run around screaming!” And I’d go, “Um, no!” [Laughs] People would take off screaming, and they were loving it! I was like, “But how can you love that?” I would love to love that. I would love to revel in my own physicality. I just feel like Id trip over my own feet.
EW: You’re almost finished with The Twilight Saga, with Breaking Dawn parts 1 & 2 wrapping soon. You’ve been filming for a long time.
Pattinson: I literally feel like we’ve been doing it my whole life. [Laughs]
EW: There are a lot of crazy things that happen in these last two movies- not the least of which involves a half-vampire baby’s horrific birth.
Pattinson: [Cracks up] There’s some interesting and weird stuff going on- very, very, very strange. It’s great. For a big mainstream movie, it’s the most obscure storyline and really outside the box. It’s a horror movie. I’ve seen a few bits, and I just can’t see how it’s going to be PG 13… unless they cut everything out. [Laughs]
EW: Harry Potter also gets pretty dark by the end.
Pattinson: But you can sort of gloss over all that stuff in Happy Potter. Here the key story points are the strangest and most disturbing parts. [Laughs] I’d love to know what they’re going to come up with as the [advertising] tagline for it.
EW: How are you and the cast and crew going to celebrate at the end of the series?
Pattinson: I have to go directly to a press tour [for Water for Elephants]
EW: It must be strange to go from filming such dark material into promotion for another film.
Pattinson: A few weeks ago, I did some interviews and was like, “Uh, yeah, so this guy gets an elephant pregnant and gives birth to a panda.” [Laughs] It’s about a vampire elephant baseball players! Water for Elephants was a relief because, for one thing, I didn’t have to wear all that make-up and those contacts… My God, I’ll be glad to see the last of those.
EW: Not so comfortable?
Pattinson: I actually want to get some kind of plastic explosive. I want to reanimate them into something so I can kill them. It’s embarrassing for me- after so many years, it’s still a process every single morning. Everybody else has figured out how to do it, and then there’s two people holding me down because I can’t do it myself.
EW: And after you do press for Elephants you’re going straight into David Cronenburgs Cosmopolis?
Pattinson: Yes, I’m so excited, and I’m freaking out. I have no prep time, and it’s a Don DeLillo book with semi-obscure dialogue, and I have to change my body shape quite a bit. I’m playing one of those masters-of-the-universe types, and I have to have about 6 percent body fat… which means I need to lose about 70 percent. [Laughs]
EW: So its gym time.
Pattinson: If I could just cut out beer, that’s my one thing. At the beginning of [Breaking Dawn] I had to be really buff because I had to have my shirt off. And when I start [getting fit], I just go crazy about it. It’s like the only thing I can talk about to anyone. So I was like, “I’m going to keep this up the whole time, so for whatever movie I do afterwards I’m going to be so buff.” And then literally one day after my last shirt off scene I started being all [mimics eating voraciously] nom, nom, nom. And I didn’t realise I had one more [shirt off] scene, and you can see it in one of them- I’m clearly [exaggeratedly sucks in his stomach and cheeks].
EW: Do people ever send you comedy scripts? Because you’re funny, and I don’t know if people know that.
Pattinson: It’s weird. Comedy is scary. There are so few comedy scripts, and most of the good ones are written for comedians. There are a few things… I read, like, three things that I really like as comedies, but my agents will never let me do them. [Laughs]
EW: Why not?
Pattinson: Because they’re soooo far out. [Laughs]
EW: Just a complete departure?
Pattinson: That’s why I kind of wanted to do it. I think that’s the only way to do it: You gotta be like, “Okay, I’m going to jump off the moon.”
EW: But once Twilight is finished, can’t you do whatever you want?
Pattinson: I mean, I can. But at the same time, I think people have an incredibly short shelf life, and you can never really predict what an audience wants or how to maintain a career, other than doing what you think is cool. Generally, what I think is cool is whatever everybody else hates.
EW: I’d think you have enough collateral built up so you could do a couple of out-there things.
Pattinson: I know, but then you suddenly start crawling back to the studios, like, “Please, please, please! I’ll do anything, I’ll do the most [idiotic] rom-com you can think of!” [Laughs]
EW: There’s been a lot of Twilight-like excitement about the casting of The Hunger Games. Do you find it amusing? Do you know the books?
Pattinson: I sort of came across it last year, and I didn’t realise it was the most enormous thing in the world. It’s good! It will be a good movie.
EW: Would you ever do a big franchise thing again knowing what you know now?
Pattinson: I would. But I’d want to have more input. The only horrible thing about being part of a franchise..well, not horrible..no, it is horrible…is that the bigger and bigger you get, it’s quite difficult to break out of stuff. When you’ve been playing the same part, you can’t suddenly start playing it differently. It takes away a little bit of the creative kind of..urge.
EW: Who do you turn to for advice when it comes to picking projects?
Pattinson: I really trust my agent and my managers opinion on things, and I also send them to my parents most of the time. My sisters, too. It’s all the same people.
EW: Where’s home? Does L.A feel like home at all?
Pattinson: Sometimes. I just started missing L.A. a bit when I leave it. But any City, I have a shelf life of about 2 months- then there’s the paranoia. When I had a house here, you just really are waiting for it to be discovered. I’d love to have a place, but I’d just be freaking out about it all the time. I’d be constantly thinking someone was going to come I and take stuff.
EW: Do you think after Twilight ends in 2012 you’ll be able to start living a more normal life?
Pattinson: It’s funny how it’s ending in 2012. This is how the world will end. But, um, I don’t know. I think most of people’s recognition is based on the magazines and stuff. All the gossip stories won’t work- they’re always combined with Twilight, so once that’s done and it can’t be combined with the promotion of the film, I think it will end. Because I have an obscenely boring life.”
In the Press Release, there are "Certificate" and "Running time". Since the certificate is 12A, they probably got mixed up. Does that mean the movie's running time is 115 minutes? We think so :)