LOS ANGELES — The pert blonde in the headset peeks into the airless basement conference room. “Rob will be here in five minutes,’’ she says, flashing a smile.
The Rob to whom she refers is Robert Pattinson, the 24-year-old British actor whose penetrating gaze and masterfully moussed hair have helped propel the “Twilight’’ films into a $1.8 billion franchise — with two installments still to be released. Teenage girls around the globe fill Tumblr pages with testimonies to his hotness. Paparazzi stalk him tirelessly, mouths watering. Perimenopausal women, old enough to be his mother, dare to dream.
The blonde in the headset returns. “Rob will be here in one minute.’’
It’s clear now this is no mere estimation. Watches have been synchronized. Spreadsheets distributed. Clipboards clipped.
For two days, Pattinson has been holed up at this luxury beachfront hotel, talking to swarms of reporters, bloggers, and television crews about his latest film, the Depression-era drama “Water for Elephants’’ that opens Friday. Based on the romantic bestseller by Sara Gruen, it’s the story of a young veterinary student (played by Pattinson) who, after losing his parents in a tragic accident, jumps a circus train and falls in with the crew, including the show’s brutal and ambitious owner and his beautiful wife.
Costarring Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz, the film marks Pattinson’s first big-budget role since “Twilight’’ turned him into a pop-culture sensation. If the young actor hopes to have a broad career beyond the B-movie (some would say C-movie) realm of angsty teen vampires, “Water for Elephants’’ could smooth the way.
When the conference room door finally swings open and the superstar lopes in — shuttled apparently through some sort of underground utility tunnel — he is flanked by his manager and a massive bodyguard. The blonde waits nearby, not smiling now, but looking at her phone, her schedule, listening to the voice on the headset.
In the windowless hallway beyond, a cluster of studio types mill about, texting, talking about what’s next, who’s next. Off to one side is another man, eyes like black ice, who looks as if he would happily sink a steel throwing star in your left temple if you made one wrong move.
The main attraction has arrived.
Investing in earnestness
For a guy on the twisty tightrope of mega-stardom, Pattinson is surprisingly candid, less cagey than you would expect. When the situation calls for it, he can be jokey, such as when he quips to reporters that he took the role of Jacob Jankowski so he could work with an elephant. Or that wearing authentic 1930s underpants helped him get into character.
But ask him serious questions and Pattinson gets thoughtful, reflective, invested
Sitting in this nondescript basement, door closed, bodyguard gone, the blue-eyed Brit muses about the difficulties of playing Jacob, whose life has been marred by tragedy, but who holds on to an essential goodness. He gets theater geeky about character and motivation. At one point, he goes so far as to toss out a line about “moral transience.’’ Suffice it to say, this is not the kind of stuff that gets the readers of Us magazine all tingly.
“Sorry,’’ he says, taking a swig of coffee and grinning sheepishly. “I’m just, like, rambling.’’
And there it is. That strange alchemy that’s made Pattinson one of the biggest stars on the planet, that’s earning him an estimated $25 million combined for the last two “Twilight’’ films. One part self-deprecating charm, one part smoldering sincerity, one part unbelievably effective hair products.
Impressing the director
There are plenty of people who would take issue with such a reductive view of Pattinson’s gifts, and not just the fan girls who trawl YouTube and websites that keep tabs on his every move. Waltz, who plays the vicious circus boss, doesn’t understand why anyone might question whether his young costar can hold his own in the sweeping period romance.
“I take offense, in a way, on Rob’s behalf at the interest in his ability as an actor,’’ said Waltz, who won an Oscar last year for his brilliantly creepy portrayal of Nazi Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.’’ “He’s an actor. He’s a grown-up. He is not some silly kid. Why does everybody expect something else? It’s unfair.’’
Of course, Hollywood is littered with promising castoffs. Kids who couldn’t make the jump to adult roles. One-hit wonders. Actors who got typecast and never escaped the strictures of the role that made them a star. For all his success, Pattinson comes with baggage, a corona of fame that can make it difficult to see the actor behind the celebrity. It’s the kind of baggage that can pique a director’s interest, or make him run for cover. “Water for Elephants’’ director Francis Lawrence fell into the first category, with a few qualifiers.
“I was wary about him,’’ Lawrence says. “All I knew was ‘Twilight,’ and it’s such a stylized piece, and it’s hard to see who the guy really is with the makeup and the contacts and the hair.’’
In truth, when it comes to Pattinson’s resume, there’s not that much else to know. Born and raised in London, he made his first splash in 2005’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’’ as the doomed Cedric Diggory. TV roles and a couple of minuscule art-house films followed, but Hollywood was not clamoring. Pattinson has famously said he had almost given up on acting when he landed the role of Edward Cullen in “Twilight’’ opposite Kristen Stewart (now rumored to be his girlfriend). Besides starring in last year’s tepidly received “Remember Me,’’ the vampire franchise remains the actor’s calling card.
So Lawrence, who directed Will Smith in the 2007 apocalyptic thriller, “I Am Legend,’’ sat down with Pattinson to kick around ideas about the “Elephants’’ role and get to know him a little. Lawrence came away impressed. Then the director got him in front of a camera and came away, in a word, stunned.
“I thought he was right once I met with him for the role,’’ Lawrence recalls. “But then you suddenly see him onscreen that first day, and you kind of realize, holy [expletive], I think we’ve really found something here that’s pretty amazing.’’
Pattinson felt the same way.
“I like to think that I have quite good taste in movies, and I want to make the kind of movies that I’d like to see,’’ says the actor, who has previously named “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’’ “The Exorcist,’’ and Godard’s “Prenom Carmen’’ among his favorites. “Water for Elephants’’ “is definitely in a direction of things I want to make,’’ he says. “I think it fills a need. I haven’t seen something like it for a while in the cinema, just the level of detail that people put into it, and artistry.’’
As evidence, he launches into stories about legendary production designer Jack Fisk, best known for his work with Terrence Malick; costume designer Jacqueline West; and the joy of working on a set that felt as if it had been created in the 1930s.
“I really felt like it was only about making a movie with this film, which was one of the big reliefs,’’ Pattinson says. “There’s going to be no sequels. And you just get people who are the best at their jobs and you tell them, ‘I just want you to do your best work in a creative way.’ ’’
Minding the juggernaut
That, of course, is not always the way it works on a franchise, especially a multi-billion-dollar juggernaut such as “The Twilight Saga.’’ Department after department has a say, and a vested interest, in how “Breaking Dawn,’’ the two-part finale of the series, looks and feels when it finally hits theaters — the first part this November, the second part next year.
Pattinson is both frustrated by and fiercely protective of the franchise that has made him a superstar. On the one hand, he grouses that after doing three of the films, “you’d think you’d get more power as an actor, but you get less and less and less.’’ On the other, he is obviously excited by the work he has done on “Breaking Dawn,’’ which is being helmed by Bill Condon.
Which is why today, amid the reporters and the film crews and the cold coffee, Pattinson is furious. Just a couple of days earlier, top-secret pictures from the “Breaking Dawn’’ film set had been leaked online. At this point, these movies are like his children. His costars, like family. For someone to hack in and spoil the surprise, to ruin it for the multitude of fans out there, well, Pattinson won’t have it.
“I’ve been sending out messages to all the good ‘Twilight’ fans to find out who [the hackers] are and kill them,’’ he says. He is joking mostly. But not completely. Pattinson’s got a lot riding on all these movies. He knows this time in the spotlight is precious. Because sooner or later, the circus packs up and moves on.
Source via RPLife :)
LOS ANGELES- “It’s a secret,” said Robert Pattinson, breaking into laughter. He was just asked to talk some more about the script he is supposedly writing, based on a novel by Lillian Hellmann, as disclosed in a Vanity Fair cover story on the actor by Nancy Jo Sales.
Robert claimed that it was “one of those times when you say in an interview that this is off the record, when you are just really excited about something. She’ll say, ‘Yeah, of course.’”
The “secret” was disclosed in the cover piece but Robert clarified that his screenplay project is not based on one of Lillian’s novels. “It’s just something Lillian Hellman wrote.” Laughing again, he said, “I can’t really say what it is.”
The “Twilight” series star balked at giving more details.
But other than that, he was his usual, easygoing self, quick to be the first one to laugh at himself. In our latest encounter at a meeting room in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, he played with a water bottle as he fielded questions.
“I used to write a lot more when I wasn’t getting acting jobs,” he revealed. Chuckling, he said, “You dream about writing parts for yourself.”
He added: “The more scripts you read and the more movies you see get made … you think, what’s the point in just producing something when you feel you can write something? I used to write all the time when I was younger … I will probably write under a pseudonym, because otherwise everyone will just tear me apart immediately.”
Robert revealed details on another matter that has been drawing a lot of speculation—that he is playing Jeff Buckley in a biopic about the singer-songwriter who drowned in 1997. “I met his mom who’s really great,” he said of Mary Guibert, executive producer of the film reportedly going to be directed by “Welcome to the Rileys” director Jake Scott. That Robert talked to Mary indicate that both are at least exploring the idea. “I don’t know,” he said, then hinted, “It’s really not up to me. I love Jeff’s music. He was amazing.”
He is modest about his own musical abilities. “I don’t really think I can sing like Jeff,” Robert said. “He was unique. Also, I can’t play guitar like him either. It would involve quite a lot of work. If someone just imitates Jeff’s voice, it wouldn’t be right. It’s always about the script. You have no idea how it’s going to represent someone.”
In “Water for Elephants,” he plays a veterinary medicine student who drops out and joins a traveling circus that’s trying to survive during the Depression. Asked for his memories of watching a circus, he reminisced: “I’ve been to a circus once in my life. My sister told me that a clown died when they did a stunt. I was only about 7 years old. I freaked out, but my sister told me when I was about 19 that she made it up. I still haven’t been to a circus since I’ve done the movie. I really want to go again.”
Robert, 24, who pretends to be a fully licensed vet in the film, was asked if he has bluffed in real life. “Definitely,” came his quick answer. Flashing his mischievous grin, he narrated: “I was unemployed in London for ages. When I came to LA to audition, everyone and all the casting directors would be like, ‘So what have you been doing all these years?’ I was like, ‘I’ve been studying. I went to Oxford and then I went to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art).’ If you have an English accent, you can get away with it. I did it for years. A little bit after that, I realized that didn’t really work anymore when loads of English people started moving to LA.
“So then I pretended to be an American for a bit and then when ‘Twilight’ came out, I still tried to pretend to be American. People thought I was insane at the auditions, so I stopped.”
Solemnity and rage
Pressed for some details on “Breaking Dawn” Parts 1 and 2, Robert, who of course plays Edward Cullen, said: “The first film out of the last two is definitely less solemn just because of the subject matter. There’s a kind of finality to it. Edward is always so fraught about everything … But in the second one, there is a kind of rage to finish off all his problems once and for all. It’s definitely a lot looser. Bill Condon is a very different director compared to the other ones we’ve had. So yeah, hopefully, it will be really different.”
On whether he still finds time to go back to England and if his fans there are not as fervent as in other parts of the world, Robert answered: “It used to be like that but it has become a bit more intense in the last two years or so. I hardly ever get time to get back though, which is annoying. Generally, the people who come up to me in England are Italians and Americans.
“The English people are a little bit embarrassed to come up, but it’s funny. I was in an HMV (music/video store) when I was last there. I was buying some ridiculous movie and there were ‘Twilight’ posters all over the store. These two guys just literally refused to look up when they were ringing up the register.”
He acknowledged how being away is a challenge to keeping in touch with family and friends. “It’s quite difficult to stay close to your family because of the time difference,” he admitted. “My family is in London. If you’re working 16-hour days, you can’t really call, especially because whenever you have a break, you just want to go to sleep. But luckily, my friends do jobs which also involve tearing around all the time so they’re in the same boat. We all very much rely on our friendship staying strong even if we don’t see each other for months.”
Source via RPLife :)
The first official Breaking Dawn trailer will be exclusively released by MTV during the MTV Movie Awards 2011 in June. And right after on MTV’s site.
See the rest of the magazine scans HERE over at RPLife :)
M Interview with Robert Pattinson, Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Hills, 02.18.2011
M: As the first question I would like to ask you about your co-star Christoph Waltz. What was it like to work with the Austrian Oscar winner who plays the circus ringmaster in the film?
RP: Great. He’s a real role model for me, not only as an actor, but also on a human level. Christoph was always very helpful, just like Reese Witherspoon. In the beginning I wasn’t sure how to act around them, as they are both Oscar winners. I was worried about them being aloof. Luckily that was not the case. Christoph and Reese created a great atmosphere and working with them a real pleasure. I learnt a lot from both of them.
M: Reese Witherspoon plays Marlena Rosenbluth with whom you have a forbidden love affair in Water for Elephants.
RP: Love often tastes of something forbidden. In my opinion the difference between love in a movie or in real life is that love is used purposely in movies to increase the drama and the suspense.
M: How exciting was it to work with the Elephants?
RP: Working with the animals was my main motivation to take the role. At my first meeting with the director Francis Lawrence at the elephant enclosure, I didn’t even know for which film he wanted to hire me. Francis wanted to see how I interacted with the animals and how the elephant would react to me. I was allowed to ride on the elephant, she threw balls to me with her trunk and blew air through her trunk at me. I was totally amazed and I accepted the role at the end of the day, even if there was the danger that it would be the worst film ever.
M: Were there any injuries or incidents on set?
RP: There are always incidents when you work with animals. Once a lion snapped at me, while I was feeding him through the bars of the cage. That frightened me of course. The experience that moved me the most happened while we were filming with a baby giraffe. She should have moved between the cages of the lions and tigers but was very afraid, just stopped and wouldn’t move. I pushed her a little bit and walked very close to her. As soon as we passed the cages the giraffe moved her head toward me and licked me. I will never forget my reaction, I felt like the king of the animals.
M: But you are. You just adopted a dog. Does it have a name yet?
RP: Not yet. I got it at the animal shelter in Louisiana. They were going to put it down in two days, as the shelters are only allowed to keep the animals for 10 days. He made it from the shelter to a private jet – like in the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp. Maybe that should be his name.
M: In Water for Elephants the circus world is quite brutal. Do you see parallels to the show business today?
RP: Luckily I’ve never been beaten up and I hope that cruelty against animals like it happens in Water for Elephants is in the past. There’s a certain roughness in show business. It must be a nightmare to work with mad people. Luckily that hasn’t happened to me yet.
M: Since the success of Twilight there’s probably a lot of circus in your private life?
RP: The circus is created by the paparazzi, but I’ve learnt to handle it better. I’m getting used to planning everything more carefully and doing things less spontaneously. My private live is quite boring, because I’m normally working all the time.
M: Water for Elephant is set during the Great Depression in the USA. How much do you know about that time in history?
RP: To understand the time of the Great Depression better I watched the documentation Brother, Can You Spare A Dime. I didn’t watch it to prepare for the role, but because I would have loved to have lived in the 1930ies. All the clothes from that time period also fit me very well, at the first fitting. I read some books about the Great Depression, because we live in a recession today and it was interesting to see how people handled the crisis back then. The despair can be seen in the faces, the posture and the clothes of the people. The Great Depression symbolizes the end of the Wild West for me. Until then America was known as the land unlimited possibilities. The Great Depression put an end to that myth.
M: Your next role in Bel Ami takes you to Paris during the Bel Epoque. You seem to like history.
RP: You can say so. Paris is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in the world and Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant is one of my favourite books. For this role I would have flown around the world. I really did give my best and hope the audience will like the film.
M: You sound a little doubtful?
RP: Bel Ami tells the story of the professional and social ascent of George Duroy. The drawback is that George aka Bel Ami is ruthless and greedy for power. How do you make a movie in which evil wins over good – who wants to see that at the cinema? That’s really difficult and at the first test screenings the audience admitted they didn’t understand the concept. Neither do I and that’s just what’s extraordinary about Bel Ami. It doesn’t meet the stereotypes and that’s the reason why the book is one of my top favourites. I hope the movie will be very successful.
M: What will you be working on next?
RP: Cosmopolis – a very cool script. It’s directed by David Cronenberg and my costars will be Juliette Binoche and Paul Giamatti. I’m sure it will be great. After that I would like to write a script myself and produce films.
M: What can you tell us about the last Twilight film Breaking Dawn?
RP: I am not allowed to tell you a lot, which is a new experience for me, but I can say so much: Breaking Dawn will be fantastic.
M: In Breaking Dawn Bella is pregnant and married. How is Kristen Stewart handling her new role?
RP: She’s handling it great. Breaking Dawn is totally mad and completely different from the three films before – it’s almost eerie.
Sources via RPLife: “Thanks to Ursula for sending the scans and translation to us :)”
Water for Elephants is a romantic drama where lovers are played by Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. The star of the movie is however its biggest star, elephant-Tai, who made her way to the Pattinson’s heart.
Robert Pattinson plays veterinary student in a film based on Sara Gruen’s bestseller Water for Elephants situated in 30’s depression in United States. Life treats Jacob (Pattinson) hard until he gets a job from circus as a veterinarian. It is lead by cruel ringmaster August (Christoph Waltz). His young wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) is the draw of the circus and Jacob becomes attracted to her. The movie is directed by Francis Lawrence.
For the last 6 months Pattinson has been filming the last two parts of Twilight saga in Louisiana. The actor made a quick stop in Los Angeles before heading to Vancouver to finish the filming of Breaking Dawn.
Water for Elephants was mostly filmed in California near the farms where exotic animals are kept for filming purposes. The movie begins were tragically but these events lead Jacob to animals and love.
“Basically life flipped him finger. He has no way to turn back to his old life so the only possibility is to leave distress behind and look forward. Everything happens so fast that Jacob didn’t even have time to wallow in self-pity. I thought that it must have felt like a shock. I didn’t have many lines in the beginning so I just played with gestures, expressions and other physical ways,” Pattinson tells.
The beginning of the movie was also otherwise challenging for Pattinson because as a rookie his job in the circus was only to listen.
“When I read the script for the first time I thought that all the pressure are on Christoph and Reese. Then I noticed that I was in almost every scene even though I didn’t have any lines. It was slightly stressful but Francis was very good at calming my nerves. He knew all the time what he wanted so I trusted him. On the other hand the movie isn’t only based on actors’ performances but we are a part of spectacle which biggest star is the elephant.”
The elephant who played Rosie made great impression on Pattinson.
“When I went to meet the elephant, Tai, she was in hand stand on her front legs. I spent hours with her and we tossed a ball. Tai snatched the ball with her trunk and tossed it back. I knew then that whatever the movie will be, at least I get to work with this amazing elephant for three to four months.”
Pattinson admits that he is a friend of animals but doesn’t like circus.“When I was five I was in Zippos-circus in London with my mother and sister. I remember when the clowns came to the circus in a little car. One of the doors exploded and I thought that the leg of the clown was broken. My sister said that the clown died! I was in that belief even two years ago when I was telling the story. My mother heard my rambling and wondered what I was talking about, the clown didn’t die. Anyway, I was so traumatized about it that I haven’t been in circus since” Pattinson laughs.
Water for Elephants was a better experience for Pattinson because no injuries were required this time. Pattinson thanks the director for that.
“He had so much to do in practical arrangements only but was always sure about everything. The budget wasn’t big but Francis had the responsibility of 200 animals, 300 extras, circus tents and trains. He took huge risks all the time. For example the scene in the beginning, where the circus tent is put up by hundreds of men, was shot by one take. Francis wanted to shoot it right before sunset and we had 20 minutes time to prepare for the scene and 7 minutes to shoot it. I didn’t believe that it could be done but Francis didn’t hesitate a second,” wonders Pattinson.
The other massive scene in the end of the movie where the tent is pulled down was also shot with “all or nothing”-attitude.
“We shot that on the last day during sunset. In the inside and round the tent was piled with explosives and when they exploded the area was covered in enormous trail. When the sun was set behind the trail was seen a flagpole with American flag. It was the only thing standing up after explosion. The crew couldn’t believe their eyes. No one could have imagined that something like that will happen and that it is captured on film. Francis just followed calmly eating peanuts. He never stressed about anything.”
Pattinson is on his way to becoming a specialist playing in movies where the theme is forbidden or unusual love. The proof are the Twilight saga, Remember Me and Water for Elephants.
“In the movies love is always connected with problems. If everything went smoothly from the beginning to the end it would be a bad movie. But I like this story because it is the beginning of Marlena’s and Jacob’s love story. I didn’t want to be supposedly good guy who comes and seduces August’s wife and ruins his lifework. The most important thing for Jacob is that he gets Marlena to believe herself and that she deserves a better man than August – Jacob or someone else.”
The humble star also knows his limits because he thinks that he can only handle certain genres.
“I don’t think that I could play in every genre movies. Most of the scripts that I read aren’t for me. No one would take me seriously in the movies based on those scripts. I say yes to a movie when I read a script that has role which I believe I can play.”
With Twilight there has formed a permanent “circus”, that consist of passionate fans, paps and other curious people, around Pattinson. The actor assures relieved that the situation has calmed down a bit.
“Nowadays I always go inside from backdoors. That is why there is a less hustle and I wouldn’t even have time for that. In the beginning it was unusual experience when the crowd went crazy. Now I go to the events tired. I film half a day, go to the airport, a car is waiting me at the destination where I fall asleep immediately, I spend 10 minutes in the event handing out a award or show myself, go back to the car, to the airport and to the filming location.”
In order to relax, Pattinson compose and plays guitar. “I always travel with my guitar but it isn’t so fun anymore because I can’t drink whole night and stay up till 5 am,” Pattinson laughs.
Scans and Translation: Tiina at RobStenation via RPLife :)