¨My favourite are the dark stories, without hope¨
He made a complete turn on his life: he broke up with Kristen Stewart and is focused on his career. Today he only makes auteur films. The actor and image of Dior talks in exclusive with S. Moda.
He didn’t put the audience in his pocket. Neither did he entertained it. But he did wake up a very feminine instinct: the maternal one. That was not Robert Pattinson’s night.
The 27 year old British, got up on the stage of the Soho House, a private Los Angeles club, to talk about his first luxury firm campaign: Dior. And he proved that crowded audiences are not his thing. Least of all those of journalists. Around 30 international media, including this magazine, had attended the premiere of 1000 Lives, the commercial for Dior Homme that Pattinson stars in (online at dior.com on September 1).
“I am incapable of seeing an audience as such. In my eyes they’re all individuals and in my head I try to have a conversation with each of them. That’s impossible.” He apologises the next day sitting on a couch in the Beverly Hills Hotel.
In short distances the actor recovers his confidence. Goodbye to shyness. And out of place laughter. During the face to face, Pattinson –with beard, a hat, jeans and t-shirt –measures time and words. And he inspires instincts very different to the maternal ones.
He doesn’t like to talk about his private life, or his earlier years as a model. His purpose: to build a solid career, leaving behind the labels of ¨It Boy¨ and mass phenomenon, “If I could go to Cannes every year, I’d be fine with lower salary. I’d like all of my movies to go through that festival.” he assures us. And he’s serious. His first attempts after the Twilight Saga were: Water for Elephants (2011) and Bel Ami (2012), didn’t rescue him from the mainstream circuit. However, Cosmopolis (2012), David Cronenberg’s film, did. “It was nothing like anything I’d done before, and I loved that.” He admits. What’s coming is even better. Mission: Blacklist (Jasper Granslandt), The Rover (David Michod), Queen of the Desert (W. Herzog) and Maps to the Stars, Cronenberg’s upcoming film. “It’s more accessible than Cosmopolis, although not as much as A History of Violence. The script is dark. I find it funny, but you have to have a very unique sense of humor to see it that way: it’s not a comedy.”
His ability to capture irony is probably, in part, because of his English roots. Pattinson grew up in Barnes, southwest of London. When he was a kid, his sisters dressed him up as a girl. His appearance – a bit feminine, then- wasn’t out of place. Little of that boyish look is left – blue eyes, framed by neverending lashes and a certain delicacy. But a lot of his modeling past does. His mother, model agent, introduced him to it and Robert posed until he was 16 years old. Then he got the worm for acting and since his role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), he hasn’t stopped. Critics agree: he’s not just a pretty face.
One of your upcoming projects is ‘Queen of the Dessert’ by Werner Herzog. Are you only interested in auteur film making?
I want to work with geniuses. I’m trying to recreate my favorite film list from when I was seventeen. I met Werner, we got on, and two weeks later he offered me the role of Lawrence of Arabia. We start shooting at the end of this year.
You didn’t have many releases in 2013. But it’s raining roles for you. For The Rover, a modern western, you spent two months in an Australian town covered in dust, sweating and surrounded by flies. It’s not a very encouraging setting.
We shot in the desert. My character breaks his teeth, bleeds, gets spread with mud. On set, nobody made an effort that I look hot. Just the opposite from Twilight. I’d never been in a film without my shirt on because I’m embarrassed, but in this one, I barely have it on.
That’s a step…
Yeah! From now on, I’m never wearing one!
Fans must be sad now that you cut your hair.
It was a distinctive symbol. But it was because of laziness. I didn’t go to the barber’s because I didn’t want to pay for a haircut. I just fixed it when I had to do a movie.
So, you don’t take care of yourself?
I need to do it more. Just yesterday I was thinking of wrinkles and grey hairs.
He doesn’t hide them, Pattinson makes an effort to look less handsome. He’s like Brad Pitt in that aspect. And for Nan Goldin, the photographer of the Dior Homme campaign, it’s perfect. The artist, famous for photographing the dark sides of life, stresses his asymmetrical features and makes him look older.
Yesterday, at the press conference, you admitted to feeling adult. In what sense?
It’s a feeling that started eight months ago, when I turned 27. I’ve been taking adult decisions for years now. I would ask my parents for advice but they didn’t know what to tell me. Fortunately, I’m more comfortable now.
You played Edward Cullen in five films, enough to feel affection. Was it hard saying goodbye to the vampire and the saga’s stability?
I couldn’t have filmed another one. It got harder each time and I felt like I was repeating myself.
How do you deal with prejudice? Making films for teenagers gets you typecast, they think you’re less smart.
Actors that build a career after a franchise are usually smart. A project like Twilight brands: it’s not only about keeping up work, it’s about not losing your head. Edward was young, he went to High School. People thought I was too, but really I was 21.
You don’t like talking about your private life. But you’re a teen phenomenon, you represent a global brand. How do you deal with stardom?
Life is decisions. I chose this job, and at the same time, I set out not to mix personal and professional. That has allowed me not to obsess: I don’t pretend for media and the public to really know me. If I did, I’d go crazy.
You don’t use lotions. But you like to shop and create styles, you created Edward’s in Twilight.
Filming was in Canada, and it was set behind two weeks, I had nothing to do so I went shopping. But I had no money. I sent pictures with the clothes that I wanted with texts like “I think Edward should wear these jeans”. Many made it and the studio bought my clothes!
In the Dior ad, your style reminds to those of Jean-Paul Belmondo’s and Steve McQueen’s. Do you like its aesthetics?
I’m very practical; I go for basic clothing, what you can wear for a straight week. Fragrance adverts tend to be perfect and we were looking for tough aesthetics. For the shooting, we had many options, but I was bent on wearing the same thing all the time. I ended up ruining a jacket. And I skipped codes: I was wearing a t-shirt beneath a shirt. I saw it as very 50’s, very masculine. Yet, in France that’s unsightly, the opposite of chic.
Surely it’ll become a trend. Are those your favorite decades, the 50’s and 60’s?
Yeah. I really like their practical spirit. A lot of suits looked like uniforms. I’m not an advocate of frivolity.
Once you said you’d rather spend 10 years with a girl rather than 10 minutes.
I still think the same, but it depends on the person.
You’ve been very involved in the Dior ad. If you directed or produced a film, which genre would it be?
My perspective as a director is very different: I dream of shooting a big budget film… A science fiction one.
Your favorite movie of this kind?
Blade Runner and Star Wars. I love science fiction, I love how it creates universes. When you’re a kid and you watch The Empire Strikes Back, you identify with the characters, you believe you are one of them even when the movie is finished. It’s fascinating. I, for example, still want Star Wars toys. If somebody gave me a laser sword for my birthday, I’d flip.
Now that I see you in a hat. I think you had a rap group at school.
[Laughs] Yes. I went to private school and my friends and I stayed after hours and played every day. I was obsessed; I wrote rap songs in class. From fifteen to seventeen, I took it very seriously. I still like it, I’d like to record an album.
Many of your films are based on books. Which literature do you like?
I used to read a lot. But my concentration has gotten worse. My favorites are Russian authors and dark stories where there’s no hope.
So, are you nostalgic and pessimistic?
No. I don’t know why I like those types of stories. But I do. I reread Dubliners by James Joyce the other day. I gave A Painful Case, my favorite story, to a friend. He said it was the most depressing thing he’d read in his life. I love it. There’s something in those stories that allows me to connect with myself and that makes me happy.
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