Robert Pattinson finds creative parallels between photography and acting in his new movie role, by Helen Barlow in Seven Days magazine.
When Robert Pattinson first announced himself tot he
world in Twilight, it was hard not to be mesmerized by the screaming
teens perched above the Cannes beach where our interview took place.
Embarrassed, he blinked his eyes in his nerdish manner, knowing it was
something he had to get used to – it only got worse when he started
dating his co-star Kristen Stewart.
Now 29, he is older and wiser and, although he is still in a
celebrity relationship (he’s engaged to singer FKA twigs), he says things
have settled down, and to an extent so has he.
Interestingly in his new movie, LIFE, by director and photographer
Anton Corbijn, he is the one behind the camera. He’s not playing a
member of the paparazzi but Dennis Stock, the photographer who captured
the seminal photograph of James
Dean (played by Dane Dehaan) for LIFE Magazine. The film chronicles the
friendship that developed as they traveled across America.
Could he have played James Dean?
“I liked Dennis’ part right from the beginning”, he replies. I’m not
similar to Dean at all. Just in terms of being a famous person, that’s
literally as far as it goes. Audiences would look at James Dean and be
asking him how to live, whereas my fame was born out of a group of
people who were fans of the Twilight books; they wanted me to represent
the character they love. No one is asking me how to live their lives at
He was more attracted to Stock’s insecurities in any case.
“Dennis has all these inhibitions of possibly not being as good as eh
thought he could be,” Pattinson notes, “That’s what’s holding him back
and ruining his potential. I also think there’s something in photography
that’s quite similar to acting if you’re doing it as a career,
especially Dennis Stock’s kind of photography where it’s about taking photos
or talented or charismatic people. As an actor you’re dependent on the
material and the people in the same way and it’s quite frustrating.”
of course dependent on your public image.” So given that Pattinson
played a vampire in Twilight, the photos we have of him are like a
stunned very pale mullet or with head down avoiding paparazzi. Even
photo shoots can be difficult.
“I don’t want to be the kind of person who pulls a face in a photo,
especially to look pretty,” says Pattinson. “That’s the most
embarrassing thing in the world. So you end up being in this nether-world
of facial expressions where you’re trying not to make any expression at all, which ends up looking a bit gormless.
The image of himself being constantly confronted… is annoying”, he says.
“You can’t reinvent yourself which is ironic, given what acting is about.
In any case, he’s learnt to go with the flow. “It’s only now that my
brain is vaguely accepting what my reality is, I think it’s calmed down a
bit. But you feel you want to use your fame for something. Basically
I’ve been trying to just live. It’s quite overwhelming and was a shock
With $100 million in the bank, Pattinson’s not complaining. He has in
fact learnt the ropes. Is he imparting knowledge to his close buddy
Jamie Dornan, who has experienced a similar sudden rise to fame in Fifty Shades of Grey?
“I don’t know what advice I’d give to anybody, Jamie’s a smart guy.
There’s nothing you can say to anybody because it is such a personal
journey. You either go mad or you don’t,” he chuckles. “ha ha ha” When I
ask about Dornan’s nudity he
defends his friend saying, “I don’t want to trivialize it, I think
that’s quite an important movie.” He can clearly remember the naysayers
“People sometimes think you can’t be taken seriously in something
like Twilight. There’s always been a funny kind of interpretation, a
strange stigma attached to it. But with something so massively
commercial, that’s not unusual. I remember there was a massive backlash
against the Backstreet Boys.”
In any case, reviewers are now applauding Pattinson’s performance in Life. Does that mean something to him?
“Yeah, it’s better than them saying you’re shit,” he chuckles. “But,
at the same time, you kind of insulate yourself one way or the other.
Pattinson maintains that his best filmmaking experience ever was on the 2014 Australian film The Rover directed by David Michod.
Likewise, Life has significant Australian involvement: the film
writer, Luke Davies, wrote the novel Candy, as well as the screenplay for
the 2006 film starring Heath Ledger. and it boasts Lain Canning and Erik
Sherman (The King’s Speech) amongst its producers.
And that’s not mentioning his appearance as a British army officer
alongside Nicole Kidman (as Gertrude Bell) in the upcoming Queen of the
Why this gravitation towards Australians?
“I don’t know,” Pattinson responds, “but it keeps happening again and
again. I love that though, it’s quite a small group of people who are
very, very talented.”