C'est un très très bonne interview, avec plein de détails sur la façon dont Rob travaille, choisi ses films et se prépare pour ses rôles, dans un des magazines de cinéma les plus pointus et respectés! Et ils ne tarrissent pas d'éloges sur la filmographie et la prestation de Rob dans 'Good Time'. Il peut etre de fier de ce qu'il a déjà accompli!
It's a very good interview, with lots of details about how Rob works, selects his films and prepares himself for his roles in one of the most respected French film magazines! And they make a lot of praise about Rob's filmography and performance in 'Good Time'. He can be proud of what he has already accomplished!
Nouvelle still BTS. Il y a beaucoup de concentration!
New BTS still. There is lots of concentration there!
Translation after the cut
Good Time burst into the Cannes competition just as Robert Pattinson appears in the movie: overexcited, disheveled and in the middle of a race. When we met him two days later, the actor found back his gangly figure, as he defines himself: lanky, thin and ready for separation. His shyness is not feigned and his nervousness explodes in flashes in a warm expression He is one of these actors that seem to be embarrassed by their beauty, who doubt their acting qualities. As for us, for a long time now we have no doubt about this. The very physical character in Josh and Ben Safdie's movie is an additional metamorphosis in the ever-richer filmography of the English actor, who chooses the roles with an obvious taste for innovation. The interpretation prize would have come at the right time to salute his trajectory since the worldwide success of 'The Twilight Saga', which made him a superstar and lead him towards more adventurous movies with David Cronenberg, James Gray and Werner Herzog. But Pattinson will not stop there. While waiting for 'High Life' by Claire Denis and 'Idol’s eyes' by Olivier Assayas (he will be playing alongside Sylvester Stallone), he has already announced a collaboration with Ciro Guerra, the Colombian director of 'Embrace of the Serpent'.
(Robert Pattinson asks the first questions)
Rob: Did you have fun at the festival?
CDC: Yes, even if the movies in competition were not really good this year… Luckily we had a good time watching 'Good Time'!
Rob: And what other movies?
'The Day After' by Hong Sang-Soo.
Rob: Oh yeah, Claire Denis told me about it, she loved it. I must see it.
At the Quinzaine there was the very good film by Claire Denis, 'L'Amant d'un jour' by Philippe Garrel and 'Jeannette' by Bruno Dumont…
'Jeannette'?! I was told it was bad!
On the contrary, it’s brilliant!
Well I must see it then…
'Good Time' created a buzz in the competition.
You probably know that, in the beginning the movie was not in competition. If it had been shown at special screenings, the response by the audience would have been different, it would have been seen as a fun movie. But it's a more serious film.
You were the one who contacted the Safdie’s to work with them?
I had seen a poster of 'Heaven Knows What' on the Internet and I told myself that if they were using that kind of image for the promotion then their sensitivity was interesting to me. The trailer was incredible, really energetic. I met them and in a matter of seconds I knew it was cool. It's the kind of things you feel right away. I hadn't seen the movie yet but during this first meeting I told them: let’s do something together, whatever it is. They have this rare quality of reacting and taking decisions pretty quickly. Usually you are told, it's okay, and then it takes a lot of time. With them it was like: "Let’s do this!" and one month later I received the first version of the script. The original idea for 'Good Time' was very different, I was Buddy Duress' brother and we took interpretation classes, it was strange (laughs).
Josh Safdie sent you a biography of your character, before the script?
Yes, I think it was before. It was part of their writing process. Josh wanted me to learn these five or six pages about Connie's life, which explain why he went to prison at the age of 12 for example. I felt like an undercover cop who had to learn his cover. Nothing extreme happened to the character. I knew how he grew up, what were the names of his family members. From the second version of the script, I was constantly exchanging emails with Josh and Ronnie Bronstein. I wanted to be sure to go in a certain direction so I told them about my idea of an ideal script. They always answered me, staying very open minded.
Did it last long?
About eight months. We were talking daily when I was in Colombia shooting 'The Lost City of Z', because there was nothing much to do there. It helped me throw myself into the script and feel really connected to the story.
There was from the beginning a mix between impulsivity and lapses of time.
Yes, that’s how they work. I think most of the other actors didn't read the script, except Buddy maybe. Five minutes before shooting, Josh explained the scene. It’s quite crazy, I had never seen that, this way of putting the set under pressure, I don’t even understand how it works! (Laughs). On my part, I prepared myself for the role quite conventionally. I loved the dialogues, but Ronnie and Josh were ready to give them up. Josh could tell me: I love the voice you used in this scene, go ahead, do whatever you want, own the dialogue! But I wanted to speak the exact written words. Everyone was improvising around me, though I tried to keep the thread. It was a bit scary. When your partner is improvising and the scene is supposed to go in a certain way and you could be sure he was going to say the opposite of what was written in the script! So I had to constantly do rework on the intentions, which was exciting.
Did you work with the other actors before shooting, for example with Buddy Duress?
No i didn't. I think Buddy was in jail just before the shooting, and I think we had to postpone the starting of the filming because we had to wait for him to be bailed. Most of the actors were playing roles that are close to who they are in real life. They are mostly New-Yorkers and I was scared not to fit in with them. It was my biggest fear during the shoot. It’s not nothing to be a real New-Yorker, everyone is looking at you to see if you’re faking it. We worked for so long… I learned the Queens accent while being there. It didn't come from the role but more from daily life. Everything comes easier when you have time.
Your character is metamorphosing all the time during the movie. Are some of these transformations your idea?
Josh and Benny have a really specific universe, a kind of environment that I knew I wanted to be part of, to be included in, to be able to go in the streets, to interact with the passers-by. In my other set experiences in New York, people recognized me, as everywhere else in the world – people wanted to take pictures of me. It was one of my fears, especially working with non-actors. I would have become a curiosity for everyone around. So we tried on costumes and make-up, I would go in the street to see if people recognized me. One day, we were doing camera tries without authorization in a car wash station, I was in my character's outfit, with Benny, I had marks on my face, a dyed beard and I could see in people's eyes that they did not recognize me. I used the character to hide.
Connie is constantly trying to hide, like a chameleon and running away from himself. Like you? Did it become a personal role?
Yes, he is like an actor without realizing it. He also is like a dog running after his own tail. It’s always fascinating to see, this animal going faster and faster in such an obsessive way. You are right, there’s something very personal here but I can't really define it. Lots of elements were removed from the movie, they were dreamlike sequences where the character seems more mystical… When you live isolated from others, the imagination gains more and more space and you just loose contact with reality. We talked about it with Josh, for example the scene where Connie is at the hospital, he bumps into a police officer and tells him he was with his father in a room and that there is a problem with the tv… but for me he is not lying: in his head it happened. On one side he is immersed in reality but he is constantly in an imaginary world too. And that’s something I share with him.
Your taste for transformation was already there in 'The Lost City of Z' or in 'The Rover'
It's probably a way of convincing oneself. You have to be able to take a picture of yourself and not recognize yourself. It's a funny feeling. Whatever the reason, you start to behave a certain way, like you never have before. The more you proceed in life the more you know what kind of attitude will bring this or that reaction, but to use this knowledge in a movie always make me feel like repeating myself, to be fake and cheap. But to do something you have never done in real life… I don’t know, what I am telling you makes no sense! (Laughs) It’s just a way of getting rid of all the vanity, all the "I want to be handsome" thing. And if most of the actors want to transform themselves, it's just because they have a huge feeling of embarrassment and shame about themselves. We want to convince ourselves that we can be someone else, to confront the reality in a better way.
You do that too and with a lot of modesty. In James Gray’s movie you have a supporting role, like in 'Maps To The Stars'. It’s remarkable
I have played small roles in a lot of movies. There is no difference for me. I see myself as an apprentice. I still don’t really know how to do what I am doing, I am always in training. So every work occasion is like a new lesson. And I literally have nothing to lose. Besides that, there are not a lot of good leading roles. Most of the time, those are roles that are immediately linked with a commercial production. A lot more people are worried if you give a weird interpretation, but you are freer in a supporting role, you can almost do whatever you want!
As you talked about lessons: what did you learn from David Cronenberg?
'Cosmopolis' was very important to me. And there’s Don DeLillo too… Younger, I wanted to be a musician and the writing process for the 'Cosmopolis' script was really like music. Before this movie, I always thought about a role from its character’s motivations. It was a cerebral process. But in 'Cosmopolis', because of its surrealistic aspect, the rhythm of the writing was more important than the psychological motivations. That’s when I learned I could say an entire monologue without thinking only about psychology, but also about the musicality of the words as they were written in the script. David totally agreed with that, I could just say my lines in a way that sounded good. It was really instinctual, and really enjoyable. And I have learned a lot too by seeing someone making a movie which seemed impossible on paper.
And with James Gray?
I understood when I saw the movie how much the interpretation is linked to the camera’s position. And that the actor doesn't have to feel responsible to tell the story alone… Most of the time, I just had the feeling to be an extra on set. Though I had worked a lot on my character's background, I was always asking James Gray if it was okay, and he would say "Yes it’s okay". And I would answered "But I don't do anything!" And him "You didn't do nothing, don't worry". I always thought I could have done more. But the character emerges despite everything, and for that you need to trust your director. James Gray has really good taste, we can trust him.
'Cosmopolis' is a minimalistic role, you are mostly seated in a car.
It's true. I am a quiet person, and with 'Cosmopolis' I was indeed in my comfort zone. Each movie is a progression, and after 'Cosmopolis' I told myself that I was too immobile. I became more at ease physically with 'The Rover' for which I really wanted to do something with my body. Connie in 'Good Time' is at ease with his body too. Really at ease even!
Do you have a method?
Not really. I never took lessons. I react very much to the writing. If someone writes good dialogues, it's the voice that comes first, and all the rest emerges from it. Generally, I try to put myself into character long before the shooting. But for real I have no other method than knowing my biggest flaw, stress. Stress prevents me from doing anything. Over the years, I have understood that i just need to go in advance of the shoot to the shooting locations, wherever they are, and stay alone for a long time, so my brain can relax ... For 'Good Time' I rented a small flat for 2 months, not very far from Josh's. You just need to be on the shooting locations to naturally think about the movie most of the time, and eliminate a bit of the tension.
You often said you needed to take several months to prepare for a role. What does this preparation consist of?
It's just to understand how to believe in yourself. It's like when you lose your keys: when you find them, you get a familiar feeling. "Oh yes, of course, I let them there!" Yet we searched them all over the house, we searched them in some drawers we never used or in absurd places. And when we find them, there is a moment of recognition. Trying to create a character is the same thing: we look absolutely everywhere until we meet this familiar feeling. This is really a lot of experimenting. You never have time to do all of this for a scene, so you have to do it before to be ready. And then we always forget what has been prepared. The other rule is to be interested in what you do, to not become bored. Otherwise it's useless.
All of this is very internalized. You never watch the footage for example?
Sometimes, but not systematically. You know, I'm terrible and really very annoying when working. Every scene is the worst thing I've ever done in my life. I reject myself. I remember that during the shooting of 'The Rover' David Michod told me: "You say so many times that you are bad, I will begin to believe you". (Laughs) That's my work process! "
But what gives you the feeling you have found a character, and that you are able to play it?
It can be the costume. I am a shy person, but sometimes just by saying instinctively something in a good way it’s that you discover you are not that embarrassed. And that it could work. We started the shoot of 'Good Time' with the first scene when I appear on the screen. I was incredibly nervous. The complete opposite of Benny who could switch on his character any time and do it all day long! So I was in this extreme state, and there were power cuts all the time that where delaying the shooting for this scene. I was boiling, full of adrenaline (he imitates his state, tight muscles and hyperventilating) and I told myself, that’s it! I am going to do this during the whole movie! No more thoughts, just wowwwwww! Even for the scene where I am kissing Taliah (Webster, who plays a teenager Connie seduces at her home) where I should have been relaxed, simply seated on a couch, I put myself in this frame of mind. And I scared her!
What will be your character in Claire Denis' film, High Life?
The movie will take place in the future, the character is an astronaut. He's a criminal who volunteers for a mission toward a black hole, but he realizes along the way that a doctor on board wants to do sexual experiences with humans in space ... (laughs) It's a very strange film. I had not thought about it for some time, but Claire talked to me about it here in Cannes, and she showed me some image tests of space, completely crazy. I love Claire, I can't believe I'm going to work with her, especially for a science fiction project. It's going to be very beautiful.
Translation by Pattinson Art Work. Thanks to 'In The Footsteps of Robert Pattinson' for the help!