Robert Pattinson: 'I can guarantee you, at the end of the day, I’m an angel'
I had not pegged Robert Pattinson as a big laugher.Boy, was I wrong. Pattinson, 31, rocketed to fame as heartthrob vampire Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” films. They were dopey but huge, making him a superstar. Since then he seems to have gone out of his way to find as many non-Edward roles as possible, and he’s found some good ones — interesting work in “The Lost City of Z,” “Cosmopolis” and “Maps to the Stars,” among others.In “Good Time,” he may have found his most different — and best — role yet.He plays Connie Nikas, a low-rent loser who enlists his developmentally disabled brother to help him rob a bank. Things go south in a hurry, and the film follows Connie over a single night as he tries to get his brother first out of jail, then a hospital.It could not be farther from Edward Cullen, and Pattinson seems happy about that. But mostly he talked about robbing banks. And laughing.Question: Without giving too much away, there’s a scene in which a dye pack goes off in a car, and you are covered in dye. How did you shoot that?Answer: That’s just the dye pack going off in the car (laughs). I mean, that’s just what happened. And it’s almost impossible to get it off. And also I had bronchitis at the time, so I was breathing in this basically, like, red paint dust, so I was coughing out everywhere. It was absolutely disgusting. But yeah, it would be difficult to get away with a robbery (laughs).
Q: It doesn’t seem like a good career move.A: People think that bank robbery has gone away as a crime in a lot of ways. But people do these little bank robberies all the time.Q: It sounds like you’ve done your bank-robbery research.A: I was talking to a guy, a 21-year-old guy who was in prison — well, he’d just been released, but he got put in when he was 21. He had robbed like 70 banks or something. And he did it the exact same way, just robbing them for like five or six grand at a time. Apparently that’s a big thing, because every bank has an insurance policy. Most banks don’t have an armed guard anymore. If most banks had an armed guard there would be no bank robberies whatsoever, pretty much. But a bank robbery, yeah, a teller will pretty much give you the money, basically.Q: The movie is funny. Was there as much energy on the set as there is in the film?A: Oh yeah, tons. I mean, (directors) Josh and Benny (Safdie) are like little dynamos. We really worked at a breakneck pace the whole time. I’ve never really seen a movie that I’ve done that the final edit really reflects the pace of which we were shooting. And it’s also the pace of Connie, my character’s, night, basically. The story is being told at the same time that it’s happening to the protagonist. And I’m glad you thought it was funny. I thought the script was hilarious. It’s not very unique, but he as a character, it’s just always so unexpected, where his mind goes. I find that so funny. But my sense of humor gets me in trouble a lot (laughs).Q: Your character is kind of a low life, but he’s trying to take care of his brother. Is he a good guy?A: I don’t know if he’s necessarily good or bad. He obviously doesn’t think, “I’m a bad guy.” At all. It’s weird. The movie’s fun, he’s kind of a fun character. But really I think that the sadness is a lot of the characters are sort of doomed, and I think a lot of Connie’s energy is that he can sort of feel in the back of his mind that he’s doomed.Q: Most actors tell you they don’t judge a character, they just play them.A: I don’t think anybody is necessarily 100 percent bad, but at the same time I kind of like playing characters I wouldn’t necessarily sympathize with in reality myself. It’s just interesting. What I find most interesting is when someone tries to justify someone’s supposedly bad action. They’ll invariably say, “Oh, it’s because this happened to them and this happened to them.” But I generally like to find a character who you literally don’t understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. I think as soon as you define something, it’s boring. It’s like establishing if you’re in love with someone or not. If you could define all the details of why you’re in love with someone, you’re probably not in love with them.Q: People spend a lot of time and money to figure out who you’re in love with. Doesn’t that get frustrating?A: Um, it’s only frustrating if, for one thing, it affects my personal life, and the other thing, it affects other people around me. It’s just a weird thing. Everyone is trying to put you in a box the whole time — like everybody in life. I always see it as this sort of battle. Everybody is putting you in a box. “You made this decision” or whatever. You’re just constantly trying to break down the walls of the box and having this thing built around you all the time. Especially if you’re trying to do performances and trying to be believable as some character. If people know too many details about your life and have too many preconceptions, it just gets harder and harder. You just have to fight against them all the time. That’s the only frustrating thing about it, really. I can guarantee you, at the end of the day, I’m an angel. Never guilty of anything (laughs).Q: At least you’re famous for something good.A: I just sort of fell into this, so everybody’s dealing with the hand they’re dealt and trying to make the most of it. With this, I just happen to really love movies. I loved movies before I even knew what acting was, or even considered it. It just becomes quite satisfying as the years go by, thinking you’re going to make one of the movies which I used to like as a teenager.Q: You’ve done really eclectic stuff. Is this movie the kind of thing you’d be doing if you’d never done “Twilight?”A: Oh yeah, for sure. The only thing I’m trying to aim for is if when you have a movie come out, you get to a point where people are expecting a surprise. Those are the performers I like, when you go and watch a musician or an actor or anything and you don’t know what to expect at all. There’s no real consistency in any kind of archetype or anything. That’s the only thing I’m really trying to head for.Q: You’ve done a good job of that. Nobody goes into movies thinking you’re going to be a teenage vampire.A: (Laughs). Even that! To be honest, I always found it funny, doing that, and then everybody thought, are you afraid of being typecast? And it literally couldn’t be, probably more so than any other role I’ve ever done, could not be further away from my true self. I don’t know what my true self is.Q: Are you glad you did “Twilight?”A: Oh, for sure. Everything. One of the things I’m kind of proud of is pretty much every single decision I’ve made, I feel like I sort of made them for the right reason. I really thought the parts and the experiences were going to be really interesting to me, and they have been. No regrets whatsoever.