With great fame comes great responsibility... or at least it does if you are Robert Pattinson, who chanelled some of the awesome power bestowed upon him by the hordes of Twihards to get his new film Remember Me over the final studio hurdles and into production. The resultant coming of age drama sees two troubled twentysomethings (played by Pattinson and Lost's Emilie de Ravin) trying to come to terms with life, their families and each other in the shadow of the pre-9/11 World Trade Center in New York.
Buzzine's Izumi Hasegawa sat down with Robert in Los Angeles, CA to talk about a tale of love and loss, the fearlessness and confidence of Pierce Brosnan and how to block out screaming fans and get on with the compelling job at hand...
Izumi Hasegawa: Can you tell us what it was like to be an Executive Producer on this film?
Robert Pattinson: I can’t really claim to be a proper producer. I only really came on toward the end of the movie. I was always completely on the same page with Allen (Coulter) and Nick (Osborne) about how they wanted to make it, and then I just wanted to make sure, as much as I could help, to protect the process… I consulted and talked to them and stuff, but I don’t want to claim any kind of creative input.
IH: Is that something you’re looking to do to kind of control your career down the line?
RP: ’d love to do it. I’d love to be involved in the whole process. Inevitably, things become out of your hands so that the more input you can have when you can have input, the better.
IH: Did you learn a lot on this by coming in later on?
RP: Definitely. Also, at the beginning, when we were doing the rewrites of the script, it’s so nice being able to talk to everyone involved. You just don’t get that. Never. I was never there. Allen and Nick were there right at the nexus with Will (Fetters), and they really championed the whole script the whole time. So it was really great.
IH: This is a story about love and loss: Why is it that so often ends up with us talking about losing a pet?
RP: [Laughs] ...to an extent. It’s terrible: I keep talking about my dog all the time. It’s an incredible dog which was the most important part of my life. However ridiculous it may seem to some people, it was one of the defining moments of my life. It was the worst day of my life. The dog died. I’ve lost a lot of family members as well. At the same time, when people are talking about acting, they’re like, “Picture your dog dying if you want to cry.” I would never do that. It cheapens the memory so much.
IH: Did you always know what you wanted to do?
RP: No, not really. I still don’t. You try to make every little thing - you try to add something to it. I try to choose things which I think I can give something more to or help to elevate it.
IH: Allen mentioned that you had to act when you’re surrounded by fans. How do you concentrate and focus on your performance?
RP: It is really just like blanking out. At the beginning, I was having loads of problems with it because it was really crazy when we were filming around Washington Square Park: It was just complete mayhem. There was this moment when one of the security guys saw me getting more and more angry with these paparazzi guys, and he just said, “Okay, imagine going over and trying to hit someone and missing in front of 40 cameras...” and that was enough to break my whole thing. It didn’t really bother me afterward.
It’s strange. I did a film where I hardly knew anyone on the crew or anything because I couldn’t get out of my trailer when we were shooting, especially for the first month. I mean, I didn’t know any of them. It was really odd. But at the same time, it’s quite a good lesson in life - discipline - because you literally have to do it. At the end of the day, you can’t just say, “I’m not doing it until these people go away.” It was way more intense than any of the Twilight films even. There’s never even that many people who turn up for that. It was definitely an experience.
IH: Does it distract you enough to ever actually detract from your performance?
RP: It makes you a little more self-conscious. Yeah, I think there are some bits. You can’t experiment with things. In the rehearsal period, you’ve got these people videoing it and stuff, so you can’t do silly things to get yourself comfortable. So it did, in a way. I’m doing a thing now where there’s no one around, and I feel a million times more comfortable, so it must have affect. But at the same time, there are certain qualities about Tyler, like being a little bit clenched and hiding and suppressing a lot of his emotions, so maybe it helped.
IH: What was your favorite scene in this film?
RP: I think the scene where I confront Caroline (Hawkins), I mean Ruby — that was the most fun to do. A lot of the scenes with Caroline — I really liked working with her, mainly because you don’t have to do anything. You could just look at her. It’s one of the only times I haven’t been self-conscious at all when I’ve been filming. It’s just so easy to do things with her. Whatever she did, I could completely go off of that. She was always leading the scene.
IH: I really liked the relationship between your character and his little sister. Do you have a niece or a younger friend growing up? How did you develop such a nice vibe?
RP: I don’t know. She was just really cool. I always liked the idea of having a younger sibling. My family tricked me, about five years ago, that my mom was pregnant, and I didn’t realize it was April Fools’ Day. They spent the entire day saying I was going to have a little brother, which I told all my friends that it was the best day of my entire life. [Laughs] I carried on for three days believing it.
It’s weird because now, after working with Ruby, I liked it a lot. Whenever I see a part now, like a younger brother or I’m looking at parts where I’ve got a kid and stuff, I just love the idea of it. I’m getting broody. [Laughs] It’s so bizarre. She was great to work with. She’s an amazing actress and a really interesting girl. She was really fantastic.
IH: How was it playing an American? Because you were surrounded by Irish actors and Australian actors, but have to adopt an accent and American behaviors — how did you get them down pat?
RP: It is really odd how that’s happened, but then again, in the last five years in L.A., every single actor who’s going to auditions and stuff, everybody’s Australian or English or something — everyone. I used to be like that — a guy from England — and you could really use it to your advantage as well. You can’t use it anymore. It’s more of an advantage being an American. [Laughs] It’s odd.
I grew up watching tons of American films. That’s kind of why I wanted to be an actor, from watching Americans. No one who’s English or from some part of Britain or something has influenced me as much as American actors. In other words, I feel more comfortable speaking an American accent in films. I think it feels more of a film to me. I feel like I’m kind of pretending when I’m using my own accent.
IH: What was it like working with Pierce Brosnan? You had to keep such tension on the screen. Does that bleed over?
RP: No, there was no tension at all. He’s really nice. I had no idea what to expect from him at all. He’s incredibly hard-working. There’s not a hint of pretense or anything about him. If I wanted to go rehearse or I wanted to talk about something with Allen, he’d always be willing to come across. He’d cancel things to go and talk about it. Considering we didn’t have that many scenes together as well, he would always come and want to talk about it all the time. So he was great in that respect.
IH: Did he give you any advice on how to handle being a celebrity?
RP: He did one thing the first night I went out to dinner with him, just before we started shooting. We were in this place - it was kind of an old-fashioned type of French restaurant with all these kind of banker-looking guys. They didn’t recognize me but they recognized him, obviously. He’s probably their idol in a lot of ways. He noticed these people looking over, and I’m sitting there getting more and more self-conscious. I needed to leave. I didn’t even realize they weren’t looking at me. And he goes up to them and introduces himself to everybody in the restaurant.
At first, I was saying, “What are you doing? You’re completely insane.” But it works so well. He talked to them for a minute, and people do not look around afterwards, and you can tell they’re going to go home and say, “That was such a nice guy.” And there’s nothing weird about it, being in the restaurant with him afterwards. You’re no longer a kind of freak. But he’s got phenomenal confidence so he can do that type of stuff. If I went up, it would look like I was trying to start a fire or something. [Laughs] “Hey, how ya doin’, huh?” It would look really stupid...
IH: Do you seek out counsel from people who have been where you are in dealing with these ridiculous mobs? Are there tricks for dealing with it all?
RP: I think it’s all really simple. From what I’ve seen, you look at how people are judged in the public arena, and I think the majority of people who get beaten by it are just the people who are seen all the time, so the less you’re seen, then you’re alright. As long as you keep attempting to make quality films, eventually your name stands for something other than just meaningless celebrity. It’s a kind of difficult battle. You’ve got to make the work mean more than your celebrity. I think people like Johnny Depp have done that. He’s not judged at all for his public image. It’s just his work that’s judged. It’s a really difficult thing. It’s a lot of discipline and a lot of hiding, which you have to get used to.
IH: This film takes place around September 11, 2001. What you were doing that day?
RP: I was still at school. I was doing my mock exams and my teacher came in and said, “You need to stop doing what you’re doing and everyone needs to go watch,” and the whole school was brought down to watch the television because they were saying, “Your entire generation’s lives are going to be completely different from this point on,” and I guess it has been as well, and I think will be for maybe the generation after us. It ended up being a massive event in my life.
IH: On a brighter New York note, was cycling in Manhattan a really good experience? It seems like fun...
RP: It was fun. That bike broke every single time I was riding it, so I have no idea. It was sort of cheap and I hadn’t ridden a bike for like five years before that as well, so I couldn’t really remember how to do it. That was the one scene where they didn’t have any crowds around. It’s funny. I realize there are ways to sneakily start filming when no one can be around, and I wished we’d figured that out in the beginning. But it was fun doing it.
IH: Are you looking forward to being able to pursue your music again in the near future?
RP: I kind of want to do it at the end of the year. All my friends are recording albums now, so I’m very annoyed about it, but I can’t do the two things at the same time. I don’t know how people do it. All these people, like Jennifer Lopez, do everything all at once. My mind is in a completely differently place: I don’t even listen to music when I’m working.
IH: Do you have a company, or are you thinking of establishing a company developing your material? Because it seems like you are in a place where you can do whatever movie you want…
RP: I want to, yeah. I want to start a thing which encompasses music and writing as well, but it’s just time. I don’t think I’ve established myself enough in film, and definitely not in music... I haven’t done anything in music. I think you need to have a lot of good will toward you to be able to get one really going.
You look at George Clooney’s company and stuff like that - they make great movies which wouldn’t be made otherwise. And Leonardo DiCaprio’s company as well. He’s got really great people working there. They all have really good taste, but they’ve made a lot of people a lot of money. I want everything all at once, and it’s difficult to think like that, so I’m trying to slow down a little bit.
IH: Are you filming your new movie right now?
RP: Yeah, I’ve done two weeks and I go back on Thursday. That’s why I’m kind of spaced out. [Laughs]
IH: What is the title?
RP: It’s called Bel Ami.
IH: Have you been able to escape the crowds on that shoot?
RP: [Laughs] It’s in England for one thing, which is very different from the States. The hysteria around the Twilight stuff - it’s growing a little bit, but it’s completely different. But it’s a period thing, so we’re in all these stately homes in the middle of nowhere, so people just can’t find the places... half the crew can’t find the places!
Summit Entertainment's 'Remember Me' is in theaters now.