The teen heartthrob proves there’s more to life than Twilight as he talks to Time Out about his ‘serious’ indie romance, Remember Me.
The hum of nervous excitement buzzing around Robert Pattinson’s hotel suite this morning is such that you half expect him to walk out with golden skin and alarmingly sharp teeth. But in the flesh, the Twilight star is warm, earnest and posher than you might imagine, with something of the teenage schoolboy to him, even down to the frayed cuffs on his jacket. In our closely monitored chat (20 minutes! No questions about Kristin!) Pattinson talks about his role as chain-smoking student loser Tyler Hawkins in the US indie movie Remember Me, about creating ‘mystique’ as an actor and about sucking blood off his co-star’s lip.
You looked scared stiff when you were handing out a Bafta award last month. Are you getting shyer?
‘I think I am, yeah! The more interviews you do, the more stuff you say to people. You suddenly get worried that people are more likely to judge you. If no one knows anything about you, then you can say whatever you want – and just contradict yourself later. But the more contradictions you make, the scope gets narrower as to what you can say before people get pissed off.’
Where does Remember Me fit into the Twilight craziness?
‘I’d read tons of scripts after the first Twilight movie and this was one of maybe two that I liked. I didn’t work for the whole year after Twilight. What did I do? Nothing! [Laughs] It was really nice. I was still so used to hanging around most of the time when I was in England. And now that I’ve been working a lot, I can’t imagine going a month without fretting. So now, I’m doing job-to-job-to-job. Which is a dangerous thing to do because you have a film coming out every three months. It’s over-saturation. You have to work a bit on creating some kind of mystique.’
Mystique? Is that what you feel you need? Or what you feel people want?
‘I see people who are in newspapers and magazines all the time. If they’re in every single week, I’m far less interested in their movies. So, yeah, I am always a little bit wary.’
Your new film Remember Me is set in the summer of 2001. Did you have any reservations about fictionalising 9/11?
‘When I first read it, I didn’t think it was contentious. I thought it flowed organically; it’s anchored in reality. It hit hard for me so I wanted to portray the same emotions that I felt the first time I read it. I’m terrified of people thinking it’s manipulative. I read the script and I felt this should be made.’
You get beaten up a lot in Remember Me. Was it fun to act like a real person for a change?
‘Yeah, it’s always enjoyable smashing things up. I guess that’s one of the funniest things about it—from the first fight, which is such a severe beating, there are all these wounds on his face, for two thirds of the movie [laughs].’
And then your screen girlfriend [Emilie de Ravin] kisses you and she’s got a split lip…
‘There was a big moment, which is in the script, where there’s a kind of kinkiness with the cut in her lip but that got cut from the movie – where I’m sucking a little bit of blood off it [laughs]. I think it was a little bit too weird.’
Is this your first sex scene?
‘No. My first sex scene was in “Little Ashes” when I was about 21, and it was with a guy. And I’m supposed to have a kind of nervous breakdown in the middle of it as well. So that was a nice introduction to it!’
Do you feel like you have something to prove, Twilight having been so bankable?
‘I think people are really harsh about anything that becomes successful. It’s really weird. I was looking at this article about Little Ashes. “He still hasn’t proved his box office potential. Little Ashes bombed.” Could it have been the gay theme? Or, er, the fact that it was only released in 16 cinemas?’
There’s a lot of fags, booze and sex in this movie. What about your younger fans?
‘That’s the least of my concerns. I think it’s so ridiculous, people putting pressure on the arts. I think parents should be the ones who teach kids. The more you try to hide things like that, the more exciting and appealing they are. [Grins] The abstinence movement is only a reaction to everybody being so obsessed with sex for the past 20 years and it being so open to everyone. It’s crazy to think that young people, when their hormones are most raging, that they’re suddenly like, “Oh, I don’t want any of that.”’
You’re currently filming ‘Bel Ami’ with Uma Thurman. You play a real swine.
‘I thought it was one of the funniest scripts I’d ever read. When they made the movie in the ’50s with Angela Lansbury, they had to change the story. The novel is about this guy who screws everybody over and seduces all these women and completely gets away with everything. And in the first film, they had to have him shot because they thought that audiences wouldn’t be able to accept it. In this one it’s the total opposite. This guy is a complete arsehole, so arrogant and stubborn and self-righteous about everything. He remains an arsehole to the end and everyone congratulates him for it.’