Perhaps against expectations, Robert Pattinson’s latest project, Good Time, recently bowled over the critics at the Cannes Film Festival. The former Twilight star’s rep has been battered in recent years, hit by one box office flop after another – studios had long written him off as a bankable prospect. But when he heard about a new project directed by indie auteurs Josh and Benny Safdie he knew he had to get in on the act, and even offered to do the film’s catering to get through the door…
RISING What drew you to working with the thoroughly arthouse filmmakers, the Safdie brothers?
ROBERT PATTINSON ‘I love their film Heaven Knows What and I knew right away that I had to try and meet them and hope that they would be willing to let me work on their next project. I don't like waiting around for my agent to call me. I like to try to go after films on my own because I know my own tastes and the kinds of films I want to do better than anyone else. With the Safdie brothers, I told them I would be willing to do anything to work with them, even the catering, because I think they have such a great way of seeing things and a very personal style of film-making. That’s the kind of work that appeals to me more than anything else.’
‘I used to be treated like a baby bird that needed to be protected and I hated that’
RISING What kind of preparations or discussions did you have with the Safdie brothers before you actually began filming?
RP ‘We started talking about the story while they were working on the script for about a year before we started shooting. They told me they wanted to shoot the film in guerrilla style without booking locations in advance or using a lot of security staff to block off streets or traffic while we were shooting. They believe in getting right in there and making it look as real as possible.
We would be in the middle of the street sometimes setting up a shot or we would shoot in the emergency room of a hospital without permission. It was kind of thrilling to do that. I was just worried that people might recognise me and ruin the shot or start taking their cell phones out. But I was also deliberately trying to disappear into the crowd as much as possible in certain scenes and behaving as my character needed to in trying to avoid being spotted.’
RISING The critics in Cannes noted that you really managed to nail that frenetic intensity of a bank robber on the run in New York – how did you do it?
RP ‘I tried to capture that kind of manic energy that I see around me in New York. There's always so much activity going on that I tried to absorb as much as I could, especially because I was practically the only one working on the film who didn't grow up in New York.
I spent two months living in the city around the corner from where Josh lived and that helped me pick up on the pace of the city and how to use as much of that as possible for the character; and allow myself to feel that and use as much of my own energy to reach that manic level.’
‘I like that kind of uncertainty, I like the feeling that your life could just fall apart’
RISING Life must have felt quite distorted at the height of your Twilight fame – how does it compare today?
RP ‘It’s a lot less stressful. Also in terms of the work I’m getting to do now, it feels more honest and authentic. I used to be treated like a baby bird that needed to be protected from the outside world and I hated that. I like having people around me now who are willing to tell me what they really think and having my management let me know if they think I'm making the wrong choices. I hate the phoniness that comes with the business sometimes.’
RISING Do you have more freedom in your present life?
RP ‘It’s more fun and more interesting now. I don’t have as many doubts as I used to have about what I was doing, although I still question myself a lot. But I like that kind of uncertainty. It gives you that added edge… I like the feeling that your life could just fall apart.’
WHAT NEXT? Check out the gritty cinematography of the Safdie brothers in the trailer for Good Time.