If you don’t know who Robert Pattinson is you’ve either been living in a cave for the past two years, or you’re over forty! The young actor, who made a strong impression as Cedric Diggory, Hogwarts’ official representative in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, has gone on to super-stardom as vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise.
But between his appearances in blockbuster movies, Pattinson is choosing smaller and more intimate films to act in. In Remember Me he portrays Tyler Hawkins, a rebellious young man in New York City who has a strained relationship with is father (Pierce Brosnan) following a tragedy that has separated their family, who finds love and meaning in his life with Ally (Emilie de Ravin), a girl he meets through a crass bet he makes with his friend.
Robert Pattinson spoke about his new movie at the press day in Manhattan.
What attracted you to the role of Tyler in this film?
I read it after the first Twilight film and I always kind of liked it. It was always in the back of my mind and the opportunity came up in between the second and third Twilight movies; only a small period of time so you can only do a certain type of movie. I was trying to remember all the little things that I’d read and this was kind of perfect.
It didn’t need any real prep time or anything and there was something different about it. It didn’t fit into a typical teen movie. I hadn’t really read a script like it and it seemed quite realistic and I found the character to be very accessible for me. I’d always really connected to it and I don’t really know why.
Was it refreshing to be in a film where you didn’t have to bite someone?
Oh, I’ve bit people in this (he laughs). No I didn’t. It’s different. It’s kind of a relief especially not having all the make-up on. That was one of the main things.
The character has anger issues and is tormented and has issues with his parents. Do you have any of these issues in your own life?
(he laughs) Not really. But, at the same time, I connected especially to who they cast for the family around Tyler. I knew a lot of kids who were troubled teenagers and you meet their families and they’re all just saying, ‘I don’t know what his problem is.’ All of the families seem really nice and supportive around them and it’s this unknown.
You have this energy and you don’t know where to place it. I think the reason Tyler has a problem with his father and not his mother is he knows his mother is not strong enough to take it. If he suddenly started attacking her, she’d just break and Charles, his father, is still a fighter so he’s always going to fight against him. But, I don’t think I have any particular problems myself in that respect.
The relationship between you and your little sister in the film, played by Ruby Jerins, seemed very natural. Can you talk about working with her and forging that relationship?
Yeah. She was amazing. Right from the first day, she was kind of completely at ease with me. I remember sitting around with Allen (Coulter, the director) and Emilie and Ruby and we’re all talking about relationships and I asked her, just to be kind of nice, ‘What do you think (your character) Caroline would think?’ And she said, ‘Well,’ and went off on this whole diatribe about her character’s whole back story and I thought, ‘Oh, okay.
I won’t patronize you anymore at all.’ (he laughs). She’s an amazing improviser as well and just seemed so completely at ease. She didn’t seem like an ‘actory’ kid either so I loved it. Anytime I was working with her, you just knew you didn’t have to worry about anything. I’d just look at her and it was always interesting what she did.
You play an NYU student and the apartment and other locales seem very real. What did being in the actual places do for you performance-wise?
I always felt, if this is a typical NYU student’s apartment then (wow!) He’s living in the East Village in this really nice apartment, just a little bit messy. I always thought that was a little bit much. It looked like a million dollar apartment (to me).
But it did help. Before I went to New York, I thought it was going to be really easy and I could just hang out there and pick up on a lot of New Yorker’s mannerisms, but it ended up being more of a circus than I thought it was going to be (he laughs).But, yeah, it definitely was (helpful).
Was it hard to get in character with all the (fan) craziness around you in New York while filming?
Kind of. At the beginning it was. Then about halfway through, I just suddenly had an epiphany about it. I don’t know what happened, but it’s just learning to block things out.
But at the beginning it was just driving me insane, especially for a character who is lost and supposed to be looking for things all the time. You can’t look up because suddenly all the (camera) shutters accelerate and you can’t smile or behave normally, but you’ve just got to be more disciplined about it.
What do you think if people say you remind them of classic Hollywood icon James Dean?
I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Do you? I mean that would be great. I don’t know if they will but I think James Dean was one of the most influential person on young guys, especially actors, definitely in the last fifty years I’m not ashamed to say, ‘Yeah, I am very much influenced by him.’
This character does bear a few similarities to Edward Cullen. Are you worried about being typecast as the brooding, wounded hero?
Maybe I just am brooding and wounded. I’m just realizing that. Nah, I’m not. You just take little steps. I’m always aware of how people are going to view things so you’ve kind of got to go halfway. If I did something playing a 400-pound woman people are probably going to judge it more harshly than other people who have been doing character parts for twenty years.
Not in a calculated way but all of the projects I’m doing seem like little baby steps toward other things. The thing I’m doing now (Bel Ami) is completely different in some ways but, at the same time, it’s got a lot of intensity. It’s what I like in characters.