Set during the summer of 2001 in New York City, Remember Me stars Robert Pattinson as Tyler Hawkins, a rebellious NYU student who has a violent encounter with Police Sergeant Neil Craig (Chris Cooper), only to fall in love with his daughter, Ally (Emilie de Ravin).
Pattinson, who became a superstar as vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise, spoke of his role as Tyler and the movie at the press junket for the film in New York City.
Do people judge your work differently after the Twilight films?
Yeah, I think people do judge things differently after the Twilight films; they view it differently, but there’s nothing you can really do about that. I do take that into account more now than I used to.
Doing the (Salvador) Dali movie (Little Ashes), when I was doing it, I didn’t think anyone was ever going to see it. It’s a very different place to be at when you think you’re making a movie which nobody is going to see; you’re not afraid to experiment with things.
We’re dealing with random violence in this film. Was there something from your own past that you could bring?
No. It was more about the reactions after (the random violence). The way he dealt with random events.
Little bits were cut out of it but I remember after the first fight with Chris Cooper’s character, his mother was saying, ‘You need to sue the police force,’ and I was like, ‘For what?’ He doesn’t really care. ‘Well, at least, get an apology,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t think you can sue the police force for an apology.’
It was kind of this blasé attitude, even when it’s been him who’s been the one who is harmed. I always related to that. Looking back into the past and bearing grudges, I don’t really do that. The way that his violence comes out as well, it’s illogical. It’s not against really legitimate targets.
I kind of relate to that. When you have a spasm of rage it goes, almost inevitably, to the complete wrong target and it causes you more problems. So, it’s better to keep it chained up all the time.
A lot of that anger goes against Tyler’s dad, played by Pierce Brosnan. What was it like acting with him? And is your relationship with your own dad, anything like that?
(he laughs) I think my relationship with my dad is the opposite. With Pierce, the part was written as much more controlling. He was incredibly arrogant in the script. And, Pierce seems like a really nice guy and he read the character as, he’s not a horrible man.
He’s not a monster, and that completely changed what Tyler’s relationship is with him. You’re looking at a guy where you know the audience is going to be thinking, ‘He’s all right,’ which is kind of interesting.
This guy Tyler is rebelling against nothing. He is attacking (his father) because he knows he can be attacked and he’s going to keep standing afterwards.
Pierce was great. I had no idea who they were going to cast in that part and when (they told me) I was like, ‘That’s a tough act to follow’. But I think he was perfect for it.
Did you enjoy your fight scenes; acting with fists not words?
Yeah. I loved it. It’s completely different. I never do stuff like that in reality so it’s quite cathartic in a lot of ways.
Was it daunting working with Chris Cooper as Ally’s tough dad?
Yeah, I don’t know how I’d feel if I really had any fighting back to do. I was continually beaten up by him (he laughs). But, yeah, it was quite daunting. It’s very hard being strangled.
It’s really difficult to look like it’s actually happening, because if you’re being strangled nothing really happens. You just stand there.
I was experimenting with myself just before we shot it. I don’t really know what the face is to represent being strangled.
Have you been in a fight before?
Well, I’ve been beaten up a few times. I was a bit of an idiot when I was younger, but it was always unprovoked, in my eyes anyway. It was just after I first started acting and I liked to behave like an actor and that generally provoked a lot of people into hitting me.
Were you hurt in that particular fight scene
Oh no, not at all. The only thing that I hurt myself on was a bit they cut out of the movie where I flipped out afterwards, out of my own impotence in this fight. You walk into the big confrontation and end up getting completely destroyed by your competitor.
I was hitting myself afterwards in a little spur of the moment thing which they cut out of the movie. I hit myself so hard I was in pain for the rest of the shoot. It was the most stupid thing I’ve ever done (he laughs).
Did you have any trouble with the New York Bronx accent?
I grew up watching American movies. I learned how to act, to whatever extent, by watching American movies way more than English ones so I kind of, in a lot of ways, feel more comfortable speaking in an American accent. It feels more real to me in a lot of ways.
In the Twilight saga you are working with a lot of younger actors. Other than Emilie, the actors in this film are a bit older. Is it different working with older actors?
Yeah. In a lot of ways, it’s different because when you’re working with young people it’s like you’re going on the journey together. Everything is fresh to you.
If you’re working with experienced people, they’re much clearer about what they want to do or bring to the job right from the beginning, which is really good in some ways. But, at the same time, they’re very willing.
Chris and I were rewriting the scene when we fought each other during the lunch break just before. I never worked with anyone who is really tied down to what they want to do and that’s that. It’s really good either way.