Robert Pattinson Interview For David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’
Based on Don DeLillo’s novel of the same name, ‘Cosmopolis’ is set in the “not-too-distant-future,” the age of capitalism is drawing to a close and Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), a high finance golden boy is chauffeured across the city in his extravagant limousine to get a haircut. A visit from the President of the United States paralyses Manhattan and as the day goes by, an eruption of wild activity unfolds on the city’s streets. Eric watches helplessly as his empire collapses and as his paranoia intensifies during the 24-hour period, he starts to piece together clues that lead him to a most terrifying secret: his imminent assassination. Directred by David Cronenber, ‘Cosmopolis’ stars Robert Pattinson, Jay Baruchel, Samantha Morton, Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Mathieu Amalric, Kevin Durand, and Sarah Gadon. Look out for the film in cinemas June 15th in the UK. Expect a concrete US release date shortly.
What sets David Cronenberg apart from other directors you’ve worked with?
Robert Pattinson: It’s a funny thing, David Cronenberg has this thing of going back to his trailer after he chooses a shot. Most directors will sit on the set, just waiting around until the shot’s set up. I was always curious where he went. He’d be watching a live feed, in the trailer, of the shot being set up – I just thought he was sleeping or something (laughs). If you’re sitting on the set, a bunch of people will ask you questions all the time, and a lot of directors, I find, are kind of exhausted by the time they’re actually supposed to do their job with the actors. They’re not really listening anymore. David is listening so intently when you’re doing a scene, and you know if you get a certain feeling about a scene, you know David has seen it. Which is a relief, and it makes you pay attention to what you’re doing as well.
With David Cronenberg’s placement of cameras and different camera angles, how did that help your performance?
Robert Pattinson: I remember David would say how camera placement can affect your performance. I think a lot of directors and actors refuse to accept anything about camera technique, it‘s like they don‘t want to acknowledge that the camera is involved in acting – which is something I always thought was totally ridiculous. And then for someone to completely be frank about and say, “Listen, if I put a camera here, it’s going to totally affect the way you perform.“ And it really did, the blocking was like direction, which I’d never really experienced before.
What was it like preparing to play Eric Packer, this slick, jaded, multi-billionaire Wall Street CEO?
Robert Pattinson: The preparation, I kind of spent two weeks in my hotel room worrying and confusing myself (laughs). I remember the weekend before we started shooting, I called David to talk to him about it, to ask him “one question“ (laughs), like, ‘Want to talk about the movie for a bit?” So then I went round to David’s house and he said, “It doesn’t really matter. Let’s just start, then something will happen.“ I think Eric Packer’s impossible to approach like you would a normal character. What I liked about the script initially was its lyricism and just the rhythms of it. I mean, normally when you do a movie, you can kind of blur the lines and you can make it your own. But with this, I didn’t want to change a single word, not even the punctuation. That made it easier, it’s like you’re doing a song instead of a movie. It was interesting, it freed you up. If you’re trying to do something in a cerebral way, it becomes about ego and it’s silly at that point. Actors aren’t supposed to be intelligent (laughs).
‘Cosmopolis’ touches on a great number of themes; self-inflicted socio-economic decay, emotional dysfunction, sex, power… How do you look at the film?
Robert Pattinson: It’s funny, the first time I saw it, I didn’t even think about the greater scope of the movie. But when I first saw people’s reaction and they were talking about nihilism and stuff….I think it’s actually a really hopeful movie (laughs). Everyone’s asking me what’s the movie about and I have no idea. Someone told me it was about the end of the world. And I started thinking about that, and it kind of is in a way, I guess. But the hope in it… you present a world that doesn’t make any sense to anybody, which is why I think finance is the best metaphor for that. Finance doesn’t make any sense to me anyway! Finance seems to have absurd, disproportionate power. You say it’s ending the world, but the world doesn’t end, it’s just a rebirth. And I think in a lot of ways, when I look at the world, maybe I’m just a depressive, I think sometimes the world does need to be washed and cleansed. And that’s the hope of it.
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