As you may have heard — it has been in the news here and there — Twilight stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart broke up this summer.
Actually, everyone has seen the stories — including Pattinson. “Yeah, I read it,” the 26-year-old British actor says during an interview at a New York hotel. “It’s my life. You sort of want to read it. You feel like you need to read it. It’s one of those things where you keep picking a scab. You know you shouldn’t be doing it, but it’s a weird kind of addiction. You desperately want to stop.”
About a month ago, a tabloid published photos of Stewart, Pattinson’s live-in girlfriend of four years, in an embrace with her Snow White & the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders. Since then, the media seem able to talk of little else.
“At times, I find the whole thing pretty funny,” Pattinson admits. “It is pretty funny. My life is kind of ridiculous to me. It’s so absurd at times.” Pattinson would rather talk about his new film, the David Cronenberg drama Cosmopolis. When the noted independent filmmaker, whose credits include A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007), gave Pattinson the script for Cosmopolis — based on the Don DeLillo novel — the actor could see himself as Eric Parker, the 28-year-old billionaire asset manager whose world falls apart around him as he rides in his stretch limo to get a haircut while wagering his company’s massive fortune on a bet. But Pattinson had one problem.
“I was honest with David and said that I loved his script, but I didn’t fully understand it,” Pattinson says. “I knew, if I tried to have a BS conversation about it, that David would call me out.”
Cronenberg, too, had some reservations — about Pattinson. “Could this British guy do a New York accent where it’s not agonizing?” the filmmaker recalls wondering. “Could he play that age? Does he have the charisma to hold the audience for the whole movie, because he’s literally in every scene? “I did my homework and watched Little Ashes (2008) and Remember Me (2010),” Cronenberg says. “I even watched interviews that Robert did. I wanted to know what this guy was like when he was just being himself. I wanted to get a feel of what he was like as a person. I wanted to know that he had a sense of humor, and he does.
“I finally said, ‘OK, this is the right guy.’ ”
Most of Pattinson’s films have required him to forgo his natural British accent, so he had no problem finding Eric’s New York speech patterns.
“I don’t even know what accent I was doing half of the time,” he admits. “I always found that the dialect was written in the lines. The voice was also part of the preparation. I wasn’t even trying to get a New York accent.”
His next film is, of course, the series-ending Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, due in November. Cosmopolis is nothing like that, which is by design. “I try to do something different from vampire Edward Cullen each time I’m not doing a Twilight film,” Pattinson says. “I even try to make him different each time I do Twilight.”
As a child growing up in London, Pattinson had dreams of stardom, but they involved music. That he ended up as an actor still bemuses him. “When I’m asked to write down my occupation, it’s still hard for me to write actor.”
After auditioning for Troy (2004) but not getting the part, Pattinson was cast in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) as the handsome, charming and doomed Cedric Diggory. Three years later, he began his turn as soulful vampire Edward Cullen. For “Twi-hards” dreading the end of the film franchise, Pattinson offers some words of hope. “I’m sure they’ll have a Twilight TV-series spinoff soon,” he says. “They’ll do it again.” That presumably wouldn’t involve Pattinson. There is talk of a film prequel, however. Would he be willing to play Edward again? “Who knows?” says Pattinson, laughing. “The only thing that creates a little bit of a problem is that I’m supposed to be 17 forever.”