Robert Pat­tin­son is a some­what re­luc­tant star, and his new role is quite a leap from the vam­pire se­ries that made his name, writes Georgia Humphreys

Irish Examiner - - Front Page -

Robert Pat­tin­son is a some­what re­luc­tant star, and his new role is quite a leap from ‘Twi­light, ’the vam­pire se­ries that made his name.

I was con­stantly wor­ried I would be recog­nised in the streets of New York City and the re­al­ity of the movie would fall apart

ROBERT Pat­tin­son might have a fa­mous face, but he would rather you didn’t pay any at­ten­tion to it.

He’s so fond of go­ing incog­nito that he has changed his ap­pear­ance as much as pos­si­ble since he be­came a global su­per­star in the Twi­light Saga — the se­ries of fan­tasy films based on the books by Amer­i­can au­thor Stephe­nie Meyer, in which he played vam­pire Ed­ward Cullen — and of­ten adopts some­thing of a home­less-chic aes­thetic.

Today his lus­cious locks, so lusted af­ter when he played Ed­ward, are shorn into a buzz-cut.

For his lat­est film role, in the fre­netic New York crime drama Good Time, they are bleached within an inch of their life.

But even with such com­mit­ment to slip­ping into char­ac­ter as Con­stan­tine “Con­nie” Nikas, 31year-old Pat­tin­son still faced the chal­lenge of be­ing spot­ted by fans.

“I tried to dis­ap­pear into Con­nie so I could be in­vis­i­ble on the street when we started film­ing,” he says, re­call­ing im­pro­vis­ing in pub­lic — with co-star Benny Safdie — be­fore the cam­eras started rolling.

“I kept think­ing every­one would see through me. A lot of my prepa­ra­tion on Good Time was try­ing not to think about be­ing fa­mous.

“I was con­stantly wor­ried I would be recog­nised in the streets of New York City and the re­al­ity of the movie would fall apart.”

The fact that the teenagers’ heart­throb is so no­to­ri­ously pri­vate is im­pres­sive when you con­sider how big a phe­nom­e­non the Twi­light fran­chise was — earn­ing at least £2.5 bil­lion at the global box of­fice and earn­ing him the nick­name “R-Patz” from his le­gions of ador­ing fans.

The London-born ac­tor was thrust into the head­lines fur­ther for his re­la­tion­ship with Twi­light co-star Kris­ten Ste­wart (who played his on-screen love in­ter­est Bella Swan) — es­pe­cially when photos of her cheating on him with Snow White

And The Hunts­man di­rec­tor Ru­pert San­ders emerged in 2012. She is­sued a pub­lic apol­ogy to Pat­tin­son, but the cou­ple later broke up, and he drifted back into be­ing an elu­sive star.

He has since been ro­man­ti­cally linked with an­other high-pro­file star, Mer­cury Prize-nom­i­nated singer FKA Twigs (real name Tahliah De­brett Bar­nett), but there were few red car­pet snaps, and it was widely re­ported last month that the cou­ple had bro­ken off their en­gage­ment.

Work-wise, re­cent years have seen

Pat­tin­son, who also ap­peared on the big screen as Cedric Dig­gory in the Harry Pot­ter fran­chise, turn his fo­cus to edgier projects, such as drama Re­mem­ber Me, thriller Cos­mopo­lis and epic ad­ven­ture film The Lost City of Z.

Ar­guably, no ca­reer move has dis­tanced him­self fur­ther from his Ed­ward Cullen days than Good Time, though.

The fast paced-tale, set over one night, fol­lows Con­nie des­per­ately try­ing to get his men­tally-chal­lenged brother Nick (played by co-di­rec­tor Benny Safdie) out of jail af­ter their at­tempt to stage a bank rob­bery goes wrong.

Con­nie en­listed his brother’s help with the crime in the hope of thrust­ing him into “nor­mal” sit­u­a­tions, and his de­ter­mi­na­tion to not al­low his sibling to be de­fined by his dis­abil­ity is a run­ning theme through­out the film.

Pat­tin­son is quick to agree that not want­ing to be de­fined by one par­tic­u­lar thing is some­thing he has faced in the past as an ac­tor.

“Most peo­ple find their iden­tity to be quite im­por­tant and es­sen­tial to them,” he elab­o­rates.

“And the idea of try­ing to re­ject any kind of iden­tity or say­ing ‘Yes, my past means ab­so­lutely noth­ing to who I am right now’, it’s like ev­ery de­ci­sion I’ve ever made you’d have to ig­nore that and you’d have to judge me on what I’m do­ing lit­er­ally right now... I mean, it’s kind of crazy,” he says with a laugh.

“But I can, in a lot of ways, re­late to that, and there’s a ma­nia in that, which is kind of in Con­nie’s char­ac­ter as well. But, yeah, it’s an un­usual thing to not want to be de­fined...” he adds, trail­ing off qui­etly.

For Pat­tin­son, the de­sire to work with film di­rec­tors Josh and Benny Safdie came af­ter be­ing trans­fixed by a “mag­i­cal” pro­mo­tional still from their pre­vi­ous fea­ture Heaven Knows

What, show­ing its star, Arielle Holmes, bathed in pink neon light.

Af­ter be­ing ap­proached by Pat­tin­son about their unique style, the sib­lings de­cided to make the role of Con­nie specif­i­cally for him, and the re­sult is an adren­a­line-pumped watch — as Con­nie races to save his brother and him­self, a se­ries of mishaps sees his mis­sion be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous.

The film re­ceived a six-minute stand­ing ova­tion fol­low­ing its pre­miere at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, with some view­ers call­ing Pat­tin­son’s crit­i­cally-ac­claimed per­for­mance Os­car-wor­thy. So, did get­ting lost in this role come quite nat­u­rally to the ac­tor?

“You al­ways try to (lose your­self in the role),” he sug­gests. “I think just the way Josh and Ron­nie (Bron­stein,

Good Time co-writer) write, and also the way they set up the set... the en­tire en­vi­ron­ment when you’re shoot­ing, it’s just a much wider scope than you nor­mally find.”

He con­tin­ues: “And also the en­ergy that every­one has on the crew, it never re­ally felt like the movie world ended.

“Nor­mally you do a take and every­one’s on In­sta­gram and ‘Blah blah blah’... Whereas with this, every­one in the crew felt like they were in it, so you didn’t re­ally break char­ac­ter that much.”

Pat­tin­son be­came pre­pared for any­thing when on set — of­ten be­ing handed di­a­logue which had been scripted just five min­utes ear­lier.

The Safdie broth­ers’ film­ing ap­proach is so hands-on they once blocked a four-lane street to­gether in the mid­dle of the day, to shoot a chase which they didn’t have per­mits for, the ac­tor re­calls.

“There were so many oc­ca­sions when they were fear­less like that,” he adds of the unique di­rec­tors.

So, while Pat­tin­son may of­ten shy away from the ex­cite­ment of show­biz life, it seems the fre­neti­cism of the Safdie broth­ers’ shoot­ing style is some­thing he ad­mires.

“They are peo­ple who thrive on chaos, which is a special qual­ity for di­rec­tors to have,” he says.

“Some­times I won­der if they’re in­duc­ing the chaos them­selves be­cause they seem to en­joy it so much.

“They have the magic com­bi­na­tion of ex­treme con­fi­dence in them­selves and the abil­ity to back it up, which is rare.”

Good Time is re­leased on Fri­day

Pic­ture: PA Photo/ Cur­zon Ar­ti­fi­cial Eye

Robert Pat­tin­son as Con­nie Nikas in his lat­est film, Good Time.

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