If you’re a Robert Pattinson fan and have been waiting for the right time to express your admiration, then this might just be it. “Robert Pattinson,” a newly released short film on which Pattinson collaborates with renowned French director Olivier Dahan (he made “Betty” and “American Widow”), is the first glimpse of the actor’s cinematic debut. In the story, Robert and his partner (played by French actress Léa Seydoux) are taking a stroll through the city when they come across a stray dog. Impressed by the creature’s pluck and spirit, they invite it to stay with them and name it “Armand.” The heartwarming film follows their journey together as they try to make the best of their situation and raise the pup as their own. After taking a sneak peek at the trailer, we chatted with Dahan about the inspiration behind the story and more.
Why Did You Choose This Novella To Adapt?
We wanted to tell a story about a dog. The canine companionship has always been a source of warmth and joy for us as humans, whether it’s Winnie the Pooh or Lassie. It was important that the animal belonged to no one and that the two main characters had full control over it. They could have any dog they wanted, as long as it followed their commands. This freedom gave us the chance to explore many different scenarios and establish a truly authentic bond between man and dog.
The Story Was Inspired By Real-Life Events. Can You Tell Me More?
The short film is set in Paris and follows the journey of two individuals as they encounter a stray dog and decide to invite it into their home. The inspiration for this novella actually comes from a series of events that transpired in our own lives. While we were shooting, I had a friend who is also a filmmaker. We were both on the same page in terms of what we wanted to achieve, and he suggested that we take a look at a certain actor, Robert Pattinson. He had just finished working with him on “Saving Mr. Banks,” and said that he was someone who was very deserving of a dog. As it happens, my friend’s father is a dog lover, and he had given my friend the perfect dog-related gift: a husky puppy.
We were both overwhelmed with joy. My friend spent a small fortune on medical bills and veterinarian visits because the puppy shared a kidney with another dog. He was also very clumsy and would frequently hurt himself or others around him. Nevertheless, he loved the dog and was extremely attached to it. This was the perfect dog – a true fighter who endured great suffering and pain because of his passion for others. This is what inspired us to tell this particular story about a dog’s perseverance and loyalty to its owners. It also fits perfectly with our mantra of ‘less is more.’ The less we show, the more we reveal. The less we say, the more we show.
How Did You Come Up With The Story?
The idea for this story came from my wife, Léa Seydoux. She is an extraordinary talent and had previously starred in Dahan’s movie “Betty.” When we first met with Olivier, he had just wrapped “American Widow,” and he suggested that we watch the film together before our meeting. Upon finishing the movie, I turned to Léa and said, “we have to make a short film about this.” I immediately loved the story and felt that it would be the perfect vehicle for both of us. Léa agreed and we began developing the screenplay together. It took us about three months of back-and-forth to get everything done properly.
What Was The Main Challenge In Adapting This Novella?
The biggest challenge was the time difference. We were used to working at night, so it was already mid-afternoon when we started the process. We needed to get the script to Olivier by October, and time was not on our side. We were extremely lucky to have found an amazing script reader who was able to help us navigate the unwieldy manuscript and find the heart of the story. It was also a challenge to get all of the legal permissions for the various dogs in the story. We had to make a few calls and see if the various dog owners wanted to be involved. Fortunately, everyone agreed and we were able to include their dogs as well.
How Did You Go About Casting?
The first step was to look for the right dog for the role. We wanted to go for a husky because they are beautiful, loyal creatures and very similar to Léa’s own dog, who is a husky mix. We also needed someone who would be able to portray the different stages of the dog’s life accurately. We found a very talented husky actress named Chantal who was able to embody the entire process from egg to adult. It was an incredible experience working with her.
Your Career In Film. Was This A Learning Experience?
Absolutely. We had no idea what we were doing and were guided by the people around us. My wife is also an incredibly giving person and has a large heart, and she was the one who encouraged me to go for it. She often repeats the phrase, “there are no right or wrong answers.” We learned a lot from the people around us, including our instructor, Michael Kahn. He has an incredible eye for detail and was very patient with us as we went through the process. He would often say, “keep your head up. Don’t be afraid to take a shot.” This was great advice, and it really helped us find our stride.
What Do You Hope People Will Say About Your Film?
That they will enjoy themselves. This is a very low-budget film and was done completely independently. We had no money to lose, and we actually hope that people who see it will have as much fun watching it as we did making it.
Our next project is a television series we are co-producing with the Canadian government. It is a dystopian story about a mother and daughter who are accused of a crime they didn’t commit. This will be another complicated project to adapt, and I’m looking forward to working with my wife again. We also have some incredible opportunities coming up in terms of short films and feature films. We can’t wait to share our projects with the world and continue to grow as artists.