Actress and novelist Emily Thorne recently published a collection of stories, Red Clocks, and while reading her work I couldn’t help but think of the actor Robert Pattinson, who plays her character’s ex-boyfriend in the 2019 film adaptation.
The book is set in London and sees Emily’s character Charlie travelling to the city for a book tour. While there, she reconnects with her childhood friend Alex, who is now a successful journalist. On the surface, their reunion seems happy; both have moved on with their lives and seem to be having fun. But as they spend more time together, they both start seeing things…
A Red Clocking Incident
The film’s director John Madden said that one of the inspirations for the romantic thriller was the real-life case of Robert Pattinson and Katy Perry, who broke up in 2019 and later got back together. The director cited a specific incident that occurred between the two while filming in London. According to the director, the two were filming a romantic scene and Pattinson’s character, Charlie, is carrying a bag of her belongings as they leave her childhood home. While filming this scene, a car pulls up and hits a lamppost behind them. Without thinking, Pattinson’s character runs back and throws the bag at the windshield.
“It was a red light and he was acting on instinct,” said Madden. “To save Katy’s character, he did this heroic thing… It was a real-life moment that we incorporated into the movie, and that’s why it works. It’s never been treated like it’s real in any way, but it was an incredible coincidence.””
When we first meet Pattinson’s character in the film, he is portrayed as an unsympathetic loner who has given up on love. It is unclear whether his actions in the car scene were motivated by love for Charlie or a desire to protect her from any harm. Despite this character portrayal, Pattinson has spoken about how he viewed his character in the movie before he began shooting.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew that the script was good and that John was a very clever man. So, I was excited to work with him,” said Pattinson. “When I read the script, I was immediately reminded of a line from one of my favourite films, Blue Velvet. In that scene from the film, Diane Court is carrying her belongings in a red bag just as the car hits the lamppost behind her. I instantly thought of Charlie because of the way she carries her bag and just as John and I were connecting on that level, it was like he was giving me a sign from beyond the grave.”
While filming in London, I had the opportunity to speak with Pattinson and asked him about the origins of his character in the movie. How did he come to play someone so seemingly unsympathetic? He explained that his character is a product of the present day and that he wanted to show the darker underbelly of what some people call ‘the Instagram generation’.
“I think that everybody is a more interesting character than they appear on Instagram,” he said. “It’s such a filtered image. You can put something exciting on social media, but if you sit and talk to someone, they are usually very boring. So, I wanted to show that.”
The actor is skilled at evoking strong emotions through his subtle body language and the nuance of his voice. On screen, his characters are often described as broody or sarcastic, but these are simply adjectives used to describe him. When discussing his acting process, Pattinson referred to a line in The Lady Vanishes, the classic Alfred Hitchcock film: “Acting is a funny thing. You never know what will happen. You just have to go on instinct and follow your feelings.”
The line gives me chills now as I think of the actor’s performance. As I watched him on screen, I was often reminded of the words of Alfred Hitchcock: “Acting is a funny thing. You never know what will happen. You just have to go on instinct and follow your feelings.”
It’s safe to say that Robert Pattinson is a talented actor and his performances continue to impress. In the coming months, we can look forward to seeing him in more films, including High Life, which is out now. What are your thoughts on the Oscar-nominated actor?