After the blockbuster success of The Twilight Saga, it’s no surprise that Summit Entertainment’s adaptation of J.M. Coetzee’s Booker Prize–winning novel, The Lost City of Z, is becoming such a cultural phenomenon. The film, starring Charlie Hunnam in the eponymous role, was released in 2018 and became the highest-grossing independent film of all time in the UK (just ahead of Disney’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
But the film’s unprecedented popularity came with a steep learning curve for the lead actor, Robert Pattinson. In an interview with The Independent in 2018, Pattinson discussed what it was like filming The Lost City of Z, the adjustments he had to make as an actor, and how he has adjusted to his newfound celebrity.
An Adjustment To Fame
Although it’s been a decade since the premiere of The Twilight Saga, which made him a teen idol, Pattinson admits that being famous is still a massive adjustment to his life. As he puts it: “It’s funny, you go from being almost anonymous to being, quite obviously, famous; it’s quite a transformation.”
Pattinson’s newfound fame has also brought with it a new set of challenges, which he had to overcome while filming The Lost City of Z. For starters, the actor had to learn to cook, since most of the meals he enjoys are typically made with fresh ingredients and lots of vegetables. In a recent interview with The Independent, Pattinson discussed how filming The Lost City of Z helped him overcome his fear of public speaking and how he deals with the pressures of celebrity:
One of the most prominent changes in Pattinson’s life that resulted from his newfound fame was his aversion to public speaking. The actor avoided holding any sort of press conference, preferring to stay away from the limelight. He even went as far as to ask reporters not to interview him and requested photo blinds during press launches.
While this might seem like a prudent decision on Pattinson’s part, it was actually quite the opposite. The Twilight Saga made him a household name and unleashed a torrent of publicity that swept away his shyness, revealing his true personality to the public. Pattinson credits this newfound confidence with his performance in the Netflix original series, The Society, which was released in 2018. In the series, he plays a ruthless political fixer who is not afraid to throw punches – or words – at anyone standing in the way of his plans.
With all this acting experience under his belt, Pattinson is now in a position to advise other up-and-coming actors on how to navigate the Hollywood jungle. Here, he offers some tips on how to succeed in today’s competitive environment:
Find Your Niche
When it comes to breaking into the industry, there are many routes you can take. You can either focus on mainstream cinema and compete with thousands of other applicants for a handful of roles, or you can specialize in smaller independent projects and stand out among the hundreds of other actors who audition for the same roles.
If you want to prove yourself to agents and directors and secure steady work, then your best bet is to specialize in small, independent projects. These tend to have a smaller budget and, as a result, demand from directors and producers is typically higher. This, in turn, makes these projects more attractive to agents and the like, who then have a greater chance of securing you work. If you want to work in mainstream cinema, then specialize in character roles or voice work and hope that your name draws in the right kind of attention.
Join A Union
Pattinson is a member of SAG-AFTRA and, as a result, can negotiate decent wages and working conditions. It’s highly probable that he will continue to benefit from union representation as he establishes himself in the industry. Even if you’re not already a member of a union, it’s never too late to join. The key is to find a cause you believe in and are passionate about and, as a result, become more willing to fight for. What is certain is that, without a union, none of us would be able to negotiate our way to a living wage while working in Hollywood – and that’s a fact.
Take Care Of Your Health
If you want to stay in this industry for the long term, then it’s essential that you take care of your health. Being able to perform for long periods while in peak physical condition, coupled with the consistent daily stress of working in Hollywood, can heavily impact your mental and physical wellbeing. This, in turn, will likely result in a rapid decline in productivity and increase the risk of error. Make time for yourself and ensure that you recover properly after each and every scene. Schedule regular breaks and make the most of the health insurance that comes with your union membership.
To avoid serious health problems, prioritise your mental wellbeing above all else. It’s been scientifically proven that constant exposure to stress can result in your body creating a physical response known as “fight or flight”. When exposed to stress, the body produces adrenaline, which gives you the “warrior” or “hunter” instinct. However, this adrenaline can have adverse effects on your health if it’s overexposed to. As a result, make sure that you always feel relaxed and safe in your surroundings. If you feel that you’re not getting the support that you need from within your agency or team, then consider moving offices or companies.
The biggest adjustment that comes with fame is learning to be comfortable in your own company. Once you’ve managed to work your way through the initial influx of attention and excitement, you will find that people are actually much more interested in what you have to say than they are in famous person X or Y. After all, it’s you, the individual, who will bring the entertainment value to the role – not the other way around.
While this might sound like wishful thinking, it’s simply not. It’s the nature of the beast that draws people to celebrity, and, as a result, you will inevitably find yourself dealing with demanding fans and unnecessary attention. Navigating this demanding environment is not easy and requires a massive amount of courage. Even so, with enough effort and time, you will find that the attention fades and you can get back to focusing on your craft.