Robert Pattinson is one of the most attractive and talented actors of his time. The British hunk, who is ranked as one of the “Sexiest Man Alive” by Rolling Stone magazine, has graced the big and small screens with his perfect smile for years. Last year, he made headlines when he finalized his divorce from girlfriend Kristen Stewart, whose unconventional lifestyle and constant media scrutiny made for intense tabloid reading.
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The “Twilight” alum has been an active participant in feminist campaigns as of late, drawing the ire of many male-dominated industries. In March 2018, he became the latest Hollywood star to lend his support to the #MeToo movement, apologizing for “the wrongs [he] has done, and [is] committed to making right.”
A Change of Pace
Pattinson’s latest film, “Ugly,” marks a departure from his typical glamorous lifestyle. Starring alongside Awkwafina, a rapper and comedian who plays his love interest in the film, Pattinson portrays an unassuming optometrist who helps her realize her dreams of being a fashion designer. In a press release, the actor said he drew inspiration for the role from friends, family, and the community he lives in – a stark contrast to the fast lane he’s usually in.
On the set of “Ugly” in New York City, Pattinson chatted with Access about the film and his experience working with Awkwafina. Although he had seen the rapper in concert, they hadn’t previously worked together. During filming, they bonded over their shared experience of inhabiting very different characters.
“It’s funny because originally I wasn’t supposed to do the movie,” Pattinson said. “[Director] Jee-woon [Kim]’s idea was to make a movie about a fashion designer, and then he changed his mind and said, ‘Let’s do an ensemble cast and have an ugly person in it’.” He added that he wasn’t initially planning to act in the movie, but “fell in love with [playing] an ugly person.”
Awkwafina, who is currently experiencing a surge of popularity in Asia, particularly among Korean audiences, said she was “super-excited” about the part. “You have the biggest smile – you can’t even sit down without it hurting your face,” she gushed to Pattinson. “You have this beautiful quality where people want to be near you. You’re very generous with your energy, you engage with whoever you’re speaking with. So I just wanted to let you know that you were born to do this. You have such a wonderful spirit about you. The best thing is that you’re not your typical ‘beautiful actor,’ you’re just a beautiful human being. And I love that about you.”
The “Twilight” alum said he doesn’t have any regrets about his decision to end his marriage to Stewart, adding in the press release that he is “proud” of what he accomplished. “I feel like I grew as a person a lot over the last year, especially in the areas that matter most. I feel like I can’t really go back and change any of it – I did what I needed to do at the time,” he said. “But at the end of the day, as hurt as I was when I found out what she had done, I don’t have any regrets – not even one bit.”
A Different Approach
Pattinson said that while it was “easier” to fall into the glamourous lifestyle he’s become famous for, it hasn’t always been that way. The actor, who grew up in Twickenham in London, admitted he has “worked hard” to ensure that his public image is one of a kind. “I had to really work at letting go of the image and chasing something more authentic – a different kind of happiness,” he said. “I’m so happy that people see me for who I really am, and not just an image or a brand. I feel like that’s the best way to live – the way I live.”
An Important Message
Although he’s been the target of many online trolls over the years, Pattinson said he doesn’t pay much attention to hateful comments.
“You can’t let the trolls get to you,” he said. “You have to remember that they’re just jealous because they don’t have what you have – you’re so popular with women; you’re so popular with men, but especially with women. I think it’s important to remain positive, to not let these trolls affect how you feel about yourself. They’ll always have something to say, but in the end, it’s not worth it.”
Pattinson said that while he was always inspired by the work of other artists, he drew his inspiration for “Ugly” from a different place. “There was a story that was inspiring me a lot,” he said. “A girl named Arianah, in Cairo, Egypt, was posting on Instagram about the struggle of finding herself, wanting to be a designer, but not sure about how to start.” He continued, “I thought that was such an important message to send out, that even if you don’t have all the answers, don’t give up – keep trying. That’s what I did in this movie – I tried to show that it’s possible to be successful even if you’re not conventionally attractive, even if you don’t fit the mold. Maybe there’s something in here for everyone.”
Although Pattinson has been working in front of the camera for most of his life, he’s always been keen to remain anonymous. The actor said he’s “always been very self-conscious” about the way he looks, growing up in a family of six children. He hasn’t always had easy access to good-looking clothes, so he made his own fashion choices, which earned him a “geek” reputation as a teenager. Despite the teasing, he said he never viewed his appearance as defining or limiting him.
“Being funny and not taking yourself too seriously is one of the best things you can do if you want to get ahead in life,” he said. “I have a good sense of humor and I try to bring that to every set I’m on.”
A Different Kind of Beauty
Pattinson said that while he doesn’t believe he’s more handsome than other men, he does believe he has a “different kind of beauty.” The actor explained that he’s often compared to other famous men, like Roman Holiday’s Gregory Peck and James Bond’s Sean Connery, noting that people see “a different aspect of [them] when [they’re] with [his] girlfriends or colleagues.”
“I’ve attracted a lot of interesting women throughout my life, and I think it’s because of this quality that people call ‘maturity’,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s my charm or whatever, but I think it’s the honesty in how I look at things, how I look at people. I think that’s what makes me so attractive to women.”
A Stylistic Match
While “Ugly” is a dramatic departure from his previous movies, it’s clear that Stewart’s input helped guide the look of the film. Pattinson said that he had given a lot of thought to how he wanted his hair and makeup to look for the role, and that stylistically, it was a match made in heaven. “I wanted to have a more natural look – something that would feel more like me,” he said. “I wanted to go for a more classic look, like the way Sean Connery and Gregory Peck always looked. Even the clothes they wore, they had that classic, cool, handsome vibe.”
A Different Type of Filmmaking
Although he appeared in numerous high-budget mainstream films in his early career, making a movie at mid-range or low-budget was something new for Pattinson. He noted that while he’s enjoyed making movies for large audiences, he’s learned a great deal from the smaller projects.