In preparation for the premiere of The Rover, our Reviewer’s Choice Award-winning investigative journalist Michael Walsh sat down with the film’s co-star, Robert Pattinson, to talk shop about the intricacies of portraying a real-life anti-hero. Check out the interview below.

How Do You Want Your Character To Impact The Audience?

That’s a great question. I think people will be really moved by this movie. It’s kind of a tragedy in a way, because he started out great and then sort of fell apart. But, in a way, it’s beautiful, because he fought so hard and he never gave up on trying to change. It was quite an inspiring story actually. People will hopefully learn from it and they’ll be kinder and more understanding. But you know, I don’t want to give too much away. I think it’s more powerful when you see it for the first time.

Are You Confident Your Character Will Be Appreciated By The Audience?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, if you go into the movie not really caring or being very familiar with the books, then you’ll probably come out feeling that maybe he didn’t deserve what happened to him, but you know, it is what it is. And then if you know the books and you’ve followed them, then it’s quite a sad story really.

Will Your Character Challenge Hollywood’s Stereotypes?

I think that people will relate to him as an outsider, as someone who doesn’t quite fit in, who needs to fight for recognition. Because Hollywood can often portray people of color in a really negative light. And I think that he will help shed a bit more light on the issue, just by being in the spotlight. But, you know, Hollywood can be very unpredictable. So for all we know, they might not even choose to acknowledge him or what he does. We’ll have to wait and see.

How Do You Feel About Your On-Screen Love Interest?

Well, I’ve never really thought about it much. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I just want to focus on my character and the story that I’m in. And if I had to choose, I don’t know if I’d want to play him yet. But it’s tricky, because I already started shooting the film, so I don’t know if I can change gears now. But maybe in a few years’ time, when I’ve had more experience, I’ll be able to say whether or not I want to continue in the role.

I think that he’ll be really great at reminding people that mental illness is a real thing. Because a lot of the comedy doesn’t really address mental illness and so it can come across as a bit of a gimmick. But I think that it’s a topic that everyone can relate to, because everyone’s probably been there at one time or another. Whether you’ve got some sort of diagnosis or not, you know that you’re not alone in feeling confused, anxious or depressed. So it’s just a really important topic to bring up, especially since so much comedy doesn’t deal with it effectively. And when it does, it almost always ends up being about social stereotypes and so it can come across as a bit frustrating, since those are issues that you kind of expect to find in a comedy. But if it doesn’t, then it feels like you’re hitting a raw nerve and so that’s a positive thing. Because you’re providing empathy and you’re helping to shed some light on an issue that people might not want to talk about.

Where Do You Want To See Your Character Go From Here?

Well, I’d like to see him live a long and happy life. Although, I think that this period of his life was pretty tragic. And I don’t think that he deserves to be treated this way. But I do think that it’s important to point out that he’s not a bad person, he just had a very bad set of circumstances. So I’d like to see him find some sort of contentment and happiness. Whether it’s through art or music or something like that, which he seems to be really good at. That’s what I’d like to see him do. But, you know, the world is a very cruel place and so it might not be all sunshine and rainbows. But at least he’ll have his music.

This character is a very complex and interesting one. He’s a very polarizing figure, because he doesn’t really fit into any certain box. He’s never been portrayed particularly well in the media and so it’s never been easy for him to find representation. Especially since he was initially painted as this horrible person, who killed a lot of people. So I think that it’s important for people to see that there’s more than one side to this story, instead of just the bad guy version. And I think that he’ll help people understand why others were so desperately hurt by what he did. And hopefully, in some small way, he’ll be able to make amends for what he did.

Your Own Influences For The Role?

Well, I think that it’s really important to see that art imitates life and so I draw a lot from my own experiences, in trying to create this character. Not just the crime stuff, but also the struggles that he went through, trying to find his place in the world. Because that was really the source of the tragedy. He had this gift, this voice that people really responded to. And he was unable to find the means to express himself through music, because of his circumstances. So I think it’s important to understand the context of what he was going through. Plus, I watched a lot of documentaries about depression and anxiety, which really opened my eyes to the issue. And how it feels to live inside your head, day after day. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fun.

How Do You Feel About Michael Dougherty, The Film’s Director?

I think that he’s done an amazing job. Even just watching the movie now, a few months after its premiere, it still feels quite fresh and quite relevant. So I think that he’s done a fantastic job, keeping it quite a tense atmosphere, while still keeping the audience interested. Because it’s quite a difficult balance to get right. And I think that he’s done a fantastic job of keeping it together and making it quite suspenseful, even when things are quite bleak. So I think that he’s got a great sense of direction and so he’ll hopefully be able to bring something new to the table, with this particular screenplay. Because it’s quite a unique take on this subject matter and so I think that there’s a lot to learn from it. Even if you’ve seen the movie before, you’ll learn something new, because it will open up new perspectives to you, as an audience member.

Do You Have A Specific Musical Performance Or Scene, That You’re Looking Forward To Shooting?

I don’t have any specific pieces of music in mind. But I do have a couple of scenes that I think are quite powerful and quite tragic, as well. So I’d like to try and work some of those into the script somehow. Because I think that they really communicate what I’m trying to say. And I don’t think that the character would really be able to express himself the way that he does, in any other way. So it’s quite important that we get these moments right. And I think that they’ll make for some great visuals, which will hopefully impact the audience in a way that the dialogue could not. Because it’s quite a unique take on this particular issue, so it’s important to present it in a way that people understand. Because a lot of the time, when it comes to mental illness, people don’t quite know what to make of it. So I think that these moments, where he’s able to show a bit more of himself, will help shed a bit of light on the issue and allow people to feel a little bit more comfortable talking about it.