In the summer of 2019, I had the pleasure of speaking with Robert Pattinson, who you might know best for playing the lead role in the wildly popular film adaptation of “The Kingkiller Chronicle” by Patrick Rothfuss. While we were on the topic of books, I asked Robert if he had any recommendations for people interested in reading and he seemed genuinely pleased to suggest a few titles that you might consider reading if you’re into historical fiction or fantasy. Here’s what he had to say.
The Kingkiller Chronicle: An Interview With The Actor
Adapted from the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Kingkiller Chronicle is the story of Kvothe, a cunning, witty rogue who lives in a world where magic is commonplace and mystical creatures often roam the wilderness. Set in a mythical land called Aurlonde, inhabited by talking animals, winged creatures, and all sorts of magical creatures, the film adaption premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and immediately shot to the top of the charts. The film stars Robert Pattinson as Kvothe and Michael Stuhlman as Emperor Lusius. The story focuses on Kvothe’s efforts to find the Emperor’s sword, which became legendary during the times of Lusius. Inspired by the book’s writing and characters, the film is equal parts funny, romantic, and thrilling. Plus, it features some great battles and costume changes!
I met up with Robert in Los Angeles before the premiere of the film and had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the book and the film. As a fan of the original source material, I was particularly interested in what made the story tick and what drew him to the role.
How Did You First Hear About The Kingkiller Chronicle?
I first heard about The Kingkiller Chronicle when I was in school. I think the teacher was talking about it in class and I instantly became interested. I didn’t really know much about it beyond that, but I always remembered the name. I guess I had sort of a mental image or a vision of the story in my head. It was something about a king who needed his sword and a magical creature who helps him out. In the end, the creature gives the king his sword and the king makes him a servant. Those are pretty much the only things I remember about the story, but it’s been lodged in my head as some of the best fantasy fiction I’ve ever read. In any case, the more I learned about the story, the more I wanted to play Kvothe. In terms of role, it was very appealing to me because it’s such an original story. The more I learned about it, the more I wanted to dive in and try something new. At the time, I was reading a lot of comics, especially graphic novels, and so it was a perfect match, I thought, for me to read the source material and play this character. It’s a great story, written by an incredible author, and it’s something that not too many people get the opportunity to play. In a nutshell, it’s a role that you don’t see too often. I think it’s safe to say that most people haven’t heard of Kvothe before, but now that the film is out, I hope more people will check it out.
How Did You Feel When You Found Out That You Would Be Playing The Lead Role In The Film Adaptation?
When I first found out that I would be playing the role of Kvothe, I was absolutely over the moon. I couldn’t believe it. Then, a few days later, when I got the official call, I nearly passed out. It’s something that you dream about as a kid and then, when it happens, you’re like, “Oh my god, this is actually happening!” Playing a character that’s this iconic and famous was a big deal to me. I hope I did him justice. I’m certainly glad that I got the opportunity, otherwise known as Fitz because it’s a wonderful name as well, and I hope I was able to bring some justice to the character. We didn’t have too much time to prepare, as shooting started only about two weeks after I got the call, but it really did feel like we had enough time to nail it. While I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, everything just sort of fell into place. My only concern was that the audience wouldn’t really know who I was, as it’s been so long since I’ve played a role like this, but I guess we’ll find out on the day of premiere.
Was There Anything In The Book That Inspired You?
There were a couple of things that specifically inspired me. One of them was the idea of the book being a coming-of-age story, which is something that I feel very passionate about. I think it is essential that we find a way to tell our own story, whether it’s through novels or films or whatever, and that our stories reflect our own growth and development as people. Coming-of-age stories, or “coming of age novels,” as they’re sometimes called, are a great way for a writer to explore these issues. I think the other thing that inspired me was the way the story builds towards this climactic battle. I could literally feel my imagination sort of churning as I was reading it. It’s such an original, creative way to tell a story and to bring the reader along for the ride. Basically, it’s an epic journey to find a way to save your family and your society from this terrible evil ruler. The last part, the battle, is such a thrilling, dramatic turn of events and I’m very glad that they were able to pull it off in the film. At the end of the day, it’s a love story as well as it is a story about finding your courage and standing up for what you believe in, which is a nice combination!
What Were The Most Difficult Parts Of Playing This Role?
One of the biggest challenges was trying to find the right costume. When I first read the description of the role, it said that Kvothe would be wearing armor a lot and I thought to myself, “Oh no! Not another black outfit!” But apparently, that’s what they want, so that’s what I had to get used to. I tried on several different costumes before landing on the one that Robert Pattinson ultimately wore in the film, which was a mixture of metal and fur. It was extremely hot to wear as well, especially since we didn’t have anything to cover up with aside from sheer muscle, so it was very difficult to act with all this extra weight on you. Another challenging part of the role was learning to use swords. I’ve never really been a big fan of drama, especially not in real life, so it was very hard for me to actually act in a fight. For some reason, I kept wanting to hug every single sword that I had to play with, so I guess it was a challenge just to keep my emotions in check while on set. Overall, I think the biggest challenge, aside from the actual work, was just finding the time to practice. We were shooting on locations all around the UK and we had to do a lot of traveling back and forth, so it was hard to find time to just practice. There were days where we would shoot for 12 hours straight and I wouldn’t get a chance to practice at all, which sort of defeats the purpose of having all this extra gear in the first place!
How Did You Feel About Acting Alike Your Character?
It was actually sort of liberating for me. It was interesting to find a way to play an entirely different character. Usually, I try to find a way to be like the people I am playing and so it was nice to go back in time and be someone else. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll ever be able to play someone else, completely, but I think it was important for me to try and find a way to make it work. It was a way of further exploration and something different, which is always a good thing. Sometimes, when you’re shooting, it can be difficult to find the right tone, but this was one area where I felt like I nailed it, completely. I hope I was able to pull off this different vibe in a way that wasn’t too over-the-top or camp, but I think that it worked really, really well. It was amazing to watch the way that the make-up designers were able to transform my face, especially when they were doing the old man thing. It was very difficult to explain to someone how to make me look ancient, but they must have sort of got the idea, because I certainly felt like I could pass for the elder statesman of fictional characters!