Robert Pattinson’s career might not look like most people’s idea of a perfect filmography. After starring in three Twilight films, the British actor has mostly worked behind the camera, serving as a director, producer, and occasionally as a screenwriter.
But the 31-year-old actor’s journey has certainly had its share of ups and downs. Early in his career, he had to settle for less lucrative roles due to poor auditions, but in the past decade or so, he’s carved out a niche for himself, regularly landing leading roles in critically acclaimed films, such as 2012’s The King’s Speech and 2015’s The Rover.
And his latest film, Good Time, is likely to further improve his reputation as one of the finest cinematographers in the business. We sat down with Pattinson to discuss his career, The King’s Speech, his first major role, and his family.
Why Do You Think Your Career Might Be Considered ‘Incomplete’?
When I first started acting, I really didn’t see a lot of myself in the roles they were casting. I wasn’t trained for acting; I was trained to be a painter. So I was lucky enough to get a part in a film, and even though it was just a small role, it gave me a chance to see myself on the big screen. But after that role, I didn’t get any more parts. And even though I didn’t really see myself as an actor, I think that was the best thing that could have happened; I was able to find my feet in the business without any preconceived notions about what kind of roles I should be playing. I just took it as it came.
Now, I know exactly what type of role I want to play, and I know how I want to play it, and I feel like I’m being given the opportunity to do that more and more. It really is amazing how things work out.
In terms of my acting career, I think it’s safe to say it’s been a real rollercoaster. The whole journey has been pretty incredible.
What Is The Difference Between Being An Actor And A Singer?
An actor performs in front of a live audience, and a singer performs for recording engineers.
If you’re a singer and you want to be an actor, it’s quite a hard road to travel down. You have to be extremely talented, and you have to be able to project that talent in front of a live audience. You can’t hide behind pedals; you have to be able to perform in front of people, and that takes a lot of training. It’s not something that just happens naturally for most people.
Which Of Your Characters Are You Most Identification With?
I think the characters that people connect with the most are the characters that remind them of themselves. If I’m not mistaken, that’s what acting is all about. The more you can relate to the person you’re portraying, the easier it will be to connect with the audience, and the better the role will be. Of course, sometimes we’re given roles that are outside our comfort zone, but even then, we can find the silver lining; we can find the character we’re playing and say, “This is me.”
Of course, it’s great to play something that is completely fictional, something that doesn’t remind you of yourself at all. Those are the most challenging roles to play. You have to find the humanity in the situation, and that’s what makes it so interesting; it doesn’t feel like you’re putting on a show. You feel like you’re bringing something to the table, that you have something real to contribute to the conversation.
When You First Heard About The King’s Speech, Did You Have Any Preconceived Notions About The Play?
When I first heard about the play, I knew exactly what it was going to be about. I had seen the trailer for the movie not too long before, and I pretty much had the whole play in my head anyway. There were a few other people around me when I heard about the play, and they had all seen the trailer too. So, we all kind of just nodded and said, “Yes, that’s the one.” I think if you’ve seen the movie, then you’ve pretty much seen the play too.
It’s a very simple, but beautiful story of a king who desperately wants to abdicate the throne, but is forced to battle alcoholism and embitterment over the course of the play. It’s quite a tragic tale, really; the king grows more and more isolated as he battles his addiction, until finally, he has a nervous breakdown and has to be restrained by his attendants. It’s a play that really deals with mental illness and addiction, and I think that’s why it’s been so well received, not just by critics, but by the public as well. It’s important to look at the movie too, because even though you know what happens in the play, the way in which it is told is so different, it’s an interesting experiment in adapting a story for the stage. The fact that it’s been so well-received is probably a sign that it was successful in bringing something completely new to the table, and I for one, am glad that I got the opportunity to see it performed.
Have You Ever Tested To Be An Only Child?
No, I haven’t actually ever tried out to be an only child. As I said, I was very fortunate enough to get a role in a film that was adapted from a play. In the film, I played the son of the prime minister, and my mom was in the audience. It was a beautiful moment when I saw her reaction to my performance; she started tearing up and had to leave the theater. My whole family lives in London, so they were all there that night to see me in action, and it was a really proud moment. In the days that followed, I got a lot of private screenings with my parents and brother, as well as a few friends. That was probably the proudest moment of my entire life; it was such an important role for me.
What Is Your Political Stand On The Important Issues?
As I said, I’ve been incredibly lucky in my career, and I’ve been able to play a variety of different roles, which has enabled me to observe firsthand the different sides of the political sphere. I think it’s safe to say that I’m somewhere in the middle, as far as my political affiliation is concerned. I don’t believe in completely one-dimensional stances; I believe in being able to look at an issue from all angles, and then, make a decision as to which way I want to vote. It’s important to research the candidates’ positions on the issues that matter, and then, make a decision. Most people are so quick to judge a book by its cover, but that’s how I’d say that most people make poor decisions; they don’t look into the details. They just jump to conclusions and then, feel like they’ve failed somehow, because they weren’t able to see things the way they wanted to. As an actor, you’re never really free to choose your parts; you have to take whatever they give you and run with it. So, for the most part, I’ve just tried to keep my head down and do my job. Let the haters hate; you can’t please everyone.
What Are Your Three Favorite Books?
That’s a really hard question, because I feel like I’ve read everything by now, and I probably don’t have any ‘real’ favorites. I do have a few that I like to reread from time to time, though. When I was a kid, my dad would always read me a book before I went to sleep, and sometimes, those books would be reissued. There was a period of time where I read a lot of J.K. Rowling, and then, a lot of Charles Dickens. I guess those are the ones that I return to most often, because they’re such timeless classics that you can never write out of range of. I also really like the entire “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” series; they’re just so fantastical and full of life, and it’s nice to reread those stories again, and again, and again. It’s like we’re transported back in time, to a place where creatures arise from wooden wheels and giants once battled it out with monsters.