Rob Driscoll of Wales Online had an opportunity to talk to Robert Pattinson at the UK premiere of ‘Remember Me’…
He’s Hollywood’s hottest teenage heart-throb but Robert Pattinson is turning his back on the Twilight franchise – for now at least – for a very different role. Rob Driscoll fights his way through the screaming fans at the Remember Me premiere to chat to the leading man.
IT must be tough, being the world’s hottest poster boy. But if Robert Pattinson is getting tired of all the constant attention and adulation, he’s not showing it.
The 23-year-old British star of Twilight – the phenomenally successful big-screen teen vampire franchise in which he plays the sullen and brooding blood-sucking hero Edward Cullen – has just come inside from the hysterical, adoring crowds mobbing the premiere of his latest film, Remember Me, in London’s Leicester Square, and he seems remarkably cool and unfazed about the sheer madness of it all.
You’d surely forgive him if, in the midst of such heightened and almost unreal mayhem, he came across as either withdrawn, or a little precious, or unapproachable, or even big-headed.
Yet R-Patz, as his teen fan base have dubbed him, is none of these; instead he is refreshingly bashful, light-hearted, unaffected and humorous throughout the proceedings.
“I’ve been up since six this morning, so forgive me if I’m just talking rubbish,” he giggles, a little self-consciously.
Yes, some of his answers are a little rambling and unfocused but that’s far from surprising, given the circumstances of the last half-hour (the relentless flashbulbs of the paparazzi’s cameras and the deafening screams from those “Twi-hards”).
But you can’t help but like the guy for the sheer fact that he doesn’t take himself too seriously, yet at the same time not for a second taking his extraordinary success as a given.
The first two films in the Twilight series – the biggest books-to-screen franchise since Harry Potter (whose fourth outing, The Goblet of Fire, by the way, saw him steal scenes as Cedric Diggory, heroic golden boy and victim of Voldemart) – have earned Pattinson millions, made him the most sought-after young actor in Hollywood, and furnished him with a superstar girlfriend, his co-star in the vampire films, Kristen Stewart.
He has already filmed the third in the series, Eclipse, due for release this summer, and he’ll shoot the fourth and final chapter, Breaking Dawn, at the end of the year.
For now, though, comes Remember Me, his first post-Twilight film and an important project for Pattinson as it’s a chance to display his acting credentials away from the special effects-led blockbuster series that has led to Vanity Fair labelling him The Most Handsome Man in the World.
The new film – a much smaller, unflashy affair compared to the Twilight outings – is a slow-burning romantic drama in which Pattinson stars as Tyler Hawkins, a rebellious New York rich-kid student who has lost his way ever since a family tragedy.
He’s at constant odds with his big-shot businessman father (Pierce Brosnan) and life offers him little meaning until a crass bet with his best buddy results in an awkward meeting with local beauty and kindred spirit Ally (Lost’s Emilie de Ravin).
What follows is an intriguing and compelling mix of indie drama, burgeoning teen romance, and a dark sense of foreboding, with one or two surprises in the way of time-lines and greater significant events in the scheme of the story.
“I’d read hundreds of scripts over the summer, after I did (the first) Twilight, and everything seemed exactly the same,” says Pattinson. “This one initially stood out in the way the dialogue was written, and it just seemed much more naturalistic than most things I was reading.
“Tyler as a character intrigued me. It seems that most young male protagonists as the lead in movies have to be either a virgin, or have to learn everything during the movie, or they go through the trials of the movie and end up a different person and completely fine.
“Tyler starts off with a lot of baggage, and a very full and developed character, and ends up developed in a slightly different way, rather than, ‘Oh, I’m fine now!’ You just never see that in films very much, especially for young people’s parts.”
Mention to Pattinson that Tyler is another “deep and brooding” character, and he lets out a nervous laugh.
“I never thought Tyler was that brooding, to be honest. I never even heard the word before Twilight. I guess as an actor you like to play broken, troubled characters, because that’s more interesting, especially because I’m not particularly broken or troubled myself.”
It’s almost a throwaway comment, but maybe that’s the secret of Pattinson’s “normality” – despite everything, he remains a middle-class lad from Barnes, south-west London, and he’s close to his family, who keep him grounded by refusing to pander to the Hollywood hype.
As such, his embarrassed modesty about his looks, for example, comes across as completely genuine.
Much as Daniel Craig’s in-between-Bond movies are important choices, Pattinson knew he had to be careful about the kind of film he wanted to make away from the enigmatic world of Edward Cullen, although he insists he has no “career plan” about the parts he takes.
“Even when we were shooting this movie, I never thought about the box office,” he says. “It’s only when it came to promoting it that you’re asked about all that stuff.
But I always felt it’s important to do films like this; obviously it’s not like a Twilight movie, it’s an original screenplay, it doesn’t fit into any genre, and it’s not that much of a feel-good movie.
“They don’t make movies like it anymore. I think that’s how I kind of choose stuff. That’s the only criteria I have. If there seems to be a gap in the market for something, then I try and do that. I’m trying to do that with all the other things I’m doing afterwards.”
That includes Bel Ami, a French period drama (based on the Guy de Maupassant novel) alongside Cristina Ricci, Uma Thurman and Kristen Scott Thomas; and Unbound Captives, a Western, which he’s chosen mainly because his father is obsessed with the genre.
What is perhaps most significant about Remember Me is that it almost certainly wouldn’t have got made without Pattinson, such is the power he now commands in an industry where a box office name that can fill cinema seats speaks volumes to the studio bigwigs.
As such, Pattinson has a telling credit in the film’s opening titles, that of executive producer; he read the script in a burger joint car park, and signed onto the film two months before the first Twilight came out, with the promise that he would be fully consulted on casting decisions and script changes throughout.
“Having something like Twilight gives it publicity, immediately,” concedes Pattinson. “I’ve always felt it’s the most important thing you can do with films like this, which are quite difficult to promote, I would have thought – to advertise it generically and get it out to people.”
He’s more than aware that not all of his Twilight fans might be willing to see him in other parts, but he’s equally keen that they take a chance on something different, and invest in a new story and a new character.
“If people go to see it, once you’ve got them into the cinema, then it’s almost inevitable that they’ll get drawn into it, hopefully,” he says.
“Obviously, you hope people like things, but if you start doing stuff to please a certain audience, you’re going in the wrong direction.
Especially when you’re trying to please huge swathes of people.”
Remember Me opens today