Joined: 01 October 2010
Posted on 17 September 2012 by The London Film Review
From Cutting Room Floor to Cronenberg: A Look Into the Phenomenon of Robert Pattinson from a Non-Twihard.
Robert Pattinson is no stranger to polarizing audiences and critics. His current performance as Eric Packer in Cosmopolis is doing just that – and it's not the first time. Let's roll back the clock to 2008, when Rob was cast as Edward Cullen and 70,000 Twilight fans signed a petition wanting Rob removed from that role. Surprised? It seems that he's always trying to win over someone, be it critics, Twihards or fanboys. This is pretty funny considering the presumption is that his fans are all Twihards- yet they didn't initially want him. The same can be said about those who dismissed Rob's casting in a Cronenberg film way before Rob had even stepped into the futuristic limo. What is it about Robert Pattinson that has naysayers screaming loudly "oh God not that sparkly vampire guy" whilst we often pigeonholed "rabid" fans, who contrary to popular opinion are not all Twihards *points to myself*, grin with delight at the confirmation of any of his film roles?
Back in 2008, during Twilight: Meet the Director & Actor, Rob acknowledged that Hollywood is a frustrating industry. He said "What makes money and needs to be done to get jobs is very annoying. Today's environment for making films is different from when I liked films [referring to his penchant for 1970's films]. I'd like to try and help push the industry back to that kind of environment and I think you can only do it from within and I'd like to stay in it for that reason." And stay in it he has, despite the initial difficulties.
Rob's first foray into the movie world wasn't exactly the start he had been hoping for. Playing Reese Witherspoon's son in Vanity Fair in 2004, his part pretty much ended up on the cutting room floor, so it's somewhat ironic that just 6 years later Rob would end up as her co-star and lover in Water For Elephants. However, what is it about Rob that has kept my interest in him since seeing him as Cedric Diggory in Goblet of Fire?
Overall, for me, Rob is a unique talent. I enjoy the different performances he brings to each role and more importantly the variety of roles he chooses. Lordy I can see you shuddering and gasping saying "but he's the same broody, boring, non-emotional character in every role!". Forgive me if I disagree with you, especially if you were one of the apparent many who walked out of Cosmopolis. During the press conference at the Berlin Biennale earlier this year, Rob was asked what he felt was his responsibility to a young generation: "My responsibility, I think, its not necessarily to give anything back other than try and do the best work you can. You get an audience for doing certain jobs and so I think the biggest disservice you can do to your audience is just trying to keep repeating the same thing and trying to get them to come just to get money or whatever. But if people are interested in what you are doing, then if you try and do interesting films, interesting subjects …".
Prior to Cosmopolis – which by the way I loved (As did TLFR – Review here – Dave) – I adored his performance as Edward Cullen … wait – what? Okay I jest. Although Rob did bring an extra quality to Edward and it's evident that the success of the movies is due in part to his performance – even managing to win over the majority of those 70,000 haters and make what, in my opinion, was a fairly bland and cheesy script almost bearable.
Despite this, I much prefer some of his other roles like the goofy and often dramatic Art Freeman in How To Be (2008). Rob plays a frustrated musician, undergoing what in his opinion is a quarter life crisis, who returns to live with his parents and discovers that self-help books don't have the answers he's seeking. Rob also gave a moving and heartbreakingly beautiful portrayal of Salvador Dali in Little Ashes (2008). He captures Dali's initial shyness and later caricatures his flamboyance perfectly. Dali's desperation in the final scenes when he realises his true feelings for Lorca and the devastation as he comes to grips with what could have been will move anyone.
Another memorable performance was Tyler Hawkins in the romantic drama Remember Me (2010), the rebellious son dealing with the strained relationship with his father, the beautiful relationship with his younger sister and eventually finding love with Ally that teaches him how to live life with passion. Interestingly, this too is another film that polarised audiences and critics due its touchy subject matter.
Part of what makes Rob interesting for his fans is that he chooses his roles carefully. He is often quoted as saying that "he doesn't like anything and that's what makes his choices easy" and he definitely confirmed that a London press conference In 2010: "I never like anything so it's easy to decide what to do. I've never felt any pressure to do anything particularly. When we we're shooting I never thought about the box office. They don't make movies like that anymore and I think that's kind of how I choose stuff and I think that's the only criteria that I have – if there seems to be a gap in the market for something then I just try and do that".
The fact that Rob was credited as executive producer on Remember Me (he says to ensure to keep the integrity of the film, not – as some believe- because he invested his own money into the movie) is evidence of how much passion and belief he has for his films. It also proves that although the naysayers claim his movies are box office flops, the people behind the scenes are more likely to be on the same page as Rob in why they are making the film. Both Cronenberg and later Eric Maddox [who had final say in who would be cast to portray him in Mission:Blacklist] stated that they wanted Rob after meeting and discussing their films with him. This is what makes the argument that it's only Rob's "obssessed fans" who see the potential Rob brings to his roles ridiculous. Of course, Rob's "star power" lends itself for the movies to be financed, but a successful box office isn't guaranteed and clearly a bonus to them if it happens - pretty much like any business venture. But directors like Croneberg wouldn't be interested in working with Rob if they didn't se something in him that the naysayers refuse to see.
Coworkers have often been quoted as saying that Rob is the consummate professional – always working harder and longer than may be necessary. Cynics claim it's because he can't act and therefore he needs to put in overtime. Or in other words, be dedicated and work hard. Seems to be paying off to me – those should be admirable qualities, don't you think? And it's not just his film performances that we Rob fans love, Rob is always entertaining in his interviews. C'mon how could you not love the Rob's word vomit, total lack of filter and surprising modesty? Who in Hollywood doesn't have a PR agent running around them, telling them what to say, what not to say? Rob – that's who. I believe some consider that this entire persona is an act. I say – so what if it is? Aren't actors supposed to entertain us? And isn't it somewhat paradoxical to claim that Rob is convincingly making us believe that he is that goofy/awkward guy by acting a role – but that he can't act in films? Naysayers: you really can't have it both ways.
Maybe I enjoy Rob's performances because I too love older films from the 70s and early 80s movies seeing as I count Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter and Raging Bull as a few of my favourites. (Hmmm maybe it's not old films, maybe I just have a penchant for actors named Robert. Anyway I digress..). There is no denying that "star power" that Twilight brought to Rob has allowed him to go on to make interesting films. I mentioned Mission:Blacklist earlier. This is one of 3 films that Rob has in the pipeline to film in the next 12 months. Here he will portray Eric Maddox, the interrogator who brought down Saddam Hussein.
His other two films are David Michod's "The Rover". A film set in a dystopian future, the story centers on a hardened loner, Eric (Guy Pearce), who travels the desolate towns and roads of the Australian outback. When a brutal gang of thieves steals his car and his only remaining possession, they leave behind the wounded Rey (Rob Pattinson). Forcing Rey to help track the gang, Eric will go to any lengths to take back the one thing that matters to him. Then there is Werner Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" which will chronicle the life of Gertrude Bell as a writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer and political attache for the British Empire. One of the first women to graduate from Oxford at the turn of the 20th century, she travelled through the Middle East, defining the borders of Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Rob will play T.E. Lawrence, a British Army officer whose writing earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, on whom David Lean's classic 1962 epic is based. Lawrence was a good friend to Bell over the years, as the duo helped establish the Hashemite dynasties in Jordan and Iraq.
So, you know. Not just your sparkly vampire guy. Not even getting suited up for a superhero movie (and don't for one second think there haven't been offers on the table). No – Rob's off doing his own thing. Like he told us he was going to. Could it be that this is what the critics really object to? He's got the looks, the fanbase, the mainstream appeal – and what does he dare to do? Interesting and challenging movies, with no sign of stopping anytime soon. Without a PR agent. Hollywood must be in uproar.
Either way, you can't deny that Rob really wasn't kidding when during the 2010 Remember Me press junket he said "You should always make something to think about, I don't really want to make stuff for just entertainment value." There is no denying that most of Rob's films definitely make you think and he is definitely taking the opportunities to work with some very talented indie directors. I for one can't wait to see what Rob brings in these future roles. Although one aspect I'm not looking forward to is the critics/reviewers who won't let go of the Twilight references. Can they please lay off the "vampire, fang and sparkly" analogies – they really are long in to the tooth (pun intended). Please? It's getting old now.
I'm not trying to convince everyone to see Rob the way the fans do – but Iam showing you a different side to who Rob's fans might be. Whether you agree with me or not won't change my opinion. And I think you already know what that is, but in case there is any doubt, I think Reese Witherspoon summed it up quite nicely at the 2011 MTV Music Awards on why we love Rob so much. It really is because "he's the best motherf****r in Hollywood".
Article by Maria K
Maria is the co-owner of www.robertpattinsonau.com and generally a very cool person.
Also a special mention and thanks to Jules athttp://creationsbyjules.wordpress.com/ who provides all the graphics for RPAU and whose work can also be found at creationsbyjules
Robert Pattinson on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1500155/
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