He’s Britain’s second-richest under-30 actor behind Daniel Radcliffe, worth a fortune of more than £30millio. He’s one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in The World. He’s the Sexiest Man In The World. But he’s made a huge mistake.
‘Sorry, I just had a McDonald’s!’ laughs Robert Pattinson. ‘My stomach’s going, “Raaargh!” I always think McDonald’s is a good idea. It’s never been a good idea.’ Now would be a great time to forget what you think you know about Pattinson. Forget the fame, the money, the daft awards, the vampire movies, the screaming tweens, the are-they-aren’t-they? thing with Kristen Stewart.
Not only is film-maker David Cronenberg’s arty, sexy, talky new psychothriller Cosmopolis possibly the weirdest movie of the year, it gives us a new kind of Robert Pattinson. He plays a bored multi-billionaire travelling across Manhattan in a white stretch limo to get a haircut. Only he gets a little more than that. En route, he’ll have been screwed by Oscar-winning French actress Juliet Binoche and a gun-toting prostitute, mobbed by protestors and hit in the face with a cream pie, stalked, shot and divorced. No hair-gelled bloodsuckers. No werewolves in cut-off jeans.
‘This is one of the first movies that I’m in where I can watch it and not just want to kill myself,’ says the actor, who was stunned when Canadian meastro Cronenberg called him for the role. ‘I was really, really nervous until we started doing it. And I didn’t know there were going to be sex scenes. It said, “They just had sex” in the script. And both days David was like, “I think they should be having sex during the scene.” Okay…! David said, “Don’t worry. Let’s just start and see what happens.’
What happened was the darkest, smartest performance of Pattinson’s career, which has trampolined in a series of truly bizarre ups and downs.
His big-screen debut as Reese Witherspoon’s son in period drama Vanity Fair was left on the cutting-room floor. He scored a role in a biggest teen franchise in the world (Harry Potter). He got fired from a play in London and spent a year and a half as a couch-surfing out-of-work actor in Los Angeles. He scored a role in the biggest teen franchise in the world (Twilight).
Five years ago, he was nobody. Now he’s so famous he may never go for a beer in public again. He turned 26 last month and he can feel it, the change, something lost, something gained. ‘I’m quite sensitive to people,’ he says. ‘You pick up on moods quicker, I think. I’m also really good at sensing if someone is around. It’s weird, it’s like a sixth sense. I always know if someone’s taking a picture as well.’
Those spidey-senses have been tingling off the hook. Inevitably, fame has been a drain for Pattinson. ‘You see people just taking a picture casually at a different table,’ he laughs, with a shrug. ‘I’ve got into the habit now of going up to people with my phone with the flash on and just start taking pictures two inches away from their face.’
It’s not Rob they want, of course. It’s Edward Cullen. It’s ‘R-Pattz’. He was literally replaced when Madam Tussauds gave him a waxwork. A really, really terrible waxwork. ‘It looks like Hugh Jackman,’ he exclaims. ‘I think it IS Hugh Jackman – they’ve just smushed it in a bit.’ Or maybe it’s the inner Pattinson, the one who feels melted by the Twi-light. ‘If you get famous, you can really buy into it, then you go nuts. But I never really felt comfortable going, “Yes, I’m famous!” I don’t know why.’
His bold, charismatic remoulding in Cosmopolis, then, couldn’t have come at a better time. On November 16, the final Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn Part II, will be released – and so will Pattinson, he hopes, from the hysteria of Stephenie Meyer’s teen saga.
Can he give us a reason to watch it? ‘It’s really funny, the last one,’ he chuckles. ‘I mean, funny and completely insane. There’s Jacob is falling in love with my daughter, who grows into an 11-year-old in three months! There were so many scenes where it felt so bizarre.’
Five years, four movies, a bit of hair gel and a lot of crying and screaming later, Pattinson is ready to bust out the Twilight zone. Next up he has a crime thriller by hotshot director of Oz gangster drama Animal Kingdom (‘Guy Pearce kidnaps me and I’ve been shot. It’s like, crazily violent’) and psychological drama Mission: Black List, playing the US military interrogator who found Saddam Hussein (‘Some of the stuff in it is just unbelievably insane’).
There’s just one last problem he needs to fix: how to get people to stop calling him R-Pattz… ‘Yeah, I don’t know how to get rid of that,’ he sighs. ‘It is the most annoying thing. I don’t know who invented it. This thing with nicknames, everybody loves nicknames, it’s so irritating. But it’s too catchy…’