Our (mostly) artful conversation with the 22-year-old British actor.
Thanks to a teen phenomenon called Twilight, Robert Pattinson has gone from being a little-known Brit actor (best known as the handsome, ill-fated Cedric Diggory in two Harry Potter films) to having his face plastered across every major magazine, television show, and website known to man. Or at least, every one of them known to teenage girls. This Friday, thousands of Pattinson's admiring fans will have the pleasure of finally watching the teen vampire romance that has launched their favorite new teen idol into the stratosphere, as he stars opposite Kristen Stewart as Edward Cullen, the dreamiest undead boyfriend of the year in Catherine Hardwicke's (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel.
But there's more than Tiger Beat fodder to the 22-year-old actor; after the Twilight frenzy peaks this week (with fans and Summit Entertainment suits crossing their fingers for a breakout box office to justify a multi-sequel franchise) Pattinson will appear next March as a young Salvador Dali in Little Ashes (click for images)-- a period piece that might test the ardor of Pattinson's Twilight fan base -- and the indie outsider pic How to Be, which will likely pick up distribution in the wake of Twilight. Pattinson's artful leanings came out in a conversation with Rotten Tomatoes about his favorite films of all time, which span such cinematic luminaries as Jack Nicholson, Jean-Luc Godard, and...Chris Kattan?
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975, 98% Tomatometer)
The films that I like aren't necessarily because they're good films in themselves -- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a good film -- but that one specifically meant a lot to me. Not because I was in a mental home or anything, but that character influenced me so much when I was 15 or 16, and bits of it stuck with me. A lot of that kind of "putting your middle finger up to the world" attitude -- not that I really have that, but...I used to be so timid, and that was one of those films that [helped me break out], by pretending to be [Jack Nicholson's character] Randle.
The Exorcist (1973, 85% Tomatometer)
The Exorcist, because I love Linda Blair. [Laughs] She's my ideal woman.
Prenom Carmen (First Name: Carmen) (1983, 88% Tomatometer)
What else do I like? A Godard film called Prenom Carmen, which sounds like I'm just saying that to be cool, but it's actually one of my favorite films. I think it's the best Godard film. It's like his version of Carmen the opera, one of his films from the eighties. In terms of just pure filmmaking and manipulating an audience, it kind of starts out as a farce, as a complete, stupid farce, with this bank robbery; but it's really, really...Godardian, with kind of a stupid humor that's so random. Only he could make it, mixed up with these kinds of philosophical elements.
It starts out with one of these bank robbers, these students, and she starts to sleep with one of the guards; she's having sex with him in the bank, and he pretends to arrest her and they run away together. And he wants to be part of her gang. It's all so completely ridiculous. And then suddenly, halfway through, it turns into the most heartbreaking, serious thing that you've ever seen -- out of nowhere! -- and you're suddenly so attached to these characters, which you weren't before, because it seemed like a stupid student film. They have this secondary story where they have a string quartet playing the soundtrack which runs in the other story, but they film them during rehearsal, just doing really close up things with them playing cello and stuff, and it's about the relationship with the conductor and this girl, the cellist -- and it's completely random to the film, but it's incredible.
Continuing on the subject of Godard...
I love the last line of Breathless -- it's literally one of the best [representations] of the relationship between women and men. He was also very aware of how people viewed his films, and that film in particular. Everyone was thinking, oh, I'm cool, because I like this, and it's like, "What does 'bitch' mean?" [Laughs] That's kind of the conflict. I love that.
Breathless is definitely what got me into Godard. You can't really be influenced by Jean-Paul Belmondo though, because he's too cool -- so there's no point in me trying to be like him! Randle McMurphy, you can kind of wear his clothes. [Laughs] It's quite easy to find them. But if you wore Belmondo's clothes, you'd look like an idiot.
But even he's trying to be someone else -- he's trying to be Bogart.
He's not really -- he's cooler than Bogart! [Pattinson imitates Belmondo's signature move, brushing his thumb over his lips.] That's like the coolest thing! Another film, Pierrot le Fou -- I did everything from those movies. These stupid, random things, like when he says, "Can I get two beers?" And she's like, "Why?" "I want to have one when I finish the other one." I was like, that's so cool! I have to do that all the time! There's this stupid thing from Arizona Dream, with Vincent Gallo and Johnny Depp, where Vincent Gallo does this thing, [in Gallo's American accent] "Two shots, two beers." So every time I buy drinks, I go "Two shots, two beers!" I love that film so much.
Corky Romano (2001, 5% Tomatometer)
Corky Romano. I love that film. Literally, that's one of the only films I've pissed my pants at. Like, I actually pissed my pants. The first time I was in L.A. I was watching it on TV. The scene where he's on coke...was literally the only thing that they advertised, it was like the only point of the whole movie! I love that character. I love how Chris Kattan just stripped his whole career in one movie. The only guy off Saturday Night Live who just messed it up! It's like, what happened? The only guy. That's why I think it's so great.
I also love the behind-the-scenes stuff on the DVD where none of the crew are laughing; the director's [hiding] and he's telling Chris Kattan, "Just do something funny, just make Chris Penn laugh," and none of the crew think it's funny at all. And you can tell Chris Kattan is just freaking out. Also, he had that vein, which I have [Pattinson points to his forehead] which pops out of his head. I can really relate to him.
ivan's xtc. (2002, 75% Tomatometer)
A film called ivan's xtc. It's a Danny Huston film. That's what I've been watching obsessively recently. It's amazing; Danny Huston should have gotten nominated for an Oscar for it. It's about an agent in Hollywood, and it's kind of a dumb movie before Huston comes in, and then literally is the best example of one performance elevating a movie. It was shot on digital video; it's all improvised. Just having him there, he's literally this -- I don't know, I can't even describe it. I've never seen a performance like it. He's flawless. And if you've ever met an agent, ever...