A Post-Twilight Robert Pattinson, 28, has picked riskier projects, including David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, in which he played a brooding billionaire criss-crossing the city in his limo. Now, Pattinson hops into the driver’s seat for the director’s newest, Maps to the Stars (in theatres now), which follows the connections and collisions between Pattinson’s chauffeur/wannabe screenwriter, a monstrous has-been actress (Julianne Moore), a scarred PA (Mia Wasikowska) and a celebrity psychotherapist (John Cusack). During a Toronto International Film Festival sit-down, Pattinson described the joys of working with Cronenberg again—and what comes next.
What intrigued you most about the script? “I could just picture David, a quiet, genial person, writing these horrible things, because his edit of the script was quite different from the original—there’s a sort of detachment that makes it punchier. When someone says something racist, it’s just so coldly put you have no idea if people are gonna laugh or be like, “Ugh, that’s disgusting!”
Were there things that freaked you out? My part was quite strange in the beginning because it was quite blank on the page. David would be like, “Just see what happens!” And I’m like, “Great, thanks …” and I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s one of the things I love about working with him—he’s very clear about saying that he doesn’t specifically know what the movie’s gonna be until it happens. I really felt Cosmopolis starting to take shape after a week. At first, we’d do 20 takes for something, and then by the second week we’d be doing one or two, and you could really feel the change.
What was it like working with Julianne? When I first met her, I didn’t realize she was in character. I was just like, “Wow, that’s really good casting.” She just seemed like such an actress, and I wasn’t really expecting that. And then later on that night I was like, “Oh! Ohhh! You’re acting!” I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a scene as when Julianne was [seducing] me in the limo.
What about Mia? I’ve known Mia for a while. I didn’t realize how funny she could be. She’s always playing these very stoic, kind of sensitive characters. It’s a weird part, but she’s hilarious in it. I don’t know what other actress could play that.
What is most thrilling to you about your upcoming projects, including roles in films by Werner Herzog, Anton Corbijn and Olivier Assayas? They’re all just really hard. I have no idea how to do it. To think that I’m coming back to Canada in a month or something to do the movie with Assayas, and it’s a gangster movie with Robert De Niro? I’m like, OK, even if you’ve fallen into acting, you’re not pretending anymore.