7 Aug 2014

Robert Pattinson: teacher told me not to bother with drama GCSE

He is not thrilled to be here. That’s the first thing which becomes clear when Robert Pattinson comes into the room. He’s charming and very polite but doing the rounds of press interviews for his latest film is not, he admits, his favourite thing. “I’m terrible at doing this,” he says. “I can never explain what my films are about..”

His latest film is particularly hard to explain. The Rover is set in a post-global crash world, where people left with nothing, have nothing to lose. It is brilliant but bleak and brutal. Pattinson plays Ray, a man who’s been left to die by the brother he’s always relied on.

He’s a damaged character, almost too terrified to speak, with a series of nervous tics. His hair is shaved convict short, he has rotten teeth and is pretty filthy for the entire film. It is about as far away as you can get from the role of Edward Cullen in the Twilight series, which made Robert Pattinson one of the most famous and well paid actors in Hollywood.

But it perhaps tells you something about what his life has been like since being catapulted to cult status, that he genuinely perks up when he talks about filming The Rover, in the Australian outback. It was in the middle of nowhere, in absolutely scorching heat and plagued by flies.

“So happy to be there,” he says with real passion. He even thought about staying on a week but by himself but realised once the crew had gone it might look a little “weird.” What he loved more than anything was the anonymity it brought him for a short while. The ability to walk down the street unnoticed, to “be myself.”

Pattinson – who’s said to be worth an estimated $27m – is quick to realise that there’s not always much sympathy for people living in the public eye but there’s no question he’s paid a price for the fame and obsessive devotion Twilight has brought him.

He talks about being unable to go out freely, with cars parked outside his home, the paparazzi always just a couple of steps behing him. “You feel like you’re in prison” he said.

But the way he’s dealt with it doesn’t exactly sound liberating. He’s moved into a gated community and goes out only to places where they don’t let people take pictures – one assumes on the celebrity circuit where people can buy that sort of control. It still sounds a bit like being in prison, I say. “But at least it’s a prison of my own making.”

Of course what the fame and the money have also brought him is the opportunity to pick and choose the sort of work he wants to do. The Rover is not obvious territory for his Twilight fans and he says he has no idea how people will view it.

He still feels he’s finding his feet as an actor and admits to being terrified at the start of every project. It’s the surprising thing about him – perhaps it shouldn’t be – but as one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars he still seems perplexed and almost unconvinced by the success he’s had so far.

He said he never even thought about becoming an actor and laughs when he says not only did he not do GCSE drama, but his drama teacher explicitly told him not to bother.

If it all ended what would he do? He quite fancies the idea of playing piano in a beach bar in the South of France.
Then our time is up. And he looks relieved it’s over. I’m not taking it personally.

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