“I’ve started making clothes.” confides Dior Homme's new face Robert Pattinson in Numéro Homme
Portrait One of the most bankable actors of his generation, Robert Pattinson has taken a path no one would have predicted: the Dior Homme perfume and ready-to-wear muse exclusively talked to Numéro about his on-going projects.
Three years ago after the series of Twilight films, you changed direction, notably with David Cronenberg. You swing between elation and anxiety about the next chapter of your career. Where are you today?
I’ve accepted the idea that it takes time for the most amazing projects to come into existence. Crazy things are the most fragile things. Sometimes they collapse. I look for directors I really want to work with. For years I’ve dreamt of doing a film with the French director Claire Denis, and now finally it’s about to happen. We’re going to start making a full length science fiction film in May. The Danish artist Olafur Eliasson is going to design space ships and black holes. It’ll be completely crazy! I don’t know if my presence helped get the budget up and running, but for the film I’m making in a few days’ time [the interview took place on January 19th] I think I was a little influential. It’s a project that belongs to the brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, indie film makers from New York who are totally underground in the very best sense of the word. Josh told me how he made his first movie, The Pleasure of Being Robbed, using the money he’d got from an advert for a handbag. Thanks to just one advertisement he made a whole movie!
The Safdie brothers described you as “indomitable” in an interview. A nice compliment coming from them…
I just love them. I came across a still from their film Heaven Knows What, before the trailer was released. Blown away by the power of that image, I sent an email straight away to Brady Corbet, who I’d just made a film with - he’s now a director. I knew he was mega connected in New York, and obviously he knew the Safdie brothers. I met up with them and two months later they sent me one of the best scripts I ever read. With them I’m going to discover another kind of cinema. The other actors I’m working with aren’t professionals, because Benny and Josh do street castings. I won’t be seen as an actor in the classic sense.
By heading into more exacting cinema, do you feel as if you’ve found your path? The Twilight era finally seems over for good…
I guess that the public have a certain image of me. I still feel like I need to prove myself. I haven’t had enough lead roles for people to associate me with something else, to see me in a different light. In the meantime I’m taking my own route, always with diversity in mind. I’ve just made a film with James Gray in Columbia [The Lost City of Z]: an adventure film in suits where the characters get hungry. They get lost in the jungle and come across some ancient ruins. They love James Grey in France don’t they? He’s a perfect guy. I’ve never met more of a New Yorker than him. He really was the ideal companion to venture into the jungle [laughs]. When he went into a river, he wore one of those all-in-ones like scientists wear to avoid contamination!
Are you into directors from your own generation?
Yes, more and more so. Before The Childhood of a Leader by Brady Corbet, who’s 27 years old, I’d never made a film with someone so young. It was a totally different experience to working with a master. Another vision of film making altogether. I can feel that too with the Safdie brothers. They’re so used to everyone saying ‘no’. They function in a world they don’t have control of, so they go through it with such strength. Just a few weeks ago we did some try-outs for the film in a car wash in the middle of New York. We’d just gone in and started to film. Employees and customers looked at us like we were nuts: “Get out of here, go on, what the hell are you doing there, for fucks sake!” But before they got a chance to call the cops, the scene was done.
You’ve been collaborating with Dior since 2013. First of all you did the campaign for Dior Homme fragrance with director Romain Gavras. The most recent one was shot by Peter Lindbergh. Where do you see this partnership going?
Right from the start, everyone there was so nice to me. At the first meeting they said quite simply, “You do what you want.” It was an easy decision to make because Dior has never forced me to do anything. I think there are some clauses in my contract that I’ve never even been asked to respect [laughs]! Public appearances for example… It’s pretty cool. Our collaboration is even extending to clothes starting this year. The first campaign comes out in April. I just feel super relaxed in that atmosphere, there’s nothing corporate about it.
Do you ever think about writing or directing?
I’ve started making clothes. For the last two years, I’ve been visiting producers and craftsmen. There’s already quite a few pieces. I love doing it. My style is influenced by the cities I go to, sourcing fabrics and local skills. In Los Angeles it’s really easy to work with denim and do workwear inspired clothes. In England I look more towards wool and knitwear. What I do is pretty multifaceted, clothes for men and for women, things that I make with friends… But I’m not going into too much detail, I don’t want to jinx anything…
Something you can’t avoid however is the passage of time. You’re going to be 30 in May. How do you think you’ll deal with that?
Frankly I’m terrified! It’s been like a week that I’ve suddenly realised its gonna happen, and today for the first time, I gave myself a close shave before the photoshoot. I did fittings yesterday, the model in the presentation image looked about 14 years old. And when I looked in the mirror, I thought, “But why does my ass look like that?” [laughs].
By Olivier Joyard
Check out the full article and Jean-Baptiste Mondino's story in the Numéro Homme spring-summer 2016, available starting from March 2nd in newsstands and on iPad.