For the past year, Robert Pattinson has been trying to disappear. He says he’s been avoiding having his photo taken, trying to erase a tabloid persona.
“I’m just trying to not be in stupid gossip magazines, basically, and I think the best way to do it is never be photographed ever,” says Pattinson. “As I get older, I just get more and more and more self-conscious about getting photographed. I don’t know why. I’ve done it too many times and now I feel like everyone can see through me.”
Not being photographed isn’t an option for Pattinson at the Cannes Film Festival: the Cote d’Azur extravaganza is famous for its walls of photographers and its hunger for celebrity.
But Pattinson has unveiled a new, more mature image of himself at this year’s Cannes. He stars in two of the festival’s top films: David Michod’s lean, dystopian thriller The Rover and, in competition, David Cronenberg’s dark Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars. In the latter, he plays a Los Angeles limo driver trying to break into the movie business.
In The Rover, which opens in the United States on June 13, he gives arguably his best performance yet, playing a bloodied half-wit who travels across a near-future Australian Outback with a terse man bent on revenge (Guy Pearce). With a halting Southern accent, he’s a mangy, wounded puppy dog of a man, loyal to his companion.
More than any film before, The Rover announces the 28-year-old former Twilight star as a talented actor of range, capable of disappearing into a complicated role.
“It’s literally exactly what I wanted,” Pattinson said of his Cannes, smiling atop the Palais des Festivals.
His performances have been eye-opening for many, including Pattinson’s co-stars. “I wasn’t aware of what he was capable of,” says Pearce. “On the second day, I said to David, ‘He’s really (expletive) good, isn’t he?’”
The new chapter for Pattinson really began with his first collaboration with Cronenberg in the 2012 stylish Don DeLillo adaptation Cosmopolis. Since then, he says, he’s been choosing parts solely by director.
“I sort of had a bit of a list,” says Pattinson. “The things I’m going to do next I’ve said yes to them before I’ve even seen a script.”
Along with Michod (Animal Kingdom) and Cronenberg, Pattinson has shot movies with Werner Herzog and Anton Corbijn. He’s lined up films with Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers) and Olivier Assayas (Carlos). All are widely acclaimed filmmakers who mostly operate far from the mainstream.
“It takes so much of the responsibility off you,” says Pattinson. “I don’t like the idea of trying to make movies as, like, a vehicle. Also, I don’t really know who my audience is. I don’t know if I have an audience. Outside of Twilight, I don’t know.”