[…] But this is not a film about Dean: the attraction for Corbijn was a story about a photographer and his subject, and the fact the subject happens to be Dean is something Corbijn considers a “nice bonus”.
“They share equal screen time, but it’s really about how these people touch each other’s lives,” he says.
Sharing the screen are Robert Pattinson as the uneasy photographer Stock, and Dane DeHaan in what may be a career-defining performance as Dean.
“It was, I have to say, a pleasure working with both. It reminded me a little bit of the energy we had on Control, because they’re young actors and they’re just energetic,” says Corbijn, referencing his Joy Division biopic and screen debut.
“Dane and Robert are quite different actors, and that, in a way, was purposeful for me because the characters they play are also quite different characters … Dane is very analytical and very well prepared – which he had to [be], of course, because he had to change so much, both physically and to get into the voice and all that. Rob is more intuitive, and so they are both different in their approach, but I love both performances a lot.”
Q: How did you get involved in producing Queen of the Desert? A: I’m a huge fan of Werner Herzog’s films and literally chased him around for a year to let me be involved in Queen of the Desert.
Q: Lawrence of Arabia has been played by big names before (Peter O’Toole most often comes to mind). Why do you think Werner Herzog chose Robert Pattinson to take on such a big responsibility and how do you find he did in this role? A: We specifically didn’t want to repeat Lawrence so he wanted someone very different from O’Toole , a young man who would be confident, appealing to other young people, and at the same time a confident actor. Pattinson has a large following and for sure they’ve never seen him play a part like this. He was in the moment he heard Herzog wanted him. He was Werner’s first choice.
Q: Do you have a fond memory of working with Robert Pattinson (i.e. on-set work, meetings behind the scenes)? A: He’s actually pretty shy but he’s very talented and gave everything he had.
Q: Do you recall any feedback you heard from Werner Herzog regarding Robert Pattinson’s performance in Queen of the Desert? A: Werner absolutely loved working with him and would do it again in a second. And he’s wonderful in the movie.
ROBERT PATTINSON: “EVERYONE WANTS YOU TO BE SO VANILLA”
Q: Mr. Pattinson, are you disillusioned with your career? A: I think a lot of actors get disillusioned and say, “Oh, I thought it was going to be one way, and it’s something else.” I never thought anything was going to be any particular way at all! You know, in the good times and the bad times, they’re all just new experiences. So I can’t really be disillusioned with anything because I didn’t have any expectations at all.
Q: What about people’s expectations of you? A: I’ve never really acknowledged people’s expectations of me. A lot of actors sort of fall into the job and feel like they’re going to get “found out,” like, found out that they’re a fraud or something like that. I think loads of people feel like that.
Studio: The list of directors you worked with is really impressive: Werner Herzog, David Cronenberg, James Gray, Harmony Korine for next year. Do you only desire to have a career in independent movies? Rob: The most passionnating roles are found in independent movies. It is impossible to have a blockbuster giving you a subversive role because it is only made to entertain the large audience. I don’t want to have an artist’s pose, I am not interested in a movie if it is only to act in it. I want roles which make me take risks every time (which endanger me).
Studio: Endangering you in which way? Rob: I don’t know. I act since eleven years ago and I begin knowing what I like and what I can act or not. Indeed, I am looking for complicated roles. I love the idea of looking into a role without knowing hos to act it. The experience as a scientific sense seduces me. Not the experience as a skill.
Studio: Leonardo Di Caprio’s career, whom you are often compared to, is it an example for you? Rob: Yes, he had an incredible career… I would love to work with David Michöd once again, who directed me in THE ROVER, as Leo did with Scorsese. The truth is, I don’t really know where I want to go. And I don’t know what I am capable of. I trust the destiny.
Q: Isn’t it annoying to be photographed all the time? Rob: I’m a lot more comfortable now than before. I don’t really know why. I guess when people have seen you a million times in a certain pose then they look through you. Either you stand there like a Madam Tussaud figure or you look just frightened, all the time. I try to avoid taking photos now.
Q: How do you cope with pressure and expectations for yourself? Rob: I go back and forth. People always say: ‘don’t listen to anyone.’ But obviously you have to listen to people. It’s a difficult balance. On the one hand, you are supposed to entertain people, and on the other hand, it can hurt you so much when the audience doesn’t like you. At the same time, you can’t do anything interesting without the fear. It’s a difficult balance. One day you say, fuck it. The next: please love me! And without this pressure it would be boring. I don’t have a solution. Every time I take a new job I go crazy, everything in me breaks down, I get depressed and think I’m the worst actor ever. My dad says then, ‘I like you this way, it means you will be doing a good job’. But I can’t find the idea romantic that you have to pay with pain. I don’t understand it, it’s so weird. Because once you are working it’s fine, it’s fun. But the weeks before are awful.
Q: I see similarities to James Dean, the hype, the screaming since Twilight- can you compare it? Rob: I see a difference. Twilight was one of the first movies where the distribution company saw the potential of the internet fanbase. They let them create the hype. With James Dean it was that people wanted him to be their leader. That is the difference. In Twilight, the audience wanted to find themselves. Fans felt like a part of it. The James Dean fame - and that’s why the pressure was so much higher for him - people were looking at him for answers: ‘Where are you taking us, tell us how to live!’ Well, no one has asked me how to live at all!
Rob couldn't attend the LIFE French Premiere at the Deauville Film Festival and the New Hollywood Award due to filming commitment for The Lost City of Z, but he sent a message that was shown during the premiere.
Watch video of Robert Pattinson Acceptance Speech at:
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