It's Robert Pattinson speaking, the former vampire who bewitches even without biting. That's what happens in the Dior Homme cologne adv. That's what happens one day in Los Angeles, where we met and interviewed him for the October issue of Glamour Italy…
«Do you mind if I chew a piece of gum during the interview?». First info: Robert Pattinson is a polite Hollywood star. Twilight, the vampire saga that made him famous, yielded him a popularity second only to the post-Titanic "DiCaprio-mania". However, Robert remained a 27 year old down-to-earth guy who asks for permission.
And who quickly changes his mind: «Actually, I'm going to spit it: this is disgusting!». He waits for a hint of approval, then rips the corner of a newspaper, wraps in the "gross piece of gum", and smiles, while hiding the "misdeed" with his hands. Second info: Rob, as his friends call him, with his flipped back baseball cap and his three days' stubble , is also funny.
«Do you want to try an Italian one?», I ask him. «Really? Thank you!». He delicately takes the package. While opening it, with his half British half American accent, he reads: «Denti bianchi, sorriso protetto (i.e.: white teeth, protected smile)». He hasn't got a single word, but looks enthusiastic. He tries one, then reclines his head, so all that one can see is his thick eyebrows, and, right below, two blue slits. He whispers: «Yours are much better».
Third info: Pattinson could win anyone over with just one look.
Or even one smile: it happens in the adv for the Dior Homme cologne, of which he recently became spokesperson, taking over Jude Law's role. The commercial begins and, for the first 20 seconds, Robert is serious, thoughtful, intense. Then Camille Rowe, his partner on set, pretends to kiss him, while in fact attempts to bite his lips. That comes unexpected: he smiles, and the public melts. Every woman, no matter her age, secretly wishes to be in the shoes of the only creature who is able to light up the handsome, gloomy guy.
Robert did have such a muse in real life: it was Kristen Stewart, his Twilight co-star. The girl who cheated on him with a filmmaker, then tried everything possible to get back with him, succeeded for a while, but failed in the end. They broke up last May. And, since then, he's looking ahead.
What did the Dior campaign mean for you?
A turning point: for the first time, staring at myself in the screen, I realized I looked like an adult. It was so relieving: I've always been afraid to resemble a 15 year old. In Cosmopolis, for instance, I was wearing a black suit. Pretty manly. Still, I felt like a little boy dressed up as a grown-up.
Well, dressed up or not, you're often indicated as the most glamorous celeb.
What? I'm so boring: I wear the same clothes every day. This Dior jacket, for example: they gave it to me months ago, and I haven't took it off yet. If I could, I'd wear it to go to sleep. Maybe you should send it to the dry cleaners... What about women instead: what should a girl wear to get your attention?
Hum I'm trying hard not to come up with dirty comments (he laughs). Let's put it this way: whatever she chooses, she needs to own it, and to show she's comfortable in her skin and clothes.
Are you comfortable in your own skin?
I'm not exactly a self-confident person. But right now I feel good: I left Twilight behind, and, with that, my adolescence. I'm now ready to move into the next phase.
What will it be in the new phase?
I see little but thoroughly: no many roles interest me.
Which kind of part looks appealing to you?
Well, all my characters have a dark side. Whereas I'm not dark at all. In general: when I read a script, if I think I'm not good enough to interpret the role, I accept it. I like the challenge.
The next one?
I'm working on Maps to the Stars by David Cronenberg, a movie about how crazy and neurotics actors are, and on Hold on to Me by James Marsh, wherein I'll be a drug dealer. It'll be hard - I've never done it before.
Never dealt drugs, you mean?
Not recently (he laughs). I was trying to say that, in real life, I've never been particularly scary. I'll have to learn how to become shady and dangerous.
You imitate others for work but, when you wake up in the morning, do you know who you are?
Please: I often don't even know where I am! Seriously, though, I've never known it for sure, not even before I started acting.
Maybe you began to find it out.
Could be. Playing different roles opens up your mind, about others, but especially about yourself.
You speak about acting as it were a sort of psychoanalysis.
Indeed, it's extremely therapeutic. The ability to break down barriers, to overcome insecurities on set is something very powerful, and empowering; especially for an introverted like me. But I think the same holds true for all actors. I haven't met a single one who is self-confident. We're a bunch of psychopaths.
Have you ever seen a therapist for real?
No, but I'd like to become one. For now I analyze my friends. I like to investigate their subconscious. Or maybe, I simply enjoy minding their business.
Do you have many friends?
In London, where I was born and raised, I have four best friends for life. I'm a lucky guy: four is more than what people normally have. Here in L.A., however, it's harder to gather a little group: people come and go. Plus, we're all actors. I swear, it's crazy: every person you meet is a fucking actor who, by default, is competing with you.
Is there any one whom you hold in high esteem?
My absolute favorite is Jack Nicholson. I used to be obsessed with him: when I was younger I tried to imitate the way he dressed, the way he talked... I also like Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Shannon a lot. And then there's Channing Tatum, who is often undervalued, even though I think he's as good as Marlon Brando.
What about you: have you ever felt undervalued?
Yeah, critics don't appreciate extremely commercial roles. I understand that. But for a while I was fucking scared I would have remained a vampire forever.
That didn't happen.
True: fortunately, I started getting more articulated roles, like my characters in Cosmopolis and in The Rover. And even this occasion that Dior gave me was a privilege: I learnt another way of acting.
What would you have done if you hadn't become an actor?
I would have gone to college to study International Relations, and then I probably would have tried a political career. Even now, I don't completely rule this out.
Which party would you consider getting affiliated with?
I'm a free bird, I'd rather be a dictator (he laughs). I told you I'm weird...
And which laws would you establish in your kingdom?
No one can live here, but me.
Were you born solitary?
I became so. Los Angeles is inherently solitary. Look at the streets: you won't see a community, but a bunch of individuals, each one locked up in his own car. At the beginning I felt a bit lonely, then I got used to it. I actually like it now.
Did you get used to fame as well?
I had to. Until a while ago, I stubbornly tried to live the same life as before. It went poorly: I couldn't go anywhere without being assaulted by a giant amount of fans, so I went nowhere. I was living in a bubble. Then something clicked, and I said to myself: "You have to accept that everything is different now". And I felt relieved, almost immediately. Acceptation is the prerequisite for happiness, or anyway that's what I like to think.
Are you happy?