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Q: What made you go back to Cannes with Cosmopolis?
David Cronenberg: The festival and I have a long history. In a sense I have the feeling of coming home. I think it is an ideal film for Cannes and I’m excited about the idea of having Rob with me.
Q: Today it is impossible to imagine someone for this part. However, you offered it before to Colin Farrell …
DC: When Colin left the project to film the remake of Total Recall, it made me rethink everything. Anyway he was too old for the part: he’s 35 and I wanted to be faithful to the book, it was necessary to have 25 year old actor. Then I started to check all the actors of that age and that’s how I thought of Rob. I had seen him in Twilight, of course, but nothing he had done so far really predisposed him to act in Cosmopolis. Even though you choose an actor by the perceived potential you see in him and not by his resume. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea.
Q: Did he go through an audition?
DC: No. We talked a lot on the phone. Rob is not one of those people with a big ego. He really wanted to make the movie, but seriously wondered if he could. It was his only concern. He said “do you really think I’m good enough to play this part? I’m afraid to ruin your movie.” I told him that this conversation more than convinced me that he was perfect for Cosmopolis.
Q: It’s hard to imagine you watching Twilight. Have you seen all four movies?
DC: (laughs). No, not really. I must have seen one and a half.
Q: The saga has made him a star, but has also created an absurd situation: people who have not seen him act shout that he is an idol for young girls, and lacking any talent.
DC: This reflects the world we live in today, where the Internet, among other things, promotes this kind of hasty and dangerous judgement. I ignore them and try to see beyond. The advantage is that Rob’s fans are waiting for the moment when he will show everyone that he is able to exist beyond Twilight. And if they’re all going to see Cosmopolis, I don’t worry about the future of the film.
Q: How did the other actors react when you told them that Robert Pattinson would have the lead role?
DC: Paul Giamatti, who was one of the first actors to join the cast, thought it was a brilliant idea. I’m not sure if Juliette Binoche could have weighed the popularity of Rob when she signed for the film, but none of them expressed doubt or contempt about him. Nobody told me: “What the hell were you thinking when you hired the guy from Twilight?” Quite the contrary. In fact, I caught Rob and Juliette having very deep conversations about French cinema. They got along really well.
Q: Do you have in mind a particular scene in which he has impressed you.
DC: By the end of the shoot, he was so into his role that we would only do one or two takes per shot. And he surprised every time by the way he managed to secure all the emotions that were at stake. He was completely impregnated with the loneliness and pain of the character. Because we shot the film more or less in chronological order, the final scene we shot was the last. And I just needed to do one take because of how perfect Rob and Paul were. When I said “cut” all crew members looked stunned by what had just happened.
Q: Seeing Robert Pattinson in the movie, you immediately think of Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt, who were teen idols before they could really show their potential when directed by Tim Burton and David Fincher …
DC: Some actors become stars thanks to their pretty faces and a charisma that comes off well on the screen. At first, they’re rarely offered the opportunity to show more than that. But it happens that they only have this to show… With Cosmopolis I was proud to give Rob a chance to prove the ability of his talent. If he does well, I see him having, with no difficulty, a career like Johnny Depp’s or Brad Pitt’s. Or maybe even better.