Warning: This story contains spoilers regarding the film “Remember Me.”
Edward Cullen may be a world-class brooder, but the actor who portrays him, Robert Pattinson, actually enjoys a good laugh.
Pattinson certainly has much to be happy about these days. His career is red-hot, with the “Twilight” films having made him a multimedia sensation. He hopes his latest picture, “Remember Me,” which opens March 12, continues his career's upwards trajectory. At the very least, it’s allowed him to do something he’s rarely had a chance to do onscreen: Smile.
“That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to do it,” Pattinson says of the film. “I had never played a normal guy. I’ve always done period stuff or fantasy stuff.”
Set in the summer of 2001, “Remember Me” is a romantic drama about learning to overcome tragedy and the inspiration and strength of love. Pattinson plays an angry, aimless young man named Tyler who meets a girl, Ally (played by Emilie de Ravin, Claire from TV’s “Lost”), and through their relationship finds new meaning in his life.
The film is a departure for the actor. Sure, the script allows for several displays of the pouty, doe-eyed charm that have made Pattinson the screensaver dreamboat to a generation of young girls. But “Remember Me” is not “Edward Cullen Goes To NYU.”
“I had read so many scripts at the time and [this film] was the only one that didn’t fall into the same formulaic pattern,” Pattinson said. “There was something about Tyler I just connected to, much more than I’d connected to a bunch of other male characters I’d read around that period.”
Video: Inside 'Remember Me' Because Tyler is a Brooklyn kid, the London-born actor had the chance to work on his American accent. It was an exercise that felt rather natural to him. “I feel like I’m kind of faking it when I’m doing English accents,” Pattinson said, before laughing and admitting, “I know that’s really odd.”
Shock of Sept. 11
“Remember Me” contains a major twist at the end involving the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It’s a shocking moment, a creative risk that could polarize audiences. Pattinson admitted he worried about being part of one of the first major movies to use the attacks as part of a fictional story.
“Definitely, I was a bit concerned. When I first read it, I was sort of [caught off-guard],” he said. “You’re so invested in the characters, and then suddenly this train hits you at the end. It grounded [the film] in reality in a lot of ways which made it kind of much more powerful.”
Co-star Chris Cooper felt 9/11 fit with the movie’s theme of loss, and added that director Allen Coulter “went beyond his expectations” in how that aspect of the film was handled.
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De Ravin agreed and pointed out “this film isn’t based around [9/11], it’s set in 2001 for many reasons. (Writer Will Fetters felt that year) was sort of one of the last years of innocence, in a way, in America.”
While he has no plans to follow “Twilight” co-star Taylor Lautner into the action movie genre, Pattinson enjoyed getting to roughhouse a bit in his newest movie. In one memorably brutal scene, Cooper bounces him off the walls of an apartment.
A big boxing fan, he cops to crying when he saw “Rocky Balboa” and dreams of starring in his own film about the Sweet Science. “I’d love to do a boxing movie,” he says, although he realizes his younger fans may not want to see him unleashing his inner Cinderella Man.
Much like his character Tyler comes to accept certain aspects of his life, Pattinson seems to have made certain concessions in regards to the demands of being RPattz. He knows he can’t go anywhere in the States without being mobbed by fans, such as the ones stationed outside his Manhattan hotel during his recent press tour.
The actor appears to be taking his cue from “Harry Potter” title player Daniel Radcliffe in preparing for life after fantasy franchise mega-stardom. “Remember Me” is similar to the quaint drama “December Boys,” which Radcliffe selected for his first wizardry-free role in 2007. With chapter three in the Twilight saga, “Eclipse,” arriving in June, Pattinson is quite happy to spend a rare 15 minutes without having to answer questions relating to Edward or Bella.
Pattinson is also content to share screen time. Upcoming projects include the ensemble dramas “Bel Ami” and “Unbound Captives,” both period pieces. Working with the likes of Uma Thurman and Hugh Jackman allows him to improve as an actor, according to the actor. “I want to work with good people,” he said, flashing a nervous smile.
He’s also become more aware of his own increasing clout in the industry and how to use it. In the production notes for “Remember Me,” producer Nicholas Osborne credits Pattinson for not backing out of the film once “Twilight” broke, and said the movie probably wouldn’t have been made without his involvement.
Of course, there are the unique problems that come with having one of the world’s most photographed stars on your film set. De Ravin, who knows a little about devoted fans from her time on “Lost,” says the daily crush of paparazzi and star-crazed teenagers proved quite demanding to the production, which was shot almost completely on location around New York City.
“Yeah, it was crazy…Even if you’re not looking at the hundreds of people watching you, you know they’re watching you. So that sort of gets to you a bit,” she said laughing, before adding, “It’s a challenge to just be able to really focus.”
Pattinson shrugs off the attention, grateful to have had even a brief break from Edward Cullen and his relationship troubles, and everything that comes with being the face of a monster franchise.
“(‘Remember Me’) was the one time I’ve ever done something normal,” he said. “It was kind of a relief. Just to be natural for a bit.”
Michael Avila is a writer in New York.
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