Translation You just closed the partnership with Dior. Was the invite for the campaign a surprise? (Elle Brazil) When Dior contacted me, I was truly shocked at first because their name alone is almost mythical. It’s a very sofisticated fashion house, that never compromises their image. They approached me in the right way and at the right time because Twilight was coming to an end. I remember I was impressed when I met with the creative team and saw that they had an extremely open mind. Their interest was in an artistic collaboration, more than the commercial itself.
Easily convinced? Not easily! [laughs] I was never attracted by publicity, probably because I didn’t think it was real acting. When they contacted me I had already grown as an actor and made some movies, that’s why I felt some legitimacy. When we discussed ideas and directors, everyone involved looked really fearless. I started to see that as doing a short film and got excited. Turned out to be a challenge and supplement my film work in a very interesting way.
What does luxury mean to you? (Faces Switzerland) Effortlessness. In my opinion real luxury is to not have to worry about anything. And when we shot the campaign [film] for Dior Homme it felt exactly like that.
What about natural elegance? I wouldn’t associate elegance to aesthetics. As luxury, it has to be natural, effortless. It has more to do with how some people exude energy, because they are comfortable with themselves. Elegance also has to do with ‘listen’, instead of wanting everything to be about us.
With you as the new face [of the fragrance], Dior Homme is reaching out to a completely new generation of young men. How would you describe them? (Faces Switzerland) I just turned 27 and it wasn’t until now that I’ve come to realize that people don’t see me as a child anymore. It feels weird to finally see yourself as a grown up and to be treated like one by others. To describe my generation is difficult because for us the last ten years have been some kind of transition phase; and some of us still try to figure out what to do with all of that. At least that’s the case with me. (laughs)
What does masculinity mean to you? (Wienerin Austria) Traditional masculinity doesn’t work anymore in today’s modern world. It’s a weird time for guys. Well, it’s probably also a weird time for girls (laughs). Masculinity, to me that always means being reliable and relatively pragmatic. But it also stands for so many ambiguous things. As an actor you often have to express certain ambiguities in a character. You’re both reliable and wild or loving and carefree at the same time. I don’t know if that is something I’d associate with masculinity. I just know that the code has changed massively over the past few years.
Do men have a different idea of women today as well? (Gala Germany) I just don´t get why so many guys feel threatened by strong women. I always felt at ease with women around, I grew up with two older sisters and a very dominant mother.
Very often, certain smells are connected to memories. Do you have those? (Faces Switzerland) I remember my dad, who has always worn Brut de Fabergé. He still has that fragrance and it reminds me of my early schooldays. As weird as it sounds but I still know exactly how he smells; it’s like it somehow burnt itself into my memory. Later, when I was about 12 years old, I started talking to girls and thought it would be cool to wear a perfume while doing that. I also remember vacation in Portugal. At the time I thought wearing a cool perfume would make me seem older. So that smell and hair wax had been my constant companions during that summer. (laughs)
Do you have a favorite smell? (Faces Switzerland) I like the smell of people. (laughs) I know that sounds a bit weird and probably has something to do with pheromones but you can often judge the character of a person by their scent. We surround ourselves with people who smell good for us, a process that most likely takes place completely subconsciously.
What kind of woman could wear Dior Homme? A free spirit. A woman with her own attitude, that doesn’t want to just have a “beautiful” aroma or do what they expect from her. Clearly, a woman who isn’t confused about her femininity.
Nan Goldin took your pictures for this campaign. Were you familiar with her work and exhibitions? Really well, I had seen a few of her exhibitions, but I had never met her. It was another thing that intrigued me about this job, that she was an unconventional choice. I was really excited about that.
Why did you choose Romain Gavras to direct Dior‘s film? (Elle Brazil + new quote in the end) I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time. To be honest, I tried to get in contact with him for about a year. He used to be like: “I’m not going to talk to you”. Until I told him that I wanted him to direct Dior‘s commercial. That’s when he finally met me! (laughs)I was obsessed with his work in ‘Our Day Will Come‘. He has a visual language completely different from everything I’ve seen before. When I noticed that it was Romain’s first movie, I thought “Who is this guy?”. I started watching his Justice videos that caused so much buzz…
Not to mention the controversy… You could see that he felt joy, as if he was laughing at that. I like that kind of energy in a director. I remember saying that his video had a “violence without meaning or end”. Well, it’s how the world is at this moment. I thought his work and vision so universal that I wanted to make a film with him. When I finally met him, I found out that he’s actually a really sweet person, that just genuinely think things are fun. Romain is genuinely subversive, loves to cause controversy. It’s the kind of director that loves to “throw a bomb” and see what happens.
The chemistry between you and the model-actress Camille Rowe in this short film is really important. Have you met before? We hadn’t met yet. Camille had a small part in ‘Our Day Will Come‘ and Romain knew she would be perfect to fit the “mood” of the film and he was right. There were moments when her presence there softened what I was doing just because she’s so fun, has a free spirit. She was only going with the flow. To describe her, I would use the sentence: “do what you want”.
The ad is really sexy That was mostly Camille. She brought something really special to the film. Most of the time with perfume commercials they seem to be really distant of the people watching, I don’t know why. But with Romain it’s always something visceral. Like [missing word in the scan] bloody, dirty, sweaty. He said: “We should film something outright sexual and have fun with that”.
Is freedom something important to you? (Wienerin Austria) Absolutely. Once you’ve become a part of the public eye, you’re professional life is often confined. You’re stereotyped and caught in a certain character who people associate you with. Sometimes I like to make a joke out of manipulating the way people perceive me. I want artistic freedom even if it’s just to challenge myself over and over again. One of my latest roles, in “The Rover”, was very liberating by the way. We shot the movie in Australia, in the middle of nowhere. The character I play doesn’t have any teeth and was covered in mud and dirt from head to toe. But I didn’t care. I was running around half naked and was able to do things you usually can’t do when you’re constantly watched.
What’s a perfect day for you? (Faces Switzerland) I can’t really say, I just like to do stuff. At the moment I try to work on a story together with a friend. I like to communicate and share ideas with others and to work on a project. And every once in a while I love it to fight with people. (laughs)
Let’s have a discussion then… It’s weird, but talking about it with someone smart, intelligent, about something is one of the most satisfying things you can do. The coolest part of writing scripts is that it’s almost always a collaborative work. You know that, when you get to the set, people will get small layers from you. Small parts, but it’s in big scale. Like a fiction movie. I hope it works.
We know you really like music, you’ve written a few songs and played live. Who suggested Led Zeppelin’s iconic song to this ad? Let’s say it took a while to get to it. Months before we started shooting, Romain sent me a song he had in mind, and I thought: ‘Oh, really?’. It was simply the opposite of what I thought for what Dior ad could be… We ended up not using it. That’s why we explored so many other songs. As soon as someone sent us this Led Zeppelin’s copy I was like: ‘Oh yeah!’. It’s weird, but this solid song ended up working. The rhythm is perfect.
Do you still play the guitar and piano? (Faces Switzerland) I still play guitar and have just recently started to practice a bit more often again. But I haven’t had a gig in years. (laughs)
How would you describe your personal fashion style? (Faces Switzerland) I actually just have a few basics that I wear every day. To me, what matters the most is whether something fits well or not. I don’t really care about anything else, just how it fits. So apart from that I usually wear the same piece of clothing until it literally falls off my body.
Who is your fashion icon? (Faces Switzerland) I’ve always admired people who dressed practically. I somehow think that’s especially manly. I like clothes that last for a long time; until all that is left is the material they were made of. I’m thinking about Jack Nicholson’s clothes in “The Shining” or “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; actually pretty much everything he’s worn in these films. When I was younger I constantly tried to dress exactly like that.
The partnership with Cronenberg seems to be going really well. Elle Brazil I had such a good experience in Cosmopolis! David is an incredible person, and the most fun, intriguing man to work with I’ve ever met. He has been making movies for the last 40 years, and every film he makes shows just how unusual he is. We started shooting his new movie recently. It’s called Maps To The Stars, with Julianne Moore and John Cusack. The scripts of these two films are amongst the most original ones I’ve ever read, that’s why I hope to continue working with him forever.
Twilight made you famous, Cosmopolis changed your image, and Romain Gavras’ campaign movie for Dior is adding something unexpected to your character. How sweet does success smell? (Faces Switzerland) Being an actor is something incredibly weird and the definition of success – which in itself is already strange – changes over the years. Of course success also has a good side: I don’t have to worry about only having to work for the money [anymore], at least for a couple of years. I have huge respect for all these films which is why I try to take the time and energy and make exciting decisions; decisions not everyone makes. I just said “try” but it’s funny, actually, because I don’t feel like I’ve already had some kind of success. But there is something about Dior that really works for me – the brand itself remains stoically independent and that is exactly what I’d like to try for myself at the moment.
Below is a new picture of Robert Pattinson from his Dior Campaign and a new interview from Madame Le Figaro!
Translation(this interview has been translated, so there might be small grammatical errors). New icon of Dior Homme cologne, the Twilight star refuses to let fame suck the lifeblood out of him. At 27, the British idol demands his artistic ambition and his fierce hunger for freedom. Meeting with a new wave gentleman.
He’s the star of the Twilight saga and swears by Jean-Luc Godard. He’s a hunted idol. He loves nothing more than parties among friends. He’s cheerful, pessimistic, daring and anxious.
When you have to do a portrait of Robert Pattinson, you have to point out inconsistencies and try to understand why this 27 years old man, who might not have been armed to face this cannibal fame, gives a particular sense to the word ‘freedom’. Some are more free than others, but not him, fighting against a seclusion he’s trying to get out of.
One year after the Twilight saga ended, which propelled him amongst the tight group of overpaid actors in Hollywood. The impatient British guy wants to live differently than in the translucent skin of a romantic vampire who electrifies young girls.
At the Beverly Hills Hotel, legendary building in LA where Marilyn Monroe loved Yves Montand, we got to meet him in a overprotected suite, far from the fans hysteria and inquisitive telescopes. There’s an intense feeling in the air. The actor is in a stronghold. Robert Pattinson isn’t here to defend a movie this time but a brand new role: Ambassador of Dior Homme cologne, after Jude Law. A big surprise for the French house seeing as Pattinson is the young man of the hour, with a pure image and an international aura. He personifies a more boyish and rock’n'roll figure: it’s the artist Nan Goldin who shot for the campaign.
First assessment: Robert Pattinson possesses the charm of the more reserved. His outfit? A see-through walls look (jeans and a navy blue shirt). His expression? Askew, observing you like you wouldn’t think. He stammers his words, doubts and beliefs collide. Robert Pattinson display a nervousness common to vexed smokers – NO SMOKING can be read in his luxurious suite.
In his low voice, weighting every word, the actor express his need to make an about-turn: “When you’re hit by a phenomenon like Twilight, it’s difficult to imagine living differently afterwards in the mind of the audience. I thought I wouldn’t make it out… Such a success can become a golden prison. I’m aware to be at a crucial stage in my life. All the choices I make today will define my future forever. The pressure is huge, I’m constantly wondering: ‘did I make the right choice?’ But at the same time, I can let fear control me.”“
His transformation started last year in Cosmopolis, by David Cronenberg. With the role of a powerful trader who observes the end of the capitalism inside his limousine, he got to read a new category. Something more serious, at the risk of perturbing his 12 years old fans. “Cosmopolis is the movie of my life. I didn’t consider myself an actor before, even if I had 10 years of acting behind me. I always felt like a fraud, and inappropriate. I doubt a lot. David Cronenberg gave me confidence in myself. He changed my way of acting and thinking in this industry.“
The movie shown at the Cannes Film Festival is praised by the critics and awarded him a sure credibility. Until now, his dramatic efforts went unnoticed. Was it the curse of the beautiful? “Americans don’t really know about Cannes or they don’t care but for an English guy like me, it’s a essential. As a kid, I would daydream in front of the pictures of the event and I collected the DVDs of the movies awarded. At Cannes, everything felt right because I was recognized by my peers.“
Since then, Rob is trying to free himself of the ties that shackle him to the free of risks paths.
From now on, he reveals his artistic nature with more daring choices. This experienced movie buff, who counts Jacques Audiard amongst his favorite directors, just finished filming five movies all different from each other, from cinema d’auteur to smart blockbuster. It’s The Rover, a futuristic western by the young Australian director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom). Then a biopic about the explorer, Gertrude Bell, Queen of The Desert, in which he plays Lawrence of Arabia. He’ll see him too in Hold on to Me, a drama with Carey Mulligan and then a psychological thriller: Mission: Blacklist, by Eric Maddox.
But the project that pleases him the most is the one that reunites him with his mentor, David Cronenberg. Indeed, he finished shooting Maps to the Stars with Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore. “I’ve worked with directors that forgot along the way the very idea of their own project. With David, we can be sure that in the end there will be a movie with all its contents, which is rare. After 40 years in this profession, he still cares about what he does with the same level of requirement he had at the beginning of his career. I’d like to be like him one day.”
Presented as ‘satirical and extreme” by the Canadian director, the movie offers a cynical view on the faults of Hollywood. “It’s a cutting comedy, dark and seriously funny, pleads Robert Pattinson. The subject alludes to how easy it is for actors to become crazy in this industry. It’s rude but true.” Laughing, he adds: “Of course, we’re talking about stars that aren’t here anymore. Don’t think this still happens!“
Starting with the dangers of the star system, Robert Pattinson doesn’t ignore a thing. Indeed, for him who became overnight the object of a crazy cult, when he couldn’t get out of his house without getting mobbed by dangerous groupies. He whose comings and goings are shot by an army of paparazzi who track him non-stop. He whose break-up with Kristen Stewart made the headlines of all the tabloids.
In an era where visibility and exhibitionist tweets are glorified, Robert Pattinson is trying to lock down methodically everything surrounding his private life.
A course of action… more like a matter of survival. “It’s violent, it’s bizarre… I’ve wanted for a long time to keep a normal life, the one before Twilight. I finally understood that it was no use to fight. It’s not possible, that’s it. I think I would have loved living the fame when the internet and twitter didn’t exist. Today, everyone can take your picture, wherever, and whenever. Everyone can make you say everything and its opposite while hiding behind a computer screen.“
Born in London with a well off family, Pattinson isn’t from the inner circle. His mother works in a model agency and his dad imports collector’s cars. He has two older sisters. “My family and my close ones are my pivotal point, with them no pretense is possible.”
Musician, he joins a theater class almost by accident. He isn’t trying to construct his legend after the facts, but tells his initiative with honesty: “I was ridden by shyness. One day, in a restaurant, my dad overheard a group of pretty girls talking about theater classes. He told me: ‘Go sign yourself up! You could meet someone!’ I did it… and it didn’t end badly!” Four years later, he becomes Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) friend in the fourth part of the wizards saga. Then… nothing. Three years of unsuccessful auditions.
When Robert Pattinson finally lends the role in Twilight, he was about to give up on acting. More than anyone, he knows that success is fragile. It might be why he waves away every outside sign of stardom.
Now he’s at the head of the A-list of actors who matter in Hollywood. He’s said to be bankable to the point where a movie can be built on his name alone. It amuses him. “You know, I still have auditions to go to, to convince directors that I’m the man for the job. Not even six months ago, I was told no. For The Rover, I had to fight to get the role. I was hired and I really hope it’ll be a big movie because I loved shooting it.” He adds: “I owe a lot to luck. I never thought any of this would happen but I never doubted either that nice thing were waiting for me.“
His biggest fear? Dishonorable behavior. “I admire actors like Joaquin Phoenix or Daniel Day-Lewis because they only do their job and very well too. They’re actors as a whole, with insane precision. That’s all I wanna be: an actor.” Robert Pattinson frees himself, even of his own reluctance. Until now, he refused fiercely every proposition for a commercial campaign. He accepted to become the new face of Dior Homme after Jude Law.
When it comes to explain this paradox, the star doesn’t shy away: “I always found it dangerous for an actor to be associated with a commercial product because it sucks the life out of your image. But I matured, I evolved and the fact that Dior gave me free reign to carry out an artistic project, well I was convinced. I loved their boldness and their creativity. I wanted to treat this publicity like a short film. When I saw the first images of the campaign, when I saw myself, I thought that maybe I was starting a new chapter in my life…“
Pattinson chose to work with the French producer Romain Gavras. The short film in black and white is elegant, heady with energy, its contemporary aesthetics – very Nouvelle Vague – seduces. All of it balanced by the blaring sound of Whole Lotta Love by Led Zepplin. Sexy, Robert Pattinson personifies a man who wants to live thousands of lives; intensely, and wants to love completely, even if he knows he only gets to have one. Not to forbid himself anything, to explore his emotions, to ignore the norms… such are the goals of Robert Pattinson, free and in a hurry to write his own story.
“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? Hmmm, 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: not 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 onto 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 introvert 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 learned 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? I accepted, many things. And now I almost feel weird admitting it – because if you say it, then the moment may vanish quickly. But yes, I am happy now.
Director Romain Gavras talks about the Dior Homme commercial and working with Robert Pattinson. Scans from Vogue Hommes International.
Scans (Click to enlarge)
Transcript of the parts where he talks about Rob, you can read his full interview in the scans
Why did you shoot the commercial in black and white? Robert Pattinson has such an iconic image, that of the dreadfully pale Twilight vampire, a “dark” character living in a world full of colour. By shooting in black and white and cutting his hair shorter than usual, we have produced a modern and yet timeless effect.
How did you approach Robert Pattinson? Did you know him? No, he put my name forward. He’s friends with Harmony Korine, who’s also one of my friends. Before you meet him, you imagine all sorts of things associated with huge stars, that he collects swords or walks around stark naked at home, but in fact, he’s very professional, very straightforward, and very normal. He’s one of the new breed of stars, who’s become famous overnight because of one role in a franchise, and is aware that has two or three years ahead of him to position himself as an genuine actor with real talent. I didn’t actually realize before I went onto the set with him just what it meant to be the type of star who creates a riot every time he goes anywhere. There were paparazzi on top of the nearby buildings and we had to cover the windows so we could work in peace.
The gorgeous new Robert Pattinson image below is from a German magazine called Alsterhaus Hamburg.
And here are new Dior pictures and interview from Harper’s Bazaar Arabia:
Full scans + interview and a promo picture from Elle Brazil. Just click to enlarge.
Transcript of the interview A sudden change of plans at Bazaar HQ in Dubai and less than 24 hours later I find myself making my way down the infamous palm-leaf emblazoned corridor of LA’s iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, just moments away from meeting teen icon and bona fide A-list actor Robert Pattinson.
Best known for his leading role in The Twilight Saga, a series of films based on Stephenie Meyer’s vampire-romance novels, the British actor became a household name – and heartthrob – overnight as the films netted billions of Dirhams at the box office.
Unfortunately for me, all five films have eluded my cinematic escapades of recent years, however the tabloid hysteria that surrounds the cast has not. Robert’s on-screen/off-screen, on-again/off-again romance with his co-star Kristen Stewart has been played out in the media since Twilight first hit the big screen in 2008. As I draw closer to the door of his hotel suite, I find my mind irrationally wondering whether I’ll be “Team Rob” or “Team Taylor” (actor Taylor Lautner plays Robert’s love rival in the films) – the big debate amongst Twilight fans the world over and a choice I cannot make with any sort of conviction. I take a deep breath and enter the room.
Fortunately, my vampire shortcomings don’t matter all that much today for I am meeting Robert to talk about his new role as the face of Dior Homme. The advertising campaign, which launches this month, sees sultry images of the actor shot by American artist Nan Goldin in New York. There’s also a short film in which Robert assumes a rock’n'roll alpha male character in a raw and self-destructive relationship with free-spirited French model Camille Rowe.
“It’s kind of, sort of, a like fantasy version I have of myself,” Robert states cautiously, when I ask about his latest character. “I mean, I’m not like that on everyday basis, I think I am a little bit more boring,” he laughs, his British accent glazed with just a hint of LA.
In spite of his massive fame, the 27-year-old is disarmingly unguarded and relaxed, puffing on an electric cigarette. He is wearing a charcoal grey jumper, loose jeans and a cap turned backwards: “It’s the same outfit I wore yesterday,” he volunteers. He is unshaven with a touch of stubble masking his chiseled jawbone, and suddenly I understand what all the fuss is about. He is also, of course, doused in Dior’s scent. “I think I have about three different Dior Homme fragrances on,” he chuckles, warning me, in case I start down a scientific track, “I am not very good with the nasal questions.” In fact, it seems Robert is just as much out of his comfort zone talking about fragrance as I am discussing vampires. Not surprising really as this is the actor’s first endorsement since he first arrived of the scene playing Cedric Diggory in the fourth Harry Potter film in 2005 before being propelled into mega-stardom as Edward Cullen in Twilight.
“Dior is very independent, there’s nothing tacky about it at all,” he says of his decision to represent the French fashion house. “I actually felt like it was benefiting me to be associated with them rather than doing something just for the sake of it.” For the campaign’s commercial, Robert hand-picked French independent film director Romain Gavras for the task. “I’d seen his movie Our Day Will Come and tried to meet him for like a year and just did not return my phone calls… Ever!” he laughs. “So I thought if I did the Dior thing I bet I could get him on board.” He was right. And when I spoke with the charismatic Romain earlier in the day, he was equally complimentary about Robert. “You always have a fear with big stars like him that they are crazy and uncontrollable, or collect swords,” he jokes, “but from the start Robert was really down to earth.”
In the film Robert looks every inch of the leading man, embodying a nonchalant, caution-to-the-wind attitude as he runs around New York gate-crashing parties, joy-riding on the beach and getting steamy in bedroom scenes with Camille. “He has such a strong image in his previous films, this commercial was about giving him a different kind of iconic look,” explains Romain. Robert agrees, “I kept saying from the beginning I wanted to be really physical. I have done quite a few films in a row where it is all about stillness,” he explains referring not only to the Twilight saga, but also to films such as Water For Elephants in which he starred alongside Reese Witherspoon, and more recently his performance in David Cronenberg’s sci-fi flick, Cosmopolis. “I was watching the Dior scenes back in the monitor and thinking I look older now. I have always been so self-conscious about looking like a little kid and people not really believing me, so I wanted to do a film about masculinity and this was kid of the perfect opportunity.”
It’s the transition from boy to man that Robert keeps referring back to as he talks, in between draws on his electric cigarette, and I wonder whether this feeling has anything to do with the ending of the Twilight series and his relationship with co-star Kristen Stewart. “Yeah, it’s a whole bunch of stuff happening at the same time and I am just not worrying about things so much. I guess it just happens,” he muses. “I also bought a house and I was literally doing that up and fixing pipes,” he quips, laughing at the absurdity of him doing handy-work.
I am surprised at how honest the star is (he answers every question I ask truthfully, as if it were a compulsion) given his personal life has been paparazzo fodder for the last five years. Today speculation centers round who he is dating. Most recently he has been linked to actress and granddaughter of Elvis Presley, Riley Keough, as well as songstress Katy Perry. “It’s that thing . . . Someone knowing who they are, it’s the best,” he answers coyly when asked what attracts his interest in a woman. “I guess because it is like the opposite of what I am – I am so all over the place,” he adds with his signature self-effacing humor.
The same goes for a woman’s style, according to Robert. “If someone looks good in there clothes it’s because they are comfortable in their own skin – it’s literally just like owning it. Oh no! That is so lame, I feel like I am on Project Runway saying ‘own that’,” he jokes, complete with Tim Gunn accent.
Of course, the epitome of his carefree ideal is fellow Brit Kate Moss, Robert’s pin-up of choice as a teenager. “I was obsessed with her, it was a bit ridiculous. The other poster I had up was Linda Blair in the Exorcist, so they were my two options – a little girl possessed and Kate Moss,” he laughs.
But, as it turns out, Robert’s knowledge and passion for fashion extends further than just posters of Kate Moss and Dior Homme fragances. “I kind of want to get more involved with the industry, I really like it,” he says. “I like the speed of it, you can just move so much quicker. I also like designing clothes. It’s weird, it’s kind of a new thing that I have started doing,” he reveals. As I probe him on his design ambitions, I expect the typical actor-turned-designer response of a T-shirt or baseball cap line and am, I admit, a little taken aback by his actual answer. “It’s really embarrassing,” he blushes taking a deep breath as I lean in closer, “I like drawing couture dresses.” It’s as if he is admitting this out loud for the first time. “It’s bizarre! I started doing it and I was like ‘what is happening?’ Suddenly I had like a sketchbook full of dresses. I like the sort of artistry of it, it’s kind of like costume design,” Robert divulges. So can we expect to see him showcasing his designs at Paris fashion week in the future? “That would be the most random thing ever but I actually really want to do it. I don’t know though, it could be incredibly embarrassing.”
Clealy Robert is someone who excels at the arts, whether it’s acting, music (he plays the piano and a guitar, as well as writing and singing his own music) or indeed designing. Far less exciting for the actor, however, is exercise. “I think I don’t get some jobs because I don’t go to the gym. I am literally the only actor in LA who doesn’t have a six pack,” he laughs. “Although I am going to have to change that. In my next film I have like three intimate scenes so I am literally thinking of those to get in shape.” I ask him whether he has hit LA’s Runyon Canyon, the place where half of Hollywood goes hiking every weekend. “No, I don’t ever want anyone to see me doing exercise,” he says aghast. “Even though I am doing it, I still think it’s so lame and embarrassing – I am doing it out of necessity, that’s all.”
What I find most charming about Robert is that he seems unaware of just how ‘big’ he is in Hollywood. In fact, he has a rare ability to make you feel as if you are kicking back and shooting the breeze with one of your friends rather than one of Hollywood’s most watched and wanted actors. While he slowly makes his peace with his star status, there’s one part of the A-list territory that he still can’t quite get to grips with. “I am very anti-paparazzi, but I guess you kind of get used to thing. In fact I just started getting better at hiding,” he laughs. “As soon as you figure out a way to live where people don’t follow you around, stress levels go down.”
That Robert is not into the fame aspect of Hollywood – “it’s not really me so I have never really felt attached to it” – allows him to be more creative in his film choices. It’s a very interesting career move that he is making,” Romain says of Robert. “At some point, you either have to stay in your comfort zone and keep doing movies, or you get the courage and to go out and do more interesting things like the Cronenberg film.” And the actor seems equally happy about the direction his career is headed. “It’s an amazing job, especially if you don’t let yourself go crazy, but there are loads of jobs that make you go crazy,” he says candidly.
It is this endearing modesty and off-the-cuff sense of humor peppered with British charm, as well as his driven acting aspirations, that make Robert so much more than just as teen star. As of now, he’s clocking up actor, perfume model, musician and—you read it here first—couture designer. With or without the six pack, I can now safely say, I am very much “Team Rob”.