Cronenberg: Well, casting always starts in a very pragmatic way. It's, "Is this guy the right age for the character?" "Does he have the right sort of physique, the right screen presence?" "Is he available, and if so, can you afford him? Does he want to do it?" You know, all of those things. But then you do your homework as a director, more specifically, and you watch stuff. I watched Little Ashes, in which Rob plays a young Salvador Dali; I watched Remember Me; I watched the first Twilight movie. And I watched -- interestingly enough, I suppose, because people wouldn't expect it -- but you watch interviews with the guy on YouTube, you know. I want to get an idea of his sense of humor, his sense of himself, the way he handles himself, his intelligence -- all of those things you can't really tell from watching an actor play a role in a movie. I suppose in the old days you meet the guy and hang out, and go to a bar or whatever -- [laughs] -- but these days nobody has time for that, or the money, and so you do it some other way. And once I'd done all that stuff, I thought, This is the guy I want. I thought, He'd be terrific and I actually think he's a very underrated actor -- and it would be my pleasure to prove that by casting him.
I think a lot of people will share that opinion after seeing the film. Was he difficult to get? I mean, he's clearly up for it, based on his performance, but how do you go about getting Robert Pattinson?
Cronenberg: Basically, I wrote the script before I went into production on A Dangerous Method, so Rob got the script about a year before we were really shooting. He's a very down to earth guy, and he was surprised that anybody would want him. [Laughs] It sounds odd, I know. Of course, he knows that his name adds value because of his star power, but he knew my movies, and he knew I was a serious director, and I think he was nervous, you know -- I think he was afraid, because he knew it was good. He immediately loved the script, especially because he thought it was very funny -- and the movie is funny; a lot of people maybe don't see that the first time around -- and the script was funny as well. But also he had seen enough of the now conventional stuff that he gets offered to see how different this was, and how it stood out -- and the quality of Don's writing, because the dialogue is really 100 per cent from the novel.
Was there a point during shooting where he realized, "Hey, I am good enough for this," or did you have to encourage him constantly?
Cronenberg: No, it's not like he's so insecure or anything like that. I never saw any of that on the set. I know he was constantly checking himself out and wondering if it was good, but I didn't feel that he needed an inordinate amount of that kind of encouragement, really. We just did it. He could tell. The best way for an actor to tell, ultimately, is that it wasn't long before we were just doing one or two takes of everything -- and that means the actor knows it's working.
Well it appears that you've started something of a trend now David, because Werner Herzog has just cast him in his next film.
Cronenberg: Well that pleases me no end, and I think that obviously this is what Rob needs. They just need to see that he's really, really good and really, really subtle; and that he can do a lot of different stuff. Once you break through that barrier then I think there'll be no turning back.
There's a really magic shot in the film -- perhaps my favorite moment in his performance, also -- when he's stumbling down the alley with the gun, and he's looking for Paul Giamatti, and there's this particular look that comes over his face in that one moment and you can see his derangement. It was really wonderfully played.
Cronenberg: Yeah, it was beautiful. It was the only take that Rob did exactly that on, and I thought, Well that's the take. It was unexpected. I mean, Rob was constantly surprising me, I have to tell you, with things like that. Lovely, lovely things that were spontaneous but dead-on.
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