Masturbation talk aside, Robert Pattinson is terrific in ‘The Lighthouse’
First of two parts
LOS ANGELES—Robert Pattinson can’t stop masturbating—and talking about it—in movies. He spanks the monkey, so to speak, again in director Robert Eggers’ acclaimed “The Lighthouse.”
Robert did it in three other films: “The Devil All the Time,” “High Life” and “Damsel.” So, um, chokin’ the chicken for the fourth time onscreen has been a constant topic in the British actor’s media interviews.
“I’m definitely told to stop talking about it in every interview,” said Robert with a laugh. We’ve been interviewing him since his teen years in the “Harry Potter” movies. He was at his most relaxed, gleeful and spontaneous in this recent LA interview.
“There was one interview I was doing the other day,” said Robert, who is now 33. Age has lightened him up, making him more humorous and much more open. “I was going, I just spent 20 minutes talking about masturbation again (laughs). It’s just every interview. I told Robert Eggers, the press for this movie is crazy, like every single headline was like, ‘Pattinson Refuses to Stop Wanking (laughs).’”
“Literally, I think there’s something wrong with me,” he added with the most winning grin, as he brushed his long-ish blonde hair with his fingers.
The masturbation scene in a shed was the first one he shot for “The Lighthouse,” a black and white film—bizarre, funny and bleak all at the same time—that’s been earning good reviews since it debuted in Cannes last May.
For their performances as lighthouse keepers in the late 19th century, Robert (Ephraim Winslow) and Willem Dafoe (Thomas Wake), isolated in a remote island off Maine, given to drunken soliloquies, raging and ranting against each other, in between moments of quiet and homoeroticism, have been getting critical raves.
“It’s weird because when we are doing that—all the stuff in the movie was incredibly serious—it’s a really dark scene and that’s what really appealed to me,” Robert explained about the masturbation scene. “There’s something about me afterward when I’m promoting the film. I want to make everything light.
“But at the time, that moment is a really weird scene and it was beautifully written in the script as well. But it was definitely something I find maybe a little bit too relatable (laughs).”
Not only is Robert more engaging in interviews. Over the years, he has grown into a fine actor, as he transitioned from the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” movies.
“Gradually, you learn a little bit here and there,” he said. “I love acting more with every job. When I was doing ‘Harry Potter,’ I really didn’t know if that was going to be the case. I had fallen into acting and it was really fun.
“But I didn’t think that was almost 15 years ago. And to think that I’m still so excited by every job I do. Then you are figuring out a new way to do it—I still love that. But yeah, it’s just from a gradual process of learning things. And watching a ton of movies.”
On working with Eggers, who followed up his directing debut “The Witch,” a weird, wild horror film, with “The Lighthouse,” Robert replied, “If you watched ‘The Witch,’ you’d think he was probably stranger than he is (laughs). But he’s actually a very pleasant man (laughs). Especially after you see this film and ‘The Witch,’ you are like, this guy is a weirdo (laughs). But yeah, he’s incredibly friendly. There’s definitely something off [about him] but in a nice way. I think for directing, the eccentricity is quite wide.
“Robert (Eggers) is an extraordinarily hard worker. I just love people with a lot of ambition. He made it the most difficult for himself. He basically made so many different handicaps for himself.”
“He was like, we need to shoot on film, on 1920s lenses, on black and white negative, on location in one of the most impossibly difficult weather conditions ever. He was just embracing all that. And then to build that lighthouse. You couldn’t tell that that wasn’t a real lighthouse when you were sitting in it.
“I remember we got there (Nova Scotia, Canada) and we were like, wow, you have found the perfect set. But there was nothing there before. It was just a bluff of sand.”
Articles stressed how Robert went all-out method-y in some of his scenes. Eggers was quoted as saying about shooting the actor in that shed scene: “Rob really, really went for it. And you know, it was inspiring.” Willem confirmed to us that Robert stuck his fingers down his throat before a scene to achieve a certain look.
“I wish I really knew what method is,” Robert reacted with a guffaw when asked how far he went for some of his scenes. “I like pushing really hard when I’m shooting. I like having a director like Robert (Eggers) who can push back against me, because, especially with a script like this, it felt like it should be really extreme.”
“But in terms of method stuff, you listen to what your body wants to do and sometimes it’s bizarre what it wants to do. Because there was only one other actor (Willem) and because I really trusted Robert, it felt more normal to do this weird—I don’t even know how you describe it—I wish I knew really what the method is. But yeah, it’s just following whatever dark instinct you have and it leads to interesting places sometimes.”
Asked if he is as good in real life as Ephraim is in menial tasks—throwing pails of poo and piss into the ocean, scrubbing floors, carrying heavy stuff up the stairs and pushing wheelbarrows full of coal—Robert again laughed as he admitted, “No. I was going to lie. I’m absolutely useless. I’m an actor! I can’t do anything, any of the skills.”
“Every job you do as an actor, you realize that you finish the job going, well, I could never do that in real life (laughs). I can’t build anything. I can’t do anything at all. All I can do is go crazy and cry (laughs).”
The Brit added, “The other good thing is, I’m moving around so much I don’t mind. I don’t notice if something is filthy (laughs). It’s just quite wonderful. I don’t judge other people on being messy, either. It needs to be extremely messy to the point where it’s like, there are hoarders before something needs to be done.”
Robert maintained that what he was good at was being alone in real life. “I’m pretty good at being alone. I’m traveling so much. But it’s quite addictive. Once you spend a lot of time by yourself, it’s quite difficult to have people around.”
Email the columnist at [email protected] Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
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