Robert Pattinson has said that he would “definitely” return to the land of the big tentpole franchise but added that he believes independent cinema is going through a “second wave.”
The Twilight star was in Berlin to promote Damsel, the western comedy from Kid-Thing directors David and Nathan Zellner, which is playing in competition at the festival. The film sees Pattinson play Samuel Alabaster, more greenhorn than pioneer, as he sets off on an adventure with the love of his life, Penelope, played by Mia Wasikowska.
Pattinson said he had a “great time” playing vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise and he wouldn’t rule out more big-budget franchises. “I’ve not had a bad experience on any film I’ve done, maybe one. The only reason I’m a little cautious about big franchise films is that you can’t make them R rated. If you have a big budget, there’s more people on you to do it a [specific] way or you’re fired. If you keep a budget contained, if people think they can get their money back, you can experiment more.”
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He added that he believed that there will be a “resurgence” of mid-budget movies that will allow actors to experiment more. “People were scared when the streaming services came out, but, to me, it seems there’s a second wave. There’s a bunch of new studios, mid-budget filmmaking is coming back and it’s great.”
Pattison said he was attracted to Damsel as he was rarely offered roles in comedies. “There aren’t that many western comedies. In terms of the comedies, it’s tough to find one that has an interesting character, you’re usually playing for laughs. There’s such a stable of comedy actors and I’m not seen as a comedy actor so it will always go to a bunch of people before me. I found it so strange and felt like abstract version of a comedy and it appealed to me in the same way as a drama. It was really fun to play, it has an odd tone, so it was fun to try and figure out how to fit into it.”
Damsel starts off as a classic western, a horseback odyssey with plenty of shootouts. However, on his way looking for love, there’s a twist: Penelope, it seems, is not a damsel in distress. Wasikowska called it “very clever.”
“We were led to believe one thing about this character and that gets flipped on its head,” she said.
The Zellners, who also directed 2008’s Goliath and 2014’s Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, said that they were big fans of the western genre but didn’t want to make another sepia-toned film. “We’ve been fans of westerns since we were kids [but we were] bored of the clichés and tropes. The female characters are usually pretty boring or a prize to be obtained by the hero and those elements were tiresome and not interesting so we wanted to make Penelope a complex human… and then amp it up for comedic purposes,” said Nathan Zellner. Damsel is being by Great Point Media and ICM in Berlin.
Wasikowska and Pattinson were asked about the #MeToo campaign, which has been a prominent feature of the festival. Wasikowska said she thought it was “amazing.”
“I’ve spent much of the last year in Australia so I’ve been watching from afar,” she said. “The Respect Rally in Sundance was the first thing I was able to be a part of. I think it’s going to [lead to] really significant change.” Pattinson added that being “bullied into silence” was one of the most awful things and that it was “amazing when any kind of dam breaks.”
Pattinson can next be seen in Claire Denis’ English-language debut High Life, alongside Juliette Binoche and Mia Goth. The sci-fi film, which is being sold by Wild Bunch and CAA at Berlin, follows a father and daughter struggling to survive in deep space.
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