Robert Pattinson Returns: Dodges The Bullet, Almost, In First TV Interview

More anticipated than a State of the Union address, all eyes were on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show this Monday and his guest, Robert Pattinson.

The actor’s first public appearance since news of Kristen Stewart’s dalliance with Rupert Sanders exploded front and center three weeks ago; in fact, it was a masterclass in why this popular actor has legions of fans and attracts mass media attention — and a reminder of just how good Jon Stewart is.

With more at stake this time around (Pattinson guested on TDS in 2010), Pattinson’s arrival at The Daily Show was quasi Black Ops due to heightened paparazzi presence. One pap actually jumped on the actor’s car and tried to get a shot.

For weeks, many have been optimistically speculating about whether or not Pattinson would talk about the state of his relationship with [Kristen] Stewart.

And they got their wish.

Straight out of the gate Stewart “went there,” opening up proceedings with a wink and a nudge as he asked a noticeably trimmer Pattinson:

“What [have] you,” [loaded pause] “been up to?”

In what was probably a “walked through” part of the interview set-up Pattinson replied,

“God! I thought we’d already prepared this,” quipped the actor. “ I had a joke. I had a joke prepared!”

Stewart: “Did you really?”

Pattinson: “Yeah. Godammit! I was all set up!”

And we were off.

Robert Pattinson and Jon Stewart on The Daily Show: Ice-Cream Breaks the ice

Using a liberal dose of humor and Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream, Stewart deftly kept repeating the assertion that Pattinson and [Kristen] Stewart were dealing with a “break up.” But Pattinson (as Jon Stewart knew he would), neatly side-stepped almost all of them.

After more banter and Pattinson’s admission that he was in fact “double-spanxed,” the closest the 26-year-old came to addressing the awkward elephant in the room was when Stewart asked,

“What are we doing here? Are you alright? Is everything ok, I’m worried about you — and you’re alright?”

“I just literally don’t even know how to approach this now” replied Pattinson, referring to the difficulties of eating of ice-cream under hot studio lights.

Stewart: “The ice-cream?” Then, in a softer voice, “because it’s a mess.”

Pattinson brought out his set-piece (he’d already attempted it minutes earlier.)

“My biggest problem in my life is that I’m cheap,” Pattinson leveled, sort of. “I didn’t hire a publicist. In every awkward interview, you know normally actors get these things scripted … I don’t know … I’m going to hire a publicist.”

Stewart, playing ball as he had done from the start of the interview, interjected with a quip about anecdotes and summering in France, then slowly said:

“I think you should. I think you should. Although, unless you have a time-machine …”

The 49-year-old host let the sentence drift.

Pattinson came back strong. “Either way.”

It worked.

Just one more comic moment on The Daily Show: Jon Stewart mimics Twilight fans switching off

More hilarity ensued when Stewart joked about trending on Twitter (a second oblique reference to the fact that Twilight fans were tuning in to see Pattinson) and then said:

“The last time I had a bad break-up, Ben and Jerry got me through some of the tougher times, so I thought you and I could bond over this …”

Stewart — complete with affected voice — went for the money shot line.

“Boy you are better off, kick her to the curb.”

Massive applause from the audience. To his credit, Pattinson dodged that bullet, merely asking Stewart:

“Is that an impression of yourself?”

But the rawest moment of the nearly 10 minute segment was when Stewart himself seemed to get confessional.

“When you are young and you break up, it’s powerful and it feels like the world is ending. This is the first time I have seen the world actually react that way … it’s insanity.”

In the uncut version, this information coming from a user on the social network site Twitter who attended the taping of the show, and corroborated by other outlets, Pattinson answered:

“It is.”

At that point, the studio audience reportedly commiserated vocally, to which Pattinson replied:

“I didn’t mean it like that,” adding that he was trying to make a joke.

However, in the edited version, after Stewart finishes speaking Pattinson says nothing. At all.

Robert Pattinson rolling with Jon Stewart's gentle punches on The Daily Show

Towards the end of the segment, Stewart invited Pattinson to speak seriously to America. Utterly deadpan, Pattinson replied:

“There is one thing … if any Twilight fans tuned in, I genuinely want to make Cosmopolis have a higher opening weekend than The Dark Knight [Rises].”

He added:

“But the problem is … it’s only released in 6 cinemas. It’s going to be a challenge.” Pattinson joked. Then, “just buy like 8 tickets!”

Recorded before the later premiere of Cosmopolis at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Pattinson’s spot on The Daily Show kicks off a week of promotional happenings before the film’s release on in L.A and New York on August 17 (rest of US select from August 24).

To date, limited release in non-US territories has meant Cosmopolis hasn’t set the box office alight, yet. But to focus on that misses the point. After its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, the majority of critics there – and elsewhere since – have hailed Pattinson’s performance in Cosmopolis as outstanding. One of the most recent reviews judged the Brit’s lead turn as:

“Robert Pattinson’s hands-down best role. In the hands of a very capable director and a punishing script, Pattinson turns in a performance that channels a young Robert De Niro, New York twang and all,” writes Patrick Kolan of Shotgun Critic.

The review continued:

“His performance is so understated and brilliant that, during moments where he breaks through this Wall Street gloss, he comes across as truly unhinged and monstrous. This is a frightening performance in the best ways and points towards a hell of a career ahead for Pattinson.”

Robert Pattinson as Eric Packer in Cosmopolis

As for The Daily Show, seasoned publicist Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com, commenting on Pattinson’s post scandal return to the spotlight said:

“Every actor has the right to talk about what he wants to talk about and not talk about something he doesn’t want to talk about … you have to handle [such questions] with dignity and class and respect for the journalist doing their job.”

Mission accomplished then.

Robert Pattinson just came back into public focus with his A-Game more or less intact. It was a nervy yet funny 26-year-old that came to break bread with Stewart last night. Likely, still raw from recent events, despite the banter and the side-stepping the interview worked on two levels — but it did work.

Whatever nonsense tabloids choose to “read” into this first interview (they already are), Pattinson has committed to a week and more of balls-to-the-wall promotion in possibly the most challenging period of his life. If there are any spare gold medals knocking about in the Olympic village send it to Pattinson’s rep. The man deserves it.

Cosmopolis opens in L.A and New York August 17, and will play in these U.S theaters from August 24. Adapted from Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel of the same name, Cosmopolis follows Eric Packer, a disaffected, billionaire financier on 24 wild hours as he crosses an imploding Manhattan in a white limo. Pursued by an anonymous assassin, a pie-provocateur and his own existential demons, Packer’s search for a haircut is really a search for meaning in a world that has none. Paul Giamatti, Juliet Binoche, Samantha Morton, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Emily Hampshire, Patricia McKenzie and Jay Baruchel also star. Distributed by Entertainment One Films U.S.