While The Twilight Saga publicity machine gears up for its — for now — finale installment, Robert Pattinson’s indie movie exit strategy continues apace.
Deadlinereports Pattinson will join fellow Brit, Carey Mulligan, (Drive, Shame, The Great Gatsby) in a new film Hold On To Me.
Penned by Brad Ingelsby (Out Of The Furnace) and helmed by Oscar winner James Marsh (Project Nim, Shadow Dancer), the film is being primed for the American Film Market. Todd Field (Eyes Wide Shut, Little Children), Steven Rales, Alexandra Milchan, Mark Roybal and Michael Pruss will produce.
Based on a true story, Mulligan will star as a “femme fatale” who hatches a plan with her boyfriend to “kidnap and ransom the town’s richest man.” Pattinson will play Jimmy — her “life love” — in a role separate to that of the boyfriend. Reportedly not a rom-com, after the plan inevitably goes awry, body-burying and mayhem ensues.
Hold On To Me is only the latest addition to Pattinson’s already brimming 2013 movie slate. After winning over a slew of critics this summer with his performance in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, the actor is about to embark on the second wave of his career with a stack of smart, high quality projects with serious directorial firepower.
First announced in May, Pattinson will co-star with Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A Confidential, Prometheus) in David Michod’s The Rover, with filming due to start in the early part of next year. Playing a naïve thief, Rey, to Pearce’s, Eric, the pair form an alliance in a battle for survival against criminals in the Australian outback.
Described as “a dirty and dangerous near-future western,” the plot follows Eric and Rey as they attempt to retrieve Eric’s car — and something invaluable inside it — after it’s stolen by a gang led by Rey’s brother. Saltier dimension comes from a teaser Pattinson revealed to Metro UK in June, “Guy Pearce kidnaps me and I’ve been shot. It’s like, crazily violent.”
Pattinson will also play the lead in Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s Mission: Blacklist. A military thriller based on the book written by ex-Army interrogator Eric Maddox. Blacklist is the story of the real-life events behind the U.S hunt for Saddam Hussein.
And in a move that surprised many when it was announced in August, he will take on the iconic role of T.E (Thomas Edward) Lawrence — better known as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ — in Werner Herzog’s indie Queen of the Desert. The film will star Naomi Watts as the famed explorer, archaeologist, writer and British political attache, Gertrude Bell.
One of the first women to graduate from Oxford at the turn of the 20th century, Bell went on to chart the borders of Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and worked with Lawrence to establish the Hashemite dynasties in those regions.
A British army officer, archaeologist and writer, Lawrence was immortalized in David Lean’s 1962 extravaganza with Peter O’Toole as the super-tanned, golden haired one, but it’s likely Queen of the Desert will bear no resemblance to Lean’s mythic classic. For one, it will be Naomi Watts centric. Secondly, as Pattinson told MTV in a recent interview, “It’s a really different Lawrence.”
Collectively and individually these are interesting choices for a 26-year-old pop culture heartthrob. As one of the two major stars to slingshot out of a $ 2.5 billion phenomenon, Pattinson is clearly consciously stepping outside the major studio system in favor of independents. While it’s true he can certainly afford to do so, it seems this is where his artistic sensibilities actually lie.
In a Cosmopolis press junket interview with the Associated Press, when asked how big the film’s box office needed to be before he considered it a hit, Pattinson replied: “The success of it was just getting [it] made.”
Art for art’s sake is, in fact, a recurring theme in nearly all of Pattinson’s serious interviews. In a May spread for French culture magazine Les InRockuptibles, the actor said:
“Honestly, if I could only play movies like Cosmopolis, it would be amazing. But they’re hard to get. To tell you the truth, I’m not really interested in being the lead of big movies. First, it’s harder to do: you have 20 people to answer to — in Cosmopolis: just one.”
In a subsequent television appearance with Canadian host George Stroumboulopoulos, after a typical ‘are you worried about life after Twilight?’query, Pattinson replied:
“You want to do something at least a little bit worthwhile with what kind of power you’re given — through luck — and not just chase after an audience, not just keep trying to extend the same thing for as long as possible.”
“If every single actor wasn’t afraid of trying to do something slightly abstract and not concerned about a movie making tons and tons of money, then eventually the industry would change.”
A point of view echoed by Catherine Bray, online editor for Film 4, in a Q and A with Cronenberg:
“There’s a really exciting tension between [Packer’s] kind of persona in the film and [Pattinson’s] public persona, the idea of someone being at their peak deciding to go another way,” Bray notes.
That other way — a deliberate left-turn from expected, mainstream choices — is probably not set in stone. But, for the forseeable, Pattinson’s compass is clearly pointing towards the exploration of edgier, more extreme versions of expression. An understandable decision for an actor who, for 4 years, has essentially been bound to a character and franchise that is pretty much the definition of the studio system.
Down the line two further films are on the Brit’s radar. Map To The Stars — another collaboration with Cronenberg and scriptwriter Bruce Wagner — promises a dark take on two former child stars’ experience in Hollywood. Not yet a ‘go’ movie, it is a project Cronenberg and Pattinson are happy to talk up pre-financing.
The other, is an as yet unspecified role a film based on The Band — the legendary roots rockers Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson — and frequent Bob Dylan collaborators. Pattinson has given little away about the film except for a brief reveal in Les InRockuptibles: “[It’s] a beautiful script about the nature of songwriting.”
A walking contradiction of the generic ‘idol’ template — he has previously cited Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone) and Jean-Luc Godard (Prénom Carmen) as dream directors — Pattinson’s perception shifting turn in Cosmopolis was the other, big (movie industry) story this summer, and it’s one that shouldn’t be forgotten.
But while news cycles remain fixated on the state of Pattinson’s relationship with Kristen Stewart, it seems decision makers in Hollywood — and beyond — are not. That’s not just good news for Pattinson, it’s good news for audiences and cinema.
As Drew McSweeney, critic and film editor at Hitfixwrites:
“People lured in by the presence of Pattinson will not be prepared for just how different he is in the film [Cosmopolis], and I love the idea of people expanding their cinematic appetites because of his mainstream work.”
A bold future filled with intriguing, movie roles now beckons for an actor who definitively proved himself in 2012. At the very least, the next few years should be interesting.