When David Cronenberg wrote the Cosmopolis script he transcribed much of the dialogue directly from Don DeLillo’s densely written novel. Those pages of complicated, lyrical conversation attracted the film’s star, Robert Pattinson.
“I liked the poetry of this script when I first read it,” he said. “My only idea was that it was really different to anything I had ever done and I thought I couldn’t do it. That stuck to me afterwards and I thought that should be the way to choose projects, or which projects to go after — the ones you don’t understand, or the ones you are scared of. That generally means you’ll end up being better afterwards.”
The script was so finely tuned that barely a word was changed during the shoot. The 26-year-old Twilight star says he is used to script changes on other movies, but a modification to a line about a gun on the Cosmopolis set jarred his pacing.
“I remember the line was about the attachment above the trigger guard,” he says. “But there was no attachment above the trigger guard (on the prop gun).
I was so used to the rhythms of everything and suddenly it changed the rhythm of the entire scene. We were doing page-and-a-half long sequences and it was so in my head that to suddenly change it on the day threw me.”
He’s been winning praise for his strange, otherworldly performance as billionaire money manager Eric Packer, but don’t suggest he delved deep into his own psyche to create the man we see on screen.
He says the perception is that actors have “to be psychoanalysts,” but that’s just from the ’50s. Before that actors only thought about their face, and their voice and their movement.
“I think that’s one of the things I have come away from this movie with, in terms of acting in general. You don’t need to analyze things that much. You don’t need to understand it.”
It’s a complicated film, bursting with ideas and one very much open to interpretation and debate, but Pattinson would prefer to leave the psychological heavy lifting to the
audience. “I’m not a post modernist scholar,” he says. Instead he remembers what drew him to the project in the first place — the dialogue.
“I like saying it,” he says. “When I see clips I want to say the lines again. It’s like eating.”