With Reporting by Josh Horowitz
Forget the vampire of yesteryear. For his next act, Robert Pattinson plays an all-new kind of animal.
Pattinson is one of the two stars of “The Rover,” director David Michôd’s thriller that takes place in the not-too-distant future, ten years after a global economic collapse. Set in the Australian outback, Guy Pearce plays Eric, a violent drifter who cares about only one thing in this desolate world: his car. When his car is hijacked by a bunch of criminals, Eric tracks down one of the thugs’ dim-witted brother, Rey (Pattinson), and drags him along on a quest to reclaim his possession and get some vengeance in the process.
It’s a very different turn for Pattinson, who, up until recently, was best known for his heartthrob role as Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” series. Pattinson has made an active effort to take on radically new roles, what with David Cronenberg’s supremely surreal “Cosmopolis,” and now “The Rover.” Here, Pattinson presents himself without his signature locks, opting instead for a closely-cropped buzz cut. His trademark smile is not a thing of beauty here, thanks to a thick layer of dirt and grime on his teeth. As Rey, Pattinson presents a character who isn’t the brightest bulb in the bunch — but just might be one of the most vulnerable.
“He’s like Bambi,” Pattinson told MTV News. “He’s been really, severely bullied and told that there’s something wrong with him for so long. He’s never been asked the [right] questions or anything. Even when Guy’s character is incredibly abusive, it’s really the first time Rey’s been told to think, and the mechanism of thinking isn’t really there.”
“When [Pearce] asks him, ’Is that something he told you or something you know?’ He can’t understand the basic question,” he continued, “because no one’s ever asked him that. They just slap him in the head all the time. Their relationship is a bit of a rebirth.”
While Pattinson’s character is a lifelong victim of bullying, Pattinson himself experienced a fairly serene childhood — except for the one time someone stole his shoelaces, when he was twelve years old. How did Pattinson deal with that adversity?
“I killed him,” he joked, before adding with a laugh, “I actually did beat him up, and he was only eight. You have to pick your battles!”
“The Rover” is open in limited release now.