Robert Pattinson Interview – Being The Batman And Stealing Socks
Robert Pattinson is the latest in a long line of actors to play Batman, and in many ways is the strangest choice since Val Kilmer and his Bat Nipples – possibly the strangest ever. There’s no doubting Pattinson’s talent, but since the days of Twilight and Harry Potter he has religiously avoided franchises and blockbusters, opting instead for enticing prestige indie flicks like Good Time, The Lighthouse, and High Life. The closest he’s gotten to a blockbuster role like The Batman would either be Netflix’s star-studded but clearly-aiming-for-prestige-indie-status drama The Devil All the Time, or Christopher Nolan’s complex and complicated Tenet – neither of which are classic blockbusters in the way a character like Batman is. Of course, being a franchise star has some neat perks: free socks.
“They told me to stop stealing them,” Pattinson tells a gathering of the media after co-star Zoe Kravitz ratted him out. “It was intentional. After a while, it was day 156 of the shoot. They said ‘you have 156 pairs of socks, like, what are you doing with them?’”.
It’s not the first time Pattinson has done something like this – while filming Good Time, in which his character robs a bank, Pattinson frequently wandered the streets in costume to make sure he looked less like ‘Robert Pattinson, the movie star’ and more like his Average Joe character. Directors Benny and Josh Sadfie have previously revealed in interviews that he ended up buying a pack of cigarettes with counterfeit prop money by mistake.
Of course, there are more perks to being Batman than just the free socks. It also has the considerable benefit of getting to be Batman, and Pattinson explains how it felt to embody such an iconic role, and when he first began to think of himself as a Batman. “They built eight blocks of Gotham, and there were lots of people playing cops and civilians around and I was walking across the street, my cape was blowing in the wind. It was just interesting, ‘cause they were all English. Just hearing lots of extras dressed like American cops being [Pattinson stresses a North London accent] ‘You awright, Batman?’. So that was probably the day. I'd say, [Pattinson now stresses his Batman voice] ‘Silence!’”.
This, however, was not the first time Pattinson felt like Batman. That didn’t happen at a line-reading, or on set, or while working through any of the plethora of stunt scenes, but instead came in the parking lot one day.
“The nature of the part, and the fact it's been around for such a long time and has been reinterpreted a few times as well as shows it has had so many layers, so many ways you can play it, even though you've got half your face hidden,” he says. “It's bizarre, but you can put him into so many different genres. Just the legacy of the people who've been involved. It's a massive privilege when you put the suit on for the first time, you can feel it. I remember walking across the parking lot and seeing a shadow with two little ears coming out the top, that was really strange.”
With such atypical casting, it makes sense that Pattinson sees himself as something of an atypical Batman.
“The first time I read the script was a pretty drastic departure from the traditional way Bruce Wayne's portrayed. He’s [usually] a society playboy, he's very much in control of the three aspects of his personality. He’s Bruce Wayne, the playboy, a little bit silly, and then he's the Bruce at home, who's – I’m just describing the old movies now, whatever! But this one, he doesn't know. He's basically let Bruce just withered away. He hasn't worked on himself at all, apart from this obscure way where you think the only way you can survive is creating this alter ego, which he wants to live in more and more and more and more. I think he doesn't have an enormous amount of control over what's happening to him when, when he puts that suit on, and he genuinely believes he's another person. And he's addicted to it. And then when the red light comes on, it calls him out. I mean, it's almost like he's more afraid of his identity being revealed than dying, which I guess is almost worse than death.”
This new style of Batman also led, Pattinson feels, to a new type of Batman story. “They're pretty big stakes,” he says. “The mayor gets killed and stuff but what I love [is] the Batman isn't even known as Batman in the city. He's literally just some guy with an outfit on. And Gordon's saying like… eh. He's really out on a limb, he has some advanced technology but like, not really. He's just a guy who Gordon believes in. And I think that the belief in him Bruce values so much because he's literally the only person at this point in the story. Not even Alfred thinks it's a good idea.”
The Batman opens in cinemas March 4. Please bring real money and not counterfeit bills. Feel free to keep your socks though.
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