Eric Packer is about to embark on the worst car ride of his life. Thankfully, Robert Pattinson — the actor who plays Packer in “Cosmopolis” — doesn’t share his character’s fate.
Pattinson fans came out in full force to elect “Cosmopolis” the winner of the MTV Movie Brawl 2012, a weeks-long tournament that pitted several of 2012’s biggest releases against one another to determine which film is the must-see cinematic event of the year. After tense battles against titans like “Bel Ami,” “The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn: Part 2,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Hunger Games,” it’s Pattinson’s upcoming indie thriller that took home the grand prize.
It’s a surprising result for many onlookers, given that “Cosmopolis” has yet to release a trailer and only has a tentative release date of 2012. But Rob’s fans rallied behind their man, opting to support his future in “Cosmopolis” over his past in “Twilight” — a commanding decision from a massive fanbase that demands attention, to say the least. In fact, the movement was so strong that it even caught “Cosmopolis” director David Cronenberg’s eye even before the film won the brawl for it all. Shortly after the victory was announced, Cronenberg got on the phone with MTV News to talk about what “Cosmopolis” winning the MTV Movie Brawl means for the film, Pattinson’s performance, when fans can expect to see a trailer and much more.
MTV: David, thanks for talking with us! Have you been filled in on what’s happened with “Cosmopolis” over here?
David Cronenberg: You know, I’ve been following it! I’m shocked! I’m shocked and amazed and really tickled. It proves that movie fans are unpredictable and really interesting and really passionate. It’s fantastic. I would have never, ever imagined that this would happen.
MTV: How did the tournament first get on your radar?
Cronenberg: Somebody sent me something and said, “Hey, we seem to be doing OK in this Movie Brawl thing that MTV’s got going on.” I didn’t know about it. At that point, we were struggling with “The Dark Knight,” I think. I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty impressive!” Because “Cosmopolis,” while I think in terms of what it is as cinema is pretty hefty, but in terms of budget and promotion, it’s an underdog compared to something like the “Dark Knight” franchise. I really didn’t think we would have much of a chance. That really got my attention.
MTV: What’s kind of incredible, too, is that right before that battle with Batman, “Cosmopolis” was up against “Twilight.” It was Rob versus Rob! In what we saw, it seemed that fans were putting their votes towards Rob’s future instead of his past.
Cronenberg: Well, and I think that’s one of the things that I meant when I said it was interesting. Because that’s not the kind of thing you would predict. But it was really terrific, and in that sense, they’re right. As I’ve said many times, if you’re a “Twilight” fan, then you might not be interested in “Cosmopolis” because Rob is not Mr. Cullen. But if you’re a Rob fan, then you’ve got to be interested in “Cosmopolis,” because you will see him as you have not seen him before, for sure.
MTV: Clearly, there is a lot of interest in this movie, seeing that it came out ahead over movies like “Dark Knight,” “Twilight” and “Hunger Games.” There is a lot of attention on Rob, of course. Can you talk about your experience working with Rob, and the kind of actor you found him to be over the course of shooting “Cosmopolis”?
Cronenberg: He’s terrific. He deserves the affection that the fans have for him. He’s incredibly sweet, he’s very funny, he’s very bright and he’s also very knowledgeable about cinema. Not just movies but the history of cinema. He knows a lot about it. He’s just a sweetheart. And he’s totally professional. He’s always right there. We had a lot of fun shooting [the movie] because, as I say, he has a great sense of humor. We just played a lot. I think that’s a really great tone that’s set for everybody on the set. The lead actor has a really big influence on the tone of the shoot. If you’ve got a guy who’s very difficult and neurotic or whatever, they can’t help but affect everybody’s day. But Rob is not like that. He’s just a ray of sunshine. In fact, he’s in absolutely every scene of the movie, so obviously his temperament would have a huge influence on how the shoot went … and it was a dream. It was a beautiful shoot.
MTV: I think one of the reasons why some are surprised with how this tournament played out is that most of the films that were competing have trailers. This one doesn’t — at least not yet! When can fans expect to see a trailer?
Cronenberg: We feel probably that this won’t be released until next fall. It’s not exactly a summer movie and it won’t be ready for a while. The movie is finished, but something that fans maybe don’t know is how long it takes a movie to get released. You want to do a couple of film festivals, the studios in each country have to get their materials ready. The photographs, the trailers, everything … it takes a lot of time, you know? The other thing is, we kind of want to keep things a little bit of a secret until we unleash it on the world. We’re pretty excited about it and we don’t really want to let too much out about what it is and how it plays.
MTV: In terms of when this is coming out, you said perhaps fall of this year. So there’s no firm release date just yet?
Cronenberg: No, not at all. It’s been sold to a lot of countries and distributors around the world, but for example, it does not yet have U.S. distribution. That’s fine, because we didn’t want to look for it until we had the finished film. But frankly, the Movie Brawl results might well help us get some good U.S. distribution! [He laughs.] I just thought of that, but you know, it’s possible! It’s interesting to hear that indication of interest before you even release a trailer — that’s pretty darn good. But you can’t release a trailer until you have a distributor, and a distributor has to really have all the material, so it takes a while.
MTV: Well, something close to 6 million votes were cast in this tournament, and almost 4 million were cast in this final poll alone. The numbers do not lie.
Cronenberg: That’s fantastic. That’s just great. That’s just great.
MTV: In the spirit of this tournament, what’s the movie you’re most excited to see in 2012? What’s the film you can’t wait to get your eyes on?
Cronenberg: You know, I’m so focused on what I’ve been doing that I actually don’t know what’s around! It’s strange. I haven’t even caught up with last year’s films. I have a movie out now called “A Dangerous Method” with Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen. I’ve been touring the world promoting that, been to a ton of film festivals, but I haven’t had a chance to see any of the movies, because I’m constantly having to do interviews and stuff for that. Now, that’s calmed down now that the movie has finally been released in the U.S., but the result is that I’m way behind on everything.
MTV: So you’ve got to catch up on 2011 before moving onto 2012.
Cronenberg: That’s right! Let me catch up first, and then I’ll start thinking about 2012.
MTV: Finally, any last messages to the “Cosmopolis” fans who pushed this movie to the top?
Cronenberg: They won’t be disappointed in Rob. He is fantastic.
Last month, when MTV News asked David Cronenberg about working with Robert Pattinson on his upcoming film “Cosmopolis,” the director put his feelings about the “Twilight” heartthrob simply: “He’s sensational.”
Cronenberg said that “Twilight” fans would see Pattinson in a way they aren’t used to, since the role shares more in common with the actor’s lesser-known films like “Little Ashes” and “Remember Me.”
When the director walked the red carpet last week at the Gotham Independent Film Awards in support of his film “A Dangerous Method,” he stopped to speak again with MTV News’ Josh Horowitz.
Cronenberg said that one of the biggest testaments to Pattinson’s skill as an actor was the effect he had on his Academy Award-nominated co-star. “They were both brilliant, and Paul was really impressed,” he said. “If Paul’s impressed, he’s a good judge of other actors, and he said so publicly.”
Your casting of Robert Pattinson in ‘Cosmopolis,’ someone whose acting might not be as critically lauded as Mortensen’s, was obviously a well-thought-out decision, then.
Well, Keira’s acting doesn’t always get praise from high-brow critics, either. I would use that parallel. You have a young actor who’s found success with a franchise just like Keira did with ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ who’s underrated because of that. In each case, they’re too pretty and too successful so people are jealous. As a result, people assume that they can’t possibly be good actors.
So what was the exact motivation for casting Pattinson in ‘Cosmopolis’?
He’s the right age, he’s got the right screen presence, and when I looked at his other work I thought he’d be really interesting for the role. Casting is a black art – it’s a bit mysterious how you come to these things – and it’s subjective, too, of course. As a director, there are no rules to guide you. You have to go with your gut, ultimately.
Another young actor whose acting ability has polarized critics is Twilight star Robert Pattinson, who stars as a millionaire enduring a limo-driven odyssey across Manhattan in Cronenberg’s next film—an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel Cosmopolis.
“I think that [skeptics] are being critical of the Twilight series; they’re not being critical of him,” says Cronenberg. “He’s just a cog in that machine and they’re confusing the nature of that project with him. He’s a terrific actor, trust me. I’ve directed some of the best in the world, and he’s terrific.”
FANG: You and your GOOD NEIGHBORS co-star Emily Hampshire appear in David Cronenberg’s latest, COSMOPOLIS. Can you talk about that and working for Cronenberg?
BARUCHEL: Again, this is a movie that I agreed to do without knowing what I’d be doing in it. I was sort of just keeping my fiancée [Allison Pill] company in Manhattan while she was doing her play. My greatest ambition was to just write horror. And that’s been picking up after my work on [co-writing] GOON. My writing partner [Jesse Chabot] and I got hired on a couple of things, and so on-camera acting was the furthest thing from my mind this year. And then they said, “You want to go to Toronto and do two days on the new David Cronenberg?” I said, “I’ll pick up that man’s f**king dry cleaning.” I’ll do anything to meet him. He’s one of my original heroes. For a Canadian who wants to make horror movies for the rest of his life, there’s no greater hero or no more important figure than David Cronenberg. It was a very, very easy “yes” for me. And showing up there, once I got past the initial butterflies in my stomach and the jitters of not only getting to meet one of my heroes, but getting to work with him, that took some getting through because I was flabbergasted. Here I am, getting to watch him do his thing, in his environment. But once I was past that, it was the easiest job I’ve ever had. It was simple and fun and exciting and I could retire tomorrow because I’m in one of his flicks now.
FANG: Who do you play in COSMOPOLIS?
BARUCHEL: The thing is incredibly dense and ethereal and mostly it’s just dialogue heavy. It takes place in the early 2000s during a version of the dotcom boom. It follows Robert Pattinson’s character, who’s the CEO of one of these tech companies, and he’s on his way to work and he’s trying to get a haircut and that’s the movie. And 90 percent of it takes place in his limo en route to get a haircut. He has all these different meetings with people he works alongside, and they come in to the limo, he has a long, sort of philosophical conversation with them and they get out, they exchange seats, and I’m the first guy he picks up. I’m the guy who started the company with him, and I’m a young, rich, upwardly mobile tech head. We have a four-page long existential scene about the nature of 20th-century living and then I disappear. It was the most satisfying, interesting, exciting and every adjective in the book. It really, really nourished me. I know I’m a better actor, a better writer and a better person for it.
Every time I see these I think of the movie Men in black.
Rob could be agent ‘ H’ . ‘H’ for hot hot hot !