Gone are the days when the British actor cemented a cinematic era of vampire thirst. In the Zellner brothers' dark Western comedy, Pattinson exercises his lighter side.

By Piya Sinha-Roy
June 20, 2018 at 09:14 AM EDT

Damsel

06/22/18
type
  • Movie
Genre

There’s something about singing in front of an audience that makes Robert Pattinson “terrifyingly nervous,” the actor told EW.

“No matter whether you’re playing a character or not, there’s something about singing where you’re naked,” he said. “I hadn’t sung in front of anybody for years before that.”

Pattinson, 32, who rocketed to fame as a certain brooding, sexy vampire, delivers his funniest performance to date in David and Nathan Zellner’s Damsel, playing a gangly, bumbling wannabe cowboy named Samuel, searching for his kidnapped fiancé Penelope (Mia Wasikowska) in the Wild West wilderness with the help of a hapless preacher (David Zellner).

“I wanted to do a full-on Jim Carrey out-of-control thing…proper slapstick. I remember doing the first take on the first day and I was screaming,” the actor said.

“I think I was supposed to be playing it serious, and I just couldn’t do it. So it just became this goofy thing.”

The biggest challenge was not adopting a drawling Western twang or acting in the heat of the desert while wearing a thick suit, he said. Instead it was the scene above, where Samuel decides to sing a sweet little ditty he penned for his fiancée called “My Honeybun.”

“That was the only thing in the whole movie where I was really nervous, I have no idea why. My hand was shaking so much,” he said.

“It’s such a weird little moment … it’s so weird and earnest and sweet at the same time.”

It’s been 10 years since Pattinson played teen vampire heartthrob Edward Cullen in the first Twilight and amassed millions of fans. After saying goodbye to the role, Pattinson said his “lucky break” came in 2012 with David Cronenberg’s trippy Cosmopolis, in which he played a cocky billionaire. Since then, he’s eschewed franchises and blockbusters, instead diving into underdog roles like the slow, naive Reynolds in David Michôd’s survival drama The Rover (2014) and the frantic Connie in 2017’s urban thriller Good Time.

“I do find a lot of my characters are alienated. I definitely think I’ve gravitated towards that more after I got famous,” he explained. “It’s like, I can relate.”

Pattinson confessed that he used to be shy, but by allowing himself to relax and take risks as an actor, he’s open to playing the fool. The Dior ambassador is actually a giggler — he giggles as he quips how he’s been forgetting people’s names now that he’s in his ripe old 30s, or when he orders a “tiny English muffin” at lunch.

Meanwhile, the Twilight mania has faded and while his name still pops up in tabloids, he says fan interactions are much more manageable nowadays.

“It was always just people who were trying to make money out of it because then they never left you alone,” he said about being tabloid fodder.

“If someone’s making money out of something, you’re like, ‘Nah man, this is my career and you’re literally stealing from me and because of some loophole in the law, you’re allowed to do this,’ and so it’s one of the most frustrating (things), it just makes you feel very impotent … Now, it’s really nice because it’s not the hysteria so people come up to you and they’re nice to you. Whenever someone asks for a picture, it’s because they like you.”

Now that he’s locked in his first comedic role, the actor said he’s definitely looking to exercise his funny bone on screen, developing projects that fuse comedy and drama.

“I’m trying to choose roles where audiences wouldn’t have preconceived expectations of how those characters would behave,” he said.

Watch an exclusive clip above from Damsel of Pattinson singing “My Honeybun.” The film comes out in theaters on Friday.

Damsel

type
  • Movie
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release date
  • 06/22/18
director
  • Zellner Brothers
Performers
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