Robert Pattinson: 'Without therapy I don’t know how you’re supposed to do life'
Robert Pattinson was recently required to film in New York.
Extracted Rob’s quotes from article Robert Pattinson: ‘Without therapy I don’t know how you’re supposed to do life’ by Elisabeth Day published Nov.3 2017
About not going out much
- He’s 31 now and freely admits he still doesn’t get out that much. ‘I don’t know anything about anything,’ he says, only half-joking. ‘I live in a bubble inside my ivory tower.’
About difficulty in trying to shoot Good Time undercover
- ‘You walk down the street and there’s like, one person, and you can see that even if they don’t really recognise you, there’s a kind of flicker of something.’ After that, someone might send a tweet, and then a photographer arrives having been tipped off, and then ‘within hours the entire situation changes. People in the street start looking, then everyone starts taking photos and the entire energy is…’
- He breaks off, and when he speaks again it is with a sort of helpless matter-of-factness: ‘You just can’t shoot.’
- He even exchanged fake prison correspondence with Benny Safdie and improvised a physical altercation at a car wash. His performance was influenced by the 1970s classic Mean Streets. ‘Definitely,’ Pattinson agrees. ‘He lives in his own reality. I think that’s what very successful con men do. It’s like, even when they’re lying, they’re not lying.’
About not doing superhero movies or other franchises
- Unlike many of his contemporaries, he has successfully resisted the lure of lucrative superhero movies or comic-book franchises. ‘It’s because I can’t get a six-pack, I’ve tried for years,’ he deadpans. ‘No, I think it’s scary to be sort of synonymous with one part… I’ve never even auditioned for them.’
About his own look and style and image
When we meet in a London hotel, Pattinson is in the middle of filming High Life, the English-language debut of French director Claire Denis, who he has wanted to work with for years, and is finding it a struggle to shift his mindset from filming one movie to promoting another.
- He repeatedly apologises for being ‘totally spaced out… I’m kind of, like, all over the place’. Normally, when a film star says something like this it stems from an automatic politeness reflex or an attempt at offbeat charm. But Pattinson really is exceptionally spaced out. In person, he is about as far-removed from the self-possessed immortal high-school heart-throb of Edward Cullen as it’s possible to be.
- ‘Sorry,’ he says at one point. ‘This is terrible. I’m trying.’ I’m surprised how unsure of himself he seems. Even his clothes are uncertain. When he went to the Coachella music festival recently, ‘I felt like I looked like a bit of a narc [an undercover drugs cop]. I looked way too overdressed.’
- Today, he is wearing a boxy leather jacket, turned-up trousers and trainers, all of which are in shades of black or navy blue. ‘I had to do a photo shoot so I look very, very styled today,’ he says.
About falling into acting
- At 19, barely out of school, he got the part of Hogwarts prefect Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. ‘I sort of fell into it and went on from there,’ he says. Does he think he’s a good actor? ‘I don’t know. I know I try hard.’
- Still, when Twilight came along, his life would never be the same again. At first, his family were ‘worried’ how he would cope with the attention. ‘But then I just didn’t really change. And it was fun. For me. I had good agents and stuff and I’ve had really good friends since the beginning. So I think when it gets dangerous for people is when you have no friends and you think, “Oh, if I get strangers to love me then it will fill that hole.” And then when it doesn’t fill the hole then you go 10 times crazier.’
About fame and mental health
- Does he think fame comes with certain mental-health issues? ‘Yes,’ he says, not missing a beat. ‘Definitely. Pretty much every person I know who’s got famous is completely nuts. It’s just isolation and also the repetitiveness of your interactions with people… It’s just weird.’ At the height of his fame and while living in Los Angeles (where he still has a home), Pattinson came up with a complicated system to throw the paparazzi off his scent.
Wherever he went, be it a bar or a restaurant, he would take a change of clothes. He would then order several Ubers, swap outfits with one of his friends in the toilets, and send them out into the waiting taxis as decoys. During one period, he had five hire cars parked around the city.
- Each one had a change of clothes in the boot. If Pattinson was being followed, he’d drive to one of the rental cars, switch vehicles, change outfits and then leave. Is it important to him to be able to disappear? He nods. ‘I try to not be seen whatsoever between movies. So hopefully the only thing that exists of you in the public realm is what you agree to put out there… It’s always just a control thing.
- If the control of your life has been taken away from you, that’s when you go a little crazy.’ And has he ever gone ‘a little crazy’? ‘I mean, kind of,’ Pattinson admits.
- ‘I can’t really tell how crazy I was before. It’s definitely difficult to really know. But yeah. I think being able to disassociate and compartmentalise kind of helps you quite a lot. If you let everything hit you all the time it would probably be quite difficult to cope with.’
About crazy fan mails he received
- Celebrity has often been surreal. Pattinson says that when he was in Twilight, his agent used to receive sackfuls of fan mail. ‘I remember once my old assistant found this letter from this woman that was just the worst sob story ever. And it was like, “You have to read this, this woman has had the worst life ever.”
- And I was reading it like, “F—k. I should call her. I should definitely call her.” And then he was going through the rest of this box and he was like, “Wait a second,” and we noticed the exact same handwriting on a totally different sob story… It was funny.’
About his anxiety and therapy sessions
- ‘I get a lot of anxiety with everything.’ How does it manifest itself? ‘Just kind of paralysis, indecision. You don’t really end up doing a lot.’ He describes acting as a means of escaping the intense thoughts in his own head. ‘One really nice thing about acting is that it’s like a weird therapy exercise. If you’re insecure or shy or something, then you can kind of experiment with expanding your horizons within the framework of a fiction.
- ‘I get so much anxiety in performance and everyone’s reaction is to say, “Just be yourself!” And myself, in general, is the last person I want to be.’ A few years ago, Pattinson started going to therapy. When he told his parents back in England they were ‘literally horrified. And I was like, “Why is that a bad thing?” There’s just this weird stigma. It’s so strange… But I think it’s a sort of throwback attitude.
- ‘I don’t go that often. I just really like her [his therapist]… You’re just trying to figure out how you feel about something. I’ve got a lot out of it… I mean [without therapy], I don’t know how you’re supposed to do…’ He sinks into a lengthy pause. Life, I suggest? ‘Life,’ he agrees and he looks down at the floor and then back up at me and smiles.
Robert Pattinson is not what I expected. From the outside, his existence looks charmed. Yet behind those perfect looks, his head is a bubbling cauldron of anxiety, self-doubt and unanswered questions about life. It makes him interesting to talk to. It’s possible it even makes him a great actor. But above all, it makes him less teen vampire, and ineffably, undeniably more human.
Note # I am extracting Rob’s quotes from this print interview because the interviewer does not seem to know much about Rob’s filmography (besides Twilight) and used a lot of her narratives and background from tabloid sources e.g. suggesting Rob’s smoke “substances”, cheating and fake engagements.