Robert Pattinson : “I feel better working with animals than with people “.
When you are a young actor, handsome and you are so famous thanks to Twilight, you might be trapped forever in this outbreaking role. But Robert’s talent is linked to his ability to keep on working on sets and playing characters completely different from Edward Cullen. After the drama Remember Me, it’s in another love story we can see him with Academy Awards winners Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) and Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds). For Dark Magazine , he talks about his unusual experience while playing Jacob , a young man who must drop his veterinary studies after a family tragedy, and he decides to change his way of life joining a circus . He will fall for a young woman , Marlena , and more surprisingly for an elephant : Rosie. This story is set in the 1930s in America.. In theaters on May 4th.(France)
Hi Robert, can you talk about Jacob,. Who is he? How will he join a circus?
Jacob is a veterinary student in Cornell University he’s about to take his final exam when his parents die in a car accident. His whole world collapses in a few months. He jumps on board an old train to start from scratch and try to find a job somewhere, then he discovers it’s a circus train. He sees Marlena the very first day and these are the 2 main reasons he wants to stay and be part of this circus life. He gradually manages to accept his new life and falls for Marlena. And he also manages to blow everything out ! (laughs).
How would you describe him?
Jacob doesn’t know anything about the circus. At the beginning , he is self conscious, he knows how idealistic he is. But he soon realizes this universe , that he discovers in the middle of a huge economical crisis, seems to destroy the slighest spark of hope within himself. He also gets acquainted with August, a very violent man. Actually , Jacob goes through several trials of life, he faces a lot of difficulties throughout the story, and in the end, he realizes that he kept his idealistism , no matter what. I think this is what moves Marlena and encourages her to follow him . August is such a practical man . He thinks he must appear as a cold and harsh man to the others otherwise his world will collapse . But Jacob sees things quite differently. His way of life is so far from August’s .
Did you easily manage to connect to your character ?
Yes. Honestly , I feel better working with animals than with people. I found out that all the animals had a weakness. You just need some peppermint to be loved by elephants. I realized you can do whatever you want with giraffes whenever you have apple juice on your hands. Even the animal trainers were astonished . There was a 6 month-old girafe on set and they couldn’t make her do what they want . I came to see her covered with apple juice and she followed me anywhere. Everybody was like “How did you do it ? Why does she do as you say ?”.
Did you read Sara Gruen’s novel , “Water for elephants” ?
I haven’t read it before I got the role, but once I started , I couldn’t stop. I read it on the plane while I was going for some reshoots for Twilight and the man next to me that day was also reading it. On my flight back, my neighbour was also reading it! It was really weird. I know the book was a best seller in the USA but I think it’s also a successful book in foreign countries . I feel it’s like the Twilight books. When we started shooting the first film , more and more people discovered this book, sales started to boost and the novel immediately became popular . A few peole have heard of “Water for Elephants” before and suddenly , by word of mouth , everybody had read the book.
This part is so different from the one you have in Twilight. Was it an interesting and exciting experience?
It was awesome. It was great to work with such great actors. I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed for the film. Then , I met Tai the elephant and it was so incredible that I absolutely wanted to do it ! (laughs). From the very first day , it was an amazing experience. Everybody seemed to be deeply involved in that project , everybody on set was convinced that this film was gonna be extraordinary.
So how was it working with Tai, did you fall in love ?
Almost ! (laughs). I was so sad when I had to leave her at the end of the shooting. She had such an extraordinary charisma. It’s weird – It must be the same with any other elephants since they are so huge. You feel untroubled when you are next to them . I would easily sit all day long next to Tai . And it’s what I did the very first days . I always sat next to her and I stayed there all day long. There’s no way she tramples on you or hurts you because she always knows exactly where you are. Those animals have amazing personnalities – at least, she has. She’s lovely.
If the novel wasn’t well known in France, the Hollywood top actors of the new generation fought for Jacob’s part : Channing Tatum (GI Joe, Cher John), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Andrew Garfield (The social network, Spiderman) auditioned but it was Robert Pattinson who was cast . Resse Witherspoon and Robert had already played together in Vanity Fair. In Water for Elephants they are secret lovers and in Vanity Far, Reese was Robert’s mother !