Elle magazine (Italy) interviewed Robert Pattinson while on the set of Life where he spoke about what attracted him to the part of Dennis Stock, James Dean’s influence on Dennis, working with Anton Corbijn and more.
I used Google Translate to translate the interview but if a better translation comes online I’ll update the post.
Robert Pattinson is back in cinemas on October 8 with the film Life, by Anton Corbijn dedicated to James Dean, cinema legend who died exactly 60 years ago in a car accident. The actor became famous as a vampire in Twilight, however, did not take the role of the legendary Jimmy (playing him is Dane DeHaan), as widely expected, but that of photographer Dennis Stock, who in 1955 – the year of the stars death – snapped a series of photographs for Life magazine and immortalized James Dean as no one before him had done. Anton Corbijn is dedicating the whole movie to the relationship of trust that exists between the two: to speak in more detail about the film is Robert Pattinson, in this exclusive interview during the filming of the movie.
Dennis and James. A photographer on the verge of bankruptcy and an artist on the front page. Tell us about the dynamics of their friendship.
The story of the two has a very original dynamic. James Dean is a character so sympathetic and Dennis, however, is not always so. There is a time for me, that sums up their diversity fully. There’s this scene where James Dean is playing with his cousin, and Dennis just says, ‘I do not know how you can do it.’ In essence he is saying ‘I do not understand what they’re trying.’ Dennis had a son, of course, but does not love him and that’s just awful. He is perpetually filled with the negativity, so full of anxiety, to the point of being irritating. I can not think that there are such people, you can not believe the fact that they say about not being able to love. It’s kind of horrible, but in its being is a tragic character too charming. And as I said the dynamic between them is very interesting.
James Dean is a myth. Have you ever had an influence on your career?
I have long admired his work. I believe that in 16 years a lot of actors have had their ‘James Dean’ stage and for most of them, the important thing is not to interpret the role but become part of the myth linked to him – and I also experienced one of the two phases. He is certainly still an icon but Dane (DeHaan) would be able to answer that question better than me because he’s more tied to James Dean, his figure, the myth.
Would you be interested to play the part of James Dean?
Oh no, absolutely not (laughs) Dane did a great job.
How did it go with Anton Corbijn?
Working with Anton Corbijn has been a great honour and his first film Control (about the life of Ian Curtis, leader of Joy Division), was the reason why I decided just to accept the part. I loved the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed Anton’s style and I knew that LIFE would have followed the same path.
With the camera instead?
To practice better, I took some pictures on the set of LIFE and the other films that I was shooting The Queen of the Desert where I play with Nicole Kidman. So for a few months I took a number of wonderful horrifying pictures with a 1953 Leica M1. It was the staff of Dennis, but the same pattern. It should be a model came out some time before that of Stock. It’s beautiful, and it works perfectly. I think that will never break. ”
Who was Stock?
Dennis was always worried that everything went wrong. He felt haunted by the possibility that the public would not follow him, they were not on his side. But at the same time, I thought he was a completely current. It’s the story of someone who is trying to become an artist, and the fear of not being able to achieve his dream is the saddest part of his life and demoralizing. Dennis is the kind of artist who is so fearful of not being at the height of his profession that he would use excuses for anything. When Jimmy sees for the first time, it’s fun because it has just that effect is undeniable. Being in contact with someone who is reaching his potential is very good to see. Relating to James Dean and all that was happening to him, also allowed Dennis to believe a little more in himself.
Do you believe, therefore, that James Dean had a positive influence on the photographer?
Absolutely yes. Sometimes you just need a little encouragement and the fact that Jimmy told him ‘These are fantastic’ while showing him pictures showing him, for him was a huge source of pride. I think at that specific time Dean has shown clearly and paved the way for Stock. Jimmy was regarded as a true artist who has had a profound impact on his life. And so, when Jimmy gave his approval, well, that’s all you need sometimes – this is all you need to start believing in yourself. And I think that’s what happened. For Dennis, the meeting with Jimmy was fundamental and has changed his life and certainly his work.