Robert Pattinson Says His 20s Were 'Basically a Nightmare' of Fear and Uncertainty
By Paige Gawley
Robert Pattinson for GQ
Robert Pattinson struggled throughout his 20s. The 33-year-old actor covers GQ's June/July issue and shares that, for a time in his 20s, during which he was cast in Twilight and starred in the franchise's five films, he felt nothing but fear and uncertainty.
"I think I just got older," Pattinson says of how he conquered his fear, which he says exaggerates used to cause him to drink 5,000 cups of coffee before interviews. "I feel like I have less to prove. Or it seems more fun proving it. It seems like it’s a fun game instead of, I don’t know, just basically a nightmare."
Another thing that's benefited from Pattinson's advancing age is his handling of the current quarantine due to the coronavirus, for which he's holed up with his girlfriend in London.
"I’m definitely much more calm than I used to be. If this was a few years ago or whatever, it would be a whole different story," he says.
Though he may not have handled quarantine well a decade or so ago, Pattinson thinks that his quasi-loner personality helped prepare him for this moment exactly.
"I spend so much time by myself, 'cause you’re just kind of always forced to, that I can’t really remember what it was like not really having that kind of lifestyle," he says. "I just realize, everyone is so, so vulnerable to isolation. It’s quite shocking."
Some of those people are his family, who he's been helping get through this "pretty weird time."
"I’ve definitely been trying to help my family find, like, a calm, I guess. I think I probably ended up finding a new level of patience in myself," he says. "... I’ve somehow convinced myself that I can be a family therapist. I think that maybe it’s one of the things where you kind of just keep speaking at someone until they’re exhausted. They don’t have any energy to be upset anymore. It’s just therapy of attrition."
While he's been helping others during this time, Pattinson admits that the quarantine has negatively impacted his sense of time, something he already struggles with under normal circumstances.
"I almost immediately totally lost all sense of time," he's says of when he began quarantining. "It’s a complaint which a lot of people have about me… I don’t have a sense of time. I think something two years ago could actually be a week ago. It’s definitely been a complaint about my personality."
Pattinson has been spending his time in quarantine "barely doing anything" and trying to avoid going outside because he feels a "quite extreme" fear of being arrested for doing so. As for what he's been eating during this time, Pattinson has been "essentially on a meal plan" for his starring role in The Batman, something that he's grateful for.
"I don’t know what I’d be doing other than that," he says. "But I mean, yeah, other than -- I can survive. I’ll have oatmeal with, like, vanilla protein powder on it. And I will barely even mix it up. It’s extraordinarily easy. Like, I eat out of cans and stuff. I’ll literally put Tabasco inside a tuna can and just eat it out of the can."
When it comes to his work in The Batman, that, along with most things, was put on hold due to the pandemic. The movie's release was also pushed to next year. Despite the delay, Pattinson's excitement about the role hasn't waned.
"I kind of like the fact that not only are there very, very, very well-done versions of the character which seem pretty definitive, but I was thinking that there are multiple definitive playings of the character," he says. "...You’ve seen this sort of lighter version, you’ve seen a kind of jaded version, a kind of more animalistic version. And the puzzle of it becomes quite satisfying, to think: Where’s my opening? And also, do I have anything inside me which would work if I could do it?"
"And then also, it’s a legacy part, right? I like that. There’s so few things in life where people passionately care about it before it’s even happened. You can almost feel that pushback of anticipation, and so it kind of energizes you a little bit," Pattinson continues. "It’s different from when you’re doing a part and there’s a possibility that no one will even see it. Right? In some ways it’s, I don’t know… It makes you a little kind of spicy."
The superhero role is one that came after Pattinson starred in a stretch of indie movies, which, despite good reviews from critics, left him without job offers at the beginning of last year.
"The problem which I was finding was, however much I loved the movies I was doing, no one sees them," he explains. "And so it’s kind of this frightening thing, ’cause I don’t know how viable this is for a career.… I don’t know how many people there actually are in the industry who are willing to back you without any commercial viability whatsoever."
"... For a long time I liked doing parts about insecurity, where the energy comes from insecurity. And then it kind of got boring a little bit, so then I liked to basically play the opposite, which is people who have absolutely no shame and no fear afterwards," he says. "And then they were kind of people who are very much on the front foot, like, dynamically making decisions. It’s weird. If you keep playing parts, it actually does start to rub off on you afterwards. So if somehow you keep playing passive losers, you kind of do feel like one after a bit."