Robert Pattinson touched on the impact of the #MeToo movement, the reality of true love and being inspired by Warren Beatty while discussing his competition film, David Zellner and Nathan Zellner’s comic Western “Damsel,” ahead of its premiere at the Berlinale on Friday.
“If you feel that you’ve been wronged, and you feel that you don’t have the right to tell people about it and you feel that you’re being bullied into silence, it’s one of the most awful things in the world,” Pattinson said. “So it’s amazing when any kind of dam breaks and people feel they’ve got the numbers to say, no, you’ll be safe to say whatever has happened to you. It’s pretty amazing.”
Pattinson’s “Damsel” co-star Mia Wasikowska added that she had been in her native Australia for much of the past year and therefor watching the movement rollout from afar, but recently got the opportunity to witness its impact firsthand.
“The Respect Rally in Sundance was the first thing I’ve been able to go to and be a part of it and that was really amazing to feel the energy there and the connectedness of the people. I think it’s great and I think it’s going to be really significant change,” she said.
In a lighter moment that generated laughter from all in attendance, Pattinson offered a more pragmatic outlook when asked about his views on “true pure love,” as espoused by his character Samual in the film.
“It’s obviously more complicated. I think Samuel, the main character, is a bit of a fantasist. He likes believing in a poetic version of reality. I think life and love is a little more complicated than he perceives it.”
Commenting on their inspiration for the film, David Zellner said he and his brother were more drawn to Budd Boetticher’s early subversive Westerns of the 1950s than the traditional John Wayne films made by John Ford. “They looked like wholesome Westerns but were morally complex.”
The brothers also embraced the works of Sergio Leone and Sam Pekinpah from the 1960s and 70s.
As for the look of the film, Nathan Zellner said cinematographer Adam Stone and the directors went for the bright rich hues of old Technicolor Westerns rather than the sepia-toned films that came later.
In terms of character, Pattinson found inspiration in Warren Beatty’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” performance. Robert Altman directed that 1971 classic.
“I don’t even know how you describe Warren Beatty’s character in that. There was just a kind of jauntiness to him that I liked. I always like parts where all of their actions — you should really be judging them as if they’re doing something wrong but you have to play it kind of opposite, so as an audience member you sort of become complicit.”