Discussing his work in the nightmarish drama “The Lighthouse,” Pattinson revealed the psychological challenges that come with playing a character who slowly descends into madness. “It was a kind of no limit part, which I always really like,” Pattinson said. “We’d do these completely wild scenes, and then literally after a take you’d be exhausted. It’s kind of cathartic. I don’t know how you’d be able to bring the part home. It would be impossible.”
Though Pattinson respects the practice of method acting – a technique in which a performer strives for complete emotional identification with a role, both on and off screen – it’s not a style which he practices himself. “I always say about people who do method acting, you only ever see people do the method when they’re playing an a–holes,” Pattinson admitted. “You never see someone being lovely to everyone while they’re really deep in character.”
Lopez agrees. “I feel like some younger actors feel like they need to stay in it all the time, and as I’ve done movies for many years now, I can’t wait for the end of the day to kind of let it go and go home and get in the shower and literally wash it all off.”
While working on the 2017 crime drama “Good Time,” Pattinson saw firsthand the benefits and drawbacks of method acting with directing duo the Safdie brothers. “One of the directors was playing my brother in it, and he could stay in character for the entire day. But he’s the only person I’ve ever seen who could do it. And it’s so impressive, but also kind of crazy.”
Rather than remain in character throughout an entire production, Pattinson prefers to focus his energy exclusively while the camera is rolling. “I need to know when you’re on stage and when you’re off stage. I need to know that between action and cut, that’s the thing. That’s the safe space. I need to know it ends. I need to know there’s a cut coming, and then I’ll feel safe. If it just feels like you can’t get out, that’s when you go crazy.”
Variety’s “Actors on Actors” will be published in November in a special issue of the magazine timed to Academy Awards voting. The companion TV series premieres on Jan. 2 on PBS SoCal.
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