There's a certain amount of Hollywood cache an actor accrues after starring in a multibillion dollar franchise like the Twilight movies, which brought in over $3.3 billion worldwide over its five-picture run. Robert Pattinson, for one, has spent his creative bankroll interestingly—like making strange, near-experimental movies with David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis, Maps to the Stars) and even playing second fiddle to Guy Pearce and Charlie Hunnam (The Rover and The Lost City of Z, respectively) while also stealing those critically-liked films from the headliners. But at a certain point, a former heartthrob's "interesting" choices cease to be so interesting the farther he gets away from his heartthrob peak without a second breakthrough role. With 2017's Good Time, however, Robert Pattinson's second coming was apparent to everyone who saw the surprise hit. The Safdie brothers-directed heist movie was smart, fun, twisty, and the most propulsive film of the last year—and Pattinson carried the whole show on his shoulders. We always knew he was an interesting guy who liked interesting projects. This performance confirmed all that and more, with Pattinson receiving a nomination for best male lead at the Independent Spirit Awards this year. Here, he reveals to W editor at large Lynn Hirschberg his always unconventional tastes, from an early age on.
Let's do some fun questions: What was your favorite Halloween costume ever?
I mean I, I can only really remember properly dressing up once, in one of my best friend's mom's clothes. She got very upset with me.
So you went as a woman?
Not just as a woman, it was kind of a sort of Charlie Chaplin-ish kind of demon. But I stole lots of my friend's mom's clothes from her closet, and she got extremely upset afterwards. But also the next day I remember going back to my apartment and in the courtyard there's a funeral going on in the morning. [Laughs.] I had to walk back at 9 AM after being up all night dressed as demon old lady clown, and walk into a wake. [Laughs.] I mean, it was pretty incredible.
Did you have fun dressed as a demon old lady clown?
Yeah, I love dressing up. This Halloween I walked into the most extreme, ah, fancy dress party. I was absolutely normcore and it was the most humiliating experience of my life.I didn't really know that it was probably the most intense costume party in London and I had just come from somewhere else. So, ah, yeah it was very, very embarrassing.
Oh, I'm sure they loved to see you anyway. What was your favorite or most memorable New Year's?
Probably when I was 18 or 19, I'm trying to remember which one. We went swimming in the ocean at midnight and it was freezing and it was just one of those kind of amazing, calamitous evenings. So we thought we'd lost one of our friends and had to kind of do a search party across the whole island and realized he'd just, um, thought he ran a bath but fell asleep in an empty bath. [Laughs.] And had hypothermia. [Laughs.]
Do you like New Year's as a rule?
I do, yeah. All of my friends who I grew up with have moved all over the planet, and it's when we kind of make a really concerted effort to all come back together at New Year's. It's the only time I see all of my friends at the same time.
That's a nice tradition. What was your favorite toy growing up?
[In faux serious voice.] I don't really have material attachments. [Laughter.] I mean, the only thing I really remember playing with when I was a kid... actually, you know, I was very much a dork. I really liked Warhammer.
Yeah, but I never actually figured out the rules. The actual rules are very, very complicated, so I sort of just made up my own rules. That's another thing when you paint the little figurines and you're supposed to…
So you would make whole armies?
Yeah, and I would make a storyline for them. I never wanted to play with anybody else, because I would play by my own rules. [Laughs.]
I think we're getting at the truth here.
[Laughs.] I was alone a lot.
Now we're going to do this thing where I'm going to ask you about your firsts. It's a very quick response. the first thing that comes to your mind. So: first job?[Laughs.] Sex. I don't know why—I'm terrible at these things. [Laughter.]
Your first job was sex?
[Laughs.] I mean, that's the first one that came into my mind.
That was your first job, okay. [Laughter.] Your first album? Sex.
[Laughs.] First album was... ah, Billy Ocean's Greatest Hits. [Chuckles.]
No. That was your first album?
Yeah, I remember buying it very clearly, getting the tape.
That's very strange. Okay, I don't know why you would know this, but what was your first red carpet outfit?
I actually do know. Ah, well the first one wasn't particularly interesting, but the second one was the first time I got offered to borrow clothes, and I remember going completely overboard. I think it was the Harry Potter premiere.
What did you wear?
Like, leather pants and these like red cowboy boots and a velvet jacket. I mean, it was insanity. [Laughs.] I mean, I was so into it. I remember going around just like slapping my own ass in the shop and stuff. I was really into it.
What do you think the first e-mail you ever sent was?
You probably don't remember.
Actually, the first ones I remember sending was I met this girl in Colorado... Oh, that might have been AOL Instant Messenger.
What was your first pet's name?
Patty. She was a West Highland White.
A West Highland terrier?
Yeah. Patty Pat Pattinson. [Chuckles.]
What was your first favorite film growing up?
The first one I remember really being obsessed with is The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. [Laughs.] Yeah, I really loved that movie. I still love it.
Because you love scary movies?
I didn't really—[more like] erotic thrillers. [Laughs.]
So we're back to sex, okay. What was your first "I've made it" moment?
I remember once in New York, for the Harry Potter premiere, I was walking down the street and this guy asked for some money. I had this weird response and kind of instinctively went into an American accent. I said, "I'm all right, I'm all right," and the guy grabbed on me and he said, "Oh you're all right? You're all right?" And I was like, "Yeah." And he was like, "Who do you think you are, Paul Newman?" And then I walked another block and it was where the premiere was, and there was the Harry Potter billboard and I was like, "Oh that's weird." [Laughter.] I don't know what it meant or anything, but I remember it very clearly.