“Bel Ami” is a close adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s classic tale of one man’s meteoric rise on the Parisian social ladder, a climb he makes by exploiting the society’s most important women. Robert Pattinson is the central character; the women are Christina Ricci (Clotilde de Marelle), Uma Thurman (Madeleine Forestier), Kristin Scott Thomas (Virginie Walters) and Holliday Grainger (Suzanne Rousset).
The conversation at the Berlin Film Festival press conference centered on the film’s star, a virgin to the film festival world whose answers relied on embarrassed smirks. (We bet he’ll get that fixed for the next one.)
Here’s Pattinson’s take on playing rake Georges Duroy in Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s “Bel Ami,” which Columbia Pictures will release next month.
He’s playing the equivalent of a 19th-century reality TV star.
For something written in 1895, this film is saying a lot about tabloid journalism today. You have a template article and you just replace the names. He’s not really a journalist. It’s basically like being a reality TV star now; he found a loophole in life where he could get money and reputaiton by basically doing nothing.
In some respects, the script isn’t too far from the truth.
I received the script a long time ago now. I think I’ve changed a little bit. When I first read it, I thought it was my life. I immediately related to the energy that someone’s energy wasn’t put into trying to attain a goal. Rather, he would only get energy and thrive when someone slighted him. For me, if someone insults me, I would get 10 years of ambition out of it.
The “Twilight” audience could stand a little Guy de Massupant in their lives.
My responsibility is not necessarily to give anything back, but to try to do the best work I can. You get audience doing certain jobs. The biggest disservice you can do to an audience is to get them to just come out and give money. If people are interested in what you’re doing as an actor, they’ll come out to anything. If the “Twilight” audience would go to Bel Ami… if I can be arrogant, it’s kind of doing a service. Young people especially could get a lot from this film. It’s strange having a pretty much single-sex audience all the time. They’ve been incredibly loyal, the people who like me and like “Twilight.” They go to [my] other movies and like them. They’re incredibly determined. People from Thailand are here. I can’t relate on any level, but it’s nice
It’s hard to take down Uma Thurman.
She’s actually physically very strong. It’s difficult when you’re trying to do a rape scene.
Playing a 19th-century stud means being a couch potato.
Declan told me that no one in the 1890’s had six packs, so he told me not to work out.
Christina Ricci: And I couldn’t shave my armpits. And so I said, I’ll do it for the role. Then you see it put on screen. Your arms are above your head, some accuracy is just not called for.