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Michôd had never seen the Twilight movies, and though he knew of Pattinson's clout when he agreed to meet with the star, he expected a chilsel-cheeked airhead who he'd swiftly reject. Only he liked Pattinson, dug his attitude, aspirations and taste in cinema, and offered him the chance to audition. Yes, audition.
“I’ve never worked so hard for an audition,” whistles Pattinson, who makes for a surprisingly shy and goofy presence, dressed down in a flannel shirt. “I was running lines 12 hours a day, for two weeks. I was obsessed.” Rey is timid, damaged and slow-witted, drawling his words in southern American accent; he and his brother have come to Australia to try and take advantage of mining opportunities. Pattinson, upon lading the role, was given free reign by Michôd to play Rey as he wished and create his own backstory.
“I thought he wasn’t mentally handicapped at all, but was someone who had been told he was his whole life,” he explains. “It’s more about confidence. He grew up with rough people around him. People kept telling him to shut up and they beat him up all the time – eventually you get to the point where you don’t have a personality at all. You only do what people tell you. It happens to people who are bullied. So when Eric asks him questions, it's literally the first time he’s ever had to deal with the situation. That’s why he likes Eric even though he’s a bit of an asshole.”
Eric’s questions, mind you, are mostly of the ‘where’s your no-good brother so I can kick his skinny ass’ variety. That said, a mutual trust develops between the pair, even if Michôd is at pains to not go down the Hollywood route of buddy bonding. Both Pearce and Pattinson impress in their roles, and it was their dynamic that was of the most importance to Michôd.
It was a tough shoot, with temperatures of 122 degrees, but Pattinson and Pearce were not complaining. “I kind of liked it!” laughs Pattinson. “If you were trying to play someone who wasn’t filthy and disgusting all the time, then it would have been annoying - having someone constantly get rid of your sweat or something. But when you wallow around in it, it’s kind of nice! We both got sunburned and looked like shit. There wasn’t anything to eat out there, so I’d been eating slices of bread with BBQ sauce on for six weeks. You turn into a fucking lunatic.”