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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The only thing Robert Pattinson's allowed to say about Tenet is that there's "actually no time traveling"

Illustration for article titled The only thing Robert Pattinsons allowed to say about iTenet/i is that theres actually no time traveling
Photo: Dominique Charriau (Getty Images)

For being one of the most beautiful and successful people in the world, Robert Pattinson comes across like a sloppy, basement-dwelling teenager in his new GQ profile. In between charming, often troll-ish musings, he mixes Coca-Cola and Nicorette gum, sputters through sentences, and goofily unpacks an intricate, absurd-on-its-face idea he has for a brand of handheld pasta. Claire Denis says he responds to any texts that get too “personal” with “hahahaha.”

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It’s a very good interview, basically, even if you take out the updates he offers about two of his upcoming projects, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Matt Reeves’ The Batman. As for the latter, he discusses how the archetypal nature of Batman is part of the reason he wanted to play the role. ‘...I was thinking, it’s fun when more and more ground has been covered,” he says.Like, where is the gap? You’ve seen this sort of lighter version, you’ve seen a kind of jaded version, a kind of more animalistic version. And the puzzle of it becomes quite satisfying, to think: Where’s my opening? And also, do I have anything inside me which would work if I could do it?”

His Tenet thoughts are even better, if only because he can’t seem to articulate anything about it, including what it’s about. The only thing he’s technically allowed to say is that there’s “actually no time traveling.” This comes as something of a surprise, at least based on the film’s first trailer.

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“This thing, it’s so insane,” he added, recalling how the crew was always flying to different countries. “And in each country there’s, like, an enormous set-piece scene, which is like the climax of a normal movie. In every single country.” Nevertheless, he says he hasn’t seen “a frame” of the movie.

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In a separate interview, Nolan says that Pattinson is “slightly fucking” with the interviewer. “But he’s also being disarmingly honest. It’s sort of both things at once,” Nolan says. “When you see the film, you’ll understand. Rob’s read on the script was extremely acute. But he also understood the ambiguities of the film and the possibilities that spin off in the mind around the story. And so both things are true. Yes, he’s fucking with you, because he had a complete grasp of the script. But a complete grasp of the script, in the case of Tenet, is one that understands and acknowledges the need for this film to live on in the audience’s mind, and suggest possibilities in the audience’s mind. And he was very much a partner in crime with that.”

One wonders, then, whether Pattinson was also fucking with GQ when he said he said he was trying to do “a Chris Hitchens impersonation” while filming Tenet, referring to the late anti-theist philosopher. “I was so obsessed with watching Christopher Hitchens debates,” he says of his time on the film’s set, which, of course, makes us wonder what the film’s got to say about religion.

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Pattinson comes across as a smirking, self-aware trickster throughout the chat, someone who enjoys making people question whether or not he’s being serious at any given moment. That said, he’s apparently not kidding when discussing his handheld pasta pitch to L.A. restaurateur Lele Massimini. “It’s 100 percent true, everything he told you,” Massimini tells GQ, which is hilarious.

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Also hilarious? Pattinson saying actors who work out all the time are “part of the problem.” Reflecting on how he’s too lazy to work out in self-isolation, he says, “No one was doing this in the ’70s. Even James Dean—he wasn’t exactly ripped.”

Read the full interview here.

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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