Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe had by no means labored collectively earlier than they discovered themselves in a distant a part of Nova Scotia being battered by wind, rain and sea on the shoot for Robert Eggers’ Lovecraftian horror The Lighthouse. They got here from totally different worlds to create the film’s solely two characters; Pattinson, a stoic, younger man who takes a job as an assistant lighthouse keeper to run from his previous, and Dafoe, the mile-a-minute, seasoned wickie whose eldritch monologues are all pungent slime and dread emperors. Over the course of the film, these characters drive one another mad—or maybe they began that manner—because the harshness of the surroundings bears down on them. But there’s lots that the 2 actors have in widespread, starting with them every searching for out Eggers to work with, decided to seek out tasks to rattle their very own sense of safety. In dialog with Deadline, Pattinson and Dafoe dive deep into the black waves to relive the slithering, tentacled tales of The Lighthouse.
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DEADLINE: How acquainted had been you with each other earlier than this venture beckoned?
WILLEM DAFOE: Effectively, not a lot. We’d by no means met. I really met Rob at a celebration after I knew we had been going to be doing it collectively. I knew his work some, after all, however I even checked out a pair issues extra after I knew we’d be working collectively. Not a lot for work however simply socially. You recognize, to be nice.
I believe the one factor that’s price noting is, individually, we did the identical factor in that we reached out to Robert Eggers. Rob can inform you his story, however mine is that I noticed The Witch and I believed, Wow, this filmmaker right here. Who’s the person who made this? So, I arrange a gathering with him, and I had a extremely good time speaking to him.
What you see is what you get. Even in dialog, he’s exact, he has nice movie tradition. He’s very passionate, very articulate, and candy. So many issues. Not solely did I admire him from his work, however then I believed, This man could be good to work with. I mentioned, “Let’s attempt to do one thing.”
He had a few false begins on a number of issues that he talked to me about. They simply by no means occurred. And this one was very direct, as a result of actually, he mentioned, “Look, right here’s the script. You’ll play reverse Rob Pattinson.” There was no dialogue. “That is the way in which we’re going to do that. My manner or the freeway.” That’s very uncommon, particularly for a two-hander, for a director to say, “That is the way in which I see it. Sure or no?”
ROBERT PATTINSON: It’s true. I actually do love going to see the film now and understanding how a lot of a punt it really was. To have a lot certainty concerning the casting… Even speaking concerning the script—I requested him the place it got here from, what the nexus of the thought was, and he couldn’t actually articulate precisely what it was. However seeing the film now, it appears so singular. He undoubtedly had it in his bones, precisely what he wished to do.
DAFOE: He had a extremely clear construction, and he had a transparent visible factor. He had the bones, after which the meat I believe he fleshed out with casting and seeing what we’d deliver to it.
It’s humorous, we’ve talked about this film loads however that is one thing I’ve solely simply remembered. Within the script they had been described as “previous” and “younger”. I used to be like, “Effectively, clearly if it’s Rob Pattinson I’m ‘previous’. I get that. However I don’t really feel that previous.” I believed, Effectively, OK, we’ll determine it out. But it surely’s unusual that I’d play this previous man.
However then I look within the mirror, and I believe, OK, possibly I go. The joke’s on me. You learn the script and it’s actually rubbing your nostril in it [laughs].
DEADLINE: Rob, why did you go after Robert Eggers?
PATTINSON: I didn’t notice it at first. I had seen The Witch within the theatre and I’d actually preferred it, however there was one thing… It’s humorous, now it’s type of modified, this concept of horror being a style in which you’ll be rather more experimental and get away with loads. However on the time it actually stood by itself. I simply couldn’t actually image myself being in one thing with him if it could be like The Witch once more. It simply didn’t actually click on.
After which I met with him in New York, and he had so many various tasks able to go. It hadn’t actually registered with me till then, simply the extent of expertise in The Witch. That took me a few years. However after I met him, it actually got here into focus, simply how a lot I preferred his stuff. And after I noticed the script for The Lighthouse, seeing the element, seeing the dialect in it, and seeing that he may actually observe via on The Witch, it made me notice there was one thing there.
DAFOE: It’s humorous. As Rob is speaking about it there, I’m reminded of one of many issues I preferred about The Witch, which was that I wasn’t in any respect conversant in the performers and, when you combined them with kids, you’re unsure who’s skilled and seasoned and who’s somebody new. I noticed the movie shortly after I’d carried out The Florida Venture, and so I used to be within the thoughts of being fascinated with that blend. Individuals with numerous totally different backgrounds, the place you mix the theatrical with the naturalistic. As Sean Baker did in The Florida Venture, Robert Eggers may take actors with nice talent, after which individuals who had by no means acted earlier than, like the kids, and there’s no adjustment. They had been dwelling in the identical world. That’s an actual expertise.
DEADLINE: What does that give you?
DAFOE: You desire a problem as an actor, however you don’t wish to make a present, you realize? So, you wish to discover a solution to get the stink of appearing off your efficiency. You wish to be clear. You wish to be a human being. You wish to go because the character, and it’s not essentially via the language of appearing that you just wish to go about that. He had a deep understanding of that. Which is curious, as a result of he’s so achieved technically.
PATTINSON: And he appears to be fairly theatrical, in a manner.
DAFOE: Yeah, however the problem is to make it go, you realize? To take that language and make it really feel regular. After all, that’s the place he’s good too, is in realizing the interval. That’s what I like about The Witch too. You’re there. It’s not this educational factor the place you’re at all times pointing to the interval carriages and issues.
PATTINSON: He and his brother Max simply stored arising with increasingly more dialogue for these characters. It wasn’t so simple as simply writing strains to suit the plot. They virtually needed to provide you with scratch dialogue simply to determine the interval language. It felt like, by the top, they may generate conversations for months and months.
DAFOE: I believe they did. As a result of he mentioned they received carried away with it and actually grooved on all of the slang. That was all earlier than we received to it, the place they mentioned, “Whoa, ought to we pull again?”
DEADLINE: You talked there, Willem, about actors from totally different backgrounds. That appears true of the 2 of you. Had been you acutely aware of approaching this from totally different locations?
PATTINSON: We’re totally different. However what Willem was saying about eager to attempt to eliminate the appearing—to behave whereas not appearing—I believe that was the primary factor.
DAFOE: I believe we each in the end need the identical factor.
PATTINSON: Yeah, assimilation, greater than something. It’s fairly a daunting factor with appearing, when you realize you’re with somebody who has mastered the really technical capability of with the ability to convey a specific emotion. “If I behave like this, the particular person in entrance of me will know precisely what I’m attempting to specific.” I believe that’s actually scary; that’s the terrifying factor. Whereas, in the event you’re simply permitting your self to really feel the state of affairs, then the viewers will take what they need out of it. That’s type of fascinating to me. I imply, I don’t have the flexibility to do it the opposite manner, so… [laughs]
DAFOE: I’m not so positive.
But it surely’s true, it’s about doing stuff and having stuff occur. Having an expertise that’s clear sufficient that the viewers can really feel it with you, relatively than doing a present that tells the viewers one thing, interprets it, like, “That is the way in which it’s, people. We’re going to dump it on you.”
Rather a lot has been manufactured from our totally different approaches, however that stuff turns into cartoon-y. The purpose will get made since you’ve received to seek out one thing to speak about. After which somebody picks up on that they usually run with it.
The reality is, we every had totally different duties within the film. You see the film via his eyes, and to start with, for lots of it, he’s principally reactive. So, when he talks about receiving the expertise and having one thing occur, that’s a method. And I needed to drive for a short while, not less than to start with. So, the preparation is totally different. Wouldn’t you say?
PATTINSON: Completely. I imply, from the start for you, you had been getting used to the quantity of dialogue. There’s a ton for Willem, and never for me.
DEADLINE: You had been each grappling with the technical train of navigating the digicam, and the way that was going to work in such confined areas.
DAFOE: It was so exact. I’m used to working plenty of alternative ways, and I don’t find out about you, Rob, however I’m extra used to a looser digicam. I imply, I’m used to Abel Ferrara, working from a situation on the road, or Lars von Trier, the place the digicam’s by no means in the identical place twice. On this there’s no protection, so every little thing shot is for retains, you realize? You’ve got to essentially make it possible for the scene occurs inside that body and that construction.
PATTINSON: You couldn’t actually conceal. There was no midway level. You couldn’t look away or attempt to get just a little quantity of sunshine in your eye or one thing. It was actually, you had been both in complete darkness otherwise you had been completely uncovered. That’s what, for me anyway, introduced a whole lot of the depth to every little thing.
Additionally, there’s one thing about being reactive to the sunshine. There was a lot mild in your face, and it type of made you are feeling such as you needed to push again in opposition to it by some means. Whereas usually, my go-to in a scene is, primary, work out tips on how to get out of the room as rapidly as potential. Quantity two, attempt to determine tips on how to look away [laughs].
DAFOE: What, in case there’s a fireplace? [Laughs.]
PATTINSON: Right here you needed to actually stand nonetheless. Stand nonetheless and really do your job. Stand and struggle. It was terrifying.
DEADLINE: What it ends in is these extremely particular moments that stick within the reminiscence lengthy after you see the film. It’s by some means elevated and it’s laborious to understand how.
PATTINSON: I believe even within the script that was true. You might really feel the death-defying nature of it. It undoubtedly felt such as you had been on the sting of a cliff, on the point of leap. And the place you’d land, you had no concept.
There’s one thing concerning the side ratio as properly. When you have got a closeup the place there’s nothing both aspect of your face, it actually does do one thing exceptional.
DAFOE: It’s so intentioned. It’s not such as you’re uncertain of the place to look within the body.
This isn’t a rule, however I like movies typically that actually really feel like they categorical or seize the sensation of capturing. This one felt like that. There wasn’t a whole lot of fats, and the photographs had been so designed that there didn’t must be a drop of protection. Now, Louise Ford did a good looking job of modifying the film, however what we shot is what you see. So, there have been few surprises, in distinction to one thing that’s overshot, which may go in a whole lot of alternative ways if you see it. And it wasn’t like we had been checking playback, however you had a fairly good sense of the shot on the day.
PATTINSON: I keep in mind if you had been doing all your huge monologue, and Robert did just one shot. It felt daring. I imply, that was a web page and a half. Perhaps even longer.
DAFOE: Yeah, in all probability longer.
PATTINSON: I don’t know another director who would have stored on one shot for possibly two pages. The factor I actually like concerning the ultimate film as properly, there’s one thing about when somebody desires to have a fairly formal aesthetic, they will type of create this type of distance to the viewers. The truth that it feels so visceral, even with the side ratio and the black and white, there’s one thing particular about that. Once I noticed a few of the dailies, that was my solely concern, that there could be some type of coldness to it. And it doesn’t really feel chilly in any respect. It feels very juicy.
DEADLINE: Have you ever had experiences the place you’ve shot stuff with a ton of protection and also you’ve felt your efficiency has been manipulated by the edit?
DAFOE: Effectively, it might probably really feel that manner, as a result of it provides a distinct rhythm they usually can take stuff out. I by no means take into consideration modulating a efficiency for that actual fact: that it’s going to be ordered later. All I take into consideration is the person moments. Like beads on a mala, you’re constructing one factor at a time and ensuring every of them has integrity. That’s all you are able to do. Some individuals, I believe, attempt to modulate, like, “Ooh, that is the arc of the character.” I can’t try this bullsh*t. Notably after we’re capturing out of sequence, like we did on this. We did the burial on the second day. He was doing the… intimate scene on the primary day. The self— What did they name it?
PATTINSON: The self-abuse [laughs].
DAFOE: As Rob mentioned, it actually sobered up the crew. “I get it. We’re making this sort of film.”
PATTINSON: This was a bizarre one, as a result of my character not less than doesn’t significantly know what’s happening, ever. You might be simply type of winding your self up right into a state of frenzy. There have been moments the place I needed to notice I didn’t even know fairly what was happening. I keep in mind, after we had been speaking about f*cking and all that stuff, I believe Willem was fairly frightened that I used to be going off on him or one thing.
DEADLINE: Is the uncertainty typically the draw of the job although?
DAFOE: It’s the most effective components. In any other case you’re simply in lockstep, you realize? Then it’s only a crafted factor, relatively than an journey or an expertise.
Robert went and rankled us, in such a great way. I believe he received the perfect out of Rob, and he received the perfect out of me. One of the best administrators provide you with a very good set-up and construction to discover a candy spot. Should you get into the material of the factor and it really works, that’s the perfect. It’s alongside the identical strains as eliminating the actor stink.
PATTINSON: Yeah, in the event you can outline what you probably did afterwards, then you definitely in all probability did the incorrect factor. And the great factor if you lastly see the film, is you’ll be able to watch it and—
DAFOE: See another person? Yeah, me too.
PATTINSON: I actually loved it as a film and felt like an viewers member, which doesn’t occur each time.
DAFOE: It’s actually true. Normally, after I see a film, the affiliation that I’m making is so sturdy. And possibly that contradicts with what I mentioned about the way it appears to be like prefer it felt, however that’s true. Once I see the film, I can type of lose myself and I don’t see myself up there. I don’t see Robert Pattinson up there. I don’t have laborious associations, like I usually do, with the filming.
DEADLINE: You could have each chosen, in your careers, provocative work. Roles that provoke a response in an viewers. Is there a drive in the direction of that?
DAFOE: I don’t find out about that. They provoke a response in me. And I need individuals to love what I do—if you make a film that you just actually like, you wish to get it on the market. However I don’t take into consideration frightening individuals ever. I don’t even actually take into consideration frightening myself, nevertheless it’s nearly getting your self off of your recreation. Notably in the event you’ve been performing for a very long time, you may get actually corrupted. You’ll be able to actually develop a schtick. You’ll be able to develop a go-to place that, for lots of people, may be very satisfying. For the actor and for audiences.
However for me, simply due to how I’m constructed, and the sensations I like, I’m at all times attempting to tug the rug out from below myself. I don’t assume that’s human nature. I believe you’ve received to create conditions the place you’re compelled to do this. I believe that’s what saves you from feeling like something is a slog. The whole lot turns into particular and sacred and enjoyable.
When individuals say, “Oh, that film will need to have been so laborious,” it’s like, yeah, we had been f*cking depressing typically. However I’m alive now. It didn’t kill me. You recognize what I imply? It was enjoyable. I look again on it fondly.
PATTINSON: Yeah, it’s type of in opposition to human nature. Your physique is continually telling you to seek out the comfy place. The secure place.
DAFOE: Not simply the physique, the thoughts as properly.
PATTINSON: Yeah. I believe there’s one thing about Robert being so meticulous and so obsessive that he has to make these large leaps. As quickly as he’s made the leap, he’ll instantly begin constructing the bridge to wherever he’s going to land. He must take the leap first, in any other case he’ll construct the bridge in order that it’ll seem like there’s an excessive amount of construction there. Doing press with him now, I can see the way in which he’s filling out the concepts of what he meant. However originally of the shoot, I believe it was a leap of religion. And I like that. I’m reminded of working with Claire Denis, or different administrators, the place they belief their intuition actually, actually profoundly, and the route you’re getting in doesn’t must be outlined.