And get this: The fabled director hates “Twilight.”
In fact, he thinks the teen vampire movie has caused Pattinson to be underrated as an actor.
“Look, the series is a huge hit, of course, but it’s young adult fiction and I’m not a young adult,” he says.
“If people are mesmerized by it, you can’t argue with it. Not a lot of movies and series have that kind of following. I don’t fault it for that.”
But it did no favors for Pattinson as an actor, he says.
“I think he was an underrated actor because of the stiffness and silliness of Twilight and those characters in it,” he tells The Daily Beast in a wide-ranging interview.
The director, who is known for such movies as “The Fly” and “Crash,” directed Pattinson in the 2012 drama, “Cosmopolis,” and teamed up with him again for “Maps.”
Needless to say, his opinion of Pattinson is pretty high. “I think he’s a really good actor,” he says.
“Seeing other work that he had done and seeing that he was a serious actor and looking for challenges, and wasn’t trying to ‘manage his image’ as a star, was attractive to me. And, of course, being such a big celebrity is helpful because it will help your film get financed, but the charisma that made him work so well as Edward Cullen is something you want in a movie like ‘Cosmopolis’ where he’s in every scene in the movie. You need someone who’s infinitely watchable.”
Once on set, he said he found Pattinson to be “just a sweetheart. Totally professional, really accessible, and funny. And a terrific actor.”
What’s more, he says Rob gets it. “He’s very well-read, and very well-versed in cinema, which I’m not sure his fans know. He was very hyper-aware of all those things surrounding [the ‘Twilight’] movies.”
In “Maps to the Stars,” Pattinson was part of an ensemble cast. He plays a limo driver and wannabe actor who has several key scenes, like having sex with co-star Julianne Moore in his stretch.
“That was fun to shoot!” Cronenberg exclaims.
“It requires some athleticism to have sex in a limo for all concerned—including the cameraman—but obviously this isn’t the first time I’ve done a sex scene in a limo, since we did a bit of it in ‘Cosmopolis.’ In this case it was a real limo.”
Cronenberg says the scene was also unusual because of the roles.
“Obviously, the sex had a very different tone in this movie because he’s not the star—she’s the star in this movie. He’s just servicing her, and he knows that he’s doing it for his career—he thinks. Whereas in Cosmopolis, he’s the emperor of his limo. That was the great thing about this sex scene—it’s a young stud servicing a woman. There aren’t many sex scenes in cinema that feature a woman running the show.
“Maps to the Stars” focuses on a child star and a washed up actress, who is desperate to live up to the reputation of her mother, a Golden Era Hollywood star.
Moore won the Best Actress Award for her role at the Cannes Film Festival. The film also screened at festivals in Toronto and Berlin before being released last month.
He has three other films due out this year, “Queen of the Desert,” “Life” about photographer Dennis Stock’s relationship with ’50s actor James Dean and “The Childhood of a Leader.”
For more on Cronenberg’s interview check out The Daily Beast and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest celebrity news.