The thing about Robert Pattinson is that from the moment he’s telling it, he commits to the lie.
Earlier this year we were all captivated by one of the master Hollywood troll’s best performances yet: A viral interview in which Pattinson invented—and, disastrously, tried to cook—a portable pasta recipe called “Piccolini Cuscine.” (I tried to make it. It did not go well.)
But Pattinson’s knack for going all-in on a bizarre charade extends to his work as an actor. After all, if one thing has defined a lot of his post-Twilight work, it’s his full (and full-throated) embrace of weird accents.
In what has quickly become one of the week’s most delightful revelations, it turns out that Pattinson refused to have a dialect coach for his performance in Netflix’s new psychological thriller The Devil All the Time—and kept his high-pitched, almost nasally Southern accent a secret until filming began.
“There was no way in my mind that he wasn’t going to come on set with something bad,” director Antonio Campos told Insider. “I might not have dug it, but it wasn’t going to be bad. I’d rather have someone come with something weird that’s a choice than something that isn’t thought out. So I knew he would come with something interesting.”
But Pattinson’s fascination with accents extends pretty far back into his career—and he’s done Southern before. In his A24 debut, 2014’s The Rover, Pattinson attempted a drawl that mostly wound up sounding like if you put several accents in a blender and then stuffed a sock in your mouth.
Speaking with E! News, Pattinson said he’d gone coachless then as well. “I was kind of just hoping,” he said. “It’s funny [being] with a bunch of Australians going like, ‘Does this sound like a Southern accent?’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, I guess.’”
But Pattinson’s Queens accent in the Safdie-directed Good Time was what really put him on the map, accent-wise. Michael Strahan praised Pattinson’s mastery of the regional dialect on Good Morning America, where Pattinson said his fascination with accents might come from his mother—who invariably winds up sounding like whoever she’s speaking with by the end of a conversation. (Your guess is as good as mine as to how true that actually is!)
In an interview with Parade tied to the film, Pattinson elaborated further: “I’m weird with accents,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever done the same accent in a movie ever. Even when I try to do an English accent, it doesn’t come out in my normal voice. I’ve learned that if you just spend enough time with people, it just all starts happening.”
But the bonkers accents don’t stop there. In 2018, Pattinson transformed himself into a fast-talking wild, wild westerner in Damsel.
And a year later we got the greatest gift of all—a double feature. First came Pattinson’s wonderfully deranged accent in The Lighthouse, which includes the unforgettable sight of Pattinson screaming “Your goddamn farts! Your goddamn...Goddamn farts!” at Willem Dafoe in an inscrutable period accent. (He also sexed a mermaid.)
And then, weeks later, came Pattinson’s deliriously committed French accent in Timothée Chalamet Bowl Cut-vehicle The King.
Maybe all of this is Pattinson’s way of stating loudly and clearly that he is Acting—of drawing a clear line between himself and his characters. (For the guy who for years had to play a sociopathic vampire that simultaneously sucked the life out of his public persona, that would be understandable.) Or maybe he’s just having fun. Either way, in the grand tradition of seizing joy where one can find it, I will be drinking in every line from The Devil All the Time like a fine wine tonight.
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