Based on the classic novel by Guy de Maupassant, ‘Bel Ami’ unites a top-notch cast of actors for a scandalous tale of high society 19th Century France. An erotically charged tale of ambition, power and seduction, the story chronicles the rise of penniless ex-soldier Georges Duroy (Robert Pattinson) through the echelons of the Parisian elite. Also starring Uma Thurman, Holliday Grainger, Kristin Scott Thomas, Christina Ricci, and Colm Meaney, ‘Bel Ami’ is directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod. The film is set for release March 2nd in the US, and March 9th in the UK. Look out for a more in-depth interview with Robert Pattinson for ‘Bel Ami’ next week.
When you first read the script for ‘Bel Ami,’ was there something you could find relatable with Georges motivations, something you could latch onto?
Robert Pattinson: When I read the script, it was a long time ago, and I was pretty young – I think I’ve changed a little bit since (laughs). But when I first read it I did like the idea….I immediately related to the idea that someone’s energy wasn’t about achieving some kind of goal. The only time Georges had any energy was when someone slighted him. Just for a little petty insult he would get the most enormous amount of energy that would drive him. That’s kind of how I was a few years ago (laughs). If someone insulted me, I’d get ten years of ambition out of it. I kind of understood that. That you create an empire just so you can sh*t on someone else. I think I’ve grown up a little bit now, I’m not as horrible (laughs).

I can imagine Georges being an interesting character to play from an actors stand point?
Robert Pattinson: Yeah. It’s funny because the structure of ‘Bel Ami,’ and also just the character of Georges, it really rarely comes up in movies anymore, because he’s completely unrepentant. Normally a movie has to teach somebody a lesson nowadays, but this was just you keep stabbing everybody in the back, then you get rewarded for it again and again and again. It was quite fun playing that. I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to play it again.
There’s a lot of parallels in the story of ‘Bel Ami’ to what’s happening in government and the media now. How did you see it playing Georges, as this manipulative journalist?
Robert Pattinson: It’s funny because it’s kind of like, especially when he gets into the gossip section of the newspaper, for something that’s written in 1885, for it to be the exact same situation as it is now, where like you have a template article and you just replace the name and it could be about anybody – I thought that was very funny (laughs). But for me, he’s not really a journalist, obviously the whole time he’s kind of….it’s basically like being a reality TV star now. I mean, it was one of the jobs where you could kind find a loophole in life, where he could get money, and a reputation by basically doing nothing, because you could hide. It was fun, it was interesting. I didn’t have too much experience of playing a journalist though as such, with Georges.
Georges seems to suppress any open sensitivity….
Robert Pattinson: I think he’s incredibly sensitive, but it’s just very selfish. He doesn’t have any empathy. He can’t stand other peoples success, but he can feel very much everything….I mean, he tries to relate every little thing to himself, and he does. He thinks everyone is constantly trying to one up him or insult him. Every minute of the day there’s some kind of slight to him. On the street, someone wearing better clothes than him, it’s like, it’s nothing to do with them, it’s to do with him – he’s completely self obsessed.
After building a huge audience with, in particular, the ‘Twilight’ movies, is that something you take into consideration when going into a new project?
Robert Pattinson: I guess my responsibility, I think, it’s not necessarily to give anything back other than to try and do the best work you can. You get an audience for doing certain jobs, and so I think the biggest disservice you can do to your audience is to try to keep repeating the same thing, to try to get them to come just to get money or whatever. But if people are interested in what you’re doing, and if you try to do as interesting films as possible, on as interesting subjects, then I think it’s great if a ‘Twilight’ audience would come and watch ‘Bel Ami.’ I mean, it’s a movie that I wouldn’t have thought that audience would necessarily go to, so I think that in some way, it’s kind of doing a service to someone. I felt like I learned a lot from doing it – from even just reading the book. So I would think, especially young people, would learn a lot from it.