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Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 08/17/2012

Robert Pattinson: An assessment of his interview strategy


Robert Pattinson in “Cosmopolis.” (Entertainment One - AP)

Robert Pattinson Week — a five-day period in which Pattinson did his first string of major media apparances since the apparent collapse of his relationship with Kristen Stewart — is coming to an end with the first reviews of his performance in “Cosmopolis” (which so far are a mixed-but-skewing-positive bag) and interviews that skirted around the personal issues that have put Pattinson’s name in so many headlines lately.

It’s been a bit of an Edward Cullen circus, the sort of circus where the ringleader (Pattinson) must put on a brave face and the performers (the journalists) aren’t supposed to say much about “Twilight” and in the end, everyone winds up feeling like kind of a clown.

Both Jon Stewart and George Stephanopolous offered Pattinson comfort junk food before gently inquiring about how he’s doing and not really getting an answer. The L.A. Times published a piece acknowledging that Pattinson’s manager asked its reporter not to ask the guy about his private life or the vampire films that made him famous. Only the New York Times’s David Carr, during the TimesTalk event held Wednesday evening, was bold enough to speak of SheWho Shall Not Be Named, as I noted in today’s morning mix. Honestly, all he did was follow-up on a cheeky Pattinson assertion that America is fixated on Hollywood celebrities because the U.S. has no royal family. As the video below indicates, Pattinson seemed perfectly fine blowing off it off.

I wish there had been more of that during Robert Pattinson Week.

Obviously, Pattinson’s manager has a responsibility to his client to literally manage things for him. If the subject of Stewart had not been pre-forbidden, the actor likely would have been bombarded by excessive questioning about private matters, potentially rattling him at a moment when he’s supposed to be promoting a film that theoretically could help mold the post-“Twilight” phase of his career. But by not allowing a little wiggle room, Pattinson never had the opportunity to demonstrate his own strength.

In last week’s unsolicited advice to Pattinson, I suggested that he could follow the Sandra Bullock post-divorce interview model and stipulate that neither Stewart nor her “momentary indiscretion” be mentioned. Clearly that’s the way he and his team decided to go.

But in his broadcast interviews, which were limited to a finite period of time, I think he made a mistake by not allowing at least one specific question about his relationship with Stewart. As I noted, he could have politely said, “I understand why you ask the question, and I appreciate all the concern. But I really prefer not to comment on my personal life.”

If follow-ups were attempted, he could have repeated the “prefer not to” line. At that point, Jon Stewart or George Stephanopolous or Josh Horowitz of MTV would have had to change the subject because they would have hit a brick wall. His fans would have cooed over how admirably he handle things and he still would not have had to say anything that made him feel uncomfortable.

In that L.A. Times piece, Pattinson said media culture is a “monstrous thing.” “You can’t win,” he continued. “The annoying thing is that you can’t attack them, but you can’t defend yourself.”

His feelings are understandable given the madness that perpetually swirls around him. But I would argue that sometimes you can defend yourself, or at least try, by playing a very strategic type of offense.

Pattinson opted this week to simultaneously play and sit on the bench. I don’t think it will hurt his career in the slightest. But at a time when he’s seeking greater respect as both an actor and a celebrity, I think he missed a big opportunity to win some.

By  |  11:42 AM ET, 08/17/2012

Categories:  Celebrity Life Lessons | Tags:  Robert Pattinson

 
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