CANNES, FRANCE (AFP) - Twilight (2008) star Robert Pattinson earned the best reviews of his career at Cannes on Thursday (May 25) playing a New York bank robber - and revealed he had to outsmart the paparazzi in order to play the part.
Pattinson, 31, shed his heart-throb looks for the role in Good Time by American brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, sporting a shaggy bleach-blond mane and a torso full of tattoos to portray a man on the run.
As one of the world's most sought-after celebrities, Pattinson told reporters the hardest part of shooting the film was dodging the photographers who routinely hound him.
"I always wanted to look like I've been street cast," he said about creating his look for the movie, whose cast has many amateur actors including a former convict.
"Because we were shooting guerrilla-style, I was so nervous about people finding out about the shoot and paparazzi being there." He said a makeup artist helped render him anonymous.
"You've got these pockmarks on the skin and no one recognised" him, he said.
"We shot the movie on the streets of New York, and no one (even) took a cell-phone picture." Pattinson said he had long wanted to work with the Safdie brothers, who made a splash in 2009 with their debut film Daddy Longlegs.
"I've never experienced such a level of intensity on set, they don't only thrive on chaos, they create it," Pattinson said.
Good Time wowed Cannes critics, who compared it to classic 1970s New York City movies by the likes of Martin Scorsese and Sidney Lumet, and the 2011 Ryan Gosling hit Drive.
They said Pattinson's part was a game changer.
The Hollywood Reporter described the movie as a "riveting race-against-time thriller with a pounding heart" and said Pattinson had delivered "a performance of can't-look-away intensity without an ounce of movie-star vanity".
Variety called it "a career-peak performance" while the Daily Telegraph's Tim Robey tweeted that Pattinson was "absolutely terrific" in the movie and could "easily win Best Actor here".
Benny Safdie, who also plays the role of the mentally disabled brother of Pattinson's character who accompanies him on an ill-fated heist, said Pattinson had thrown himself into the role.
"He went full on... everything we did he was game for," he said. "He has huge passion and drive. He went five extra miles."
Pattinson said he had tapped into his manic side for the part."No one really sees that," he said. "That's a private thing. I'm someone who just stops at a red light and I'm just revving." Good Time is among 19 contenders for the Palme d'Or top prize, to be awarded Sunday (May 28).