‘New Dior Rob Pic’ how I love typing those words This interview is made up mostly of pieces from various interviews we have seen already (including the Faces Magazine article below) with some new snippets mixed in.
When Dior contacted me, I was truly shocked at first because their name alone is almost mythical. It’s a very sophisticated fashion house, that never compromises their image. They approached me in the right way and at the right time because Twilight was coming to an end. I remember I was impressed when I met with the creative team and saw that they had an extremely open mind. Their interest was in an artistic collaboration, more than the commercial itself.
Not easily! [laughs] I was never attracted by publicity, probably because I didn’t think it was real acting. When they contacted me I had already grown as an actor and made some movies, that’s why I felt some legitimacy. When we discussed ideas and directors, everyone involved looked really fearless. I started to see that as doing a short film and got excited. Turned out to be a challenge and supplement my film work in a very interesting way.
What does luxury mean to you?
Effortlessness. In my opinion real luxury is to not have to worry about anything. And when we shot the campaign [film] for Dior Homme it felt exactly like that.
What about natural elegance?
I wouldn’t associate elegance to aesthetics. As luxury, it has to be natural, effortless. It has more to do with how some people exude energy, because they are comfortable with themselves. Elegance also has to do with ‘listen’, instead of wanting everything to be about us.
With you as the new face [of the fragrance], Dior Homme is reaching out to a completely new generation of young men. How would you describe them?
I just turned 27 and it wasn’t until now that I’ve come to realize that people don’t see me as a child anymore. It feels weird to finally see yourself as a grown up and to be treated like one by others. To describe my generation is difficult because for us the last ten years have been some kind of transition phase; and some of us still try to figure out what to do with all of that. At least that’s the case with me. (laughs)
What does masculinity mean to you?
Traditional masculinity doesn’t work anymore in today’s modern world. It’s a weird time for guys. Well, it’s probably also a weird time for girls (laughs). Masculinity, to me that always means being reliable and relatively pragmatic. But it also stands for so many ambiguous things. As an actor you often have to express certain ambiguities in a character. You’re both reliable and wild or loving and carefree at the same time. I don’t know if that is something I’d associate with masculinity. I just know that the code has changed massively over the past few years.
Do men have a different idea of women today as well?
I just don´t get why so many guys feel threatened by strong women. I always felt at ease with women around, I grew up with two older sisters and a very dominant mother.
Very often, certain smells are connected to memories. Do you have those?
I remember my dad, who has always worn Brut de Fabergé. He still has that fragrance and it reminds me of my early schooldays. As weird as it sounds but I still know exactly how he smells; it’s like it somehow burnt itself into my memory. Later, when I was about 12 years old, I started talking to girls and thought it would be cool to wear a perfume while doing that. I also remember vacation in Portugal. At the time I thought wearing a cool perfume would make me seem older. So that smell and hair wax had been my constant companions during that summer. (laughs)
Do you have a favorite smell?
I like the smell of people. (laughs) I know that sounds a bit weird and probably has something to do with pheromones but you can often judge the character of a person by their scent. We surround ourselves with people who smell good for us, a process that most likely takes place completely subconsciously.
What kind of woman could wear Dior Homme?
A free spirit. A woman with her own attitude, that doesn’t want to just have a “beautiful” aroma or do they expect from her. Clearly, a woman who isn’t confused about her femininity.
Nan Goldin took your pictures for this campaign. Were you familiar with her work and exhibitions?
Really well, I had seen a few of her exhibitions, but I had never met her. It was another thing that intrigued me about this job, that she was an unconventional choice. I was really excited about that.
Why did you choose Romain Gavras to direct Dior’s film?
I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time. To be honest, I tried to get in contact with him for about a year. He used to be like: “I’m not going to talk to you”. Until I told him that I wanted him to direct Dior’s commercial. That’s when he finally met me! (laughs)I was obsessed with his work in ‘Our Day Will Come’. He has a visual language completely different from everything I’ve seen before. When I noticed that it was Romain’s first movie, I thought “Who is this guy?”. I started watching his Justice videos that caused so much buzz…
Not to mention the controversy…
You could see that he felt joy, as if he was laughing at that. I like that kind of energy in a director. I remember saying that his video had a “violence without meaning or end”. Well, it’s how the world is at this moment. I thought his work and vision so universal that I wanted to make a film with him. When I finally met him, I found out that he’s actually a really sweet person, that just genuinely think things are fun. Romain is genuinely subversive, loves to cause controversy. It’s the kind of director that loves to “throw a bomb” and see what happens.
The chemistry between you and the model-actress Camille Rowe in this short film is really important. Have you met before?
We hadn’t met yet. Camille had a small part in “Our Day Will Come” and Romain knew she would be perfect to fit the “mood” of the film and he was right. There were moments when her presence there softened what I was doing just because she’s so fun, has a free spirit. She was only going with the flow. To describe her, I would use the sentence: “do what you want”.
The ad is really sexy
That was mostly Camille. She brought something really special to the film. Most of the time with perfume commercials they seem to be really distant of the people watching, I don’t know why. But with Romain it’s always something visceral. Like [missing word in the scan] bloody, dirty, sweaty. He said: “We should film something outright sexual and have fun with that”.
Is freedom something important to you?
Absolutely. Once you’ve become a part of the public eye, you’re professional life is often confined. You’re stereotyped and caught in a certain character who people associate you with. Sometimes I like to make a joke out of manipulating the way people perceive me. I want artistic freedom even if it’s just to challenge myself over and over again. One of my latest roles, in “The Rover”, was very liberating by the way. We shot the movie in Australia, in the middle of nowhere. The character I play doesn’t have any teeth and was covered in mud and dirt from head to toe. But I didn’t care. I was running around half naked and was able to do things you usually can’t do when you’re constantly watched.
What’s a perfect day for you?
I can’t really say, I just like to do stuff. At the moment I try to work on a story together with a friend. I like to communicate and share ideas with others and to work on a project. And every once in a while I love it to fight with people. (laughs)
Let’s have a discussion then…
It’s weird, but talking about it with someone smart, intelligent, about something is one of the most satisfying things you can do. The coolest part of writing scripts is that it’s almost always a collaborative work. You know that, when you get to the set, people will get small layers from you. Small parts, but it’s in big scale. Like a fiction movie. I hope it works.
We know you really like music, you’ve written a few songs and played live. Who suggested Led Zeppelin’s iconic song to this ad?
Let’s say it took a while to get to it. Months before we started shooting, Romain sent me a song he had in mind, and I thought: ‘Oh, really?’. It was simply the opposite of what I thought for what Dior ad could be… We ended up not using it. That’s why we explored so many other songs. As soon as someone sent us this Led Zeppelin’s copy I was like: ‘Oh yeah!’. It’s weird, but this solid song ended up working. The rhythm is perfect.
Do you still play the guitar and piano?
I still play guitar and have just recently started to practice a bit more often again. But I haven’t had a gig in years. (laughs)
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
I actually just have a few basics that I wear every day. To me, what matters the most is whether something fits well or not. I don’t really care about anything else, just how it fits. So apart from that I usually wear the same piece of clothing until it literally falls off my body.
Who is your fashion icon?
I’ve always admired people who dressed practically. I somehow think that’s especially manly. I like clothes that last for a long time; until all that is left is the material they were made of. I’m thinking about Jack Nicholson’s clothes in “The Shining” or “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; actually pretty much everything he’s worn in these films. When I was younger I constantly tried to dress exactly like that.
The partnership with Cronenberg seems to be going really well.
I had such a good experience in Cosmopolis! David is an incredible person, and the most fun, intriguing man to work with I’ve ever met. He has been making movies for the last 40 years, and every film he makes shows just how unusual he is. We started shooting his new movie recently. It’s called Maps To The Stars, with Julianne Moore and John Cusack. The scripts of these two films are amongst the most original ones I’ve ever read, that’s why I hope to continue working with him forever.
Twilight made you famous, Cosmopolis changed your image, and Romain Gavras’ campaign movie for Dior is adding something unexpected to your character. How sweet does success smell?
Being an actor is something incredibly weird and the definition of success – which in itself is already strange – changes over the years. Of course success also has a good side: I don’t have to worry about only having to work for the money [anymore], at least for a couple of years. I have huge respect for all these films which is why I try to take the time and energy and make exciting decisions; decisions not everyone makes. I just said “try” but it’s funny, actually, because I don’t feel like I’ve already had some kind of success. But there is something about Dior that really works for me – the brand itself remains stoically independent and that is exactly what I’d like to try for myself at the moment.