The Twilight series made Robert Pattinson a star, but also put the 26-year-old actor into a deep dreamboat hole that can threaten the longevity of an actor's career. So, taking a page from the smart pretty boys who came before him (Brad Pitt, Jude Law and Leonardo DiCaprio come to mind), he followed up his heartthrob role with something deeply indie, and niche-shatteringly deranged. David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis forced critics worn out by Twilight to reconsider Pattinson as he played a smarmy billionaire so numb he turns to self-destruction for salvation. And now, he's gearing up for a different version of grittiness in David Michôd's The Rover.
Aussie writer-director Michôd is best known for his scorching Oscar-nominated crime drama Animal Kingdom, and developed the story for his feature follow-up with that film's star, Joel Edgerton. However, it's Animal Kingdom co-star Guy Pearce who appears opposite Pattinson in this dystopian thriller, and in that first-look image, thanks to EW.
The Rover is named for the object Pattinson's character, Reynolds, is seeking: his stolen car. In a world where a financial crisis has devastated society, many have fled to the still viable mines within the Australian outback to scrounge for gold. “It’s like a new gold rush,” Michôd tells EW, “Where people from all corners of the world have come out to the desert to scrape out an existence. Petty criminals and miscreants and hustlers.”
Among these cruel and conniving characters is Pearce's Eric, who Michôd describes as "a really dark, dangerous, murderous person." By contrast, he calls Reynolds "a quite troubled and damaged, but beautiful and naïve, soul,” who must scour the Outback for his lost car.
Of course, since many have a limited awareness of Australian cinema, Michôd realizes his film—what with its desert setting and cars—might draw comparisons to the 1979 sci-fi action movie Mad Max. (Not the new one featuring Tom Hardy). But he shrugs off any deeper connection, explaining, "With all due respect to that film — and I stress that — I think The Rover is going to be way more chillingly authentic and menacing.”
The Rover is now in production. It's anticipated to hit theaters later this year. In the meantime, look for Pearce in Iron Man 3.