|Robert Pattinson in Water For Elephants|
“Water For Elephants” is an original and compelling story that takes the audience back in time to 1931, when the circus offered a welcome escape from the rigors of daily life and economic hardship. Robert Pattinson plays Jacob, a talented student, heading for a career as a vet. His world changes dramatically when he discovers that his parents have died in an accident. Destitute, he has to abandon his studies and look for work. He boards a train out of town and only later does he realize that he has joined a circus train.
“Someone sent me the book, and I immediately connected to it,” remembers Pattinson. He would later agree to portray Jacob Jankowski, who after a personal tragedy, wanders without destination before hopping aboard a random train, which turns out to be the home of The Benzini Bros. Circus. That fateful train ride ultimately takes Jacob to Marlena (Witherspoon), the star attraction of the circus that led to a romance and destiny that neither could have imagined.
Unlike Marlena, Jacob had a protected life with loving parents. But on the brink of graduating from Cornell University’s veterinary school, Jacob’s world is shattered when he learns of his parents’ deaths in an automobile accident. Broken emotionally and financially, Jacob is forced to leave Cornell. He takes to the road, without direction. Impulsively, he boards a passing train that houses The Benzini Bros Circus.
With no other prospects, Jacob joins the troupe. At first, the once-sheltered young man is lost and even fearful for his life, among the chaos, color and danger that surround him. Jacob begins his tenure at the Benzini Bros. Circus on the bottom rung of the ladder, even lower than the roustabouts who handle the daily manual labor. When August (Christoph Waltz), the ringmaster and circus master learns of Jacob’s veterinary studies, he promotes him to tending to the medical needs of the animals. That, in turn, brings Jacob ever closer to Marlena, the show’s star performer. His attraction to Marlena is immediate and electric. “Jacob notices Marlena’s beauty and charisma right away,” Pattinson says. “He also notes her strong bond with the animals she works with during her performances; that’s another thing they share.”
An already professed fan of the book, Pattinson became even more intrigued about a movie adaptation when he read the script. “Somehow, it seemed like Francis and Richard had added even more to the story,” says the actor. (Director) Francis Lawrence was convinced that Pattinson was right for the role after he discussed the project with him for several hours. “I thought Robert was Jacob Jankowski,” says the filmmaker. “It was difficult to find a young man of age 23 or 24 who didn’t seem too young for the part. Rob was already a man. He is thoughtful, intelligent, empathetic, strong, and confident.”
Pattinson’s quick grasp of the character was impressive. “Jacob is mysterious and quiet; he’s an observer,” says the actor. “He’s always watching people and he has an intuitive relationship with animals, and a deep understanding of human nature.”
All of Jacob’s traits and abilities come to the fore as he becomes increasingly close to Marlena. At first, she wants little to do with the newcomer, but when he comes to the aid of Marlena’s beloved and suffering horse, they share a moment of intimacy and tenderness that neither can shake. But there’s a powerful presence – almost a force – standing between them: August, who his employees call, with a mixture of fear and respect. August runs the circus at times like a tyrant, and at others like a caring patriarch. Similarly, his love and kindness toward Marlena can morph – in a flash – to abuse, anger and unfathomable darkness. When Jacob witnesses August’s dark side, he does everything in his power to once and for all free Marlena from his tyranny.
Pattinson is best known for his portrayal of the vampire Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” saga. He gained industry notice at 19 years of age when he joined the Harry Potter franchise in Mike Newell’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” playing Cedric Diggory. He also starred opposite Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper and Emilie De Ravin in the drama, “Remember Me.” Upcoming is “Bel Ami,” a film based on the novel of the same name written by Guy de Maupassant, in which Pattinson plays a young journalist in Paris who betters himself through his connections to he city’s most glamorous and influential women, played by Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci.“Water For Elephants” opens May 4 in Metro Manila, Cebu and Pampanga theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.