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Robert Pattinson Kept His Weird Devil All The Time Voice A Secret From the Director

It seems like just yesterday I was writing an article for Decider.com to discuss an urgent matter: Robert Pattinson‘s French accent in The King. Now, a little under a year later, I must turn your attention to a new, though related issue: Robert Pattinson’s southern accent in The Devil All The Time.

In what is becoming something of a signature move for Pattinson, he takes a big swing with his interpretation of Reverend Preston Teagardin. Like, a really big swing. He takes a swing so big, I thought, for a moment, that he had perhaps been dubbed. Because when his character’s introduction finally comes—about 50 minutes into the movie—it was Pattinson’s body standing in front of a congregation, and it was Pattinson’s lips that were moving, but the sound coming out of Pattinson’s mouth was nothing like Pattinson has ever sounded like before. Frankly, it was nothing like any human has sounded like before, except, perhaps, Oscar Nunez attempting to do a southern accent on The Office, as astutely observed by critic Charles Bramesco.

The best part? Nobody, not even The Devil All The Time director Antonio Campos, saw that voice coming… Because Pattinson kept the voice a secret until the first day he was filming.

“Rob likes to keep everything with his process close to the vest. He doesn’t want to audition some voice, he wants to find the voice. The first time I heard Teagardin was the day we shot the scene between him and Eliza Scanlen in the car,” Campos said in an interview with Decider. “That was the first time I heard him. I mean, I saw him in wardrobe, and in the tests and everything. But the first time I saw him in character was there. It was so exciting. Once he revealed it, then he was all open. It was like, once he got over that—he’s been keeping it close to the vest and playing with it and figuring it out—then he shared it.”

Thankfully, Campos was thrilled by the voice. “My number one direction to him was: Just go for it. Don’t be scared about going too far. Go to an extreme. I’ll always be here to rein it in if I need to.”

The Devil All The Time: Robert Pattinson as Preston Teagardin
Photo: Glen Wilson/Netflix

Campos added that he saw many more extreme takes from Pattinson in the editing room than ended up in the film. “There are amazing takes where Rob goes so far that he makes himself laugh. It was about finding that sweet spot. I think the best performances, to be honest, are the ones where they go that far; where it’s just barely crossing the line.”

Like with his cartoonishly campy French accent as Dauphin in Netflix’s The King, credit must be given to Pattinson for maintaining that voice, however ridiculous, consistently for the next hour of the film. Teagardin is, by all accounts, a despicable character. He’s introduced as a new preacher in the small town of Knockemstiff, Ohio, home to a young man named Arvin (Tom Holland) who lives with his grandmother (Kristin Griffith). Arvin’s grandmother hopes to impress the reverend with her cooking; instead, Teagardin publicly humiliates her by delivering a sermon on her chicken livers, a dish he says represents the offering of the impoverished.

Insulting Spider-Man’s grandmother is just the first in a long line of deplorable offenses committed by Pattinson’s character in this film, and he does it all while sounding like a cartoon version of Daniel Craig in Knives Out. Honestly, by the time the end of the movie rolled around, the voice almost worked for me. Teagardin is a comically grotesque person, and he has a comically grotesque voice to match. But between this and The King, I can’t help but wonder: What the hell is Pattinson going to sound like as Batman?

Watch The Devil All The Time on Netflix

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