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Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of the duplicitous southern preacher Preston Teagardin in Antonio Campos’ The Devil All the Time is clearly a watershed moment for the young actor. Although the former Twilight star has taken on numerous and disparate roles of late including the petty thief and eternal loser Connie Nikas in the 2017 crime thriller Good Time, and the tortured sailor Thomas Howard in the indie favorite The Lighthouse, it could be credibly argued that the wicked Reverend Preston of The Devil All the Time is next-level stuff. So convincing is Pattison’s performance as a born and bred southern-fried evangelist, it’s hard to believe he is actually a genuine posh English chap. The accent he conjures for the violent gothic thriller is something out of a very rich, intriguing, mysterious, and beguiling place—and it was all forged by Pattinson himself!

“Rob was impossible to get dialect coaching,” Campos said in an interview with The Insider. “He just didn’t want to do it. He was just adamant about figuring it out on his own. He would be like, ‘I’m gonna do this thing and that thing, with a little bit of this.’”

“I don’t get worried about those things,” the director went on to say. “I’d rather have someone come with something weird that’s a choice than something that isn’t thought out. So I knew he would come with something interesting.”

Interesting may not be the appropriate term to describe the good Rev’s otherworldly dialect; it’s more like a high-pitched, loathsome yowl plumbed from the depths of Hades itself.

Robert describes the process in generating his accent as he chuckles in a delightfully carefree manner. “There is something about some pronunciations that just tickle me. And I was just wandering around the city recording things on my phone and just kind of making myself laugh.”

Indeed, Campos recalls Pattison reciting the line “dellluuuussssions!” in an ill-conceived take and then just breaking out in laughter. For such an intense role, it seems there can still be a measure of levity and mirth in the approach. There also appears to be quite a bit of room for experimentation and exploration in the molding of a full and compelling character.

As any actor knows, acting isn’t merely learning the lines and reciting them with an appropriation of verisimilitude and feeling. It’s about discovering the soul lurking within the character at hand and exploring the possibilities. Exploring the idiosyncrasies of that unique and particular creation. Then performing it all with creativity, passion, and imagination.

Normally, it takes a lot of preparation, time, and hard work alongside a vocal coach for actors to master their character’s accents. Granted, some performers must really struggle at the methodical task. Others seem to pick up the many subtleties of speech with relative ease. But in this case, Pattinson tried a new approach—a playful approach.

It serves as a reminder to think outside the carton, take a few risks, dare to look foolish. Perhaps something extraordinary will be the result—just look at Robert Pattinson in The Devil All The Time.