'Good Time': How Two Brothers Scuzzed Up Robert Pattinson and Made a Gritty Classic

Robert Pattinson can’t explain it – he just knew.

It was early 2015, and the Twilight star was now three years removed from Edward Cullen, the iconic vampire heartthrob who made the British actor’s name but had also painted him into a corner. Looking to break free, the then-29-year-old star began seeking out daring dramas and working with filmmakers like David Cronenberg, David Michôd, Werner Herzog and James Gray. He was determined to prove that he wasn’t just a YA pinup. And in the midst of that reinvention, Pattinson stumbled upon a promotional still for Heaven Knows What, a gritty, unsparing 2014 New York indie about a homeless woman ravaged by heroin addiction.

“It really struck me,” he says softly, sitting in a Beverly Hills hotel suite, remembering the moment. “You normally see really striking imagery in a lot of European movies. But it’s rare to see that coming out of American independents.”

Pattinson knew nothing about the movie – he hadn’t even seen a trailer. Nor had he seen any of the previous films by its directors, the brothers Josh and Benny Safdie. But, looking at that image, he knew: He had to be in business with these filmmakers. So Pattinson emailed them.

“When I like something, I get unbelievably enthusiastic,” the actor explains with a warm, ingratiating smile. “The first email I sent was like, ‘I’m completely certain that we’re supposed to do something together.’ And they’re like, ‘Have you seen any of our stuff?’ I said, ‘Nope, don’t need to see it. I know.'”

Cut to two years later, and the result of that initial interaction is ready to blow a hole through the screen. Good Time  follows a two-bit crook named Connie Nikas over the course of one increasingly frenetic night in Queens, as this determined low-life goes on a frantic quest for bail money in order to spring his mentally challenged brother out of jail after a bank heist goes bad. To say that this electric indie thriller recalibrates what we think of Pattinson would be putting it mildly – yet it’s also a hell of a coming-out party for the Safdies, two under-the-radar filmmakers known for dynamic cult dramas like 2008’s The Pleasure of Being Robbed and 2009’s Daddy Longlegs. It’s an urgent, pulpy crime flick, but more importantly, Good Time is a marvel of good timing – the combustion of an actor wanting to go dark and filmmakers looking to expand their commercial profile.