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Eric's slow, strange journey eventually scans as an escape: his own protest against his alienated, ultra-materialist existence. And though Cosmopolis encompasses murder, marital breakdown and one very unfortunate haircut, Pattinson sees the bright side. "I've read things that describe Eric as a monster, but I always thought the story was a hopeful progression," he says. "Some people are so entrenched in what they think they are, and the only shock that can snap him out of himself is that someone is going to kill him."
"People create a limo for themselves, a little spaceship, a little bell jar in which they insulate themselves from the things that hurt," Cronenberg says. The image hangs in the air for a moment, and then it's on to the next topic.
FOR MORE FROM TIME'S INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT PATTINSON AND DAVID CRONENBERG, GO TO time.com/pattinson