Robert Pattinson, Good Morning America

ABC/Fred Lee

So Robert Pattinson has finally returned to the public eye to promote Cosmopolis. Were his appearances part of a contract, or some new plan by studio publicists? Does he also have to go to the movie's premiere?
—Chanda K., via Facebook

There's a very good chance that all the bobbing and weaving you're seeing from R.Pattz (Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Really?) is not by choice. I mean, no one is threatening the guy with a stake or holy water, but it's pretty clear that Pattz would rather have been anywhere but on Good Morning America. So, exactly what compelled the actor to show up?

As you suspected, Chanda, yes: Most likely, it was a contract with the suits behind Cosmopolis. Most film contracts compel an actor to help promote a film in some way. Exactly how much trumpeting an actor does—interviews, premieres, junkets, photo calls, photo shoots, public appearances, international press tours—depends on the star, the type of movie and the art of the deal.

One thing is usually certain, though: If an actor fails to do that promotion, he leaves himself vulnerable to a lawsuit.

"For a lower-level actor, a contract will say the actor is obligated as much and whatever publicity the studio tells them to do," Greenberg Glusker entertainment attorney Ken Basin says. "The only limit is that, if the actor has to travel to do it, the studio will pay for travel and expenses."

But as the actors get more powerful, the contracts get more nuanced. A more famous actor may secure the right to pick and choose which outlets interview him. Or maybe the talent gets away with doing only one day of press junketry instead of a more grueling two.

"The higher the level the actor, the more control the actor has over what is going on," Bain explains. "On an A-list level, an actor will have approval over all publicity activity, but there will still be a commitment for a reasonable amount of publicity. Very rarely, and I can count these instances on one hand, a super-high-level actor might negotiate to have no obligation to do publicity whatsoever. Whatever publicity they do is out of the goodness of their own hearts."

And in case you're wondering, no. As much as you may love the Twilight series, Pattz does not count as a "super-high-level actor"—at least, not yet.

So, what kind of contract does Pattinson likely have, then?

"Obviously this is pure speculation," Basin says. "But I would guess he's at the level where he can decline specific outlets, but he still would be required to approve reasonable alternatives. He'd be given some amount of leeway if he really pushed for it, but I think he's just probably being a trouper."

A trouper fueled by tasty, tasty cereal.

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