Sometimes all it takes is a picture.
When Robert Pattinson saw a still from the gritty, heroin-laced 2014 movie “Heaven Knows What,” the “Twilight” star became intrigued with the filmmakers: brothers Josh and Benny Safdie, who grew up in Queens and Manhattan and who imbue their independent films with New York City urgency.
“Rob saw the photo and thought we captured so much in just one frame,” Benny, 31, tells The Post. “He said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I need to work with these guys.’ ”
In 2015 Pattinson e-mailed the brothers, who until then had cast only little-known, sometimes amateur talent. The Safdies flew to Los Angeles for a meeting with Pattinson after the actor had a chance to watch “Heaven Knows What.”
As Josh, 33, remembers it, “He said, ‘Listen, I am throwing this out there: Whatever you are doing next, I want to be a part of — even if it’s catering.’ ”
“I fell in love with the photograph,” Pattinson told Jimmy Kimmel earlier this month. “We took a meeting and I was just overwhelmed with these guys.”
The Safdies responded with Big Apple arrogance. “We told him, ‘What we’re doing next, you don’t fit in.’ ” Benny says.
But that upcoming project stalled, so the brothers created their hot new movie around Pattinson. Opening Friday, “Good Time,” which won raves at Cannes, depicts 24 hours in a heist gone horribly wrong. Benny, who co-directs, plays the mentally challenged but volatile brother of Pattinson’s character, who looks nothing like the teen heartthrob of yore.
As with previous Safdie movies, it was shot in New York City, where the brothers finagled their way into downtown’s Manhattan Detention Center for up-close research. “I did a tour of [it] with the warden, and was walking around with my hands behind my back,” Josh says. “I saw somebody I know, who was getting moved. He looked at me and said, ‘This f - - king sucks, doesn’t it?’ I just said, ‘Yeah.’ I didn’t want him to know I was with the warden. That’s not a good look.”
‘Maybe one day, after I’m dead, I’ll have the bottle of prosecco popped open and people can pour it on my body.’
– Josh Safdie
The street-savvy Safdies were raised by divorced parents. Younger brother Benny was a diligent student; Josh, by his own admission, minored in shoplifting and graffiti. Both attended an Upper West Side prep school (they asked that it not be named) and Boston University, where they majored in communications and obsessed over movies.
That foundation was built by their father, Alberto, who currently works as a fishmonger. He inspired the ne’er-do-well title character in the brothers’ 2009 film “Daddy Longlegs,” who in one scene feeds his kids a chopped-up sedative so he can leave them unattended. “Every [bad] thing our dad did, we condensed it into that pill,” Josh says. But the senior Safdie also imbued his offspring with a love for movies.
“Toward the beginning of a custody battle with our mother [the boys were 7 and 9 at the time], our father didn’t really know how to express himself with us,” says Benny. “So he sat down and said, ‘I’m going to show you a movie before your first visitation with your mom.’ He showed us ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ and said, ‘I’m Dustin Hoffman and she’s Meryl Streep.’ ”
Adds Josh, “That’s an early way of us looking to movies for answers. We often watched movies for answers.”
The brothers took it from there: They began shooting their own movies together in high school, made money after college by directing commercials and promotional videos, and collaborated on dozens of short movies.
These days they’re rubbing elbows with Martin Scorsese. “Just hearing him say our names was unbelievable,” says Benny. “Marty saw ‘Heaven Knows What’ and loved the romance.” Scorsese’s a co-producer on their next movie, “Uncut Gems,” which stars Jonah Hill and will begin shooting in the Diamond District next year.
But their newfound celebrity hasn’t gone to their heads. They still live in modest rental apartments — Benny with his wife Ava and their 18-month-old son in an Upper West Side two-bedroom, Josh in a Harlem studio — eat fast food and dig Howard Stern. So much so that Josh insisted on tagging along when Pattinson appeared on the show last week.
“People are telling us that we should celebrate,” says Josh, who adds that he has yet to open a bottle of prosecco he got as a gift from designer Cynthia Rowley. “I don’t want to. I just want to keep getting better and better and better. Maybe one day, after I’m dead, I’ll have the bottle of prosecco popped open and people can pour it on my body.”
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