Robert Pattinson Shuns ‘Twilight’ Stardom
by Paul Fischer
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British actor Robert Pattinson had no idea what he was letting himself in for when he auditioned for, and won the plum role, of brooding vampire Edward Cullen, in the much anticipated film version of the best selling novel Twilight. Though he had exposure, to some extent, with big movies in the latest Harry Potter, nothing, it seems has prepared him for the fame and adulation of Twilight, fame that has brought him to tears, as he confided to Paul Fischer.
Paul Fischer: So, are you particularly prepared for the teenage female frenzy that is going to surround this movie, but you in particular? Which apparently seems to be in the cards.
Robert Pattinson: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know why it still shocks me. I mean, I’ve been going for the last three weeks, just going to different cities all around the world, just to get to these planned mobbing, where everybody just screams and screams and screams. But every single time, I get so nervous, and kind of cold sweats, and everything. So I doubt that I am ready.
PF: So that’s how you react to the screams and the—frenzy?
RP: Every single time. I started crying in Italy. Like, completely involuntarily.
RP: Yeah. Like, do you know when you have the wrong reaction to something? It was really embarrassing. I didn’t even know I was. Kristen, I think, turned around to me. And she’s like, “Are you crying?” I just found out there’s a whole pile of stuff. So. Yeah. I started crying when people are screaming at me. I really didn’t think that would happen.
PF: Conversely, did you pay any attention to any of the on-line complaining? “Oh, he’s not right. It should have been this person or that person.” Did you pay any attention to that?
RP: I did at the beginning, for a little bit. I was expecting it, but I kind of—I agree with them.
RP: I don’t know. I completely expected it. That’s the reason I didn’t want to go in for the part initially, because it’s really putting yourself out there. You say, like, “Oh, yeah. I think I can play this part, the perfect guy. Best-looking guy in the whole world.” It was like—even going in for the audition, I felt like a bit of an idiot going into the audition. I felt pre-judged by anyone who turned up to the casting. It’s like—I mean, I just thought even having the gall to go in means you’re a bit of an arrogant prick.
RP: Yeah. I was sort of put off by it. I was quite happy when they all said, “He’s not good-looking enough.” I’m like, “Thank you.”
PF: Did you feel the chemistry with Kristen from the beginning? Right when you first were cast, when you first auditioned together?
RP: Yeah, I think so. I don’t know if it was working—there was definitely, like—I definitely felt like there was some kind of—I don’t know, connection or something. I definitely had a reaction to her, which I really wasn’t expecting.
PF: What makes her a good co-star?
RP: She doesn’t back down to people. And it was quite good working with her, for me, because I don’t like backing down to people. But it’s quite difficult when you’re the only person.
PF: She gave as good as she gets?
RP: Yeah. And also, when you’re fighting with producers and things, and when you want to do things a certain way, it’s good if you have, like, two leads that just—they’ll back each other up.
PF: Did you fight with the producers?
RP: Well, not really fighting. But, I mean, we just didn’t want to make it a teeny movie. I mean, because—and that’s the reason—Kristen being in it was like—it was my insurance. I mean, she was on a good roll of classy jobs. And so I was just thinking when I found out she was doing it, I was like, “Well, this isn’t gonna be a silly movie. Because why would she want to do a silly movie?” when she was on a role.
PF: Talk about the particular constraints of doing this picture, and how you dealt with the wire work, and—because you have some pretty amazing physical moments in it. And also, apparently, you’re not really a baseball player.
RP: I can’t play baseball at all. [laughs]
PF: How was that experience?
RP: Yeah, it was pretty intense. I mean, I’m really not a kind of action movie kind of guy at all. And so doing these kind of—I mean, it was set up—a lot of the scene were like—you know, kung fu movies. That kind of Hong Kong, wire Kung Fu movies.
PF: Is that hard to master, and get comfortable with?
RP: Yeah. I mean, I’ve done wire work before. But just getting hit, which is easy, because you’re just getting hit with the wire. I mean, you don’t have to do anything. But trying to maintain your center of gravity and stuff, it’s tough. It can look really fake, really easily.
PF: So, when did you have to practice, to get it—
RP: I didn’t have that much time to practice. I mean, they took a pretty big risk, letting me do a lot of it.
PF: Going back to the probably enormous girl fan base that you will gain after this movie—I mean, you’ve really exploded on the scene lately. You’re on Perez probably at least once a week. How are you dealing with dating in Hollywood? Do you avoid it? Are you seeing anyone for those teenybopper girls out there to know?
RP: I’m not dating anyone. I mean, I theoretically don’t avoid it. But it’s weird. There’s like—you have to issue—I mean, it’s strange. I’ve been going to the same places every time I go to L.A., because they’re the only places I know. And now everybody kind of knows me in those places. So it’s like—I don’t know. Just knowing that people will talk about stuff, and—you know. It’s very uncomfortable. And also, if you try and chat people up, everyone’s like, “Oh, he’s such an—you’re just an actor. You probably go around sleeping with everybody.” So it kind of has the converse effect of what you would have thought.
PF: Are you not moving to L.A.? Are you interested in making that leap?
RP: I think there’s no reason to. I mean—and also, London’s in my heart. I need it. And I haven’t been there for a very long time.
PF: Can you talk a little bit about—once you put the makeup on, and sort of get the hair done and everything, is that the final step in slipping into this character?
RP: No. I mean, it really wasn’t so much about the makeup and stuff on this. I mean, I thought—in fact, it didn’t even really help to be, like—there were a lot of scenes where I have to be scary and intimidating, and stuff. And—you know, just the whole thing, having a bouffant haircut and stuff, doesn’t—it’s not really that intimidating. So, yeah. It wasn’t really one of those parts where you could put on the coat or put on the shoes, and you kind of feel different. I didn’t really feel any different. It’s just—and it worried me. But a lot of the stuff which works was just not—I didn’t talk to any of the cast about anything other than the film for at least a month and a half of the shoot. And it creates a strange aura around you, and people don’t really know what to make of you.
PF: You stayed away from them? Is that what you’re saying? Like, socially?
RP: I didn’t stay away from them. But I made sure that—you know, most films, people just want to have, like, a good time when they’re doing it.
PF: Like, hanging out off-set.
RP: Yeah. And—I would, but I’d make it clear that the only reason they wanted to hang out is to get the film better. And it’s kind of annoying for someone to be around like that. And it wasn’t necessarily even exactly what I was talking about. I just wanted the rest of the cast to think about me as a character being this intense person.
PF: Why do you think vampires or the vampire culture is so enduringly fascinating, to this day? I mean, it never wanes.
RP: They’re the most go-to stock character to make a mysterious character. I mean, the template of a vampire. Only coming out at night. Even though even Dracula didn’t—could come out in the daytime. But—only coming out at night. Having literally a dark secret, which is lethal and also intrigues people. I think it’s just such a simple basis, where y can—just saying the word “vampire” promotes so many ideas of mystery in people. And there’s also all the sort of sexual connotations as well, like biting people’s necks and stuff. But I think—I don’t really know. I mean, I think it’s just—you either have, in paranormal stories, you have a zombie. Zombies aren’t that interesting. It’s like, whatever. You have a gargoyle, or whatever, which are ugly. Every single thing. A vampire can be good-looking and also dangerous. That’s the only character which can.
PF: I’m curious, have you gotten any advice from people, be it acting advice or dealing with newfound fame, possibly from Harry Potter co-stars? And if so, what kind of advice have you gotten from people?
RP: No one’s ever really given me any advice. I mean, I don’t really ask for it. But I guess just seeing how the Harry Potter people have dealt with it, and they’re still very, very normal and sane. And I think it’s just because they just ignored, like, the surrealness of their lives from an outside perspective, and just dealt with everything as complete reality, and just live their lives normally. And didn’t treat anyone any differently, and didn’t treat themselves differently. And they’ve ended up being completely fine. I think there’s no reason to change, really, that much. I mean, the only reason to change if you want to be an actor, is if you’re completely insane and you don’t want anyone to find out. I mean, if you’re a normal person, you can pretty much do whatever you want.
PF: What was it about the role that made you overcome those initial misgivings you had about trying out for it? That made you think, “Okay, I really want to do this?”
RP: Just going to the audition. I mean, I went in having no idea how to play the part at all, and thinking there was no chance of getting it. And I—just meeting Kristen. I mean, Catherine literally didn’t say anything during the whole audition. She just filmed. And just, Kristen did it so differently to how I was expecting Bella to be played, that it kind of shocked a performance out of me. And it was the first time in a long time that I’d had an organic experience in an audition. And that’s kind of why. And I thought that there could be a lot of depth to the story. But—I only realized in the audition.
PF: Do you sign your life away when you take this on? Do you automatically sign on for three movies?
RP: Yeah, I’d signed on for three. But, I mean, I’d read the books, so I knew he wasn’t in it that much in the second one, and not in it as much for the third one. And also, that I’d have to be 17 for the whole time, so I knew it couldn’t go on ‘til I was, like, 30.
PF: Are you looking forward to doing these sequels?
RP: Yeah. I mean, it’s such a sort of intimate story. And you rarely get a chance—I mean, even in Harry Potter, the entire university, which it’s based in, changes every single movie. But in this, it’s just like, a character study for a trilogy, which is very—it’s very, very strange. And I can’t think of another movie which does that, and where the story has so little—the scenery doesn’t change. Nothing changes. And it’s in a very, very small town. It’s very claustrophobic. And so, yeah. I planned the character for another two.\
PF: Is there one scene in Twilight that you think defines Edward and Bella’s relationship?
RP: Is there one scene? I don’t think so. I think—I mean, there are definitely key lines. The thing is, the way me and Kristen did it, I think, is kind of different. The power balance is different to how it is in the book. And—I mean, basically, it just seemed more interesting having this guy who is an all-powerful, perfect creature. And he’s utterly at the knees—on his knees, to this normal girl. And she has complete power over him. And it’s like—even in the audition, there was kind of—we did the meadow scene in the audition. And it seemed like Kristen took on—instead of this wonder and love thing which is in the book, it was a much more comforting role. Like, he looked to her for strength. And literally even the scene, she was a sort of mothering thing at the end. Which is strange. Even in reality—because I’m quite a lot bigger than her, and older than her. And it was just a really strange experience doing that in the audition.
PF: Do you think the movie gets it right about teenage love? First love, and passion that can come out of that?
RP: I think in some ways. But I think in a lot of ways—I mean, when I was 17, I always just looked at people who would be like, “Oh, I’m in love,” and then they break up three weeks later, and just think, “Ah. You know, that’s what love is when you’re 17.”
PF: Did you have anything like that in high school?
RP: No. I was so anti—anyone who said they were in love, I just thought, “They’re idiots.”
PF: What were you like at that age? What was your high school experience?
RP: I was just, like, a loner.
PF: Were you?
PF: Are you do you do anything before the next one starts?
RP: I’m doing this movie called Parts by Billion, with Dennis Hopper, in January. It’s a kind of surreal love story. And that’s shooting in January. It’s a very, very small film.
PF: In the States?
RP: Yeah, in L.A.
Paul Fischer is originally from Australia. Now he is an interviewer and film critic living in Hollywood.
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