Robert Pattinson stars as vampire Edward Cullen in Twilight.
If he isn't already, Robert Pattinson will soon be a household name. The young British actor stars as the beautiful yet conflicted 107-year-old vampire Edward Cullen in Twilight, with Kristen Stewart as the 17-year-old mortal (Bella Swan) with whom he unexpectedly embarks on a dangerous, passionate love affair. For anyone living under a rock, the film version of Twilight is based on the first of Stephenie Meyer’s immensely popular vampire novels, which have sold an estimated 17 million copies worldwide since 2005.
Just as they did when the Harry Potter novels were brought to the big screen, fans have been weighing in every step of the way. At first, there was criticism and resistance to Pattinson playing the lead role in the movie, directed by Thirteen’s Catherine Hardwicke. Now, it would be an understatement to say fans are smitten, and that some even want to be bitten by him—literally.
In the days before the film premiered, the 22-year-old Pattinson—previously best known for his role as Cedric Diggory in two of the Potter films—sat down with Fandango to dish about the challenges of his breakout role, his on-screen relationship with Stewart, his passion for music and his already infamous head of hair.
Fandango:You’re voted the “sexiest vampire” on Fandango. What do you think it is that makes Edward so appealing?
Pattinson: I really can't tell you, but maybe because it’s modern. I'm kind of figuring it out myself. I'm sure they said Brad Pitt was the sexiest vampire when he did [1994’s] Interview with the Vampire.
Fandango: What were some of the things that helped you immerse yourself in the role of Edward?
Pattinson: I was alone for a very long time. I went to Oregon before anyone else, about 2-1/2 months before, and just didn't talk to anyone. I worked with a trainer every day and went running, but I tried not to speak to anyone. So when the cast came...well, have you ever tried not speaking to anyone for weeks...the first person you talk to, the conversation is kind of strange. I spent a lot of time just reading the script and the books. I just wanted to make sure I knew as much about the character as possible.
Fandango: How would you describe the dynamic between Edward and Bella?
Pattinson: It's very kind of operatic. It's like a relationship straight out of a melodrama. You have two people who think that they'll die, or one of them will die, just by being together or that something terrible will happen, so it’s just a complete melodrama. I mean, the way me and Kristen interpreted it is, Edward was this kind of demigod who's very reluctant. That’s played against the needs of this normal 17-year-old girl who thinks he is some perfect being, but he's really just a guy who doesn't really have a meaning to his existence.
Fandango: Girls are going absolutely nuts over you and the character. What’s the weirdest fan request you’ve gotten? Anything that freaked you out?
Pattinson: The weirdest was when I was in New York a few days ago at this event. A seven-year-old girl came up on the stage asked me to bite her and not even in a jokey way--she was serious--in a longing way! It made me think, “You don't know what you're asking. That would get me arrested.” That was very, very odd.
Fandango: Fans go crazy about your hair. Do you like it long or are you just dying to cut it?
Pattinson: I haven't changed my hair for, like, years. I've never really had a specific look in mind. It is what it is… [laughs.] I don't really style my hair. It's so funny, a friend of mine from London came over and said, “Why is everyone going on about your hair all the time?” Everyone has hair like that in London. And around the world you see people with hair like that, so I don't see it being different at all. As soon as people started saying “that's his trademark” I thought I should shave my head as his trademark. I'm trying to convince them to shave my head for the second movie.
Pattinson: Yeah. [laughs]
Fandango: What do you think about Edward’s look with the topaz contacts and pale skin?
I have very sensitive eyes, so it took like 20 minutes to get in the contacts every single day. People said you get used to it after awhile, but after 3- 1/2 months, it never, ever got better. It also limits you… it’s like you have these masks on your eyes which take away the life from them, which is very frustrating sometimes. You just have to be shot and look like you're expressionless.
Fandango: What was it like for you to have supernatural powers, and to do the flying scenes?
Robert Pattinson: It makes it harder to relate to an audience. For the big stunts, if I could jump 5,000 feet, why would I walk? It makes playing the actual character very difficult. I don't know why, but I went into it not thinking about the stunts or that it was a vampire film, but about the drama.
Fandango: Tell us about the piano song you composed for Twilight.
Pattinson: I did a scene where I played a thing that I made up. It was the best piano piece I've ever done in my life but it didn't really fit. In the end, as part of the whole score, it is very different than what I came up with. The song on the soundtrack, “Never Think”—my best friend who taught me how to play the guitar wrote the lyrics for it last year and I made it into a song, and the other one (“Let Me Sign”) me and another guy wrote. They weren’t meant for the movie, but Catherine heard them and put them in the cut, and I didn't know they would be on the soundtrack. I had thought it would be quite cool to have it be a secret thing and not have my name in the credits. Like a marketing gimmick. It was nice, and also helped my friends as well.
Fandango: If you had a chance to collaborate with any music artist, who would it be?
Pattinson: I saw Van Morrison last night at the Hollywood Bowl. I've seen him five times before and he really pulled it out of the bag. He played like it was 30 years ago. I would love to do something with him now. He was my inspiration for doing music in the first place. Yes, he's still got it. He played the entirety of his album Astral Weeks. The whole thing was unbelievable. He was just as free as he was when he was younger, which was amazing.
Fandango: Are you signed on to the other films, and which would be your favorite book to film?
Pattinson: I don't know what the specifics are. I went into it thinking it was going to be a trilogy. I think everything is dependent on how it does on November 21. Hopefully they'll do the second one and that’s the one I liked most out of the series.
Hillary Atkin is an award-winning journalist who began her career as a television news writer, reporter and producer. At KCBS in Los Angeles, she won numerous Emmys, Associated Press and Golden Mike Awards for live coverage and entertainment special events programming, and then produced biographies on Robert Duvall, Elizabeth Montgomery, Linda Darnell and Nicolas Cage for A&E and E!. She has written extensively for USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Television Week, Entertainment Weekly, Daily Variety, The New York Observer and LA Confidential.
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