Robert Pattinson: interview
Heartthrob Robert Pattinson star of the Twilight films talks to Dave Calhoun about new movie, 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon'
Just 18 months ago, this well-spoken boy from south-west London was a young actor with little more than a smallish role in two ‘Harry Potter’ films under his belt. Now, he’d be lucky to walk down the street without excited young women wishing that he’d personally run his hands through his hair for them before sinking his on-screen fangs into their necks. In the ‘Twilight’ films, Pattinson plays the brooding, chaste vampire Edward Cullen, and when we speak he’s already finished shooting the second instalment in the series, ‘New Moon’.
By the time that film opens later this week, he and costars Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner will have shot the third film, ‘Eclipse’, and will already be gearing up to shoot the fourth and – perhaps –final film in the series early in 2010. After the opening chapters of fifth book ‘Midnight Sun’ were leaked online Meyer stopped working on it.
Outside in the city, fans are waiting for Pattinson. It’s something he’s getting used to. He has been spending the summer on a break from ‘Twilight’ but he’s still working: he’s shooting a small indie movie, ‘Remember Me’, and everywhere he goes in Manhattan he’s followed by packs of admirers and paparazzi. Just two weeks before we speak, blogs and news sites go crazy with reports of his being run over by a taxi. As it turns out, he’s fine and the incident was minor – but it shows how a whirlwind of hysteria follows him wherever he goes.
The more we talk, the more it’s clear that Pattinson is tired. Tired and a little bewildered. He sighs as much as he laughs and his voice doesn’t sound like he’s got much energy left. But there’s nothing arrogant about him, despite the surly looks which have become his trademark in photos. He sounds almost as bemused and amused by the madness that surrounds him as those who haven’t fully bought in to the hype. He also sounds as if he’d like nothing more than to be back in London, in Soho, able to walk the streets anonymously and drink a coffee alone at Bar Italia without anyone recognizing him as that guy from the ‘Twilight’ movies.
How are you doing?
‘Fine. I’m a little bit exhausted, but I’m all right.’
You’ve been working hard, then?
‘Yeah, we’re just travelling constantly.’
How long have you been living in the US now?
‘I wouldn’t class it as living [laughs]. I just go from job to job, hotel to hotel. I don’t have a place here.’
How do you keep your stamina up? You’re young, I guess…
‘Yeah [laughs]. Or I’m just going to burn out!’
The first ‘Twilight’ film threw such a spotlight on you. Did you expect it?
‘Yeah, although I was ignorant of it. It wasn’t like I was going to play, I don’t know, someone like James Bond – something you can guarantee that people care about. The audience was still an unknown entity. In some ways, it still is. It’s still quite shocking who the audience is for the movies – it’s more older women now than younger ones. They’re the ones who are always turning up on the set now. They’re all significantly older. They’re not teenagers.’
What has the new director, Chris Weitz, brought to ‘New Moon’?
‘I think it looks completely different. The visual style is less grainy. The first one was shot like an indie movie. This is much more epic, there are more staged shots, more set pieces.’
There are just four ‘Twilight’ books, so will that be it – four books, four films?
‘That’s it, that’s the end of the series.’
Have you heard anything about a fifth book?
‘I’m pretty sure there there’s not going to be a fifth book or movie. It would be weird. It would also be weird if they split the last book into two. There’s just no logical place for it to end in the middle.’
You’ve been spending this summer making ‘Remember Me’ between shooting the second and third ‘Twilight’ films. Is it important to spread your wings, to keep it varied?
‘Yeah, I was going to work after the first “Twilight” but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to do. I spent a year doing almost nothing apart from meetings and stuff. Then we made “New Moon” and I thought: I can’t risk doing that again.’
What grabbed you about ‘Remember Me’?
‘It was a relaxed part and the body language was loose. I had so little time between the “Twilight” films, I couldn’t do a part that needed loads of prep time or physical change. But I really wanted to do something which wasn’t as stiff as “Twilight”. So much of Edward’s character is about restraint, I just wanted to do something relaxed.’
With the success of ‘Twilight’, you must be able to approach directors yourself and help get films off the ground?
‘Yeah, but annoyingly there are so few parts I feel I can add anything to or that I want to do. And I don’t particularly want to be an actor for the sake of being an actor. I don’t really find any particular pleasure in just being an attention-seeker.’
I hear you’ve been attracting crowds everywhere you film in New York this summer?
‘Oh man, it’s completely crazy and the whole thing with the paparazzi too. I mean the whole movie’s going to be on the internet before we’ve even finished shooting. There’s nothing spectacular for them to see. The whole crowd must be thinking: He’s doing nothing, that must be so boring! The movie looks terrible! It’s not a very operatic performance at all.’
Are you able to stay cool-headed with fans?
‘Yeah, I mean, there’s no issue with the fans. They all want you to succeed. They’re on your side. And if someone asks them to move a bit, out of my eyeline or something, they’ll do it. It’s just the paparazzi people – they want you to fail desperately at any cost!’
Is it easy to act with fans watching you?
‘You can hear the waves of interest. You can hear the reaction if you start to smile. You just want to say: “Hey, listen, guys, please just give me one take! Just give me one take for me to walk down the street on my own!”’
You’ll probably find it’s great practice for something in the end…
‘Oh man, if I was playing, like, an absolute psychopath who just had to flip out and kill people, it would be absolutely perfect [laughs].’
Do you miss London?
‘A lot, yeah. I haven’t been back there for ages.’
What do you miss most?
‘I miss the smell of it. Especially when you land. Especially when you land somewhere like Gatwick.’
What kind of smell?
‘It smells wet. That’s probably the best way to describe it. I miss the light in London as well. It’s similar to the light in Vancouver. It’s a really grim light but, despite that, I really equate London with being hopeful. I really do. It’s so harsh there but people still have hope. I also think that if a girl can look good in London, she can look good anywhere in the world. It’s hard to explain. That light. It’s just different. I also think there’s a different sense of friendliness about London – if you find someone open in London, it just seems more genuine there. You just really find some amazing people there.’
Where did you live in London?
‘I grew up in Barnes but lived in Soho. I loved Soho so much. It had a real sense of community about it. Much more than somewhere like Barnes even. There were places to go when the pub closed, people who weren’t working would go to the same places every day and hang out in Bar Italia. I just loved it.’
Where were your favourite hangouts?
‘I love the steak upstairs at the French House. I really loved the French House and Green Park. I used to go there all the time. It’s one of my favourite parks; and the London Library in St James’s Square. I loved it there. There’s nothing like it anywhere in the world. I used to go there and try to write. But it was also such a labyrinth. You could go around there for hours and not see anyone. You could find Russian translations of Greek books that were hundreds of years old or you could be there for six hours and then suddenly bump into someone round a corridor – you could almost stay there overnight and nobody would notice.’
Read our review of ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’. ‘Remember Me’ opens on Feb 12 2010.
Author: Dave Calhoun, Noam Friedlander
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