When Robert Pattinson’s character, Cedric Diggory, was ruthlessly slain in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– thereby ending his brief, but magical spell at Hogwarts – it could so easily have been curtains for his fledgling career. Instead, it acted as the catalyst for a grander fantasy, as he was propelled from bit-part wizard to vampire lead Edward Cullen in the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling teen-tome, Twilight.
In doing so, not only has Pattinson starred in two of the biggest fantasy franchises in film history – a huge coup for any aspiring actor – but he’s also become one of Hollywood’s hottest new stars and a pin-up for hordes of adoring, teenage girls.
Accordingly, his life’s become a whirl of crazed, Twilight fans loitering outside his home, the paparazzi preying upon his every move and being mobbed whenever he appears in public. It’s a predicament he’s struggling to cope with.
“Every time I go out, no matter where I am, people just go completely nuts! It’s unreal,” he says, shaking his head in disbelief. “When I started doing this, I knew the books were big in America but it keeps surprising me how much bigger everything’s getting! Every time I see physical manifestations of it, like fans going wild, my brain can’t process it, because it’s just too weird.
“One of the weirdest days was when we started shooting New Moon at this high school, in Canada. The school was still open, so there were kids everywhere,” recalls Pattinson. “We did this scene, where we were just walking around the corridors but, after every take, all the kids started applauding. It was the same whenever a class came out after a lesson: they’d all clap. That was really bizarre – one of the strangest days ever.”
He’s also bemused by the frequent comparisons made between him, Jude Law and Leonardo DiCaprio – who personally endorsed Pattinson’s burgeoning career and teen heartthrob status by declaring; “finally there’s someone to take that burden off me”.
“When I heard Leonardo DiCaprio had said that, I just thought; ‘Wow, that’s so cool,’ because that guy’s had the best career of any young actor,” enthuses Pattinson. “You can virtually guarantee anything he’s in will be good. That’s the type of career I’d like to have too.”
He’s beginning to, with a series of diverse roles including portraying Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, a biopic of the legendary Spanish artist, playing an angst-ridden 20-something in the acclaimed How to Be and starring alongside Pierce Brosnan in Remember Me. But, for the moment, Pattinson’s world revolves around New Moon and Eclipse, the next two instalments of the Twilight chronicles.
“Yeah, I’ve done a couple of other films – working straight through, without a day off, for a year – so it was great to get back to this [New Moon]. It’s actually been kind of fun,” he smiles. “That was a surprise, because the first film was really difficult. I actually found it hard trying to portray the profundity of him finding love and having those kinds of intense feelings, as he goes from feeling absolutely nothing – from being fossilised – to suddenly feeling everything, because he meets this girl, Bella. It was really hard to show that. I was always stressing myself out [about it].
“But with this one [New Moon] I felt really relaxed and found it easy to get back into it,” Pattinson grins. “I think it’s because I always connected more to the second book, than the first. I just understood the story and his motivations a lot more, because there are all these emotions in it that I can relate to in my own life, like when he feels himself making the wrong decision about leaving Bella behind, but he does it anyway.
“I think you do that a lot, as a guy, in relationships. It’s like you’re compelled to mess it up,” he suggests, sniggering involuntarily at the premise of Edward literally abandoning Bella to the werewolves when she turns to Taylor Lautner’s character, Jacob Black, for solace. “I can understand him doing that, because I’m always messing up. It’s real life – it’s what happens!”
Pattinson’s real life, these days, is about as strange and spooky as his pivotal role in New Moon, but he has an interesting take on it – and also his meteoric rise to stardom.
“I think it’s karma. I really do, because karma’s bitten me on the arse so many times, like with this,” he suggests, seriously. “They’d been doing castings for it for over a year and they’d even asked me to do a tape for it, in London, at least six months before, but I just didn’t bother because I thought; ‘Well, I’m not going to get it anyway.’ I was actually quite blase about the whole thing, but then I went over to LA, walked in the room and did the audition, something clicked and I got the part a week later! I actually think I was the last person they saw.
“It was kind of the same with Harry Potter. I’d never have auditioned for it, because I don’t like the way they cast those big movies,” he explains. “They do group auditions, where you have to pretend to climb a tree or something like that. There’s no way I’d do that; I’d be too embarrassed. Luckily the casting director from Vanity Fair – a movie I’d previously done – was also casting Goblet of Fire and asked me to meet [director] Mike Newell before they’d cast anyone. It’s probably because she felt guilty after my part got cut from Vanity Fair!”
Whatever the reason, be it chance, charm, guile or guilt, Pattinson has shrewdly exploited his position to transform himself from unknown Brit to Hollywood-hit, by nailing the part of vampire Edward Cullen and casting a supernatural effect over both critics and fans, alike.
But, despite his fondness for the Twilight saga and his character, Pattinson insists he’ll be happy to finally banish them both to the grave, after the concluding episode. Likewise, he’s less than enamoured with the idea of acquiring any vampire traits himself.
“When you think about it, being a vampire means you have to kill people and feed on their blood, but all you get in return is you can run really fast, or throw things around. That’s kind of a lame trade-off,” he surmises.
“It’s the same with living forever. I wouldn’t want to, under any circumstance. I don’t think anyone would want to, would they? It’s like my great aunt.
“She’s 97 and a very, very funny woman but every time I talk to her she says things like; ‘When you next come to see me, can you please bring me some poison?’ I’m like; ‘Yeah, OK’ because I know what she means. Live forever? I couldn’t think of anything worse…”
Who: Robert Pattinson aka vampire Edward Cullen
What: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
When: Opens at cinemas November 19