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Interview with a vampire: Twilight’s Robert Pattinson

Twilight Edward Cullen
Robert Pattinson (Twilight’s Edward Cullen)

Canada.com has this indepth interview with Robert Pattinson who plays the gorgeous vampire, Edward Cullen the upcoming Twilight.

Chances are someone in your life is in love with Edward Cullen. It may be your daughter. It could be your tween niece. Perhaps it’s your 50-something coworker. It seems women of all ages are besotted by the fictional hero of Stephenie Meyer’s blockbuster young adult book series, which makes the leap to the big screen this Friday when Twilight opens in theatres.

Not that Edward is your typical teen movie hero. As a 107-year-old vampire, he’s unfailingly polite, resolutely chaste and the picture of chiseled perfection. But in his quest to woo Bella Swan, an ordinary teenage girl, Edward also exhibits a dark side rarely seen in films aimed at the under-18 set. He can be jealous and moody, he sneaks into her room at night to watch her sleep and, oh yeah, he’s constantly fighting his nearly irresistible urge to drain her blood. In other words, he’s no Zac Efron.

“No one seems to see that,” says 22-year-old British actor Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward in the film. “If Edward was not a fictional character and you just met him in reality, you know, he’s one of those guys who’d be like an axe murderer. He’s ultra-polite and really formal all the time and like, ‘Let me open the door! Let me carry the bags!'”

Pattinson shakes his head, adding with a laugh, “Literally, you can just tell he’d freak out one day and shoot someone.”

While the actor is surprised by teen girls’ idolization of his character, he’s downright bewildered when it comes to their obsession with him. Almost overnight, the lanky actor has gone from being known only for playing a minor character in the Harry Potter films to Hollywood’s hottest heartthrob. Though his co-star, Kristen Stewart, is getting some attention for her role as Bella, most of the Twilight fan frenzy has landed squarely on Pattinson’s reluctant shoulders. Last week, an autograph signing at a San Francisco mall was cancelled when the out-of-control crowd left at least one youngster bruised and bloodied, while a recent cast appearance at MuchMusic quickly dissolved into fandemonium, with Pattinson’s soft-spoken answers drowned out by the high-pitched sequels of 2000 girls, some of whom camped out for two days just to catch a glimpse of him.

“I don’t really process it; I just accept it,” he admits from the safe confines of a downtown Toronto hotel hours before the MuchMusic mayhem. “Well, now I do. Before I used to get all overwhelmed and kind of like emotional about it and everything and now I’m just like, I just have a very strange job where I just get put on a plane, sent to somewhere and everyone screams and then I go somewhere else and do it again.”

That’s not to say he’s fully comfortable with his new status as a teen pinup. He readily admits to being astounded at landing the role of Edward – who Meyer describes in the book as “devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful” – and claims he’s too self-conscious to watch himself on film. He’s especially mortified by the thought of seeing Twilight’s pivotal romance scene, in which Edward reveals his immortal secret to Bella by stepping out from the shadows into a sun-drenched meadow to expose his inhuman, sparkly skin.

“That whole scene…just having to take your shirt off for a guy when you’re not exactly like a gym bunny, especially when you’re supposed to be, it was one of the most embarrassing days of my life,” he admits with a cringe, raking his fingers through his trademark messy hair. “So I don’t want to see it. Unless I’m just literally like, you can’t even recognize me as a human, then I don’t want to see it.”

It’s that kind of self-deprecating shyness that makes it easy to understand the attraction he holds for teenage girls. But it’s Pattinson’s insistence on adding depth and layers to the source material – which, no offense to Meyer, is a highly entertaining series that amounts to little more than literary junk food – that is casting a spell on older fans. Much has been made about his clash with the movie studio over his desire to play Edward as a manic depressive, and he openly talks about his determination to steer the film out of fairy tale territory (“I tried to make the end of this more ambivalent but I think people wanted more of a happy ending”). Pattinson admits that he even locked horns with the author herself when they first began discussing his approach to the character.

“[Stephenie] was saying that he was happier than I thought he was and he enjoyed certain aspects of his supernatural abilities, and I just thought he wouldn’t at all,” he explains. “I was just thinking how much, if I was in his position, I’d just think ‘Wow, I can jump really high. Great. But I have to kill people in return.’ But you know, I can see where she was coming from. It’s her creation at the end of the day.”

It will be interesting to see how Pattinson’s commitment to his character’s integrity will come into play if the film spawns sequels (which, judging by Twilight’s brisk ticket pre-sales and inescapable media hype, is almost a sure thing). In the next book in the series, New Moon, Edward (spoiler alert!) leaves Bella a few chapters in, and doesn’t return until near the end. But will the studio – knowing they have in Pattinson teen girl catnip – allow his character to disappear for more than half of the film, or will New Moon be re-jigged to give the audience a glimpse at what Edward was up to on his world travels?

“Oh no, I hope not. I really, really hope not,” Pattinson says with a shudder. “That re-entrance scene, the comeback scene could be really amazing if they just left it the whole time. I haven’t seen the new script, but that’d be silly if they put in little vignettes [about Edward’s whereabouts].”

A Twilight sequel that doesn’t prominently feature Edward Cullen and/or Robert Pattinson? Now that’ll give the girls something to scream about.

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