Robert Pattison – Everything you didn’t know about him and Kristen Stewart

June 2010 By Philip Berk

Not since the Harry Potter series has a series of young adult books captured the imagination of readers as has Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga.   

All four were publishing phenomena, only to be eclipsed by the astonishing  success of the movie adaptations.

Twilight, the first in the series left audiences breathless. Maybe it was the charisma of Robert Pattinson that seduced audiences all over the world, but by the time Twilight ended its run it had become one of the most successful box office movies of all time.

The sequel, New Moon, although less well received, did almost as well, confirming the studio’s faith in the long term project.

When the second in the series was announced there was some fear that the studio was prepared to sacrifice quality for the fast buck.

The first had been the vision of Catherine Hardwicke, an auteur best remembered for her teen movie Thirteen, but she was let go because their release schedule wouldn’t give her adequate preparation time, and she was quickly replaced by Chris Weitz who had made the similarly anthropomorphic Golden Compass.

I remember asking Kristen Stewart why she didn’t go to bat for Catherine, reminding her how Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland had fought for George Cukor, the Gone with the Wind director who was replaced by Victor Fleming, and she had no idea who any of them were!

So much for the young generation.

Not to take anything away from Kristen — she’s arguably the best young actress of her generation — but it was the untried unknown Robert Pattinson who set hearts aflutter and created pandemonium wherever the film was shown. 

Even before the film opened, I predicted the only vampire audiences will ever remember — forget Brad and Tom —  would be Pattinson, whose  moments of yearning passion and obsessive love quickened pulses all over the world.

At his press conference unfazed by the buzz he was generating he didn’t mind one bit my asking about his being fired from his first West End play. 

At the Royal Court Theatre no less.

To hear him tell it, it made him stronger.

“It was one of the best things that ever happened to me  because I think I got some jobs afterwards by saying that I got fired for standing up for what I believed in, when really I was just lame. But I think in not backing down, if you have an idea about something and you completely believe something, you should keep fighting until the last second, and if they can’t think of an argument why their idea is better, you should stick to yours.”

Even at the risk of getting fired!

What was his reaction when he found out he had the part of Edward?

“To tell you the truth, at the time I was a bit jaded with acting. I was doing music in London (he was in a band)  and not thinking about acting all. But I really liked my American agent, and she said, ‘Listen you’ve got to come and do some testing. I didn’t expect to get it, and I had no idea how big it was. So it was a complete fluke.”

How much thought went into creating that character?

“When I read the book, I thought, he seems physically impossible to play because he’s basically an enigma; he’s a canvas for people to project their fantasies about the perfect man, and being a real human, you’ve obviously not going to please everybody. So I was thinking how can I abandon being the perfect guy. So I went to the book, where she’s obsessed and completely infatuated with him, and decided he could look however you wanted him to. I didn’t have to get a six-pack. I started with that, and abandoned every fantasy element. I didn’t want to play the classic vampire; so I broke down every element of him and figured out how I could relate to that in a human way, seeing his affliction as a disease where the symptoms are eternal life and super strength and super speed. And that was it.”

Was he always consumed by acting?

“Not at all. I was never into acting. I didn’t do drama school. When I was about fifteen, I went to this drama club because a girl I really liked went there. I worked back stage. I never had any intention of doing it.  But then they did Guys and Dolls, and I really wanted to play Nathan Detroit. It was completely out of the blue — I had never sung in public or anything — but I got obsessed with it, and I did the audition, but didn’t get it, instead played a Cuban dancer or something.  But then all the good people left, and when they did Our Town next, I was the only one tall enough to play the lead, and I did that. An agent was in the audience, he signed me up, and I started getting jobs. I had a small part in Vanity Fair with Reese Witherspoon, which ended up on the cutting room floor. I did a Viking movie, and then did Harry Potter.”

The role of Cedric Diggery happened just at the right moment. He had set himself a deadline intending to go to university if the acting hadn’t panned out. 

And getting fired on opening night didn’t change his mind?

“I literally  started rehearsals the day after I finished Harry Potter. I had no idea how to act at all. I don’t go to theatre too much because I don’t really like modern stage acting; so I thought if I go into this I want to do a performance which would make me go see the play. Obviously I wasn’t ready to do it. Everyone thought I was trying to do a Brando impression. So it kinda fell apart, but it didn’t deter me. In fact I’d like to do theatre now. At the time I was eighteen, had no projection in my voice. It wasn’t the right time.”

In the course of making Twilight he and Kristen had fallen in love, though neither would discuss it.

Bella and Edward share an obsessive love.

Has he ever experienced obsessive love?

“There was a girl I was totally obsessed with for about ten years, but I never told her. I think that is the best type of love. But finally when I told her, she was like, ‘You’ve never said anything nice to me.” I guess that was the closest thing.”

Did they end up together?

“Not at all. She thought I was nuts. So it didn’t work out, but she was the reason I started acting, the girl I went to the drama club for.”

His career in music — his sister is in a band, and he had a song on the Twilight CD — what happened to it?

“It was years ago. I was in this band, not a proper band, kind of roll-on musicians. I still try and play. I like playing in bars and stuff; that’s when I feel free. I did a couple of gigs in L.A., but people put them on the internet, and it just ruins the whole experience. So l kinda stopped. I’ll wait until this hysteria dies down before I start doing live gigs again.”

And the song on the soundtrack?

“That was a folly of thoughtlessness, I guess.  A friend and I wrote a few songs a year ago when we were trying to put an album together. It had nothing to do with Twilight. But Catherine (Hardwicke) heard a CD of my stuff and she put them in a cut of the movie and Iiked it. It fitted with the movie, but I never thought about it in terms of launching a music career. I didn’t even think it was going to be on the soundtrack.”

How does he spend his down time?

“In L.A. it’s basically waiting for my phone to ring and reading scripts. In London I replace scripts with books. I watch a lot of movies. I live a very boring lifestyle. I have very few hobbies.”

Is he ever in touch with Daniel Radcliffe?

“Not really anymore. He’s always working hard, and I’ve been in the States most of the time.”

From the way he speaks you’d think he’s from the upper classes, but he isn’t. How come?

“My parents were very very aware of how you’re treated differently in the world if you’re not well spoken, and that was a heavy influence in my upbringing.”

Bella and Edward are soul mates.

Does he believe such a thing exists?

“I would hope there is, but it would be quite scary to find a soul mate when you’re young.”

Does he mind being a sex symbol?

“It’s strange because I guess I’m a sex symbol to fourteen year old girls, which is not the most helpful situation to be in. I mean last year I couldn’t get a date, and now this year I can have any 12 year old I want.”

 What is he looking for in a girl?

“I’m always shocked by the people whom I’m attracted to. I like people who are a bit crazy.”

Are there any directors he’d like to work with?

Not surprisingly he names three American auteurs: Paul Thomas Anderson,Todd Solondz and James Gray.”

At the time of the interview the internet was reporting that he had proposed marriage to Kristen on the set.

Astonished he responds,“I don’t know where that thing came from. I don’t know why I would ask to marry her on the set. Who overheard me asking her that?”

How special is Kristen?

“She was the reason I wanted to do the movie. I thought of her as a kind of insurance because of her track record in choosing movies. After meeting her, I definitely knew I had somebody on my side. She’s fierce, and for a young person she’s very solid. She doesn’t back down to anyone. I think of all the actresses of her generation she’s going to be the biggest.”

His tastes in music suggests an unusual sensitivity.

“I listen to a lot of old blues. I like John Lee Hooker and Elmore James. I was obsessed with Van Morrison. I went to see him play Astral Weeks and just spent the entire night crying. I was obsessed with him for years.” 

Was he a rebellious kid?

“I really wasn’t. I didn’t like doing what people told me to do, but I didn’t deliberately rebel against anyone.” 

Edward is the personification of sex.

What’s his definition of sexy? 

“I think it has a lot to do with not speaking. That always makes somebody more attractive. But I wasn’t really trying to play him as a sexy guy. He’s not very sexy in he book. He’s mysterious.  There’s always  another thought behind what he’s saying in his head. He’s always hiding things.”

At her press conference Kristen was unusually relaxed. At previous press conferences she fidgeted nervously . 

Could it be love?

When she first met Robert was she immediately smitten? 

Amused by the question, she replied,  “Rob came into the audition looking sort of terrified, a subdued fear, and pained. There was a very evident pain in him, and he knew to bring that to the character. We didn’t need the statuesque, perfect like model to come in and just pose. Also, in terms of chemistry, you never know how that all is going to work. It’s really hard to define, it’s hard to even talk about. It feels like you’re looking at a person and that they’re seeing you – we could see each other and I couldn’t see any of the other guys. They weren’t even looking at me.”

What kind of actor is he?

“He’s very organic, he’s in the moment, and he lets it happen, which is brave. he’s a courageous actor.”

 Does she believe in soul mates?

“I don’t know. I don’t really presume to know anything or put too much stock in my beliefs. I have absolutely no idea. I think that it’s like one of the most beautiful things when people can stay together, but we’re not really like penguins or ducks who mate for life. I don’t know. I hope so. That would be great.”

Bella is attracted to the forbidden things, including Edward. Is she also attracted to the darker, forbidden things in life?

“I’ve had a very sheltered, classic childhood; a very seamless, happy little existence, so I’m definitely attracted to the darker side in that I don’t know anything about it. However, I don’t like things that are arbitrarily dark. Not a goth kid or something. But it’s interesting to watch somebody work through those things. Really damaged people are interesting to me.”

Rob had his definition of what’s sexy. What’s hers?

“It’s always so different. Sometimes you find the most obscure unsexy thing sexy. I have no idea what I think is sexy.”

If Twilight makes her a big star, is she prepared for that?

 “I don’t look forward to the loss of anonymity. I’m really not good with people – not good with strangers, especially when they come up to you. It’s funny – this opinion of me that I’m like this complete serious little thing: I can be so funny sometimes…”

Exactly a year later, Twilight New Moon was ready to open, and Rob had become the hottest actor in the world

So unaffected by his celebrity was he, you had to wonder if it was Kristin rather than he that negotiated huge salary increases for the cast.

At his press conference I couldn’t resist telling him, of all the stars I’ve ever interviewed there’s never been anyone of his magnitude so completely laid back, without any attitude. 

Does he have an entourage? Is he concerned with image? Is he completely oblivious to the whole star-making machinery?”

“I don’t like having people around me that much, if that’s what you mean. I don’t want an assistant. I don’t like having a publicist. I think the more people you have around you, the more people are telling you what to do. The more people you have to pay. I find most people’s opinions irrelevant.”

Ironically, and unexpectedly, at that very moment, his heart throb reputation was being seriously challenged by a young upstart.

Bella had found a new love interest in the movie. The studio had created two camps: Team Edward and Team Jacob

Young girls were already clamoring for the young actor who played Jacob, Taylor Lautner, who has since become Hollywood’s highest paid teenager actor.

Four years ago at a press conference when he played Shark Boy in Robert Rodriguez’s family move The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D he was asked if he had a girlfriend.

Innocently he replied, “My mom says I can’t date until I’m married,”  

At his New Moon press conference when he walks into the press conference, he’s unrecognizable, having packed on 30 pounds of solid muscle!

Was this the same Jacob of the first film?

What did he have to do to get that body? 

“I trained for it. I was in the gym five days a week. The main thing I couldn’t do was overwork myself. When I started, I was in the gym seven days a week, all the time. But I soon realized I was losing weight, not exactly what I was trying to do. And in fact eating was the most difficult part. People don’t believe this. They think that would have been easy. I actually had to put something in my mouth every two hours, which was not fun. It’s not ice cream. I’m putting raw sweet potatoes, raw patties, raw almonds…”

When he now looks in the mirror, does he see the same person?

“People ask me if I feel differently moving. I don’t. I feel the exact same. I guess the biggest difference is I moved from like a men’s small to a men’s large.”

So has he experienced his first love, his first heartbreak?

“I have experienced some love and some heartbreak. I don’t really know what else to say.”

The fan magazines suggest he and Kristen are more than just good friends.

“Kristen and I have a very, very good relationship. It’s weird to say this, but it’s very similar to Jacob and Bella’s relationship. We have that open chemistry. We’re able to talk about anything together. Kristen’s amazing, extremely experienced and talented.”

How about on the set. Did he and Robert get along?

“Rob and I got along just fine. Rob’s great, he’s such a funny guy. That’s something that a lot of people don’t know about him. He’s hilarious, so we get along great.”

Does everyone get together in the trailer during breaks?

“The great thing about our cast is we all get along really well. If we didn’t, it would be a nightmare. There’s not time to like hang out in each other’s trailers, ’cause we are always working. If we finish at a decent hour, then we’ll all go out to eat together. And we’re really good friends. If we’re in LA and we have time, then we’ll hang out here too.”

At one point the studio considered replacing him even going so far as to test other actors for the role. That must have been demoralizing.

“If I let that get to me, I would have been doomed. The day after I finished filming Twilight, I hired a personal trainer. I started working out. It all worked out for the best. As soon as they hired Chris Weitz, It was all good to go. The main thing was just staying focused on what I could control.”

Does he still  have to work out every day?

“It’s been very hard recently, ’cause we were working 16-hour days – sometimes 18. So when do you get into the gym? When do you find that time? When do I eat? Right now, I’m just trying to maintain as much as possible.”

So is Rob threatened by Taylor?

Not for a moment.

“I always liked Jacob’s character in the series,” is his nonchalant reply.

What, is it about the Twilight saga that makes it so hugely popular? I ask him.

Without a beat he answers, “The cast. When I am in a room with fans, they all seem like they’re not afraid to approach us. They will come up, and because the characters are very well realized in the book, people feel like they can relate to us.”

Kristen has a different theory.

“I think it’s because every character is independent from his mythical status, and is interesting.”

Both Taylor and (director) Chris Weitz describe Rob as a humorous guy. 

Has he always had a sense of humor? I ask him.

“Not really. I don’t think people thought I was particularly funny in school. I was never aware of it.”

Has he always fallen in love with his leading ladies?

“I don’t necessarily know if I fall in love with my leading ladies. I haven’t done that with other leading ladies.” and to demonstrate his sense of humor, he adds, “The only other love story I did was with a guy playing Lorca. I guess I fell in love with him a little bit, but he couldn’t speak English.”

How was it working a second time with Kristen?

“I’ve always been pretty good friends with Kristen. She’s always been a really good person to work with. She’s very mature, very professional. She was always my credibility insurance for the movie.” 

And a third time?

“It’s scary doing any kind of franchise, especially one which has the possibility to make you famous. If you do it with someone who’s got a lot of credibility as an actor, it kind of works. We’ve always been pretty close. Both of us kind of challenge each other quite a bit.”

Asked to set the record straight, are she and Rob a twosome, Kristen replies. “Everybody on these Twilight movies, we’re all so close. The thought of letting something become entertainment for other people just cheapens everything in your life. I would never tell you that I was dating anybody.”

Is it difficult for an actress to be (romantically) involved with her co-star? 

 “I’ve had an emotional relationship with almost every actor I’ve worked with. There are different levels. I’m really lucky to have Rob and Taylor, and I’m lucky that I can have those open relationships with them, because it makes the work ten times easier.” 

Rob is even more resolute.

He won’t discuss the subject but he is prepared to talk about his family.

He has three sisters. Surely he must miss them. Does he miss England? 

“The last time I was there was January (2009.) I’ve done the two Twilight films, and Remember Me in between and have had pretty much three or four days off in between. I haven’t been back to London, and the next time I see my parents and the rest of my family will be for the premiere there and then I fly to New York the next day. But it’s weird because I always thought of myself as very English and then you kind of realize I can’t claim it my home anymore; so it’s strange. I feel very comfortable back in L.A.”

What is his relationship to fame?

“It’s difficult to know, as I’ve been working almost consistently. The crowd thing is different. It’s strange because I don’t really know what my everyday life is. When you’re on a set it doesn’t really matter if you’re famous or not. You do the same thing. You wake up at 5:00 in the morning, you go home very rarely. You just want to go to bed. So I still don’t really know what my other life is really like. On junkets you get to see a lot of nice bathrooms in hotels around the world.”

Are there parts he embraces?

“I think it’s very dangerous. So many different media outlets have this voracious appetite. Keeping them at bay involves a certain amount of hiding. It’s quite difficult to embrace it.”

Which country has the craziest fans?

“The craziest fans that I’ve encountered were in Mexico. It’s something about South America. People get very enthusiastic.” 

If he needs to run errands, what precautions does he have to take?

“You just got to be pretty sneaky, but it depends where you are. if there’s no one waiting outside the place you’re staying, then you’re generally fine. Occasionally normal people will come up. They’re always fine. I’ve never had anyone just randomly shout abuse at me.”

What makes him different?

“I have bad hair days occasionally.”

Why do vampires wear so much make-up?

“I guess there’s only a limited number of ways to look pale.”

So what can we expect from the next installment The Twilight Saga: Eclipse due in theatres in June.

Kristen’s response: “Eclipse does sort of the same thing that New Moon did to Twilight. You take Edward out of Twilight, you wonder where the story could possibly go. I think the biggest change in Eclipse from New Moon is that Bella needs to get back her faith. That’s really hard to do. You take a girl that’s been broken by a guy, she becomes very open and absolutely willing to fall in love again with someone else. Yet she is genuinely of the mind that she will never feel  anything like she felt before. When it comes back, she’s strong enough to take it back and say, “Okay, that was a mistake. Those were mistakes. Those were choices we made, but let’s own them and move on.” She’s not fickle, she’s just willing to acknowledge things change. She was so terrified of change through the first two movies, but at this point, she’s, “Okay, great.” She’s very willing to roll with the punches.”

How will it be different for Bella?

“Bella did most of her growing up in the second one but she has to use the lessons that she’s learned, and taught herself, she has to act as the woman that she became in this second one. So in the third, she’s  she realizes that there are different levels of loving someone – that it’s a choice to be with Edward and it’s not a need and that she can’t just make excuses . It has to her own choice, she has to claim it. It’s not a physiological thing, it’s a choice she wants, and if it’s hurting the people around her, then she needs to deal with that in a mature way. She’s really tortured about how it’s making Jacob, Edward, her dad, her mom, everyone feel; is she just being very selfish. There’s this big battle at the end, more action, more going on. But it’s more about people.”

Taylor’s version: “Twilight developed Edward and Bella’s romance. New Moon developed Jacob and Bella’s relationship. Eclipse is the height of the love triangle. The three of them are physically together all of the time. They’re at war. it’s time for Edward and Jacob to put their differences aside and realize that we need to team up and protect the girl we love. It’s my favorite book, and it’s going to be a great movie.”

 Kristen’s favorite is still New Moon.

“For me, that was the lowest that a character could ever go while still in the same story. She reaches the highest point and the lowest point.”

Dakota Fanning, who plays the vampire Jane,  a member of the Volturi, returns in Eclipse in an even bigger part.

Here is what she has to say about The Twilight series.

Q: How much fun was it playing the bad girl?

A: It was really fun. it’s kind of the first time I’ve been a really evil character, like with a superpower that is used for bad. That was fun to get to do in the movie.

Q: What do you like about the books?

A: It takes us to a different world. We put ourselves in other people’s shoes, which is what I love about acting. I get to do the same thing. These books kind of deal with all that – longing and loss and love, but in a way that is kind of understandable for people of my age, both girls and boys.

Q: If you were in Bella’s shoes, who would you choose?

A: I don’t know. For Bella, there is no life without Edward, and she wants to be with him forever. So, she really doesn’t regret anything.

Q: Which is your favorite book of the series?

A: My favorite is New Moon, because of parts where Bella is like really broken after Edward is gone and how Jacob refills her in a way, and brings her back to life. I just think that’s really beautiful. 

Q: Are you Team Jacob or Team Edward?

A: I would have to say that maybe I’m more of a Team Edward, because someone who is a Team Edward is kind of like love at first sight and fairy tale and romance. I fall more into that category.

Q: Can you explain Robert Pattinson’s fascination?

A: I think girls are fascinated with him because the character he plays. They love the character. He’s like the ideal man that every girl loves. But again Rob has that great hair, he’s really very handsome.