He’s been named one of the world’s 100 most influential people but Robert Pattinson couldn’t look less conspicuous if he tried.
Lounging on a plush sofa at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, his white T-shirt features a tiny rip front and centre, his shoelaces are unlaced and his baseball cap is on backwards.
In short, he’s disarmingly understated and approachable, immediately offering a cheery hello that quickly reaches his blue-green eyes.
“I can’t wait for this film to come out,” he says of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.
“I feel like we’ve been talking about it for months. Well, I have!”
He’s the first to admit that this movie is different from the previous three, which are also based on the novels by Stephenie Meyer.
Not only does it signal the beginning of the end of this billion-dollar franchise, but it also takes the core message of abstinence and gives it a twist; not only do Edward and Bella, played by Kristen Stewart, his real-life girlfriend, get married, they also – shush, don’t tell anyone! – have sex (which is quickly followed by the arrival of their first child).
The guitar-playing actor reveals that the harrowing childbirth scenes were tough to watch, given that Bella was writhing in pain and covered in blood for most of the scenes.
He not only found the on-set experience intense but also had some trouble coming to terms with his place in the movie.
“Kristen really connected to this film – she thought that it was Bella’s journey and that it was really important. But when I first read the script, I was so frustrated because what is Edward supposed to do, when he’s on the sidelines, worrying?” muses the Londoner.
“By the time I was called on to the set, Kristen had gone so far beating herself up that I was terrified – and I hadn’t been terrified since the first movie.
“We shot the childbirth scenes as continuous sequence, from when she goes into labour to the birth, so we really had to commit to what we were doing.
“By then, Edward’s really beaten down and has to give up his ego.
“It’s only in part 2 that Edward rebuilds himself again and I admire him for that.”
The 25-year-old heartthrob says it was emotionally challenging to act around all the special effects that show Bella’s emaciated body giving birth to baby Renesmee.
“Kristen’s head was attached to a dummy body which had gore all over it, and she was wearing a torn hospital gown. It looked unbelievably bad. It was more like a Saw movie than a Twilight movie.
“And the dummy was so realistic I was shocked when I first walked on set – to see anyone you know look like that is just horrible.”
Did he try on Bella’s fake pregnancy belly?
“I wanted to but they wouldn’t let me,” he laughs.
Hype around the movie has been growing ever since the producers released photographs of the much anticipated Edward/Bella wedding.
Pattinson remembers the day they said their “I do’s” with some amusement, mostly because as the groom no one was interested in his outfit.
“We had all these paparazzi helicopters above and no one asked me to hide as it was all about the dress,” he recalls in wonderment.
“I was standing there in the wide open wearing a tuxedo and Kristen was shrouded in secrecy with this dress on.”
He’s more than conscious that his legions of fans (aka “Twihards”) are desperate to see the movie and while even Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, has said that she wouldn’t want his level of fame, he’s extremely level-headed about the attention he gets.
“Luckily, it’s not every day you have to deal with loads and loads of people because it’s quite tiring,” he says.
“But people are coming out to say they like you and you have so many people in the world saying they don’t like you, so you have to appreciate it because they’re on your side.”
He’s also learned to make the attention work to his advantage.
“While shooting Water for Elephants we were doing an important scene and there were paparazzi messing everything up.
“There was also a crowd of fans who were staying way back and being respectable, while the paps were being a—.
“As I was driving past the fans I said, ‘Listen, I can’t get out because of all these guys, but if you get rid of the paparazzi, then you can have a better position and I’ll come and sign stuff’. And so they got rid of them. They chased them away.
“When you have 300 girls coming at you, it doesn’t matter how tough those eight guys are!”
Pattinson reveals that he’s now trying his hand at script writing (“I’ve written a few screenplays and I’d like to do more”), but his immediate aim is to try to find interesting roles.
He’s recently completed Bel Ami with Christina Ricci and David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, but says: “I’m not interested in doing star vehicles.
“You want ensembles, you don’t want it to be ‘Oh the Twilight guy’s got a movie coming out’. The directors don’t want that either, they want it to be their movie.”
Surely he feels more secure now that he has a reputed $55 million in the bank and the world at his feet?
“Kind of. And then not at all,” he says candidly. “I feel like I have to think more about what I can do.
“I find I have to convince more people of my worth now than when I wasn’t getting jobs at all. As soon as you start getting paid for stuff, your options become limited so quickly.”
That said, he’s keen to end the press tour for Breaking Dawn and get back to work.
“I’ve done nine films in four years,” he sighs, before adding with a smile, “It’s completely ridiculous. This is the longest break I’ve had in that time but you know what, I already feel like I need to get back to work.”