His name is now synonymous with screaming fans, tousled hair and possibly sparkly skin, such that Robert Pattinson may find it difficult to escape the shadow of vampire Edward. But as we found out recently, he’s largely at peace with the role these days and only slightly bemused at what the fans see in Edward. Here he is on becoming a vampire dad, behaving like a secret agent and going on guilt trips. Mild spoilers for those who haven’t read the book…
Are you happy to say goodbye to Twilight? And what has its impact been on our culture?
I guess I’m happy to move on, but it was nice to have good closure. I found Edward quite a restrictive character but in Breaking Dawn he kind of loosens up about everything. I mean, it’s almost impossible not to when you’re delivering babies and, you know, Bella is dying and all this stuff is happening. You can’t play it the same, and that was nice. It was nice to have arguments and things as Edward, which seemed very unusual. But um, what’s its contribution to the culture? Well one of the main things, which obviously the books did but the movies helped, was just getting young people reading again. Harry Potter started this thing, but anything which gets kids reading, it helps. As soon as you start reading one series then you start reading a bunch of other stuff. Just in terms of the film industry as well, I think Twilight showed that you can have a female audience for something and it does well.
What about its perception of romance?
I think it’s a fairly traditional romance. I have never understood the fascination with vampires though. I mean, people are obsessed and I don’t know why. I know the history of it; I find it interesting to think there are true stories of things in, say, Romania. I like all the conspiracy theory aspects of it, but I guess when doing Twilight that is why all the vampire people hate us, because we didn’t have fangs, don’t get burnt in the sunlight or anything. I didn’t really have to do any research about vampires.
How was it shooting the films back to back? Was there a different kind of feel to it doing two movies?
Yeah, it felt like a long time when we were shooting it. Also, at the beginning we were a lot less stressed than we were before. It became stressful later, when we suddenly realized we were basically shooting these two films. It became even more work in the end than normal, but for the first couple of months it was like “Eh, we got 8 months! This is easy!”.
So it turned out to be rather a lot?
It’s a lot! Especially when you are splitting them up, so you’re playing scenes from like 260 pages [apart]. Sometimes we would switch between the two movies during one day, and it’s a completely different mentality from the first one to the second one. So it was kind of complicated.
You become a father in this film. Did you discover any paternal instincts? Do you get on well with kids.
Only some kids! If it’s an annoying kid, I don’t get on with them. But I like babies, I like doing the scenes with babies. There were quite a lot of them as well, so that was fun. It’s just so different from a Twilight movie, because the main problem with stage the scenes is, because we are all vampires we don’t do anything, you don’t fidget, you don’t put your hands in your pockets, you never do anything! You have nothing to do all day, so it’s very difficult to think, “How do I do this scene without just standing here?” And as soon as you have a baby involved, you have to respond. Everyone suddenly just breaks all of their standards.
Did you ask for advice of how to act like a dad?
With a baby I think it’s pretty instinctive. I mean, everybody looks freaked out, especially guys. And all woman immediately are like “Ooo, we know exactly what to do” and guys think they are going to break it all the time.
Did it make you feel more grown up?
Yeah, definitely! Having the wedding ring on and having like a baby, you’re like, “Jesus Christ! 40 already!”
Did you goof up on set?
I’m almost certain I did. There is a bunch of ridiculous stuff: in any kind of fantasy movie you end up looking ridiculous so much of the time, especially doing fight scenes when you’re not actually doing a fight scene, because it is PG-13 and because they don’t have like fights, they are all trying to pull each other’s heads off!
Is there something you did like about Edward?
I thought he was great. The annoying thing about him is that that the fans’ perception of him is that he’s this perfect guy, but whenever I read the books, he doesn’t seem like the perfect guy at all. I wanted to play his flaws, but then you have this subliminal idea coming from everywhere saying: “No, he’s got to be perfect!” but you can’t play perfect! Perfect is someone with loads of flaws, and then you stuck in this funny little loop. But it was interesting playing this one because I really didn’t like a lot of Edward’s actions in Breaking Dawn, and it’s nice to play actions where you think: “Oh, he’s doing the wrong thing.”
Can you give an example of that?
I mean, he is just very selfish at the end and gets ruled by his emotions. His heart is running him instead of his head, which is the opposite of all the other movies. He’s always trying to plan ahead, but he becomes much more impulsive and doesn’t feel permanently guilty. He feels like he has been wronged when he hasn’t been wronged at all.
What part of you is like Edward and what part of you is most unlike Edward?
I always feel guilty about everything; that’s quite similar to Edward. And, I don’t know, he always thinks he’s doing the right thing, he always thinks he knows what is going on and I never feel like I know what is going on or doing the right thing!
Do you regret, despite the perks of getting roles through this, being in the limelight sometimes?
I mean, yeah. I guess everybody’s got something to complain about, no matter what their life is, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons! It’s annoying, like, trying to find somewhere to live, because you are literally thinking about things like you are a fugitive, or a CIA undercover operative or something; you are genuinely worried about spies. Trying to find a house, you’re like ‘What’s the street parking like? Can people see in? I can’t have people park outside!’. You can’t have anyone cleaning your place, and you have to worry about your guests and stuff just in case someone talks about where you live. It’s crazy.
Do you think it’s temporary? Will that change after the movies are done?
I don’t know. I mean, it’s obviously great that people are excited about it. It’s really the gossip magazines and paparazzi. It’s allowing people to stalk you for money. Hopefully the News Of The World thing’s going to destroy that whole culture.
Because Edward is so serious, we don’t see him laugh or smile a lot. What roles does Hollywood offer you now? Would you like to do comedy?
I guess your offers are really only dependent on what people perceive your audience to be. It doesn’t really matter who you are. People assume, “Oh, he will bring in teenage girls!”. Even though the majority of the audience for Twilight is older, people have the perception that it is young girls because they are the ones who turn up to the premieres and stuff. But I don’t know, people just assume you can bring women in so that they give you roles where he’s the romantic hero, which I don’t think I can do particularly. I didn’t think I could do before Twilight, and I still don’t really see myself that way.
Would you like to be in more of an action movie?
It’s strange, there’s sort of a mentality where it seems like every single actor eventually does a big hit movie and then they are in an army movie afterwards. It’s just the obvious choice. I think it is something to do with playing sports: if you play sports in school and you’re a guy and you become an actor, those are the films you do. I hated playing team sports, so the idea of hanging around only with only a bunch of guys for three months, it’s just like…no!
Are you still playing music?
Yeah I still write a lot. I would love to be able to do gigs again, but it just seems weird, I don’t know. The best thing about playing music live is that you go in and people are sitting there waiting for something to to happen, whereas now I walk into a room and most people are either expecting something or they want to shit on it. As soon as you walk in you can feel the energy, so it kind of affects the performance, it doesn’t make it so enjoyable.
When you were younger were you as crazy about any actors as teenagers are about you now?
Umm. Before I even wanted to become an actor I was obsessed with Jack Nicholson. I never even thought of being an actor, but I used to watch his movies and literally copy his clothes. I used to buy all these movies and I never put two-and-two together that I wanted to act.