Had you heard of these books prior to auditioning?
Robert Pattinson: No, I hadn’t heard of them at all. I don’t even think I knew how big is was when we were shooting. When we first started shooting, it got bigger and bigger. At first, no one showed up at the set, and then, on the last day, there were about 100 people outside the set, screaming. Everyone knew everything, and it was like, how did this happen? It gradually changed and there was all this hype and then the hype grew. It was really strange.
Kristen Stewart: I hadn’t heard about the book until I knew the movie was happening. I read it after I got the part, actually. I read the script and then I had the audition over a weekend. I was working on another movie at the time and entirely preoccupied, so I accepted the part before I read the book. At first, I really didn’t want to do it and I wasn’t interested. Looking at this, this was rumored to be a slightly bigger movie than I was used to doing. Those are usually sort of mindless, vacant and empty. I wasn’t being very generous with my focus. I read it and then begged for the audition.
After reading the book, did you like it?
Robert: It was hard for me to get through the first time, because you’re trying to picture yourself in it. It’s life, “He walked into a room and it hurt to see how beautiful he is.” Well, that’s kind of embarrassing. When I started figuring out the characters, I liked the second book a lot more than the first one. I thought the second book was pretty moving. It was weird, because I just sort of read so much into it. And so many people read it as kind of an easy read, and I really wanted to make the movie not see like a cash-in. You know, just s flash-in-the-pan movie. And there’s definitely elements of the core story that’s very strange. But I found a lot of stuff in the book eventually. Obviously, at first glance it’s kind of a girl’s book, but it is possible to read into it quite deeply if you try.
Kristen: I found it hard not to connect to the book. I don’t know about how it is for men, but for a girl, it’s very voyeuristic. For a chick, it’s very self-reflective. You experience the story through this girl, so every intimate detail of what is going through her mind, her fixations on details of him — it’s like you shouldn’t know these things about a person. They feel like your own thoughts and feelings.
Did you feel pressure to live up to the image of the books that fans have? And, of course, you, Robert, have to deal with lots of screaming girls.
Kristen: I don’t deal with the pressure. It’s not like, “I don’t deal with it because I can’t.” IT just literally does not have a tangible effect on me. The responsibility that I felt towards the character was so much greater than anything I ever thought. Like, “Oh, I hope people aren’t upset with the way I played the part.” You put yourself in Bella’s position while reading the book. Everybody is going to have a different view. They think of themselves as Bella. You would be playing a really disjointed character if you were trying to appease everybody. I really hate to piss off a swarm of really rabid fans, though I don’t think that happened. We stayed very true to the book. If they have any problems, then they are purely weird, personal problems. Then they won’t like any movie I’m ever in. I can only bring myself to the characters, and that’s the whole point of her. I want everybody to like it as much as me, and it does make me a little nervous, though I am proud of the movie separate from what anybody else might think.
Robert: I think the response they have to me is a little scary, because teenage girls especially are notoriously fickle in their affection for celebrities, so it’s a little scary. Plus, somebody said being fans of a book, they’re very loyal to it and Stephenie Meyer. And I got a 100% negative reaction when I got cast — literally 100%, but I was kind of expecting it.
Why were you expecting it?
Robert: The Edward in the book is this sort of perfect creature. It’s everything that’s supposed to be perfect about a man, and he just embodies that. So everyone has projected their own image into him. The amount of different people who the fans kind of wanted was so varied. People were saying actors like Leonardo DiCaprio — Edward’s supposed to be 17! It’s completely crazy. But then Stephenie Meyer — who I met with — kind of gave me the okay. Literally overnight all the fans completely changed their minds. And then if anyone kind of says anything negative, people will attack them and say, “No, Stephenie says he’s right.”
Did you view of your characters sort of influence how you played off of each other?
Kristen: Like Bella, I’m a teenager. I think that she has a lot of the essential, fundamental female qualities. The whole power balance in the movie is what interested me about it. She is willing to subject herself to anything. That is a really strong, powerful thing. It’s something that Edward can’t do; he can’t relinquish control. He doesn’t have it and she does. It’s weird that way. I think maybe the only difference between the two of us is that I really over-think things. She is interesting, really naive and really sure-footed at the same time. She’s a good girl to present to young girls if you are going to generalize about chicks. This is a good way to do it.
Robert: When I read the book, I just didn’t know how I was going to play it. Then I read the script and started to get a better sense of it. And then I did a screentest with Kristen, and she just kind of played Bella in a really unexpected way; like really strong. And she’s not really strong in the book. Well, she’s kind of strong, but not really. But Kristen is just naturally quite a sort of tough person. It made me play Edward as kind of weaker. He’s this kind of all-knowing thing in the book, and I kind of went with the character from there, saying he’s this kind of demi-god. But she has all the power over him, and he’s just kind of a wreck, really. She completely dominates him, and that’s kind of how I played it. I guess it’s not really the same as in the book, but I just couldn’t figure out a way to play “perfect.”
So you didn’t want to play him as this perfect character?
Robert: Not really. I just kind of played it like I was looking at famous figures that teenage girls still consider to be perfect people — like James Dean and people like him. I tried to base my performance on that. In the book, he’s kind of this gentleman, always opening doors and things, which is not what girls find attractive at all. It’s not attractive as in, “Oh, I could get married to this guy. He’s really stable.” If you’re a girl who says, “Oh, this guy is really weird and really dangerous, and I’ve killed 50 people and you can’t tell anyone and I really want to kill you, but I’m in love with you” — well, that’s really intense, and any girl should be like, “Okaaaaaay.” So I kind of tried to play it like that.
Kristen, when you did read the book, was there a particular scene that you thought wou’d really love to shoot?
Kristen: Yes. One thing about this movie is that there are very iconic moments. If you read the book, there are moments of the film that are bigger in your mind — the reveal of what Edward is, for instance. Everything in this movie is a fight — like a fight to find out what he is; a fight to have him acknowledge it and to sustain that. I think when he reveals who exactly he is, he shows Bella his true colors, so to speak. He shines and glistens in the sunlight. There’s a moment where he turns and shows her and he is ashamed. She’s looking at him thinking that this is the most unspeakable, beautiful thing in her life and he’s just ashamed of it — that scene.
And in playing a scene like that, or any of Edward’s scenes for that matter, did you have to go to a dark place to be this vampire?
Robert: The way I wanted to do it was be kind of powerless. He’s just kind of a helpless character. He was unconscious when Carlisle made him into a vampire. He never decided that’s what he wanted. But then you suddenly wake up three days later and you have to kill people and you don’t know why, you’re never going to age and you’re going to live forever and you’re like this Superman type of guy — well, it’s not something you ever asked for. Before that, you were a normal 17-year-old kid, just a normal guy. And then you go off and you kill a bunch of people and it’s all your surrogate father figure’s fault; this guy who is like a saint and he’s never killed anyone. Edward is like an eternal adolescent. I mean, you’re fighting with your father all the time, but it’s on a much higher scale because you want to kill people and drink their blood. I think he’s very frustrated.
So, are you ready to be a big star?
Robert: I don’t know. I doubt things will be very different to how it is now in my life. The only thing I’m scared about is people coming up to me and saying, “Hey, you’re Edward from Twilight,” which is likely to happen because I’m doing so much promotion. I guess afterwards, when it’s all done and you’re by yourself and people still come up and say “Hi,” maybe it will be different. But I’m not really that worried. I can always go back to London.
Kristen: I think this is going to make it so much easier for me to not be gutted every time that a movie I’m in love with is never getting off the ground. I never again have to sit around and wait for a movie to get money and then get too old for the role or just disinterested and move on from it. That I don’t think is going to happen anymore, and I’m really thankful for that. In terms of losing anonymity, I’m not very approachable. I keep a low profile.