With 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' finally hitting screens across North America, Rob Pattinson, the British actor who portrays the romantic vampire Edward Cullen, offers insights into his character and into his own personal psyche.
The wait is finally over. Opening in theaters across most of the planet, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse -- the most guy-friendly, fan-favorite and accessible film of the Twilight trilogy (two more films to go) -- is sure to set bofo box office records from Toledo to Toronto. But for Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward Cullen – the leading vampire of the film franchise – the main thing on his mind is not the big bucks the film will generate; it's all about the challenges of developing his character and making another Twilight movie that, for lack of a better word, eclipses the intensity and uniqueness of the first two, Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
“As an actor, the most important thing to me is doing a film I can be proud of, and I'm immensely proud of Eclipse,” Pattinson said during an early June press gathering in Los Angeles. “The directors have been a big part of making these films unique and successful. After doing (the Catherine Hardwicke-directed) Twilight, on the first one, everyone had very, very specific ideas and everyone was butting heads the entire time, and you kind of feel it in the movie. It's a different energy with everyone feels like, 'No. This is what this is about.' Then when (director) Chris Weitz came on New Moon, he basically came with the thing that he liked what the actors were doing and he just followed along in that road. Then when (director) David Slade came to start Eclipse, he was like, 'I have some ideas.' So we talked about the character development and the consistency from the first two and he'd say, 'It doesn't matter. Let's just do something really different,' which is good. It's easy to get stuck when you're playing the same character. Luckily, I kind of felt like I was developing something a little bit there on Eclipse, a completely different character in a lot of ways. So it was nice and challenging. This is a film that I think everyone will like. I know I do.”
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
Since Eclipse is your third Twilight film, do you feel like you learn something new with each one of them? “I guess I had to learn to sort of run properly. In the last two, I always run with a kind of limp/skip. I could run more solidly this time, so I spent a lot of time running on a treadmill – like one of those wheels that mice run around on. I got filmed to improve my form. I guess that was one of the big things.”
Do you believe in the concept of a soul, like Edward? “Do I believe in the soul? Yeah, definitely. I don't exactly what he said but that the soul must exist because good people aren't rewarded enough without them.”
In real life, do you ever compete with another guy over a woman in the way Robert fights with Jacob? “Did you just ask if I'd ever sleep with a woman and another guy?” (laughs)
No, I said “compete.” (Laughs) “No, I don't. I think I'm not good at knowing it. I just kind of leave you alone, and also, I guess, if you are the one with the girl in the first place I guess maybe you're forced into fighting a little bit. But I'd never be in Jacob's position because then you just end up being the guy broke up with.”
Have you ever gotten in a fight with someone over a woman? “Yeah, probably. But I don't know if it was about love. It was just more about pride”
Kellan Lutz, Peter Facinelli, Jackson Rathbone and Robert Pattinson (part of The Cullen Family) in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
Edward is considered, by many, to be a flawed and possessive romantic hero. At this point in the story, Where do you think Edward is at? Has he changed? “Yeah. His flaws in the first two movies, I think, and in the story were just caused by his sort of disconnection from reality. When he finds one thing to hold onto, that's where his possessiveness comes from. I think that as the series goes on he accepts more and more that he's a part of the contemporary world. I think all the things that were deemed flaws before start fading away. That's how I'm trying to play him. I think he's coming out of his shell a bit in Eclipse. So, hopefully, by the end of Breaking Dawn, he'll basically be a normal seventeen-year-old guy, just a little pale.” (laughs)
What was it like being able to act much more closely with Taylor Lautner this time around? “It was good in this one, because I never do anything with anyone else but Kristen (Stewart). It's kind of hard letting Edward have petty emotions like being jealous of Jacob and not being able to control himself around him because he gets under his skin so much. It came easier to play. There was a much bigger scope of emotions to play as soon as you let someone else get through your armor. He's really good.”
Kristen Stewart (Bella) and Robert Pattinson (Edward) in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
There are so many fan sites devoted to Robert and Bella on the internet. Have you seen many of them, and if you have, is there one of them that stands out to you for any reason? “Sure. It's kind of incredible the information that they get so quickly. Sometimes I check them just to see what my schedule is. Like on weekends, when I can't get through to my agency, they know way better if I can get to see my own friends. It's strange being in Twilight, because so much of the fan base is completely about being on the internet and also being a part of a community with each other. I mean, you see people turn up at the sets of other movies that I've done and take a picture. You know the main reason is that they can have a thing in their sort of online community, and it's going to be up within five seconds. If they could upload it as they were taking the picture it would be better. It's strange.”
How long have you known that Breaking Dawn was going to be broken into two films, and was it tough holding the secret in? Have you gotten the chance to talk with the new director, Oscar-winner Bill Condon? "I found out about Breaking Dawn when the press release came out. Bill Condon, I met briefly a few weeks ago kind of by accident just before the MTV Awards in a bar. He seemed great. He seemed like a really nice guy. I haven't talked to him in detail about anything. I think it's going to be good. I don't even know when we're shooting, yet, or anything.”
What do you think Edward's evolution will be from the start of Breaking Dawn to the end of the second film? “I mean, it's weird. I'm starting in a month after this job, and I'm quite glad I haven't read it yet. I didn't intend to not read it until now but it's quite exciting and I have no idea. I've just heard some brief rumors about what happens in the story but I don't really know what happens.”
Director David Slade on the set of 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
What's the biggest part of your costume that transforms you into your character? “I think probably the contact lenses, because it makes me miserable as soon as I put them. That's what creates the sort of brooding, pouting character.”
Your hair is cut in a military buzz cut style, at the moment, so do you think you're going to be able to grow your hair back in time for Breaking Dawn? “I think I heard someone say wig...that might be easier. (laughs) I didn't even think about that when I got it cut. That's nothing against longer hair or anything. So maybe I don't know. I like the idea of having a shaved head in the last one. That might look cool.”
Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Robert Pattinson (Edward) in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
None of the paparazzi ever photographs you driving big, expensive movie star automobiles. So, what kind of car do you drive? “I just drive rental cars. (laughs) It's true. I just need something that gets me around LA. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. I'm a fairly simple guy, so my needs are simple, as well.”
How would you answer an average movie-goer, “Why should I go see Eclipse?” “Why not? (laughs) No. I guess now it's strange. I don't know what to say to people, because it's become so much of the cultural environment unless I'm just imaging that. So it's really difficult for me to tell someone to go and see it. I don't even know anymore. The first one and the second one, I knew exactly what to say to people, but I guess if you don't know what the story is about by now, then you probably haven't ever been to the cinema before. So why not just go to the cinema for once? I think if you're a fan of it, a lot of the film plays into what the fans of the series want. I guess if you've never seen it before, I've had a lot of people who've seen it tell me that this one is the most accessible of the three. It's a solid story by itself and it's more of an action film. Even when I was watching Twilight, the other day on TV, now that I've seen it you kind of do need to have read the book to really get it. Sometimes it's like, 'What?' And I'm in it.” (laughs)
Do you think that the character of Edward is going to dominate you career? Despite everything else you do, do you feel as though every future role will always be compared to Edward Cullen? “I'm not sure. I've always felt that if something explodes really quickly that it takes the same amount of time for people to think of something else. I don't know? I hope not. Maybe it'll...I have no idea.”
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens throughout North America on June 30, 2010