Robert Pattinson: Reflections on Edward
By: Lynn Barker
Despite all the relationship hoo-ha between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, both seemed comfortable at the recent press day for Breaking Dawn Part 2. They were careful not to talk about their personal relationship other than their filmmaking memories. Here is Rob’s take on the Twilight movie series that has consumed his life since 2008.
Q: What was your last scene, the last moment of being Edward Cullen? Wasn’t it on a beach?
- Robert: Yeah. It was hilarious considering we spent the entire series filming in the most miserable conditions and then we end on a balmy beach in the Caribbean for two days. It was fun. We literally did the last shot as the sun was coming up on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It was a nice way to end it. They were considering shooting it in the sea in Vancouver which would not have worked at all.
Q: Were you sad to let Edward go?
- Robert: Yeah. It was very strange because I still had the same frustration with trying to play it the entire way through right until the last shot. It’s a strange part. On one hand, a lot of the audience projects their idea of Edward on him and it doesn’t matter what he is. They want him to be a certain way. Then, my instinct trying to play it was to find the fallibility in him and the weaknesses. You’re trying to play both these things at the same time and it becomes very strange. You’re trying to play someone who is seen by a lot of people as this perfect thing but what is that? It doesn’t really mean anything. So, you’re trying to play an archetype on one hand and a character on the other. So, I kind of felt insanely frustrated until the final shot and then it ended.
Q: What was the most difficult thing to leave behind about the Edward character and what were you kind of glad to leave behind?
- Robert: I think there’s a thing in general about doing any kind of series especially when the characters remain the same, the feeling that you can go back and improve on what you did in the previous movie…which never happens. Having that work ethic is nice. You feel quite strangely secure. It’s the opposite of how you are supposed to feel doing a movie. You’re supposed to feel totally foreign every time. So going back for another go at it is kind of good on one hand and bad on another. Your ideas dry up sometimes and you get lazy sometimes. You’re around the same people. That was the good thing about having different directors. You kind of had to stay on your toes.
- The worst thing? (Or what he’s glad to leave behind) Just playing a part where you can’t really get hurt and you can’t die. There’s no framework. There aren’t too many possibilities if he can’t die whereas, playing a human being, there’s always that.
Q: Was there any particular moment in the whole series that you would like to relive?
- Robert: The whole first movie was pretty fun. I’d never done a movie like it when there’s such a big cast of people who are round about the same age and everyone really didn’t know what was going to happen with the movie but there was a good energy. There was something which people were fighting for in a way. They wanted it to be something special. None of us were really very known then as well. It felt like a big deal at the time and it was really exciting the first one and the whole year afterwards. It was an exciting year.
Q: Now, at the end of the movie series, are you allowing yourself any perspective on what the Twilight phenomenon means?
- Robert: It’s funny. People were asking me how I’d feel when it all ends on the first movie. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more completely bewildered knowing I only have a month of Twilight stuff left to do. I don’t know. I’ve said since the second one that it’s going to take ten years to really settle in my brain and I’m four years into it. I don’t think there is any analysis. I don’t think people know why they like it. I don’t think even the fans know why they connect with it the way they do. It’s a visceral thing. I don’t even know if Stephenie could tell you why she was so fixated on this very, very contained story and obsessive characters. It’s just an anomaly. That’s a terrible answer. I don’t know (laughs).
Q: If you could go back five years what kind of advice would you give yourself then to prepare you for what was coming?
- Robert: Start drinking vodka instead of beer and start trying to get a six-pack as early as possible and you’ll be a much more successful actor. I don’t know. Not really. It’s kind of fun to deal with the terror and huge highs and lows I think. There are massive surprises anytime you have any kind of Twilight-related event and do anything. I still remember, I think the third movie we went to Munich and I think the entire stadium was filled with fans. Just to walk in there and do nothing. It was supposed to be a Q and A with just me, Kristen and Taylor and we just stood in the middle of an Olympic stadium with 30,000 people just screaming. We just stood there like… yup.. for fifteen minutes. It’s absolutely bizarre. There’s no way you can ever compute it.
Q: This film’s theme is “Forever”. When you think of forever what things pop up in your head?
- Robert: Death? (He laughs) Uh, what is forever? I don’t know, just hope I guess.
Q: This film series has opened a lot of doors for you. How do you see it affecting your career ten or fifteen years down the road?
- Robert: I don’t know. People ask me if I’m afraid of being typecast. You can’t be afraid of that. It’s really not up to you. I’m getting other parts that aren’t vampires. I don’t know if people will accept me in them but there’s really nothing to be afraid of. In fifteen years, I have no idea. I don’t know how people will remember this series, if at all. It’s crazy how intense people are. It would be insane if there was still the same tenacity in fifteen years.
Q: Are you concerned about maintaining the same level of success you’ve achieved?
- Robert: I think if I had a little bit more control over my public image, that would be nice. But no. I think it’s impossible. I don’t think anyone can do that other than Denzel Washington. It’s a strange place where the film industry is at. I guess you could just play superhero after superhero. That seems to be the only guaranteed big money thing now. It’s not necessarily that satisfying getting monetary success but it keeps the door open to make what you want to make. At the same time you could make five massive hits in a row and still not get cast by the directors you want to work with doing little movies. There are no guarantees. I’m trying to sign up to do movies that I’ll be proud of if it’s my last one. That’s kind of how I think about it.
Q: At the end of the day, are you glad it’s over?
- Robert: In some ways. After the first one, (people started) referring to it as a franchise. Franchises are like a Burger King or a Subway. It’s not a movie (laughter). People who start to say it are generally the people making movie off of it. They love it when something’s become a franchise. As an actor, and I think it’s scary, you really feel like you have no control. It’s a huge juggernaut, especially when it becomes part of the cultural landscape in a way. It’s scary. You get trapped and you get scared of changing which is the worst thing that can happen if you want to be any kind of artist.
Q: Are you more famous in the U.K. than you are here?
- Robert: I don’t know actually. I used to be able to be in England and just be fine. No one had any idea who I was. It came later to England. Now it’s relatively similar. I get a lot more abuse in England. I think it’s the general English attitude. I did the same thing to famous people. It’s just your instinct.
Q: You looked like a natural stepping into the father role in this. What do you attribute that to?
- Robert: I quite like working with kids. I like working with kids and animals, what everybody says you shouldn’t do, because you feel like you’re not acting as soon as you have someone who is providing stuff to react to. Especially working with a baby was great. I say put a baby in every scene. Like if you put a dog in a scene, I guarantee everyone is going to be better. If they’re not better just shoot the dog (we hope he means shoot with the camera!!). Yeah, they got some good baby actors.
Q: There are so many more vampires in this film. Which new character did you like? And, as far as vampire movies, what do you like?
- Robert: I really like Blade. I was talking to someone about making hard, R-rated fantasy movies again. People should do that more. Who is my favorite new character? I like Benjamin (of the Egyptian coven played by Rami Malek) mainly because he’s a great actor. He only had a couple of scenes in it but it was nice having actors come in who were really, really enthusiastic and thinking “This is a big deal thing this Twilight movie and I have five lines but I’m going to own them!” Bill got some great people. I’m terrible with names.
I haven’t seen that many vampire things. It’s always been strange to me to have someone say “I’m a vampire fan”. I’m not a non-fan but it’s such a strange thing to be a fan of. Like, “I love zombie movies. They’re my favorite”. It’s more of a psychological problem than being an actual fan (laughter).
Q: Do you remember back in 2008 when you first met Kristen and Taylor? Taylor said he can’t remember first meeting you.
- Robert: I can’t remember meeting him either (laughs). I met Taylor on the movie when he was wearing his wig and stuff. I met Kristen at the audition. I’m still just trying to come to terms with acknowledging being an actor at all and Taylor was only 15 at the time. It reminded me of doing Harry Potter and meeting Dan, Rupert and Emma and thinking, “Wow, those guys are actors!”. I was starstruck by those guys and even though I’d only seen Kristen in a few things, I’ve always had this separation.
It’s funny to see people get humanized. With Dan, Rupert and Emma, I still see them like that. I was with them for eleven months but I still see them as massively famous people. It’s strange to have gone through the same experience with Taylor and Kristen as well. It’s massive and to see people retain their sanity as much as possible (is nice). I’ve seen people get minor amounts of fame and just lose their mind completely after a casting announcement let alone after the movie. It’s kind of amazing to see people manage to maintain.