After conquering teenage hearts the world over with The Twilight Saga, Robert Pattinson now runs away to join the circus in Water For Elephants
After enduring more than six years of female hysteria it’s little wonder that Robert Pattinson is a bit jumpy. When FILMINK meets with the teen icon in a Beverly Hills hotel room, he’s amped up on copious amounts of coke (the soda variety), and his body is in constant motion. If he’s not running his fingers through his floppy hair, he’s stretching his arms around the back of his chair. Pattinson’s Edginess isn’t from a “Leave me alone, I’m very important” place, but its rather more of a puzzled “I don’t understand all the fuss, but I’d prefer to avoid it” feeling.
Cast as brooding blood-sucker Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga, Pattinson has evolved into a vampire-of-sorts in his personal life, holed up in hotel rooms by day, and slipping out at night under cover of darkness where those dreamy-blue-grey eyes and thick eyebrows are less visible. Thus is was the great joy that he emerged into the bright sunshine of Water For Elephants, adapted from Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel about forbidden love set against the backdrop of a travelling circus during America’s Great Depression of the thirties. In accepting the role of veterinary student Jacob to Reese Withersoon’s circus performer Marlena and Christoph Waltz’s brutal big top boss. Pattinson placed a fairly safe bet on starring in his first hit film outside the Twilight series, with his other ventures Remember Me, How To Be and Little Ashes producing disappointing box office results. “I liked the idea of this film, but I also though that it was a fairly good career step,” Pattinson offers. “It doesn’t alienate the audience or the image that I have. It’s not an ultra violent or ultra depressing movie It’s a simple, old fashioned story, which isn’t asking too much form the audience. I thought that was quite good because it’s my first big movie outside of the twilight stuff. I’m doing a David Cronenberg movie which is a pretty big step for me. After that I’m hoping to be producing something. I’m not entirely sure yet.”
Despite his obvious good looks and talent, acting is a curious career path for someone who admittedly struggles with shyness. And despair all his success, Pattinson is still not entirely sure what drew him to drama in the first place. “I suppose it was a variety of things.. the pretty girls?” He grins. “There was a theatre company around the corner from my house [in the London suburb of Barnes.] I guess that it was something that I always wanted to do, but I thought that it was also kind of pretentious. I didn’t mind the kids that were acting at school, but I wanted to do it secretly outside the school. I just liked the environment. I worked backstage for about three years and just watched everything. Then I did a couple of plays, and I got an agent from one of the plays. Then my first audition was for Troy – I was auditioning to play Brad Pitt’s cousin. I was like ‘What? I’m gonna play Brad Pitt’s cousin?’ That was the first time that I’d ever done anything, so that excitement held for something like six months, and then I did Vanity Fair with Reese.” says the actor who ironically made his film debut with Witherspoon playing her son – a scene which was later deleted – and is today reunited with her eight years later as her lover.
Pattinson continues: “After Vanity Fair, I went to South Africa for three months which, for a seventeen-year-old, was pretty great. You get an apartment, you get paid, it’s fun. I thought “Okay, I’m an actor now!”" laughs Pattinson, referring to the little seen TV fantasy movie, Curse of The Ring. If the perks seemed cool at the time, today he’s more pragmatic. “I enjoyed them then, but I don’t now.” says the actor, whose celebrity is so overwhelming that he can only travel by private jet. “If anything, I wish that I could stay in a shitty hotel and be a part of everything. I’m always separated from the crew now; I have to be in some secure place, and I’m not able to hang out with anyone. That’s the best part of doing movies too, where everyone is so tight for three months so when you leave, you’ve actually created a relationship with people. Right now, I’m doing things where I don’t even know people’s names. It’s very frustrating, but I just have to figure out ways to live my life the way that I want to live it. It just takes a while, and it’s not like there’s any map or guide for this life of mine.”
If it seems like a better idea to embrace his fame rather than run fearfully awe, Pattinson has firm views on the topic. “Most actors I see try to encourage it [a fan base], because they think that’s what’s gonna give them a long lasting career,” he says. “I just don’t think that’s the case. The more that you reveal of yourself, the more you over saturate your image, and the less interesting that people find you. If you’re just an empty shell with your face stuck on everything, it’s cool, but hysteria can only last so long. Mystery lasts a lot longer, yet the entire industry is devoted to tearing every shred of mystery left in any kind of celebrity apart, so you have to work to maintain anything. In my case, I just hide. I’m in stand[by mode until I actually do something. If I’m not working, I just sit around, I try to watch a film, but my concentration span is so short that I’m bored after twenty minutes. I used to pal this game on the iPhone called Fall Down, it’s the most ridiculous thing which involves absolutely no brain effort whatsoever, and I’d something sit and play it for sixteen hours. I get obsessed with things in short bursts. Like at the beginning of the last Twilight movie, I was working out a lot, because I had to take my shirt off all the time. so I was obsessed with going to the gym all the time and cycling everywhere but as soon as I finished, I just stopped dead. And I haven’t gone to the gym since.”
If times are strange now, Pattinson will doubtless look back on these incredible years with a certain fondness. Although, in revisiting his past, he’ll have to join the rest of us in watching Twilight DVDs after having accidentally erased all his personal photos. “I actually managed to delete every single photo that I took on my phone from the beginning of Twilight until now, which was my only record of my life.” he laughs. When FILMNIK asks how it happened, Pattinson buries his face in his hands. “What can I say? I was incredibly bored, so I tried to update my iPhone and wiped everything out.”