Twilight has virtuous vampire in the spotlight
By KEVIN WILLIAMSON, SUN MEDIA
Immaculately-coifed Brit Robert Pattinson has rocketed from
relative unknown to Hollywood's Next Big Thing thanks to
his role as vampire Edward Cullen in Twilight.
LOS ANGELES -- The screaming was enough to wake the dead. Or the undead.
And receiving the brunt of it? Angular, immaculately-coifed Brit Robert Pattinson, on stage in front of thousands of shrieking females at this past July's Comic-Con in San Diego.
Yes, his fellow Twilight cast members were there too, but it was the 22-year-old who had the throngs swooning. After all, for devotees of Stephenie Meyer's novels, Pattinson is Edward Cullen sprung to life.
Edward who? Don't worry. Even if you don't know him, you probably know a 'tweener or teenager who squeals at the mention of the virtuous vampire's name. No wonder on the Richter scale, the event registered somewhere between a Miley Cyrus concert and the Rapture.
Yet it almost didn't happen. At least not with Pattinson, whose most famous role pre-Twilight was Cedric Diggory from the Harry Potter movies.
"I didn't want to do a stupid teen movie," Pattinson says now. "I specifically hadn't done anything which anyone would see since Harry Potter, because I wanted to teach myself how to act. I didn't want to be an idiot. (Twilight) came kind of randomly, and I didn't really know what it was when it first started. I wanted to do two or three more little things and then do something bigger, and then this kind of happened and I was like, 'Well, okay.' "
It's hard to imagine many other actors being so conflicted.
Regardless of Twilight's box- office reception this weekend, the impact on Pattinson's career has been seismic. In a matter of months, he has rocketed from relative unknown to Hollywood's Next Big Thing, splashed across magazine covers and worshipped by a blogosphere that takes its Twilight very seriously. Then again, by all accounts, so did the actor, who has cultivated a reputation (at least in the media) for brooding obsessiveness.
Pattinson doesn't deny reports that during filming in Portland, Ore., he clashed with producers over how to play Edward, who he saw as epically tormented.
"I think most people read the book and it's an easy read. It's a nice book. So I think most people went in thinking, 'Yeah, it's a happy film.' I'm, like, holding the book and saying, 'No! This is going to win Oscars!' " he says, laughing at his own hubris now.
At the time, though, it's doubtful the producers were nearly as amused. Did they really want to gamble their franchise hopes on a vampire who was more a basketcase than a heartthrob?
"I spent a long time fighting with producers. (Director Catherine Hardwicke) got me a copy of the book with every instance that he smiled highlighted, and I was just like, Okay, fine.' ... It broke down as I was doing it mainly because people wanted me to make it lighter."
And he concedes now that they may have been right.
"If you're writing the perfect guy, you wouldn't write him as some manic depressive weirdo who's trying to kill himself all the time, whatever his six pack is like."
Remembers author Meyer: "With Rob, we sat down and talked about Edward's character before the filming started. It wasn't an argument, but we actually disagree on his character. I'd be like, 'No, this is how it is.' He's like, 'No, it's definitely this way.' And ... yet in the performance he did what he wanted, and yet it was exactly what I wanted."
Then again it probably doesn't hurt the movie to have fans know their leading man is as invested in the source material as they are. Nor do reports that the pairing of Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who co-stars as Edward's soul mate Bella Swan, was nearly as charged off-screen as it is on-screen. One rumour has it that Pattinson even proposed to Stewart.
"I can't even remember when this happened," he says, smiling. "Kristen was like, 'Yeah, you did.' I was like, 'Oh.' "
How does Pattinson explain his chemistry with Stewart? "She's very strong. She's not a damsel type girl. It's weird. They just cast the opposite people. I'm a wreck and she's really strong, and it's supposedly the other way around. I think that's why it kind of worked."