Dead But Dreamy - Robert Pattinson is Twilight's Edward
by Tara Bennett
Normally, a vampire flick heading to theaters would attract the typical genre or horror fans curious to the latest spin on the bloodsucker mythology. But there’s nothing typical about the absolute tidal wave of buzz surrounding the big screen adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s young adult skewing vampire tale, Twilight.
In the four years since Meyer’s released Twilight (the first book in the now completed four series), the book have sold more than 17 million copies in 37 languages, and maybe most importantly, spawned a fandom as passionate, vocal and obsessed over their work that most authors can only dream about. Granted a big reason for that kind of devotion is the love story at the center of the series – the forbidden kind between the human Bella Swan and the immortal vampire, Edward Cullen. Their story is exactly the kind of angsty, breathless affair that make women, young and old, swoon for and studio executives salivate over to convert to film.
The smart executives at smaller studio Summit Entertainment ended up acquiring the rights and now find themselves about to release what will assuredly be their biggest hit (and possible franchise) ever. Just according to the numbers from two weeks ago, online ticket destination Fandango reported that the film’s presales accounted for 51% of all daily ticket sales on the site, with plenty of the November 21st opening day and night showings already sold out. That’s the kind of hype that usually surrounds characters named Iron Man, Batman, Jason Bourne or any other typically male oriented blockbuster fare, not for a $37 million dollar budgeted vampire romance that takes place in Oregon.
But if you dig a little deeper, you can easily chart the swell of hysteria to one rather pale Brit whose face fills one half of the Twilight movie posters – actor Robert Pattinson. Most mainstream genre fans will recognize him for his role as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but otherwise his resume only features some art house films and British television series. Even fans of Meyer’s novels were incredulous at the casting of their beloved (and preternaturally gorgeous) Edward with an actor barely anyone knew or considered hot. Funny what an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con and some well planned smoldering photo shoots can do for a guy’s reception.
The thousands (oh, and we mean thousands) of Twilight fans at Comic-Con < walked out of the film’s panel new converts to the shy charms of Pattinson which has ignited the kind of estrogen laced frenzy usually relegated to boy bands or mega watt hot actors (think Clooney or Pitt). It’s left a lot of significant others, single guys, etc...scratching their heads in confusion.
Luckily, Newsarama thinks we may have figured out the secret charm of one Mr. Pattinson in a recent interview with the actor during his stop in Philadelphia for the six-city Twilight press tour. The big revelation? Well it’s got to be that Pattinson is actually a rather self-deprecating chap that doesn’t get all the fuss either.
“I actually asked the people in Chicago yesterday...I asked them, ‘What do all you girls who have turned up, what do you see in Edward? Why are you so attracted to him?’ And the completely unanimous response was, “Because he’s so sexy!” Pattinson smirks and continues, “I was like, ‘Oh, ok. Well, that is the depth of the attraction.’ I was really kind of baffled by the whole thing. I guess in some ways it must be to do with chivalry...chivalrousness?” The actor squishes his face trying to find the right word and just continues, “Whatever...that’s how unfamiliar I am with it. Gentlemanliness. It’s funny because teenage girls are still obsessed with Mr. Darcy and Heathcliff and people like that. It doesn’t go away; it’s still a male ideal and I guess Edward is those [guys].”
Being called the model of male perfection by the Twilight fans is the kind of title only the most narcissistic of guys would find themselves comfortable with and Pattinson agrees that the turnout of thousands of screaming women of all ages along the tour feels like it’s more about Edward than himself.
“It’s not really going to my head or anything because I don’t really know what it is,” Pattinson says bemused. “It is strange how you get treated differently by people in a very, very brief period of time. You know, you ask someone if they want to go out to dinner and they’re like, “Do you want me to? Do you want me to?” It’s like, ‘What are you talking about? Why would I have asked you then?’ Just funny little things like that happen now. And it’s weird because I know it can’t have to do with me personally because the movie’s not even out and so you’re turning up and not even knowing what to do for the people turning up. People are saying, “I traveled four states and I’ve been waiting since 9 o’clock yesterday to do this.” And it’s like, ‘Yeah? Cool.’ I don’t really go into an acting job knowing how to deal with it and especially when you’re promoting it, you’re trying to sell it. And I’m not even trying to sell anything; I’m just there to get screamed at, you know? I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be doing so it’s kind of a surreal experience.”
Actually, according to the actor the whole Twilight filming process has been a bit odd. He admits he contributed to it by deciding to really immerse himself into Stephanie’s Meyer’s brooding take on Edward Cullen. According to the books, Cullen was turned at age 17 so that he is forever frozen in time as a youth, yet he’s lived more than a century plagued by the loneliness of an existence without love. Vampires exist secretly in the human world – basically in two factions – those that prey on humans and those like Edward and his family that feed only on animals to quench their blood lust. It’s only when Edward meets Bella (Kristen Stewart) when she’s transferred to his high school and their electric connection turns both of their lives upside down.
“I went to Oregon two months early and obsessed myself with the story,” the actor explains. “When everyone else came up, they were like, “Oh God. What is this guy on?” But I guess the more depth you give to the part, the more your life becomes entwined with it and the more you see yourself in the lines. It all sort of binds. Honestly, I don’t know if I was playing the book; I don’t know what I was playing. I definitely felt some connection to it and I definitely felt like I had a connection to Kristen. I felt just the relationship between Bella and Edward, that’s the only important thing you need to get across. You just need to make sure that there’s a separation between their relationship and everything else in the movie world and I think that came across.”
He does laugh a bit and admit the choices he made to diverge from the book version of Edward ended up coming back to what Meyer wanted anyway. “It’s weird because I thought I was doing something different but now that Stephanie has seen [the movie] she’s like, “You did it exactly how I imagined it!””
Pattinson looks a surprised at that feedback but then goes on to explain, “In the book whenever you read [Edward] saying, “You should stay away from me. I’ll hurt you” – you get this sense of security around the whole book that you know he is never, ever going to do anything to hurt [Bella]. And you know that she knows that. I kind of like the idea that he is a little bit less in control of himself. I think for one thing it makes it sexier and it makes him more attractive because he is saying “There is a very real chance that I will kill you when I am around you.” It also makes their relationship more intense when she’s saying “I know you won’t” as a kind of reassurance for herself rather than a reassurance for him. She’s saying like, “I know you won’t, right?” I think it makes it kind of bizarre and funny as well. And I thought I made him a little bit more unpredictable.”
Aside from all the deep moments of sexual tension and soul baring, Pattinson also gets to exercise his physical skills again with a few major fight sequences between Edward and the rival vampire James (Cam Gigandet), who sees Bella as more of a tasty snack. Pattinson was experienced with the complicated choreography of onscreen battles from his work on Potter, but he says Twilight offered even more challenges.
“A lot of the physicality was quite difficult. I’m not really that much of a body actor. I don’t have that much control of my body. But you had to establish a whole matrix of movement so that [Edward] didn’t look human. That was quite difficult and it needs to be really concentrated because I think most fantasy films which flop are ones that aren’t consistent in their lore. So we went through a lot of stuff about physicality and ended up making it much more simple than complicated. Whereas we started out with really complex ideas of how [vampires] should move and fight and everything, but ended up playing it more human than we initially started out doing which I think is better; I think it’s scarier in a way.”
Referencing the climatic battle with James at the end of the film, Pattinson says that sequence became one of the major testing grounds for the movement of all the vampires throughout the film
“We shot the big fight scene at the end within the first week and I was really convinced in the way I had established the character arc that Edward needed to be 100% demonic in the last fight. The monster that he always says he is to Bella, I wanted him to become that at the end. And so I had to psych myself up for about a week to do this nuts fight.”
The actor chuckles to himself and continues, “As soon as I started to do it, I don’t think anyone expected me to do it like that, so they were all like, “Uhm, tone it down.” I had maybe thirteen takes and my direction was “tone it down” every single take. I’d love to see what the first take was, especially after seeing the final scene where I saw one brief bit of a fight between me and Cam where we were like growling at each other. I think we were both really into it when we were doing it and we were both like really trying hard to look like vampires.
"When we watched the playback later it was like a big, bright light. We didn’t realize how well lit it was, we thought it was kind of dark, but you could just see these two guys, one with a sort of bouffant haircut and the other with like his abs just being like “RAAAAHHHH!” It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I hope that’s on the DVD. It’s quite funny.”
With the success of Twilight just about assured, Pattinson knows that Edward Cullen will be in his future for some time. “I went into it when it was a trilogy so I signed for the next two [films], but I guess it depends on how much money each of them makes,” he says with a knowing wink.
In the meantime, the actor says he will head back home to London soon and looks forward to finding some new roles that push him in a new direction before he heads back with the Twilight cast to Oregon. “I have been playing a string of loner parts for awhile. Hopefully, I will go into something where you have a normal relationship with the rest of humanity. I have literally played every role with some kind of derangement. I hope the next thing I do I can be relatively normal!”