The success of Twilight as a film will depend on young stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, who will need to connect with fans of Stephenie Meyer's novel about teen love and vampires at a rural Washington state high school.
Opening on Friday to a great deal of anticipation, the Catherine Hardwicke-directed film features Stewart as teenager Bella Swan, who's hopelessly attracted to vampire-in-denial Edward Cullen, played by Pattinson.
Both actors appreciate the pressure that comes from fans of the wildly popular novel, but both refuse to let the expectations get to them. They have also chosen to ignore an ongoing online debate among book fans about the film's casting choices, although Stewart says she's aware some fanatics continue to be disgruntled over her winning the Bella part.
["Yeah, I planned it out for three," says Pattinson, smiling. "And they can't kill me off, because I'm immortal."]
"I don't take it personally at all to be this figurehead in these girls' minds, a weird little prop for them," says the 18-year-old Los Angeles actress. "Some people come up to me and compliment me, and some others look at me with disdain, and I'm always like, ‘I'm sorry.' "
But the confident Stewart does not apologize for her performance in the movie; she's already a veteran actor, having worked in the business since she was nine. Her first big gig was playing Jodie Foster's diabetic daughter in 2002's Panic Room. More recently, she had a brief but impressive moment in Into the Wild opposite Emile Hirsch, which got Hardwicke interested in her.
When the director met with Stewart late last year, she was convinced that the young actress could pull off a complicated portrayal of Bella as "a clumsy and shy teen," so obsessed with her true love "she's willing to give up who she is."
Twilight's high profile means that Stewart will be making some sacrifices of her own, but she doesn't seem too concerned about the approaching wave of fame. "In terms of losing anonymity, I'm not very approachable anyway," she says. "And I keep a very low profile."
Pattinson, meanwhile, might face a tougher challenge. The 22-year-old English actor auditioned against 5,000 others for the Edward role with only the brief part of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on his résumé.
After he won the role, he realized he had to live up to fan anticipation, not to mention the book's description of the character's otherworldly good looks. "And I wasn't that crazy about all that time in makeup at 5:45 every morning," he says.
The wire work as a vampire wasn't much fun, either. "The annoying thing was that you had to look like it was effortless," he reports. "Plus, I was really fit at the beginning of the shoot and I lost all my fitness progressively as we started doing the action stuff."
He did manage to get two of his songs on the Twilight soundtrack, a feat he shrugs off. Ironically, the movie will hinder, not help him, in his musical endeavours.
"I used to love playing live at open mics at bars," he says nostalgically. "You could go nuts and be completely free. It would be a cathartic experience for me."
Now a Pattinson night at any club would become an instant media event. "I've lost a huge chunk of my life," he says.
Not that he regrets the Twilight opportunity. If they make more films of the four-book series, he'll be back.
"Yeah, I planned it out for three," says Pattinson, smiling. "And they can't kill me off, because I'm immortal."
there is also a radio interview with robert you can download here.