Not quite a typical It guy, the 22-year-old actor wasn't exactly oozing charisma or confidence.
In two hours he would be facing 1,000 shrieking fans at the King of Prussia Mall, but in his suite at the Four Seasons Hotel he cringed at every mention of the word fame.
The London-born actor bashfully stared at the floor and ran his fingers through his now infamous hair as he answered questions about the cultlike following of "Twilight"-obsessed teenage girls and their mothers.
"It's really strange when you go from like no one caring to people going like, 'Oh yeah, I saw that guy from 'Twilight' being an idiot.' I mean, it's strange," Pattinson mused. Refusing to make eye contact or even use the first person when discussing his outrageously successful press tour, Pattinson tried to disassociate himself from his character.
But that might be impossible.
Thanks to his role as Edward, Pattinson has already attracted a fan base of thousands of teenage girls willing to camp out in the rain for hours for a two-second encounter.
He is trying not to let it go to his head.
"So many young people who get a big hit kind of get hyped up," he said. "They start to believe their own hype and then everyone starts to, like, cut them down immediately. And I just feel like I'm being propelled by something I have absolutely no control over.
" . . . I always feel like I'm going to get my head cut off."
The intensity of the past few weeks confuses him. Dressed in black jeans, a nondescript black jacket, black leather Nikes and a white(ish) T-shirt, Pattinson looks more like a gawky, shy, awkward teen (albeit with perfect bone structure and no acne) than the brooding vampire the "Twilight" legion wants him to be.
He got a taste of life in the spotlight after playing Cedric Diggory in two Harry Potter movies, but then he "squandered away" his Harry Potter momentum and just hung out with some L.A. waitresses until returning home to London. That's where he was when he landed "Twilight," living with his best friend in a tiny apartment with one chair, a TV, and homemade furniture.
"It was so cool," he said nostalgically. "You had to walk through a restaurant kitchen to get up to the roofs but you could like walk along all the roofs . . . I didn't do anything for a year, I just sat on the roof and played music . . . it was like the best time I had ever had.
"I never set out to be an actor," Pattinson offered as an explanation of why he isn't worried about failing. "Though I'd be quite annoyed if it fell apart, because I quite enjoy doing it."
Before acting, he imagined a very different life. Pattinson planned on going to the prestigious London School of Economics to study international relations and politics. He ended up making Harry Potter movies instead, which gobbled up years of his teen life.
"It went on for so long," he said, "I didn't have to decide what to do and I didn't have to do any exams or anything. It seemed like a really easy option."
After his time off "doing nothing," Pattinson tried to reignite his acting career in part because he needed some structure.
"I guess I must have matured a little bit last year," Pattinson reflected, laughing. "And I guess maybe I missed school and I missed kind of working in a structured way and so I started looking at scripts and acting in a very structured way. I forced myself to feel like I was working."
Besides the movie-star thing, Pattinson is also trying screenwriting. He has already written a few scripts, the most recent one about the slave trade. And he wants to have a production company by the time he is 26.
"I guess I'm just a control freak," he said. "I don't like the way the film industry is . . . If you come with a good script and then it goes to the studios and gets financing, it all gets changed because they want to make money. And it's like, how do you know if it's going to make money or not? All you're doing is making it generic when you do that, and making it generic is no guarantee that it's going to make money either.
"The only way to abandon that is to take risks," he added passionately. "And you need to be able to trust people. So you get a company together with people you know are good and you know work hard and you can make good stuff. That's kind of what I want to do."
But for now, Pattinson must get through the "Twilight" of his young career.
He said all the press is tiring and he has "an overwhelming urge to say something really terrible" every time he has to face 1,000 screaming 14-year-olds. He has been traveling with the same bag of clothes since he was in Italy almost a month ago.
"It's weird how odd your clothes start to smell," he confessed, half-seriously.
His character's loner image seems to ring true in his own personal life as well.
"I'm good at disappearing," he said. "I don't have too much of a problem with it. There's hardly anyone I want to speak to . . . I spend most of the time just avoiding phone calls, just avoiding everything." *