His mother used to be a model; from her, Robert Thomas Pattinson inherited his good looks and a passion for acting. Pattinson was born in May 1986 in London, and his father is a car salesman. But it was his mother who encouraged him to become an actor and helped him land his first big role at age 15—when he became the good-looking Cedric Diggory in one of the famous Harry Potter films. That’s where the director of Twilight saw him a couple of years later. Not convinced that Pattinson could bring vampire Edward Cullen to life, she made him travel from London to Los Angeles for a screen test. The test was a love scene with the one who would become his co-star in the saga and also the young lady who stole his heart: Kristen Stewart.
Fans of Pattinson, who love him unconditionally without knowing him, would melt at the opportunity of speaking to him and seeing him just the way he is behind the scenes. He’s a bit shy, smart and very affable with occasional acquaintances—à la Johnny Depp, one of the actors he admires. His blue eyes are always smiling, especially without the discomfort of the contact lenses that he must wear while playing Edward in Twilight, New Moon and the upcoming movie, Eclipse. Edward is the character that, in spite of himself, has made Pattinson extremely famous around the world.
“It’s too much attention. I still don’t understand why something like this happens, and I think I’ll never understand it. It must be that pale skin is very sexy (he jokes). It’s very hard to see as normal the fact that girls see you, start screaming and ask you to please bite their necks. When I was going to school, just the opposite happened to me. You lose a lot of privacy, but I’m not complaining. Don’t let it be misunderstood; I’m just trying to survive the new fact of having turned into a phenomenon almost as big as the vampire I play,” he says while seating on the edge of his chair, leaning his elbows on his legs and holding his face in his hands—one of his favorite poses.
Like Stewart, he keeps messing up his hair, which very much despite himself has also become his trademark. “Before, I used to wash it once a week. I didn’t pay attention to it at all, and now everyone makes sure I don’t cut it,” he says, smiling. “My hair has its own life, how silly.” He hasn’t been able to go back to London and live there for an entire year because he’s been working non-stop, and hotels have become his permanent abode. His friends say that he’s looking for a home in L.A. to live with Stewart. Theirs is a relationship with only photos as a witness and not the actors themselves; that’s because, among other things, their publicists forbid journalists from asking them about it.
Pattinson just finished filming the third part of the vampire saga, Eclipse, which will once again focus the frenzy upon him when it premieres in June. He also filmed the romantic drama Remember Me, which is also about to premiere and in which he plays a rebellious youth in a story similar to that of Romeo and Juliet. It’s about a forbidden love between two youngsters whose parents hate each other. According to the critics, the film helps to show that before the heartthrob that he doesn’t want to be, Pattinson is a great actor.
They must send you hundreds of screenplays. What makes you choose a movie like Remember Me over others?
The screenplay is amazing, and that’s the first thing I look at—and also my character. At first, I thought it would be just one more story. When I read it, I realized that it was a drama that would allow me to express myself as an actor. I hadn’t read Twilight and, nevertheless, Edward also obsessed me—especially the idea of getting into the skin of an immortal being and sharing his doubts. I wouldn’t want to be immortal at any price, but as an actor this saga lets me be like that from time to time.
You also played Salvador Dalí in Little Ashes. What did you learn from that experience?
I began to paint pretending I was him, and thanks to that movie I discovered how much I like painting. And I thought Dalí was a genius; the more I read about him, the more his mind fascinated me. There, I play a young Dalí, who just returned to Spain from London and who likes to play jokes on his friend Federico García Lorca, playing with his emotions, telling him he’s gay. It was three marvelous months in Barcelona, and another British actor and myself were the only ones who knew how to speak Spanish, how embarrassing. But I fell in love with the city.
Did you use to travel a lot before having to travel for purely promotional reasons?
I loved traveling, and that’s what I miss most about my life before Twilight. Now I like to go on promotional visits to places like Tokyo, where I can walk around more peacefully and lead a pseudo-normal life. When I was younger, I took a long trip to Berlin. I always liked exploring cities, going to their clubs. I’m a musician; I had a band and like that atmosphere. Now I make up for it by composing when I’m at the hotels, during filming. I want to produce a record but when all of this passes, later on. People on the street call me Edward; if I launch an album, they’re going to buy it thinking that Edward is the one who’s singing. How strange!
In New Moon, you only appeared in one of Bella’s dreams. What will Eclipse be like?
I can’t say much in advance, but only that it’s not as intimate as the other two, because many of the characters are at war. Taylor [Lautner] and I have many scenes in which we seem jealous of each other, and that was pretty easy because it’s incredible how much he transformed his body. It’s amazing. All of a sudden, Taylor turned into a Jacob that is the prototype of a teenager’s dream. All the same, our characters unite in the movie to save Bella.
It’s very hard to compare yourself with a vampire. What I like most about him is that he’s very operatic, very white or black, always going to extremes. He loves but can’t enjoy it because he’s afraid of his love killing her. I think the movie is a perfect metaphor of sexual abstinence (laughs). Edward is conflictive, and I also am. He’s a bit dark, and I have my depressive moments. And as far as his approach to love, I think we’re alike. I like lasting emotions; I want to be with someone for 10 years and not just for 10 minutes. Like Edward, I’m very intense.
You and Kristen became really famous at the same time. Did you help each other understand the phenomenon?
It’s great to share intense experiences with someone who’s also trying to understand what’s happening around her. It’s not easy to become a poster stuck on a teenager’s wall; there’s no school to prepare you for that. Kristen is a great actress; I learned a lot from her. But basically I think that we’re alike in that both of us want to be actors, just that—we never tried to be posters.