'Would I like to interview Robert Pattinson, the world's hottest young actor? Yes, obviously — although getting close to the boy who plays the "devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful" vampire Edward Cullen in Twilight at first seems virtually impossible. Penned away in the Dorchester, like a rare Siberian tiger cub — he can't stay at home in Barnes when he comes back from LA because the fans know where he lives — he is being firmly guarded by a brace of film execs when I arrive for the interview.
A spiky PR woman for his new film, Remember Me — a romantic drama memorable mainly for the fact that it has Pattinson in it and is not a Twilight film — loudly repeats instructions that there are to be "no personal questions". A Spanish reporter returns from the interview room claiming that when she asked him if he liked cooking, she nearly got thrown out. Another, a Brazilian, reveals that, in fact, he did get thrown out of an interview with Pattinson's Twilight co-star and rumoured girlfriend, Kristen Stewart, back in Sao Paulo, for asking about boyfriends. "Her bodyguard asked me to leave," he shrieks. "I said nao! And then he tosched me on the shoulder, and I said, 'Okay, I go.'"
"Like, who the ferque is this diva?" says someone else, and by the time I am ushered next door to meet him, I'm thinking the same. But as soon as I clap eyes on him, and take in that kittenish smile, the tousled, leonine eyebrows and — of course — the lush whip of unwashed hair, all that instantly vanishes. Pattinson is calm, polite and pleasant: heaven on a stick.
Swigging nonchalantly from a large bottle of Hildon like Stoli at a Facebook house party, he is also utterly oblivious to the commotion outside. And as for being a diva, well, let's just say his agent, a jaded LA type who sits in the room with him, is far from impressed with his attempts so far, rolling his eyes when Pattinson asks: "Nick, am I a diva?" The actor furrows his brow. "I mean, I had a very diva-ish conversation with some people about some stuff in this film about a day ago..." Nick sighs and drawls: "He just said what he thought in a script meeting. Please don't use that as an example."
"But I was very... bold," protests Pattinson. Of course, that is exactly what he isn't, because ever since his first knicker-melting appearance in Twilight, Pattinson, 23, has become a byword for shy hotness. Formerly a public-school hoodie from southwest London with a bit part in Harry Potter, he now commands £8m a movie and is such a huge lust object that he is unable to go anywhere unattended. During the filming of Remember Me, "3,500 people turned up and went completely mental", he says. He is constantly asked for kisses and autographs, and recently, when he joked that the best way to get his attention was to take your clothes off, to his horror one girl in the audience promptly did so. Does he find the attention irritating? He shrugs. "I guess it's part of your reality," he says, before admitting he's a "little bit harder to deal with" now. "I get stressed out much quicker."
Then again, being beautiful "is quite hard", even though he insists that 50% of people don’t get his appeal: "They're like, what's that all about?" Certainly, today, he is trying his best not to be beautiful, in a greasy cap and sweats. Only his eyebrows seem manicured, although he insists they aren't. He had them plucked on the first Twilight film, but "you get to the point where you think, 'Okay, I look like a transvestite now'". Not that the girls — Twilight's obsessed fans are called Twiharders, and a documentary, Robsessed, has been made about them — were put off.
Over the past 18 months, the actor has been linked to countless models and actresses, and recently appeared to confirm the rumours that he was dating Stewart, but then mysteriously claimed that he was "allergic to vagina". Er, what was that about? Is he dating Stewart then? Or is he, in fact, gay? I heard his two older sisters used to dress him up and call him Claudia when he was a boy.
Actually, he's "straight", he says. He found the male-on-male sex scenes he had to perform in a film, Little Ashes, last year "strange. I played Salvador Dali. We were both straight, but he was Spanish, so much more confident about being naked and stuff, although when it comes down to it, it's just as awkward with a girl, especially if you are straight and with a girl you don't like... Anyway, Javier was really cool. After we had been pretending to have sex on this balcony in Barcelona, he was like, 'We have such a strange job...'"
Poor Pattinson! Eyeing the bed in his suite, I dare a question about those sex scenes with girls. He famously had to pop a Valium to get through the audition for Twilight, in which he needed to make out on a bed with Stewart. For the love scenes in Remember Me, his co-star Emilie de Ravin "was very, very, very comfortable", he sighs. "I'm always the one who's the most uncomfortable. So we came into the room, and they said 'It's a closed set,' blah, blah, and we got on to the bed and the director was like, 'I got you these things, if just maybe you wanted to use them. You don't have to use them, maybe it will make you more comfortable.' They were these bondage things: lube and handcuffs and porn videos. It was so funny!
"And when you end up doing it, you have this little patch on your privates. I didn't really tape it up properly, so I'd spent so long taping it round myself and then literally it falls off within one second and it's taped to the sheet. And you realise the whole crew are looking directly at your butt crack." He blanches. "I can't think of anything exciting for them about this. It gives you a lot of respect for porn stars."
I decide to dive in and ask him about Stewart. Does he believe in love at first sight? "Yes," he says. Has he... ever been in love? "Ah, yes, I think so." "What’s..." Nick looks up from his BlackBerry. "Let's keep to the film," he snaps. Pattinson looks embarrassed, but the moment has passed, and I am to leave. He gets up and gives me a kiss on the cheek: light and soft and not at all unfresh. I read somewhere one girl's parents paid £20,000 in a charity auction for one of those.'