Rob Pattinson returns to the role of Edward Cullen in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part II,” the highly anticipated, action-packed fifth installment of the vampire saga. Edward must now deal with the newness of Bella as a vampire and the chain of consequences brought on by the tumultuous birth of his and Bella’s child, Renesmee. While “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I” focused on Bella and Edward creating a family of their own, “Part II” is about keeping their family safe. The danger begins when Renesmee is mistaken for being an immortal child and the Volturi gather forces to rid themselves of the Cullen clan once and for all.
At the film’s press day, Pattinson talked about what it’s been like to be a part of the Twilight Saga and to play the iconic character of Edward for the last five years. He told us what the experience has meant to him personally, what his first impressions were when he met Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner back in 2008, how director Bill Condon brought together an impressive cast for the final film, why he found it frustrating to play his character from the very beginning right up to the last shot, and how he felt when the series finally wrapped.
Question: Having now completed all five films, why do you think this franchise has it been so popular?
Rob Pattinson: It’s funny, people were asking me how I’d feel when it all ends, on the first movie, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more completely bewildered knowing that I only have a month of Twilight stuff left to do. I don’t know. I’ve said, I think since the second one, that it’s going to take 10 years to really settle in my brain, and I’m four years into it. But, I don’t think there is any analysis. I don’t think anyone knows why people like it. I don’t think even the fans know why they connect with it in the way they do. It’s a visceral thing. I don’t even know if Stephenie Meyer could tell you why she was so fixated on this very, very contained story with obsessive characters. It’s just an anomaly. That’s a terrible answer. I don’t know.
Q: If you could go back in time, what kind of advice would you give yourself then that would help prepare you for what’s happened in the ensuing five years?
Pattinson: Start drinking vodka instead of beer, and try to get a six-pack as early as possible and you’ll be a much more successful actor. I don’t know. Not really. It’s fun to deal with the terror and the huge highs and lows of things. We’re still getting massive surprises, every time you have any kind of Twilight-related event or anything. I still remember, I think it was with the third movie, when we went to Munich and the entire Olympic stadium was filled with fans, and just to walk in there and do nothing. There was supposed to be a Q&A, but me, Kristen and Taylor stood in the middle of the Olympic stadium with 30,000 people just screaming for 15 minutes. It’s absolutely bizarre. There’s no way you can ever compute it.
Q: One of this film’s themes is the idea of forever. When you think of forever, what things come to mind?
Pattinson: Death. (laughs) What is forever? God, I don’t know. Hope, I guess. That’s a difficult question. I don’t know. Friendship. I can think of lots of things.
Q: What was your last scene or moment of being Edward Cullen like and how did you feel when you wrapped?
Pattinson: It was hilarious considering we’d spent the entire series filming in the most miserable conditions, and then we end on the beach in the Caribbean filming for two days in the sea. That was fun. We literally did the last shot as the sun was coming up in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. It was a nice way to end it, because they were considering shooting it in the sea in Vancouver, which would not have worked at all.
Q: Were you sad to let your character go?
Pattinson: Yeah. It was very, very strange. I still had the same frustration with trying to play it, the entire way through, right up until the last shot. It’s a strange part because, on the one hand, a lot of the audience projects their idea of Edward onto him. It doesn’t matter what he is. They want him to be a certain way. And then, my instincts were to try and play it and to try to find the fallibility in him and the weaknesses. And so, you’re trying to play both these things at the same time and it becomes very strange. You’re trying to play someone who’s seen by a lot of people as being this perfect thing, but what is that? That doesn’t really mean anything. You’re trying to play an archetype on one hand and then a character on the other, so I felt insanely frustrated right up until the last shot, and then it ended.
Q: What was the most difficult thing to leave behind about your character and what were you glad to leave behind?
Pattinson: There’s a thing, in general, about doing any kind of series, especially when the characters remain the same. It’s just that you can go back and try and improve whatever you did in the last movie, which never happens. That tone or work ethic is nice. You feel quite strangely secure. It’s the opposite of how you’re supposed to feel doing a movie. It’s supposed to feel totally foreign, every single time. But, going back for another go at it is good, on the one hand, but it’s also bad, on another hand, because your ideas dry up sometimes, and also you get lazy sometimes because you’re around the same people. That was the good thing about having different directors. You had to stay on your toes. What was the worst thing? Playing the part where you can’t get hurt and you can’t die because there’s no framework. There are too many possibilities if you can’t die. If you’re playing a normal human being, there’s always that.
Q: This franchise has obviously opened up a lot of doors for you. How do you see the success you’ve experience with this affecting your career 10 or 15 years down the road?
Pattinson: I don’t know. People ask me if I’m afraid of getting typecast, but you can’t be afraid of that. It’s really not up to you. I’m getting other parts that aren’t vampires. I don’t know if people will accept me in them, or whatever, but there’s really nothing to be afraid of. But, in 15 years, I have no idea. I don’t know how people will remember this series at all. It’s crazy how intense people are. The fan base is still five years on, so I don’t know how long it’s going to last. It would be insane if there’s still the same tenacity in 15 years.
Q: Is there any moment, in particular, either during filming or while meeting other cast members during the entire Twilight experience that you would like to relive and why?
Pattinson: The whole first movie was pretty fun. I had never really done a movie like it, when there’s such a big cast of people that are around about the same age. Everyone didn’t really know what was going to happen with the movie, but there was a good energy. There was something which people were fighting for in a way. They wanted it to be something special. Also, none of us were really known then as well. It felt like a big deal at the time. The first one was really exciting and the whole year afterwards was exciting.
Q: This whole franchise has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for you. Are you concerned about maintaining that same level of success as you go forward in your career?
Pattinson: Well, I don’t know. If I could get any semblance of – it’s not really anonymity, but a little bit more — control over my public image, I guess that would be nice. But no, I think it’s impossible for one thing. I don’t think anyone can do that, apart from Denzel Washington. (laughs) I don’t know what it is, but he’s done something. It’s a strange place where the film industry is at. I guess you could just play superhero after superhero. That seems to be the only guaranteed big-money thing. I don’t know. It’s not necessarily that satisfying getting monetary success, but sometimes it keeps the door open to make what you want to make. But other times, you can make five massive hits in a row and still not get cast by the directors who you want to work with doing little movies. There are no guarantees. I’m trying to sign up and do movies that I’ll be proud of if it’s my last one. That’s kind of how I think about it.
Q: At the end of the day, are you glad it’s over?
Pattinson: In some ways.
Q: And what would that be?
Pattinson: After the first one, as soon as people start referring to something as a franchise. A franchise is a Burger King or a Subway. It’s not a movie. The people who start to say it are generally the people who are making money off of it. That’s how they refer to it. They love it when something has become a franchise. But, as an actor, I think it’s scary. You really, really feel like you have no control. I mean, it’s a huge juggernaut, especially when something becomes part of the cultural landscape in a way as well. It’s really scary because you get trapped and you get scared of changing, which is the worst thing that can happen if you want to be any kind of artist.
Q: Are you more famous in the U.K. than you are here, and if so, how?
Pattinson: I don’t know actually. I used to be able to be in England and just be fine. No one had any idea who I was. It came later in England. Now, it’s relatively similar. I get a lot more abuse in England.
Q: How do you mean?
Pattinson: I think that’s just a general English attitude. I did the same thing to famous people. (laughs) It’s just your instinct.
Q: You really looked like a natural stepping into that father role? What do you attribute that to? How was it being a dad on screen?
Pattinson: I actually quite like working with kids and I like working with animals, which is what everybody says you shouldn’t do, because it makes you feel like you’re not acting. As soon as you have someone who’s providing stuff to react to, especially working with a baby, it’s great. Every time I would say put a baby in every scene. You can put a dog in a scene and everyone’s going to be better, I guarantee it. And if they’re not better, just shoot the dog. (laughs) But, it was fun. They got some good baby actors.
Q: And by shoot the dog, you mean…?
Pattinson: (laughs) Yeah, either way.
Q: The lore of the vampires is much more present in this film. Which new character did you like the most?
Pattinson: Who is my favorite character out of the new ones? I’m just going to be saying the actors. I like Benjamin — Rami (Malek) plays him — mainly because he’s a great actor. He only had a couple of scenes in it. It was nice having actors who came in and who were really, really enthusiastic and thinking about it as this is a big deal being in a Twilight movie. “I’ve got these fives lines, and I’m going to own them.” Bill (Condon) got some great people. Who else do I like? God, I’m terrible with names. (laughs)
Q: Also, what’s your favorite vampire movie?
Pattinson: I really like “Blade.” I wish people would make hard R-rated fantasy movies again. It’s completely irrelevant, but people should do that more. I haven’t seen that many vampire things. It’s always been strange to me that someone can say they’re a vampire fan. I’m not a non-fan, but honestly it’s such an unusual thing to be a fan of. That’s like when people say, “I love zombie movies. I just love them. They’re my favorite!” It’s more of a psychological problem than being an actual fan. (laughs)
Q: Do you remember in 2008 the first time you met Kristen and Taylor, who was just in here and said he can’t remember meeting you? What were your first impressions?
Pattinson: I can’t remember meeting him either. (laughs) No, I can. I met Taylor on the movie, I think, when he was wearing his wig and stuff. I met Kristen at the audition. I’m still just trying to come to terms with acknowledging being an actor at all. It reminded me a little bit, even with Taylor. He was like 15 when I met him. When I did “Harry Potter,” I remember looking at Dan (Radcliffe), Rupert (Grint) and Emma (Watson) and thinking, “Those guys are actors!” I was star struck by them. I was star struck by those guys when I met them, even though I’d only seen Kristen in a few things. I’ve always had this sort of separation. It’s funny to see people get humanized. With Dan, Rupert and Emma, I still see them as that. I was with them for 11 months. I still see them as massively famous people. It’s strange to have gone through the same experience with Taylor and Kristen as well. It’s massive. And, to see people retain their sanity as much as possible, because I’ve seen a lot of other people have minor amounts of fame and just lose their mind completely, like after a casting announcement, let alone having done a movie. It’s amazing to see that people manage to maintain.