He’s been Edward Cullen ever since he was Harry Potter’s Cedric Diggory, but for Robert Pattinson, the actor who plays the glittery vampire hero of the Twilight movie franchise, it’s been a steep learning curve.
“When you first sign on to something when you were nobody, you feel like everything’s totally out of control,” he said in Sydney today. “Once you’ve experienced it once, you realise how to have a little bit more control over it.”
One of the things the actor would like to control is the moniker that has become attached to him through the Twilight publicity whirlwind: Rpatz. “I would like to break the hands and mouth of the person who came up with it,” he says with a chuckle.
It’s only been five years since the first Twilight film hit our cinemas and the book phenomenon became a pop-culture behemoth, introducing “RPatz” and “KStew” to our worlds and adding phrases such as “Team Edward”, “Team Jacob” and “Twi-hards” to the lexicon.
For the actor, whose relationship with Kristen “KStew” Stewart has become inextricably linked with the films’ publicity and marketing, the unique nature of the Twilight culture is partly to blame for the obsession fans have with the real-life actors.
“That’s the one thing I’ve been annoyed about by the whole thing,” explains Pattinson. “The kind of ‘team’ aspect of it. It’s strange. I think that’s what has created a very strange atmosphere around how the movies are promoted and stuff. It’s making it like a sport or something. People can’t really watch the films any more because they’re thinking about all this other silliness.”
This “sport” has seen every aspect of his relationship with Stewart scrutinised on the internet, from early speculation as to whether the two were genuinely an item, through to Stewart’s recent affair with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, followed by her public apology and reunion with Pattinson. Frustratingly for Pattinson, he finds it hardest not to read the internet coverage when it is at its worst.
“When you’re promoting something, it’s weird; it’s like a strange sort of addiction. If people were whispering about you in the next room you probably want to know what they’re saying, but really you’ll always regret it because they’re probably talking s— about you. It’s this weird thing. You only do it if you’re feeling bad, and want to make yourself feel worse. If you’re feeling good you never look at it.”
So is he looking at it now?
“Basically, yes,” he laughs. “I try and avoid it, because it doesn’t really make any difference. I mean you think it does for a minute but everyone forgets really quick.”
Pattinson remains philosophical about questions about his relationship. “It’s really not up to you, you could talk about absolutely nothing, the editor is going to put it however they want anyway. It’s part of the thing where you reveal what you want to reveal and you talk about what you want to talk about. People ask you about whatever they think the audience is interested in and you can’t really dictate.”
He is more bemused by the response to his other roles. “I think just because Twilight became so prominent and kind of mainstream, people think I’m similar to the character, but Edward’s such a specific part. I always find it so funny when you do any other part. They’re like ‘this is him kind of acting now’. What did you think I was doing in Twilight?”