We’ve read the many, many headlines about Robert Pattinson. We’ve analyzed his work in the “Twilight” series as America’s Most Brooding and Swoon-Inducing Vampire. We’ve watched his frequent and occasionally awkward television interviews. And we’ve pondered the status of his relationship with co-star Kristen Stewart. A lot.
With the “Twilight” saga coming to an end next week following the release of “Breaking Dawn Part 2,” Pattinson, 26, can now fully focus on defining himself as an actor who appears in movies that don’t feature the Volturi. How does he feel as he makes that transition? What does he have to say about accusations that his relationship with Kristen Stewart has been a marketing tool used to sell a semi-steamy vampire romance? And is he really so up for a part in the “Star Wars” franchise that he would willingly play a live-action version of Jar Jar Binks?
During a recent phone interview, I did my best to get the answers to some of these questions. Here’s a transcript of our conversation.
I remember being at Comic-Con in 2008, prior to the release of the first movie, and thinking that you and Kristen Stewart seemed particularly shellshocked by the massive fan response. Do you remember what was going on in your mind then?
Pattinson: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of exciting, but it just seems so separate. It’s always seemed so separate — that whole part of it — from doing the actual movies. That’s never changed for me. It’s a totally independent part of the job. You always get asked more about that aspect of it than anything else, you know, all the screaming and stuff. And I’ve never had a single lucid, analytical thought about it. It still just seems like screaming to me.
Why do you think people tend to ask more questions about that aspect of “Twilight”? Just because it seems so insane?
Pattinson: Yeah, I mean, it is the weirdest thing. There’s plenty of people who do movies and even big movies and stuff, but it’s weird to have that reaction for a series ... but I don’t know why it happens.
So you haven’t gotten more used to than you were three or four years ago?
Pattinson: You kind of get used to it a little bit but you still get a good energy. I like [being] at Comic-Con and stuff, it’s nice to have that size a crowd. Especially at Comic-Con, you get the Q&A or whatever so there is some kind of performance involved. At the premieres and stuff, where it’s just screaming at you, that’s kind of harder. It’s quite tiring, because you don’t really know what you’re supposed to be doing.
Your last day of shooting on “Breaking Dawn Part 2” was in April, is that right?
Pattinson: Um. [Pauses] God, I have no idea.
It was earlier this year, let’s say.
Pattinson: Oh, no no no. It was ages ago.
Was it? I thought you did some reshoots earlier this year.
Pattinson: Oh yeah. Maybe.
The reason I’m asking is that I’m trying to see if you can remember the last day you were shooting on this and reflect on that. I don’t know if you can talk about the nature of the last scene you shot — I’m guessing not —
Pattinson: [Laughing] I forgot about the reshoots.
You forgot about it? Excellent! What was going through your mind? Although if you forgot about it, then maybe not much.
Pattinson: What was going through my mind? Oh yeah, we were shooting the hunt scene ... when Edward and Bella hunt the deer together at the beginning. And uh, I was thinking — to be honest, what I was thinking was, this is a much better way of shooting it than how we shot it originally. And I wish we’d done it like this before. But uh, yeah, the last few shots and the reshoots were fairly insignificant. They’re all kind of movement shots. I don’t know, I remember I was learning how to skateboard, like the dorkiest 26-year-old. I thought 26 was like the last year where you could attempt to be a novice skateboarder. I just sort of realized, well that’s really weird. If a producer saw me doing this two years ago, they would have called up my agent immediately.
Why were you skateboarding?
Pattinson: I was just doing it for myself outside the trailer, and one of the studio executives walked past and didn’t say anything. I was like, I would not be allowed to do this two years ago.
Because of the potential for injury.
Pattinson: Insurance and stuff.
Now at this point, they’re like, break your head open. It’s fine.
At the risk of angering any of the directors you’ve worked with on “Twilight,” is there one film that stands out as the most meaningful to you, either because of the experience or the way you felt that it turned out?
Pattinson: Definitely the first one. By a huge margin. It was just an entirely different world. For one thing, it was just a really, really fun movie to shoot. It was difficult and it was crazy, but the experience was so different. Just having a really big, young cast as well — I have never done anything like it since. Everyone was kind of unknown and had a feeling about the movie. There was definitely some excitement there, that it could either be a total miss or something could happen with it.
Was part of the excitement that it hadn’t become a huge phenomenon yet, so it was sort of like you were working on a smaller film?
Pattinson: Oh yeah, completely. Especially because me and Kristen were kind of really, really fighting to try and — we didn’t want it to be a teen movie. We were kind of ridiculous about it. It was fun fighting against the studio executives and the producers and stuff and butting heads with then all of them all the time. But then once it gets so huge and once you’ve already dived in, basically, you can’t — it’s a strange thing. You don’t really know where you should focus your energy afterwards. On the first one, it was really easy to know.
Some people have been critical of whether your personal lives are being used to market the “Twilight” movies, in particular your relationship with Kristen. What is your response to that?
Pattinson: Being critical of?
You know, people saying “Their romantic relationship is being used as a marketing tool for the film.”
Pattinson: [Pauses, then laughs] For one thing, it would be a terrible marketing tool, and it’s not utilized very well at all. People will say anything. I’m still amazed that people even believe anything [that’s said about us]. I mean, it’s one of the craziest things about the whole situation, where you can see the whole — is paradigm the right word? — of celebrity gossip, celebrity culture type stuff that’s literally entirely made up. There’s a story line. You have a set character and your story line is written for you. And it doesn’t matter what you do. I talked to Reese Witherspoon about it a while ago, and she was the person who really told me, you get given a character. I mean, I’ve literally tried to do things to throw people off, and it just doesn’t get printed.
Like what? Give me an example.
Pattinson: I was doing things like saying there were scat scenes in the first part of “Breaking Dawn.” And they didn’t fit into any of their stories. It just wasn’t printed anywhere. (Writer’s note: Well, technically, because it was something that Pattinson said, the scat comment was picked up, just not as widely as he might have hoped.) If you make a storyline for yourself that’s not going to fit into the prescribed model, it just will not happen. You know, those silly magazines.
You also have to make sure the person you’re talking to knows what scatting is.
Pattinson: Maybe that was the problem.
So do you pay attention to the media coverage about you or do you tune it out?
Pattinson: I mean, in some ways, you’re forced to. But not really. It’s not going to help anything. It’s not going to do any good.
According to my Twitter feed, you were asked during the junket press conference for “Breaking Dawn Part 2” about movie franchises, and you said you hate the word franchise. So I’ll try not to use that word. Signing on to a film series like this is a huge commitment, time-wise and to the same character. Having just completed this one, do you see yourself wanting to do that again in the near future? It seems like you’re choosing projects that are not in that vein.
Pattinson: A lot of the stuff I’ve chosen, which I’m doing this year, I chose a year ago. And things change — the industry changes really quickly at the moment. It also seems like the only thing being made are franchise movies.
Ah, you said the word. Not me.
Pattinson: That doesn’t mean I like it. [Laughs] It only worries me because you just lose tons of control. As I get older, I mean — the stuff you put out into the world is supposed to be representative of who you are. And if you don’t have control over it, I don’t know how to say, ‘This is who I am, and this is what I’ve made.’ It’s not. It’s a whole other thing. It becomes more a job than an art. If I wanted to do a job, then I’d be doing a job, however ridiculous that is to say. I probably will be doing a job soon. Cleaning toilets, or something.
I doubt that seriously. So it sounds like you could be interested in a franchise, but it would depend on what the project was.
Pattinson: Yeah, I think it’s a powerful thing. You look at something like “Star Wars.” No one’s going to call “Star Wars” a franchise.
Well, people do.
Pattinson: Just after the new ones. [Laughs] The first three, that was a series, not a franchise.
Speaking of that, if someone approached you with a part in that series, would you want to do it?
Pattinson: In “Star Wars”? Oh, absolutely. In a heartbeat.
What if they asked you to play Jar-Jar?
Pattinson: I actually kind of like Jar-Jar. I don’t understand what the big deal is about Jar-Jar.
I was talking to somebody the other day about how sometimes having all the merchandising and everything is kind of exciting. I still want to have a light saber. I want to buy the toys and stuff. I like the idea that the fandom will create the universe on its own just because it’s so huge, and there are so many things to buy into and invest in.
Now that “Twilight” is over, I’m sure you feel some sadness. But is there also a bit of relief?
Pattinson: Yeah. It’s just so huge that it feels like it moves quite slowly. It’s like a juggernaut. It is quite exciting to be thinking from now on, you’re not going to go back to — I’ve done movies in between and that’s kind of been a gradual progression of my life but you’d go back to doing a “Twilight” movie [after each shoot] every single time. So you’re always starting from basically that point. Once you start doing, you know, random movies every single time, you progress into something else.