Robert Pattinson looks like he doesn't know whether to laugh or cry when FilmInk asks whether he'll miss playing ageless vampire, Edward Culle, the role that has both defined his career and prompted the loss of any semblance of a private life that he may have once had. "I don't know," the actor says, scratching his famously shaggy hair. "It's going to be weird that I'm not doing it again. I still haven't absorbed the fact that I'm not doing it anymore."
Weird or relieved, FilmInk asks, prompting the actor to wriggle nervously in his seat. "Umm, the last one was really hard, and kind of... long," he laughs. "You're doing the two-and-a-half hours of make-ip everyday, and when you do it for eight months in a row, you're just like, 'Never! I'm never doing this again!'"
Not that he's ungrateful. "It's so unlikely to even have any kind of career in the film industry," Pattinson says. "It's amazing to have anything... to even have five years, and to be able to live in America for a bit. Those are things that I didn't see myself doing. And having crazy, crazy experiences...things that people wouldn't even be able to imagine! Like having 30,000 people screaming and stuff...and you're just standing there doing nothing! And the bad sides? I wish that this had happened twelve years ago, before camera-phones and TMZ. Then it would have been amazing! Being a successful actor, in my imagination, meant that you could have done anything in LA. If you just had the good sides of fame, it would have been unbelievable."
It certainly sounds like he would have partied more. "Unfortunately now, actors are like the most conservative people in the world because you can't do anything," he smiles. "You can't trust anyone because it all becomes part of your career."
Embodying brooding vampire, Edward Cullen, has apparently presented little artistic challenge for the actor. "It's definitely hard to come up with something, mainly because you have to do five movies with the same character, and it's a fantasy thing," Pattinson explains. "And when you set one parameter from first movie that the only thing he cares about is being in love with Bella, then for the rest of the movies, you say, 'He's never going to break up with her.' So what else is there to think about? He's never going to get hurt by anything, and he's never going to have an argument with Bella. He has no other emotional relevance other than his family dying, which is only a risk at the end. So, yeah, it becomes quite difficult. The only thing that you can play is his self-doubt. And it's not how it is in the book, where Edward is charming and he's pretty happy-go-lucky. I didn't understand how to play that in the movie...how can you be happy-go-lucky and tortured at the same time? That does't make any sense," argues Pattinson, whose arthouse roles between Twilight gigs have met with little success, including Cosmopolis, Bel Ami and Little Ashes. Only when gazing deep into Reese Witherspoon's eyes in Water for Elephants did he generate the box office heat that he's grown accustomed to as his icy Twilight alter-ego. Today, Pattinson is looking to a bright, post-Twilight future, signing up for a slew of projects, including co-starring with Guy Pearce in David Michod's Animal Kingdom follow-up, The Rover; the thriller, Mission: Blacklist; Werner Herzog's romantic biography, Queen of the Desert, with Naomi Watts; and James Marsh's thriller, Hold On To Me, with Carey Mulligan.
Pattinson hold up James Franco as a model for how he'd like to handle his own public perception, namely by granting confusing interviews. "People don't really know who I am, which is a good thing," the actor laughs. "My actual personality differs from Edward so much that people can't really get it or place it. If you have a massive over-saturation of your image everywhere, all you can really do is dissipate it - you diffuse everybody's idea of you. You might, for instance, do an interview where you completely contradict everything that you said on the last interview, and behave like a totally different person. Then everybody's like, 'I have no idea,' That's the only way that you can do it, because that's the only way that you can believable in your movies afterwards. That's what every actor has to deal with - that mix between public perception and your actual character. They're looking through the eyes of your life as a performance; so they have to look through that, and then the performance you're actually doing."