Article by Evgenia Peretz.
The once “repulsive” barfly was now the world’s biggest dreamboat.
Not since Titanic unleashed Leo-mania has an actor sparked the overnight adulation that greeted Robert Pattinson’s 2008 debut as Edward Cullen in Twilight. As the vampire saga’s next installment arrives, the author explores the frenzy, isolation, and sheer embarrassment of Pattinson’s past year, his instant connection with co-star Kristen Stewart, and the life he wants when this $10 million gig is over. For the full read Vanity Fair
His social life has been limited to the bland Waldorf Towers, in Midtown, and to the two people staying with him in his suite: his sister Lizzy, who’s been sleeping on the foldout sofa, and his best friend, actor Tom Sturridge, who’s got the cot. He has other friends, but they’re kind of broke, and Pattinson is too self-conscious to fly them in—“Then you feel like a dick.”
When roles have been easy, he says he didn’t have to do anything. Despite the fact that he is an exquisite beauty—with perfectly formed red, red lips and a face that might have been dreamed by the Romantic poets—he thinks he resembles “a cartoon character.” One of his legs is longer than the other, which makes him look, he assures you, “like an idiot.”
And the new Leo, it turns out, is also a nerd. He is never without a book in his hand, say his colleagues, or a piece of music on his mind, or a movie he wants to share. He’s so obsessed about delivering a performance he feels happy with that he is constantly watching the dailies, says Remember Me director Allen Coulter. “He’s religious about it.”
They weren’t stage parents, but they’ve since become way too into the minutiae of his fame, he says. His mother will frequently call to weigh in on pictures of him in the media: “‘I like that new shirt you’re wearing!’ ‘Uh, thanks.’” They couldn’t help but notice they had a good-looking kid on their hands, and briefly got him into modeling. “I was such a terrible model,” he says. “I was really tall but still looked like a six-year-old.”
His Vanity Fair scenes.“[Tom Sturridge] and I … we had scenes right next to each other and it was both our first jobs.… We went to the screening, and we thought the whole thing was such a joke anyway, because we had no idea what we were doing. We were, like, ‘acting’ or whatever—we had no idea—and we watched [Tom’s] scene and were like, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty good, that’s all right.’” When it came to Pattinson’s scene, it was no longer there. “I’m sitting there going, ‘Ummm … really?’ No one had told me that I had been cut out.”
After his failed theater attempt. He couldn’t land another job, stopped talking to his agent, and threw in the towel, opting to take his music seriously, as all of his friends were now doing. He began performing with a guitar in bars, either solo or with a couple of friends. It was a scene, he recalls a little ruefully, in which “no one gave a shit when you got up onstage.”
On his Twilight audition. Recalling one of the scenes he did with Stewart, on Hardwicke’s bed, in which he and Stewart have a passionate but aborted kiss, he says, “I was still in the mode thinking, I’ve got to make this really, really serious. This is not just a sexy thing.… I was slamming my head against the wall and kind of going nuts.” He was sure he had made a complete ass of himself. “I remember calling my parents [afterward] and saying, ‘That’s it. I’m not doing this anymore.’ And then hearing, ‘O.K., fine,’ which was not the answer I wanted to hear at all.”
Initial reaction to Robward Cullen.
Fans of Twilight—Twilighters, they’re called—were beside themselves with disappointment when they saw pictures of the future Edward Cullen, with unkempt hair and bushy eyebrows, dodging out of bars with his strange friends. “Disgusting!,” “Repulsive!” they pronounced on the Web sites. According to Hardwicke, Pattinson was rattled by the criticism. “I said to Rob, ‘Really, you shouldn’t be reading that stuff. Don’t even read it!’ He goes, ‘Well, my mother forwarded this one to me.’ The ‘Repulsive’ one.”
New Moon shoot. Pattinson was protected from the fans by a throng of beefy Italian bodyguards who formed a perimeter around him—theoretically, at least. At one point, during the middle of shooting in the main square, someone pushed a young woman in a wheelchair through the barrier, right up to Pattinson. The bodyguards didn’t know what to do—tackling a handicapped woman just didn’t seem attractive. Everyone stood there gaping in silence. “It was almost a medieval moment,” says Weitz. “There were a thousand extras and about a thousand onlookers, and it was as though someone had [been] wheeled up to be healed by the King of France.” Thinking little of it, Pattinson spoke with the girl for a few moments and had his picture taken with her. Suddenly the crowd burst into applause.