Gurney's Inn
December 03, 2008

Robert Pattinson Sinks His Teeth Into Stardom

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Taking a bite out of the box office, the teen vampire romance Twilight racked up $70.6 million opening weekend and was green - lighted for the sequel, New Moon, even before the receipts were tallied.

More surprisingly, British actor Robert Pattinson went from a virtual unknown, whose only other mentionable appearance was doomed Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, to the epitome of Hollywood hunkdom. It's been rumored that he'll earn $12 million for the sequel, six times the amount of the paycheck for Twlight.

Not bad for a gig he was embarrassed to audition for, especially after the character, Edward Cullen, was described as "achingly beautiful" on the first page of Stephenie Meyer's novel. Besides, the furrow-browed 22 year-old had previously tried out for HBO's fang series "True Blood" and failed to make the cut.

After earning Meyer's seal of approval, Pattinson set about developing the character. "I just pretty much did the opposite of the initial impression you get when you read the book. I liked the idea of just playing him as kind of fallen God. He's just this guy who has absolutely no idea of what the point of his existence is and just wants to die. Then he meets this girl, Bella, who provides and gives life back to him. He needs this normal, average girl for everything. He's completely relying on her. I liked that idea," said the former model, who appeared in the advertising campaign for Hackett's Autumn 2007 collection.

In fact, Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella Swan, was one of his motivating influences. "She really shocked me when I went in to audition. There was definitely some kind of chemistry there," admitted Pattinson, whose floppy thatch of hair had fallen recent victim to a barber's shears.

Rumors circulated that he even proposed to her on the set. Shaking his head, he chuckled in disbelief, "I don't know where that came from. It's like, 'When did I propose to her?' I was trying to think about that. Someone told me I did. That's pretty extreme. That's really getting into character."

"I might've proposed to a bunch of other people too. That used to be my favorite chat up line when I was younger," he sheepishly confessed. "You just go straight up to a person and say, 'Will you marry me? I don't want to mess around."

For the record, did it work? "No. Does anyone know if she said yes or no?" he quipped.

Rather than the "old-fashioned, gentlemanly qualities" popularized in the book, Pattinson opted for something "a little bit more raw and a little more wild." In fact, he claims to have little in common with Edward except for maybe "a lot of self - doubt."

Instant stardom isn't entirely welcomed since personal appearances are a mandatory part of the hype. "I've been uncomfortable in crowds my whole life. I've always felt that everyone is looking at me," he bursts out laughing at the irony. "I could be in a supermarket and have a full-on panic attack when there's no one else there. This was like five years ago."

A slated meet-and-greet appearance at the NYC Apple Store had to be cancelled when the mushrooming crowd became unmanageable. Yet his notoriety does have certain perks, like an encounter with actor Mickey Rourke in a Manhattan bar two days earlier.

"That was the weirdest thing and the most surreal experience that I've ever had. He came up and said that he really liked the trailer. That was definitely one of my boxes checked," he was referring to actors he admires. Also included in that coveted circle are Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Leo DiCaprio.

Pattinson boasts one title his idols can't claim --musician. He's responsible for two tunes, "Never Think" and "Let Me Sign" on the Twilight soundtrack. "When I agreed to put the music in it wasn't as big as it is now. I thought, 'Maybe I can put it in under a different name and it'll all be fine" because I liked how it sounded in the movie. Now it looks like I've been trying to make myself into a franchise and do a clothing line and a fragrance and all this stuff. It was really just an accident," he said.

Pattinson will be returning to neighborhood multiplexes early next year in director Paul Morrison's Little Ashes. A 360 degree departure from Edward, he'll portray artist Salvatore Dali.

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