When the cast and crew of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2 returned to work on Monday, they had a lot to celebrate. Not only had they just finished shooting one of the most anticipated films of the year, but the movie had also just broken several box office records.

The final installment in the Twilight series was recently named the highest-grossing film of all time, dethroning Titanic and becoming the highest-grossing movie for both director William Powell and producer David O. Selznick, as well as the studio that financed it, Summit Entertainment. But beyond the financial success of the film, breaking Dawn-Part 2 was also a glorious transformation for its star, Robert Pattinson.

The 27-year-old British actor won the hearts of audiences and critics alike with his portrayal of troubled vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight films. But though he played that part for seven years, Pattinson had spent much of his time away from the screen learning how to become a better man. And while he’s done a lot to distance himself from the role, it seems like he’s finally embracing Edward as a new kind of man.

From Twilight to Wuthering Heights

Ahead of Dawn-Part 2’s premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Moviepilot’s Jessica Roizen got the chance to interview the actor about his new film and his process of becoming a more genuine person. Here, he opens up about his journey from playing Edward to becoming Edward.

“I was happy to leave [playing Edward] behind,” he said. “I’d been doing that for seven years, which is a long time. Now it’s time to grow up and be a real person, and that’s the character I’m playing.”

Though he’s never played a role quite like Edward before, Pattinson’s previous work mostly focused on British boarding schools and the upper classes. And with his love of England and its posh accent, it’s no wonder he was so drawn to the role. He put his own spin on how the character would talk and act, but he also got to display some of his innermost feelings through his eyes and actions.

“It’s the most truthful role I’ve ever played,” he continued. “I feel like I can really explore my character’s emotions and feelings, which I think is what made it so easy for me to play.”

While the first movie in the series established the love affair between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward, the sequel marks their climactic confrontation as well as the beginning of a new romance for Bella with Edward’s twin brother, Charlie (Alex Hern). The film also introduces a new character named Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who is revealed to be Bella’s long-lost-and-now-found birth mother. Adding even more intrigue to the story, Jacob is apparently married to Edward’s uncle, Carlisle (Ralph Fiennes), who is also one of the film’s main antagonists.

In Dawn-Part 2, Pattinson finally gets to show the world the whole man behind the mask. As he revealed to Moviepilot, the actor spent a lot of time learning how to be compassionate, caring, and understanding. He also studied other successful actors, such as Daniel Day-Lewis and Tom Hanks, to see how they interacted with the people around them.

The Upside Of The Unexpected

Though he initially turned down the part of Edward in Twilight, the actor soon realized that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a character that he connected with on such a deep level. And though the character may be flawed, he’s never given a truer word than when he said: “I’m just a guy who wants to be happy.”

While he’s continued to work hard and graduate from university, Pattinson has chosen to embrace his downtime by taking up acting again. Currently, the actor is juggling a number of projects, including the indie film Wuthering Heights, a role in the upcoming television series The Devil, and an adaptation of Stephen King’s bestseller, The Stand. And though he’s constantly working, the actor has also found time to pursue his other passions, such as skateboarding and scuba diving.

Pattinson seems to be taking the critical and commercial success of Twilight-Part 2 in stride. Not only did the film score with audiences and critics, but it also earned the actor several accolades, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. And though he’s been in the public eye since he was a teenager, the actor has now been able to step away from his celebrity and focus on his studies and hobbies.

What Does The Future Hold?

With his diverse skill set, eclectic taste in movies, and knack for combining comedy and drama, it’s no wonder that Michael Caine described Pattinson as “the complete actor.” But though he’s had an incredible year, the actor has also been getting a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. And though he’s spent the past year working tirelessly to shed his bad boy image, the media has continued to focus on his troubled past, rather than his future. But as he’s learned in the past, if you don’t want to be in the media eye, then you shouldn’t have been in the first place.

Since Twilight, Pattinson has been in the public eye for all the wrong reasons. Aside from some truly awful public outbursts and embarrassments (not to mention a paparazzi sighting in Australia that nearly cost him his life), the actor has also caused a headache for the British government, after he fell off the radar in 2012, when allegations surfaced that he’d been drinking and doing drugs. Though he vehemently denied the allegations, which were branded as ‘childish’, the government was forced to take action and revoke his passport.

Pattinson’s public behavior hasn’t exactly improved. Last year, the British press was abuzz with rumors that he’d been expelled from university for bad behavior. While he was indeed kicked out of his London conservatory, he later completed his studies at a prestigious drama school in the United Kingdom. And while he’s since apologized for his past actions, calling them “stupid and careless”, the government still refuses to grant him political asylum in England. Though he’s now studying for a Master’s degree at New York University, it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be given the opportunity to continue his education in the U.S.

Forbes has ranked the top 50 breakout stars of the past 50 years, and for the first time ever, an actor from the Twilight Saga is among them. Not only is it great to see Edward recognized for his work, but it’s also exciting to see that he’s not the only actor from the series making the list.

Along with his fellow Twilight Saga alumnus, Evan Peters (who plays his on-screen brother, Mike, in the series), Daniel Day-Lewis, and Tom Hanks, Pattinson made the list of the top 50 breakout stars. The list is composed of superstars who have gone on to become major movie stars, but who at the time of their respective debuts, were mostly unknown. Many of these actors went on to become famous for playing similar characters to those they played in their breakout roles (this is especially the case for Daniel Day-Lewis, who played several historical figures in films, and has thus become better known for his acting than his role as Abraham Lincoln).

Though he’s never been one to follow the crowd, and has consistently worked hard to prove that he’s more than capable of standing on his own two feet, it seems like the actor has finally found a role that he can call his own. And with Twilight-Part 2 topping the box office this past year, as well as earning the actor several accolades, it’s clear that his fans and the general public alike have recognized his unique abilities and contributions to their favorite films. Just like Edward Cullen, Robert Pattinson is just a regular guy who wants to be happy.