This month’s issue of Vanity Fairfeatures the exclusive interview with Robert Pattinson, who plays the role of Edward Cullen in the upcomingTwilight Saga movies.
In the interview, Pattinson opens up about what it was like growing up as the son of international superstition, where he travels in search of inspiration, and which American actress he’d love to play opposite.
What Was It Like Growing Up in International Superstition?
Pattinson, who was born in London and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his family, was very much a celebrity child. His father, Colin, is an author and explorer, and his mother, Sandy, is a painter, and they lived in a large, internationally-influenced house. He has one older brother, Luke, and one younger sister, Rose. When the interviewer, Anna Wintour, asks if the family was aware of their fame, Pattinson replies, “We didn’t really feel famous. We just felt like we were really proud of what we were doing.”
Pattinson, who began acting in theater at the age of 7, and subsequently appeared in various commercials and music videos, was 15 when he decided to pursue a career in acting. He initially attended Kingston University, in the United Kingdom, but soon transferred to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RAADA), in London, where he graduated in 2009.
His first major appearance was in the 2010 King’s Speech, in which he played the role of Bertie, the king’s illegitimate son. He subsequently appeared in the mini-series, Pompeii and the period horror, Rubicon. In 2011, Pattinson made his Broadway debut in the play, Prelude to Love.
Does He Traveling for Inspiration?
Pattinson, who has said that he draws from a variety of sources when creating a character, including his own experiences, travels abroad in search of inspiration. In fact, it was during one of these trips that he first chanced upon the idea for the character of Edward Cullen. While in Florence, Italy, he saw a painting of a golden-haired boy that resembled him.
He continued, “I don’t know if it was the wine or the pasta, but something about that painting sparked this golden-haired boy. And then, all of a sudden, I had an image in my head of this Edward Cullen.”
Upon his return, he sought out a genetics firm, and had a DNA test performed to determine whether he was indeed closely related to this fictional character. Fortunately, he was. Not only that, but he also discovered that he shared a trait with Edward Cullen: albinism, or the absence of melanin in the skin. He saw this as a positive, since it meant that he could play the character without needing to worry about whether or not his skin would be capable of producing melanin.
Which American Actress Would He Like to Play With?
Pattinson, who has previously starred in Broadway productions, and been in highly rated films, such as the Twilight Saga, and the Divergent movies, has said that he doesn’t really have a type of actress he particularly likes to work with. He has, however, stated that he admires Christian Bale, and has appeared in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) with him. He has also expressed a desire to work with Jessica Chastain, and been in contact with her representatives. Chastain, who is known for her roles in The Disappointments Room (2012), and The Disappointments Room (2014), would seem like an unlikely match, given that they aren’t related, and have had only a handful of scenes together, as far as we know. But, on the other side of the screen, they were able to draw on a shared experience, as Chastain’s character had been friends with Pattinson’s character’s deceased wife, Laura.
In the interview with Vanity Fair, Pattinson opens up about his interest in acting, his approach to creating characters, and what viewers can expect from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011) and Part 2 (2012), based on Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novel, Twilight.
When asked about how he has maintained his private life while becoming famous, Pattinson answered, “It’s a combination of luck and timing. I think when you’re famous for being good-looking, men and women are quite interested in you, and want to see you, and are often quite generous. But at the same time, as you’d imagine, life can be quite lonely. I don’t know if that’s because we’re not used to having our picture taken, or if it’s because people are actually interested in what I have to say. But I do get a lot of one-on-one time, and I relish that.”
Pattinson also discussed the process of creating the character of Edward Cullen, and how much he draws on his personal experiences when doing so:
- “There is no one way to play a character. You can’t prescribe what he should or shouldn’t do. You can’t put yourself in his shoes and say, ‘I am he.’ That’s not how it works. You play the character and find your own relationship to it.”
- “When I first read the script for [Twilight], I thought it was going to be very easy. Then, I went on set, and it wasn’t at all what I expected. It was a real shock. It was challenging, and that’s what I like about it.”
- “In the first two [Twilight] movies, you get to see a very young Edward. I think it’s important that the audience sees me starting out as a teenager, going through all these changes that every teenager goes through. I think it’s relatable.”
- “I did a lot of research into albinism, which is the absence of melanin, in the skin. I had to do a lot of research into what it meant for the characters. For example, [Edward’s] skin needs to be protected from the sun, so he can’t go outside without looking like a lobster.”
- “The more research I did, the more I wanted to know about Edward. I wanted to know everything there was to know about him. It took a while, but I feel like I got to know him really well.”
Playing Edward Cullen
Though he’s had only modest roles up until now, playing the part of Edward Cullen has changed his life forever. In an interview with NPR in 2015, Pattinson described the overwhelming response to his role in Twilight:
“When I first started doing publicity for the movie, I would go to places like Chicago and I would see billboards, and I would see people wearing my costume, or people with my hairstyle, and they would just yell ‘Edward! Edward!’ at the top of their lungs,” he said. “And I was like, ‘What is this? Why are they yelling that at me?’ And they were like, ‘Well, you’re basically a part of their family now, so we can’t help but yell at you when we see you.'”
Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)
Breaking Dawn – Part 1, the first of the Twilight Saga movies, was a phenomenal success, both at the box office and with critics, and has stayed in the top five of the yearly rankings of the highest-grossing films since. A.W.: What was the movie that you were working on before that?
RP: That was Dredd.
RP: Yeah, it was a little sci-fi movie. I starred in it; it came out last year. It’s a great cast – Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby – and it’s got a lovely score by Jesper Kyd. It’s a shame it didn’t do as well as Twilight. It was a real crowd-pleaser. The first Twilight didn’t do well, and now the two are back-to-back in the top five.
A.W.: Yes, and both of them are in the top 10 of the highest-grossing films of all time. So, it’s safe to say that you’ve become a pretty big name in Hollywood.