Heartthrob Robert Pattinson talks to Jeananne Craig about his new movie, The Rover, in which he co-stars with Guy Pearce.
Robert Pattinson quietly enters a plush hotel room, stifling a yawn and clutching a pair of expensive-looking shades.
“I can’t wait to get to a level where I can wear sunglasses during press junkets,” he says, before breaking into a laugh.
The 28-year-old Twilight star has reached – and surpassed – the level of fame at which most Hollywood stars start wearing dark glasses indoors, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll be adopting a diva-like attitude any time soon.
Six years since the hugely successful vampire franchise first hit screens, the actor, known to millions of young fans as RPatz, still doesn’t seem entirely comfortable being the centre of attention.
Heading to the remote Australian outback to make his new film The Rover last year, was a welcome change of scene for the star, who had faced months of speculation over his relationship with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart, after photos of the actress embracing a married director were splashed around the world in 2012.
“It was incredibly peaceful,” London-born Pattinson says of his stint Down Under. “You really realise the value of your anonymity again, and how priceless it is.
“But also, it was an unusual place as well. There was a mysticism to the area. It’s not like being out in nothingness; there’s an intensity to it.”
Since his eventual split from Stewart, Pattinson’s love life has still been generating headlines, with reports linking him to everyone from singer Katy Perry to Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough.
And while he proved his acting credentials post-Twilight, in David Cronenberg’s 2012 drama Cosmopolis and the period romp Bel Ami, he looks set to shed his teen idol image for good with his role in The Rover.
Set in a dystopian world, a decade after global economic collapse, he plays Rey, a petty criminal who is wounded in a botched heist as his fellow gang members make off in a stolen car.
The car’s owner Eric (former Neighbours star Guy Pearce), is determined to get his only remaining possession back, and forces simple-minded Rey to join him and help hunt down the gang.
The ruffled hair and chiselled good looks which made Pattinson such a hit with Twilight fans are replaced with a deep Southern drawl, shaved head and brown teeth.
The actor laughs as he recalls how he initially wanted the physical transformation to go even further.
“I’d read this thing about how thieves in the Wild West had the tops of their ears snipped off as a punishment to show you were a thief. “I was like, ‘That would be so great!’. He’d be the type of person who’d get caught stealing something.”
As it happened, the director decided against it - which, in hindsight, Pattinson realises was probably for the best. “Thank God I didn’t have to have a prosthetic ear thing on the entire time!”
He describes Rey as ‘a little slow, and very, very needy’.
Pearce’s character gets frustrated with Rey, and even physically attacks him. But as their journey continues, a subtle bond develops between the pair.
Pattinson, who jokingly refers to the rather bleak film as ‘a buddy road trip movie’, enjoyed working with the ‘amazing’ Pearce.
As for how indie films compare with blockbusters like Twilight, Pattinson admits The Rover was ‘an extreme one’, with the cast sleeping in makeshift accommodation on location.
“When you have a big budget, it creates expectations of how you’re supposed to be treated as an actor. And when you’re there [in the outback], there is literally no other option than staying in the shipping container,” says Pattinson.
“It’s kind of nice. Everyone’s on a totally equal footing, and it doesn’t give your vanity a chance to take hold.”