Karen Valby
November 13, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

If this really were high school, they’d never be friends.

The young stars of New Moon, the new installment in the ridiculously successful Twilight film franchise, walk into the penthouse suite of a Vancouver hotel that has served as home base during the shooting of Eclipse, the third film to be adapted from Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novels. On the streets below, newsstands are covered with magazines speculating about a supposedly torrid offscreen romance between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. One even declares that the two have moved in together and are nesting like an old married couple. Alas, their home is actually this hotel, which they share with thousands of roommates. ”Yes,” smirks Stewart. ”You’re sleeping over at our house now. Welcome.”

Stewart, 19, who plays Meyer’s moody heroine Bella, has thrown her dyed black hair into a haphazard ponytail. Pattinson, 23, who plays undead dreamboat Edward Cullen, looks bleary-eyed and rumpled underneath a New York Yankees cap. Taylor Lautner, 17, who secured his role as Bella’s pining best friend Jacob by packing on 30 pounds of muscle, is well-scrubbed, wearing a fitted leather jacket. He is religious about his ChapStick. Yes, these three admit they would have eaten at different lunch tables in the school cafeteria. But in the Twilight universe, they are a united front, with an affection for one another that’s undeniable.

EW: How are you all coping with living in a fishbowl? Rob, you always come off as kind of amused by everything.
Robert Pattinson It really depends on the mood. When I met you last year [before Twilight came out], I was doing interviews very sporadically and I never got recognized. Now it’s like anywhere I go there’s immediate recognition. So there’s more of a responsibility…
Kristen Stewart [To Pattinson] You’re not just any famous person. Edward Cullen is such an icon. When you see people on the street, it’s not just that they feel like they know you. It’s like they need you. You can complete a very personal aspect of their lives.
Pattinson Yes, so I have to go around completing people. [Laughing at himself] It’s a curse!
Stewart I don’t mind working every day. It’s just, suddenly I have this other role. And that’s really disappointing. All I’d like to do is go outside with a book and figure out what to do with the day. And if I can’t do that, then I’m just going to sit in my hotel room on my balcony and chainsmoke. [Pauses] I’m going to stop smoking. I’m not such a good smoker, anyway. It’s not in my bones. I’m gonna drop it.
Pattinson The three of us have been working for two years [straight]. It does feel like your day has a shape just as soon as you wake up. I just forget what it’s like when you’re free.

EW: Rob, during our last interview, we wandered unbothered around Hollywood before ending up at some little dive bar.

Pattinson That was a different world. I miss that so much. The idea of going to an interview now, unaccompanied, and saying, ”Hey, let’s go to a bar…” Jesus Christ, I’d have so many [studio] people on my ass.

EW: Last year, you couldn’t wait to see Mickey Rourke in The Wrestle. A few months later you were sitting directly behind him at the Oscars.
Pattinson [Laughs] Literally, when they showed me the seating arrangement I just thought, Why?! Someone is trying to make everyone say, ”Who the f— does this guy think he is?”
Stewart And the camera kept going back to them, and Rob’s just sitting there trying to look serious.
Pattinson That was crazy. I drove to the Oscars in my little old car — which I don’t even know where it is anymore.

EW: Dude, where’s your car?
Pattinson I lost it! And I borrowed a fancy car for five days and crashed it.
Stewart Because he was running from the paparazzi.
Pattinson People never followed me when I had my little old BMW.

EW: You were adamant back then about not getting a publicist. Have you since changed your mind?
Pattinson No. My manager always tells me, ”Robert, you really need a publicist.” And I say, ”Oh, but you’re doing such a great job with the publicity.”
Stewart [Laughing] His manager has to work 10 times harder.
Pattinson [To Stewart and Taylor Lautner] Your publicists are really nice, but to this day I still haven’t seen what the point is in having one. Other than getting free stuff.
Stewart Yeah, but the free stuff all goes through your manager now.
Pattinson I never get any free stuff! But I do catch [my manager] wearing a lot of new things lately. [Laughter]

EW: You’ve all probably learned by now that ambivalence doesn’t always play well in the press. Here’s a chance to say what is purely amazing about enormous fame. [long pause]
Stewart I mean… [Laughter]
Taylor Lautner To be honest, I really enjoy being up here. The filming process. Meeting new people.

EW: Taylor, you’re the only one who almost lost a shot at the sequels. Do you have a different relationship with fame because you had to fight for your job?
Lautner No.

EW: I was sure you’d say yes!
Lautner No, I kept my eye on the prize 100 percent of the time. I was motivated. I wasn’t even thinking about anything else.
Stewart Thank God you got the job. I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with you if you didn’t. After all those months of working out!
Lautner I just wanted to focus on what I could control, and I worked really hard.

EW: You mean in the gym? Because I see your abs everywhere these days.
Lautner Yeah, the gym was a major part, but I really studied the books and the character, too. And it all turned out good.

EW: I’m impressed you didn’t indulge in moments of ”Damn! This role is slipping through my fingers!”
Pattinson Yeah, Jesus.
Lautner I’d be lying if I said that never went through my head.
Stewart The only people who were concerned and reconsidering him for the role were the suits. [New Moon director] Chris Weitz, even Catherine Hardwicke before him, the cast — everyone on the movie was rooting for him.

EW: Speaking of Chris, do you all have a say in which directors assume the helm?
Pattinson No, but he met with each of us before he had the job. That guy’s a saint.
Stewart He’s such a nice human being, he makes you feel morally dysfunctional.

EW: Anyone ask for your opinion on Eclipse director David Slade? [Grim laughter]
Stewart No.
Lautner They just kind of tell us.
Stewart [Pointing at her waistline] We’re about here on the hierarchy.

EW: Has the studio made a decision yet about splitting the final book of the series, Breaking Dawn, into two movies?
Stewart We have no idea.

EW: Does filming feel different now that everyone realizes how much money can be squeezed out of the franchise?

Pattinson The strange thing about the first one is that Summit didn’t know exactly what they were dealing with. It was like a normal film. There were the books, but we had much more free rein.

EW: Wait a second — you complained that there was no freedom to experiment with your characters last time we spoke, too.
Stewart That’s true.
Pattinson [Laughs] I guess there was a lot of fighting on the first one. The most ridiculous one on Eclipse is my hair.
Stewart That’s so funny. I was waiting to see what you were going to say, and then… the hair.
Pattinson [Laughs] I swear to you I’ve never experienced anything like this. It’s every single day. In Twilight, they wanted me to have extensions down to my hips.
Stewart He’s a liar. He doesn’t remember. He’s remembering how they made him feel, but they were just, like, down to here [pointing to her shoulders].
Pattinson So I told them, ”Look, that’s just not going to happen.” I said, ”It looks like this already — I’ll come to set like this.” I sound so stupid, but in a lot of ways the hair is 75 percent of my performance, so in the second one I said, ”Listen, I need to tone down the hair. Let’s make it a little more real, a little bit more…Method.” [Laughs] And then in the third one, I’m doing fight scenes and there’s a strand going down my forehead and they’re like, ”We need to do it again because no one will recognize you! No one will know who it is!” I’m like, really, is my face that generic?
Stewart They want proof that you’re doing your own stunts, man!
Pattinson I have to look like the poster at all times. Just in case they want to use any clip for the trailer. Any clip at all! There were about five people in different departments who, because of my forelock, ended up in tears.

EW: Kristen, it must be nice to watch the guys’ appearances get obsessed over for a change.
Stewart You know what? That’s really nice.
Pattinson I’ve never felt so objectified in my life! [Laughter]
Stewart Seriously, it’s a trip to sit back and look at the sexual objectification of these dudes. I’ve never been asked to do any of this stuff.
Pattinson We have to do a scene on the last day where it starts out with her attempting to be objectified — only to end up denied.

EW: Ah, Eclipse‘s infamous make-out scene?
Pattinson Yes. It’s so funny
Stewart He literally says, ”Bella, please stop trying to take your clothes off.” While he’s shirtless!
Pattinson [Assumes a haughty baritone] ”Please, Bella, that’s disgusting! Leave the nudity to me.”

EW: You guys are lucky. You clearly all dig each other.
Lautner The amount of time we have to spend with each other — if I didn’t like these two, it would be exhausting.
Stewart And there’s all these people that we as a group don’t like. So if we didn’t have each other to…
Pattinson [Mystified] What are you talking about?
Stewart This group [pointing at their trio] doesn’t like certain individuals outside of it. That gets so wearing on a movie if you don’t have…[frowning into her chest]. You need to have people that get it, and that are in your position.
Pattinson You need backup. When there’s so much money involved, it really feels like you’re one person against an enormous machine, so you need…
Stewart No! [Gives Pattinson the hand] You’re not a part of this clique anymore. [Laughing] Breaking Dawn, dude, you’re out of the clique. It’s me and Taylor.
Pattinson Wait, I don’t understand how that happened. I was being supportive. [Whimpering] Fine, I’ll find another clique. It does feel good, though, when you have a genuine bond. I don’t think you guys would stab me in the back or whatever. Right?

EW: You had two months off this summer, between sequels. What did you do?
Lautner I was in L.A. doing…things.

EW: Intriguing.
Pattinson Come on, what’d you do?!
Lautner [Sighs] Just…meetings. And I crammed in [the ensemble romantic comedy] Valentine’s Day. And I had to maintain going to the gym or I’d have lost it like that.
Stewart Eating burgers. He goes around with Baggies of meat.

EW: That’s a horrible visual.
Lautner If I have meetings all day, I’m running around downtown and I don’t have time to…
Pattinson Eat your meat.
Lautner Yeah, so I carry a Baggie and it has patties in it.
Stewart Patties, ugh.
Lautner The worst is not the patties. It’s the sweet potatoes. They get raw and cold and gushy.
Pattinson Why don’t you just go to a restaurant? [Laughter]
Lautner I pack my bags of meat, what can I say? So I was busy with meetings…
Stewart And meat.

EW: Rob, you made Remember Me this summer, between sequels. Was that the set in New York, where you were knocked into a cab by hordes of fans?
Pattinson That was completely made up. I was walking across the street, and there was one cab going about one mile an hour and it nudged my leg. The story ended up being how I got hit by a cab because of a mob of screaming fans, [but] it was 4 o’clock in the morning and there was one person there — a paparazzi.
Stewart People were asking me about it at work. I was like, ”What?! Trust me, I think I would know.”
Pattinson And then there was another time — apparently they said on the news that I had a drug overdose. The security guy saw it on TV, and I wasn’t in my room, and he was like, ”Uh-oh!” It’s just so weird. I wake up and my room is too messy to order room service, and so I end up eating a pack of M&M’s for breakfast — and it takes me about five hours to find it. That’s my first five hours of the day. [Laughing] And then you see the news and think, ”Who cares if he had a drug overdose? It would probably make him more interesting!”

EW: Kristen and Rob, why do you think people are so obsessed with the state of your offscreen relationship?
Pattinson Good question. That’s a little thing I have to think about every day.
Stewart Maybe it’s just my personality, but I’m never going to answer it. I probably would’ve answered it if people hadn’t made such a big deal about it. But I’m not going to give the fiending an answer. I know that people are really funny about ”Well, you chose to be an actor, why don’t you just f—ing give your whole life away? Can I have your firstborn child?”

EW: You don’t think just saying, for example, ”Listen, we dated for a few months, it was weird, we’re better off as friends” would end the speculation?
Pattinson No way.
Stewart People are deeply judgmental and I’m not strong enough. I would love to be like, ”I don’t care what anybody thinks.” But I’m a very private person. And think about every hypothetical answer: ”Okay, we are. We aren’t. I’m a lesbian.”

EW: Careful, you’re writing headlines.
Stewart I’ve thought about this a lot. There’s no answer that’s not going to tip you one way or the other. I’m just trying to keep something. If people started asking me if I was dating Taylor, I’d be like, ”F—off.” I would answer the exact same way.
Pattinson [Looks at Lautner] Me too.

EW: Taylor, this is probably an inelegant time to wonder how your relationship is progressing with Taylor Swift?
Lautner [Laughs] What she said!

The stars of New Moon on the careers they admire.

Robert’s Role Model: Ryan Gosling
”He chooses things that are so right for him. He’s handled his career perfectly. He seems like a nice guy, so people don’t give him any hassle, which seems completely reasonable.”

Kristen’s Role Model: Catherine Keener
”She does what she wants, man. She’s amazing. She doesn’t have to deal with preconceived notions of her, and expectations. People just take her work at face value. She’s great.”

Taylor’s Role Model: Matt Damon
”The Bourne series! But I want to do different things, too. Ryan Reynolds or Gerard Butler — they’ll do the coolest action movie and then they’ll do a romantic comedy.”

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