Two months before filming began, Pattinson went alone to Oregon, where the cast and crew would eventually join him. He pored over both the script and Midnight Sun, Meyer's unfinished version of Twilight that is narrated from Edward's perspective, determined to mine the deepest meaning from every line. In the book Edward is described as being all sinew and six-pack, so he spent long hours at the gym, shedding pounds at an alarming rate. ''Then three weeks before shooting the producers were like, 'What're you doing? You look like an alien!''' he laughs. ''Oh, well, I thought it was a cool idea.''
Pattinson's idea to play Edward as a manic depressive also made people nervous. The producers took to trailing after him on the set with highlighted passages from the book of all the times Edward smiled. ''It was like, 'Argh! I was going to smile at some point.' Or everyone would be like, 'Well, let's try to make this bit funnier!' But it wasn't funny. I tried to play it, as much as possible, like a 17-year-old boy who had this purgatory inflicted on him. I just thought, 'How would you play this part if it wasn't a teen-book adaptation?'''
Director Catherine Hardwicke could see that her star was torturing himself. ''So I had a little thing 'Rob, let's just rehearse the scene all the way through without tearing it down and criticizing it.' We'd get two lines out, and then he would say, 'No, no, no, it's not working!''' Stewart laughs when reminded of Pattinson's inner turmoil. ''Rob made himself crazy the whole movie, and I just stopped and patted him on the back through his neuroses,'' she says affectionately, then pauses. ''He would punch me in the face if he heard me right now.''
Pattinson and Stewart's onscreen chemistry is crucial to the movie's success, so the actor can be forgiven if he acted smitten with his costar when the cameras weren't rolling. ''In the beginning I thought to myself, 'Because she's so serious, I've got to be really serious,''' he says. ''I didn't speak for about two months so I would seem really intense. I would only ever talk about the movie. And I kept recommending all these books. It didn't really work, though. Then I started falling apart and my character started breaking down. I felt like an idiot just following her around, saying, 'You really should read some Zola and there's this amazing Truffaut movie.' And she started calling me on things: 'Have you actually watched this movie? Yeah? What's it about?' 'It's about a guy on a train.' 'Did you just look at the photo on the cover of the DVD?!''' On more than one occasion, Pattinson was overheard asking Stewart to marry him proposals that the actress, who's had the same boyfriend since she was 16, got used to shrugging off.
If the shoot had him in knots, Pattinson is determined not to be psyched out by the rigors of promoting a possible franchise. ''I got sent to media training and my agent got back messages like, 'He's resisting the media training,''' he says with an amused shrug. Before the Comic-Con panel, the cast was given prepared answers, but Pattinson refused to stick to the script. ''Even little kids don't want to hear you say the same pat stuff,'' he insists. ''It's boring! I'm thinking about my career in long terms, rather than just trying to milk one thing for whatever it's worth. You either have to be off book from the beginning or be on book forever. And I've never really seen the point of being on book.'' He laughs and signals the waitress for another round of beers. ''Watch, though. I'm going to be completely destroyed.''
NEXT PAGE: ''My only real answer, to be completely honest, is I don't want to be completely f---ed after this. I don't want to be an idiot, and that's always a distinct possibility.''