Nov 26 2009 By Susan Griffin
A DOOR swings open and for just the briefest of moments, the silhouette of Robert Pattinson can be made out standing against a window.
Even the jaded journalists that have assembled for the press conference are straining to get a look at 'R-Patz', as he's fondly known, before the door closes.
This adoration is due to Pattinson's role as 'vegetarian' vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight saga, a movie franchise based on the books by Stephenie Meyer.
Meyer has sold 70 million books in 45 languages and there are still another two films to be made after the release of the second instalment, New Moon.
The Twilight series follows the shy Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart, who arrives in the town of Forks, Washington, and promptly falls in love with the "impossibly beautiful" Edward, a vampire destined to be 17-years-old for eternity.
Pattinson believes it's his character fans have fallen for, not him. "I think a lot of people want to hold up the Edward and Bella relationship as being an ideal one. It's about total commitment but there's always that sense of danger there as well."
The 'Pattinson effect' may now see fans fainting at the mere mention of his name, but rewind a couple ofyears to the news that he'd been cast in the lead role and there was an outcry from 'Twi-hards' who labelled him "disgusting," and even "repulsive".
Even before the first Twilight movie was released last October, Pattinson was the reluctant recipient of relentless attention from paparazzi. Now even a quick nip to the corner shop results in pandemonium.
Not bad going for a 23-year-old bloke from Barnes in London who was an unemployed actor when the call for Twilight came.
There's been much talk of an off-screen romance between Pattinson and Stewart, 19, something that neither party will confirm or deny despite recent photos of the pair holding hands in Paris.
Back at the press conference, polite applause breaks out as Pattinson takes his seat. Wearing jeans, a white shirt and jacket, he's looking pretty tired and dishevelled but there's no denying his wide-eyed good looks, even if he is trying to hide his chiselled features underneath stubble.
He and his co-stars are on a world-wide promotional tour of New Moon, and the relentless schedule means he only has a few hours in London before the Twilight carnival continues to another country.
Even though his new-found fame has forced him into spending most of his time in hotel rooms, you don't hear Pattinson complaining, although he's admitted he isn't"really a crowd person".
"And there are always places where you can disappear to," he adds, tugging one of his sideburns. Aside from anonymity, he says there are only a few things he's had to give up since the Twilight hysteria took hold. "But I never did much in the first place," he adds with a smile.
A pause for thought and then he adds,"I got a car in LA last summer, but I really only had three months driving without ten cars following me. So that's a little annoying."
An accomplished musician, he also misses playing the piano and guitar at open mic nights, something he used to do when work dried up pre-Twilight.
Pattinson's first foray into acting came care of the local Barnes Theatre Club where he took part in a production of Tess of the d'Urbervilles. His performance landed him an agent and a role in Vanity Fair, apart that ended up on the cutting room floor.
The casting agent felt so bad for not telling him what had happened, she put him forward for the role of the doomed golden-boy Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire - a role he won.
"When I went into Harry Potter it was the fourth one, so everybody knew each other and everything was so well-oiled," says Pattinson. "With Twilight, it was very weird doing a franchise at an embryonic level and interesting to see many warring energies."
According to Catherine Hardwicke, director of Twilight, Pattinson had to get up and leave a third of the way through the first screening of Twilight, because he couldn't stand watching himself.
"This one's easier," he says, rubbing his neck. "I'm kind of a supporting role.Taylor, (Lautner, who plays werewolf Jacob Black) is the soul of the movie."
To satisfy the teenage thirst for the boys and their pecs,"You get a lot of nipple shots in this movie," says Pattinson laughing.
Lautner piled on 30 pounds of muscle for the second movie and it's his physical transformation that's currently causing a stir. "I was really terrified," says Pattinson chuckling. "I hadn't worked out at all and then I saw Taylor at the beginning of the year and I did feel incredibly inadequate."
Bewildered, almost apologetic about his success, it sounds like he has his family to thank for keeping him so grounded despite the hype.
"I don't think they really know what I'm doing," he says. "I still think they have trouble understanding I'msupposed to be an actor, the same way I do."