By the time you’re reading this article, Robert Pattinson will have wrapped his final scene for “Breaking Dawn: Part 2.”
In a way, he’s breaking up with his ethereal BFF.
“It does feel like a breakup. I do love the guy — and I’m going to miss him,” Pattinson, 24, says during an interview with the Sun-Times on a cool Sunday afternoon from his hotel suite in Santa Monica, Calif. “I prefer to think of ending this franchise like leaving school. It’s the last day of high school.”
He mulls over the plusses of leaving behind his romantic alter ego.
“I’ll be very glad not to put those contacts in anymore or have to put on the sparkling makeup,” he says with a giggle.
The thing about Pattinson is, he likes to giggle. A lot. Then his voice softens.
“It’s been amazing to play the same character through so many adventures. And it’s so strange because my life has changed so much over these years, but ‘Twilight’ and Edward Cullen will always be a part of me. It’s been my whole life. My whole 20s,” he says. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He knows that there is no way he’s leaving this room without spilling some secrets about “Breaking Dawn,” a two-part finale debuting in November.
“I haven’t really seen any of the footage, so I’m not sure how any of it turned out. All I can tell you is, it felt right. It was from the heart.
“I’m as curious as any ‘Twilight’ fan,” he insists.
‘A delicious, dirty world’
Fans are curious about Pattinson’s post-“Twilight” life, which includes another of the most talked about film projects of the year — “Water for Elephants,” based on the best-selling novel by Sara Gruen and opening Friday.
Pattinson plays Jacob, a veterinary student in the 1930s who forgets about his studies after his parents are killed. He opts to join a traveling circus as their vet and falls in love with the star attraction (played by Reese Witherspoon) who happens to be married to the ringmaster (Christoph Waltz).
Yes, there are love scenes with Witherspoon, but don’t expect any tabloid headlines.
“Listen, I had a cold and kept apologizing to Reese, who has since revealed to the press that I had the worst sinus infection when I was kissing her. She has said, ‘He was just sniffing all the way through.’ I guess that was her response to, ‘Reese, you’re the envy of so many girls.’”
“I shouldn’t have made my nose run,” he laments. “I was so embarrassed.”
He was thrilled to join up with a movie that thrust him into circus life.
“It’s such a delicious, dirty world,” Pattinson says. “I absolutely loved it. You’re allowed to relax, breathe and sweat in this world. There was something very real about it and it was quite a freeing experience.”
It turns out that he’s actually an animal person. And the feeling was mutual. Another female fawned in his presence — and she might just be his biggest fan.
She is Tai, his elephant co-star, and quite famous in her own right.
“She is such a phenomenal creature,” he says. “Hanging out with elephants is such a life-changing experience. I love that my job as an actor allows me to spend three months with elephants.”
Pattinson was told to watch it when it came to his famous kisser.
“The main rule was to watch out for the horses,” he says. “They will kick you. I was told that the zebras would kick me even harder. The easiest animals were the lions and tigers and elephants. They’re so sweet and so confident. They don’t really get troubled or nervous.”
A recognized star
Pattinson also is becoming quite a confident movie star despite the perils of international fame.
“I was in New Mexico doing a road trip across the states with my friends. I didn’t get recognized at first, but then a woman recognized one of my friends because he was next to me in a paparazzi picture — from two years ago!
“Literally, we were in the middle of nowhere and this woman turns around and screams, ‘Aren’t you Robert Pattinson’s friends?’ Then her head turned again and she looked at me. “She was in utter shock,” he says. “This took place at a fairground outside of nowhere and I thought we’d have to find her an ambulance, which wouldn’t have been easy.”
A few years ago, Pattinson seemed uncomfortable with fame, but now seems to just laugh it off.
“It’s hard to walk down the street. You can’t just do it in a regular way,” he says. “I have to think about my moves. I can’t just casually run out to the store to buy milk. I have to plan ahead and figure out if the paparazzi will be there.”
Of course, there are all those persistent relationship rumors, including that he’s about to marry his “Twilight” co-star Kristen Stewart, settle down and have some bambinos — at least according to an Italian magazine.
“I don’t understand how they printed that. It’s a completely made-up interview,” he says. “I’d love to have a family — sometime in the future.”
They may not be having babies in real life, but their characters Edward and Bella get married and have a child in “Breaking Dawn.”
Ask Pattinson about one of the most pivotal scenes — the birth of Bella and Edward’s child and turning Bella into a vampire — and he pauses. He isn’t sure how much to let out of the bag. Then he giggles and lets it rip.
“It was insane intense,” he says. Edward can either lose her or give her a bite and thus immortality. “It was a pretty traumatic scene for me to do as an actor and, frankly, horrible for me emotionally.
“Edward has tried for so long not to turn Bella into a vampire and now ... well, it’s very sad. He feels like he has let her down.”
Pattinson stops and laughs.
“Now stop asking or I’ll be in trouble.”