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Image: Robert Pattinson
Summit Entertainment
Robert Pattinson, seen with co-star Emilie de Ravin in "Remember Me," was eager to break away from vampire Edward Cullen and play a regular guy.
msnbc.com contributor
updated 3/21/2010 6:05:26 PM ET 2010-03-21T22:05:26

Warning: This story contains spoilers regarding the film “Remember Me.”

Edward Cullen may be a world-class brooder, but the actor who portrays him, Robert Pattinson, actually enjoys a good laugh.

Pattinson certainly has much to be happy about these days. His career is red-hot, with the “Twilight” films having made him a multimedia sensation. He hopes his latest picture, “Remember Me,” which opens March 12, continues his career's upwards trajectory. At the very least, it’s allowed him to do something he’s rarely had a chance to do onscreen: Smile.

“That’s one of the main reasons I wanted to do it,” Pattinson says of the film. “I had never played a normal guy. I’ve always done period stuff or fantasy stuff.”

Set in the summer of 2001, “Remember Me” is a romantic drama about learning to overcome tragedy and the inspiration and strength of love. Pattinson plays an angry, aimless young man named Tyler who meets a girl, Ally (played by Emilie de Ravin, Claire from TV’s “Lost”), and through their relationship finds new meaning in his life.

The film is a departure for the actor. Sure, the script allows for several displays of the pouty, doe-eyed charm that have made Pattinson the screensaver dreamboat to a generation of young girls. But “Remember Me” is not “Edward Cullen Goes To NYU.”

“I had read so many scripts at the time and [this film] was the only one that didn’t fall into the same formulaic pattern,” Pattinson said. “There was something about Tyler I just connected to, much more than I’d connected to a bunch of other male characters I’d read around that period.”

Video: Inside 'Remember Me' Because Tyler is a Brooklyn kid, the London-born actor had the chance to work on his American accent. It was an exercise that felt rather natural to him. “I feel like I’m kind of faking it when I’m doing English accents,” Pattinson said, before laughing and admitting, “I know that’s really odd.”

Shock of Sept. 11
“Remember Me” contains a major twist at the end involving the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It’s a shocking moment, a creative risk that could polarize audiences. Pattinson admitted he worried about being part of one of the first major movies to use the attacks as part of a fictional story.

“Definitely, I was a bit concerned. When I first read it, I was sort of [caught off-guard],” he said. “You’re so invested in the characters, and then suddenly this train hits you at the end. It grounded [the film] in reality in a lot of ways which made it kind of much more powerful.”

Co-star Chris Cooper felt 9/11 fit with the movie’s theme of loss, and added that director Allen Coulter “went beyond his expectations” in how that aspect of the film was handled.

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De Ravin agreed and pointed out “this film isn’t based around [9/11], it’s set in 2001 for many reasons. (Writer Will Fetters felt that year) was sort of one of the last years of innocence, in a way, in America.”

While he has no plans to follow “Twilight” co-star Taylor Lautner into the action movie genre, Pattinson enjoyed getting to roughhouse a bit in his newest movie. In one memorably brutal scene, Cooper bounces him off the walls of an apartment.

A big boxing fan, he cops to crying when he saw “Rocky Balboa” and dreams of starring in his own film about the Sweet Science. “I’d love to do a boxing movie,” he says, although he realizes his younger fans may not want to see him unleashing his inner Cinderella Man.

Much like his character Tyler comes to accept certain aspects of his life, Pattinson seems to have made certain concessions in regards to the demands of being RPattz. He knows he can’t go anywhere in the States without being mobbed by fans, such as the ones stationed outside his Manhattan hotel during his recent press tour.

The actor appears to be taking his cue from “Harry Potter” title player Daniel Radcliffe in preparing for life after fantasy franchise mega-stardom. “Remember Me” is similar to the quaint drama “December Boys,” which Radcliffe selected for his first wizardry-free role in 2007. With chapter three in the Twilight saga, “Eclipse,” arriving in June, Pattinson is quite happy to spend a rare 15 minutes without having to answer questions relating to Edward or Bella.

Pattinson is also content to share screen time. Upcoming projects include the ensemble dramas “Bel Ami” and “Unbound Captives,” both period pieces. Working with the likes of Uma Thurman and Hugh Jackman allows him to improve as an actor, according to the actor. “I want to work with good people,” he said, flashing a nervous smile.

He’s also become more aware of his own increasing clout in the industry and how to use it. In the production notes for “Remember Me,” producer Nicholas Osborne credits Pattinson for not backing out of the film once “Twilight” broke, and said the movie probably wouldn’t have been made without his involvement.

Of course, there are the unique problems that come with having one of the world’s most photographed stars on your film set. De Ravin, who knows a little about devoted fans from her time on “Lost,” says the daily crush of paparazzi and star-crazed teenagers proved quite demanding to the production, which was shot almost completely on location around New York City.

“Yeah, it was crazy…Even if you’re not looking at the hundreds of people watching you, you know they’re watching you. So that sort of gets to you a bit,” she said laughing, before adding, “It’s a challenge to just be able to really focus.”

Pattinson shrugs off the attention, grateful to have had even a brief break from Edward Cullen and his relationship troubles, and everything that comes with being the face of a monster franchise.

“(‘Remember Me’) was the one time I’ve ever done something normal,” he said. “It was kind of a relief. Just to be natural for a bit.”

Michael Avila is a writer in New York.

© 2013 msnbc.com.  Reprints

Photos: Robert Pattinson

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  1. Supporting the arts

    Robert Pattinson attends the LACMA Art Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2012. (Paul Buck / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Fan pleaser

    Pattinson greets fans during a "Breaking Dawn Part 2" event at Fox Studios on Oct. 22, 2012, in Sydney. (Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Sneak peek

    Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, director Bill Condon, Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Jackson Rathbone attend the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards at Staples Center on Sept. 6 to promote the final installment of "The Twilight Saga" by revealing a trailer for "Breaking Dawn Part 2." (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Forever love

    Pattinson and Kristen Stewart both play vampires in the final "Twilight" film, "Breaking Dawn Part 2." Stewart's character, Bella, transformed at the end of the previous film after giving birth to their child. (Andrew Cooper / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Sign of the Times

    Robert Pattinson attends TimesTalks Presents: David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson at TheTimesCenter on Aug. 15, 2012, in New York City. (Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. For whom the bell tolls

    Director David Cronenberg and actor Robert Pattinson ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Aug. 14, 2012. (Ben Gabbe / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Opening night

    The actor attends the "Cosmopolis" premiere at the Museum of Modern Art on Aug. 13, 2012, in New York City. (Larry Busacca / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Hands up!

    Robert Pattinson in a dramatic moment in the thriller "Cosmopolis." (courtesy Prospero Films) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Surf's up

    Actors Taylor Lautner, Kristen Stewart, and Robert Pattinson accept the Ultimate Choice award onstage during the 2012 Teen Choice Awards on July 22, 2012, in Universal City, California. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 'Con' artists

    Actors Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart speak onstage during Comic-Con on July 12, 2012, in San Diego. (Michael Buckner / Getty Images for Lionsgate) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Yes we Cannes

    From left, actors Paul Giamatti, Emily Hampshire, Robert Pattinson, director David Cronenberg, and actors Juliet Binoche and Sarah Gadon depart the "Cosmopolis" premiere during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2012. (Andreas Rentz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Say 'fromage'

    Actor Robert Pattinson poses at the "Cosmopolis" photocall during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2012. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. On the road again

    Robert Pattinson attends the "On The Road" premiere during the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2012. (Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Sprechen sie Deutsch?

    Christina Ricci and Robert Pattinson pose at the photocall for the film "Bel Ami" in Berlin on Feb. 17, 2012. (Gerard Julien / AFP / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Man of the people

    Robert Pattinson accepts Favorite Drama Movie award for "Water for Elephants" from actress Ashley Greene at the 2012 People's Choice Awards on Jan. 11, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. 'Dawn' patrol

    Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart arrive at the premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" on Nov. 14, 2011 in Los Angeles. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. TODAY's the day

    Pattinson is interviewed by Ann Curry on the TODAY show. (Peter Kramer / NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Cementing their fame

    Actor Robert Pattinson, left, poses with his "Twilight Saga" co-stars, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner after the trio were immortalized in a hand and footprint ceremony at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, calif., on Nov. 3, 2011. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Like water for ...

    Pattinson and Stewart go deep for a chilly scene in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1." (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Another world tour

    Pattinson is all smiles while promoting "Breaking Dawn" at the start of a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, on Oct. 26, 2011. (Yves Herman / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Shirts on, for now

    Pattinson and Lautner speak at a "Breaking Dawn" news conference at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 21, 2011. pattinson told fans not to get their hopes when seeing him with his short off. "I look like an inflatable frankfurter in some of those [scenes]." (Michael Buckner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. What a bruiser

    Pattinson, left, Xavier Samuel and Bryce Dallas Howard accept the award for best fight at the MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles on June 5, 2011. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. 'Elephant' man

    Pattinson arrives at the "Water for Elephants" Sydney premiere at the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia, on May 6, 2011. (Marianna Massey / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. He's a little bit country

    Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon present the award for best female vocalist at the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on April 3, 2011. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Packing his trunk

    Pattinson stars as a veterinary student who hops a train and finds himself working at a Depression-era traveling circus in "Water for Elephants," based on the bestselling book by Sara Gruen. (20th Century Fox) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Golden boy

    Pattinson arrives at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Dynamic trio

    "Twilight" stars Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner accept the award for favorite movie at the People's Choice Awards on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Back with more bite

    A pale Pattinson and Kristen Stewart star as a vampire and his human love in "The Twilight Saga." (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. De-fanged

    Pattinson hits the red carpet in the U.K. for the premiere of his latest film, "Remember Me," which was released March 12, 2010, to lukewarm reviews. The film allowed the actor to try new things onscreen. "I had never played a normal guy. I've always done period stuff or fantasy stuff," he said. (Joel Ryan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Father-son act

    Pattinson stars in "Remember Me" alongside "Lost" actress Emilie de Ravin, who plays his love interest, and Pierce Brosnan, who portrays his father. The film is a romantic drama about overcoming tragedy to find new meaning in life. (Summit Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Stealing hearts and records

    In the second installment of "The Twilight Saga," "New Moon," released in November 2009, Pattinson's Edward breaks Bella's heart when he breaks up with her, thinking it will protect her from vampires. The film broke the midnight box-office record, which was previously held by 2008's "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," as well as the opening day record, with a $72.7 million haul that overtook "The Dark Knight's" previous record of $67.2 million. (Photo: Kimberley French) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Team Edward

    The "Twilight" films sent Pattinson's popularity skyrocketing around the world. In this photo, a fan makes clear she's on Team Edward at a screening of "New Moon" in Munich, Germany, in November 2009. (Alexandra Beier / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Kisses for a cause

    Pattinson appears with movie producer Harvey Weinstein, right, during a benefit for the AmfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit during Cannes in May 2009. The actor came up with an impromptu auction item: a kiss on the cheek for the highest bidder's daughter. He sold two smooches for $27,600 each. (Matt Sayles / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Going all artsy

    In the film "Little Ashes," Pattinson portrays a young Salvador Dali who finds sexual freedom with poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, played by Javier Beltran. Pattinson told GQ magazine that while filming a graphic interlude, the crew members giggled. (Regent Releasing) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A role with some bite

    2008's blockbuster "Twilight" catapulted its actors to megastardom. () Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Are they or aren't they?

    Pattinson and Stewart are honored with the best kiss award for their smooch in "Twilight" at the 2009 MTV Movie Awards in May. The couple has dated offscreen as well, though they try to keep their relationship quiet. (Mario Anzuoni / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Not just a pretty face

    In the 2008 coming-of-age comedy "How to Be," Pattinson plays a struggling young poet and musician who invites the author of a self-help book to live with him and his parents. The actor, who plays guitar and piano and composes his own music, had three of his original songs included in the soundtrack for the film. () Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Before the luxurious locks

    In 2007, Pattinson starred in the made-for-TV drama "The Bad Mother's Handbook," which was based on the best-selling novel of the same title by Kate Long. The actor played Daniel, an awkward teenager with bad hair who latches onto a quirky teen girl. (ITV) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Early brooder

    2006 found Pattinson in the made-for-TV film "The Haunted Airman," based on "The Haunting of Toby Jugg" by Dennis Wheatley. The actor stars as the young pilot Toby Jugg, who is sent to a mansion in Wales to recuperate after being injured in action. But once there, he begins to to suspect the methods of his psychiatrist as he attempts to cling to sanity. (E1 Entertainment) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Magical role

    Pattinson got his big break in the 2005 film "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," in which he played Cedric Diggory. U.K. daily paper The Times named him British Star of Tomorrow for his role as the young wizard, which he reprised in 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." () Back to slideshow navigation
  41. The beginning

    Pattinson's first acting job was a supporting role in the Nordic legend that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The actor plays Giselher, the king's brother in "The Ring of the Nibelungs," a 2004 TV movie. (Sony Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
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