NEW YORK — Robert Pattinson is understandably a little fidgety and distracted these days. Everywhere he goes, it seems, he’s followed by lightninglike flashes and shutter-clicking hordes of paparazzi. When word gets out that he’s in town — and, somehow, it always does — screeching gaggles of young female fans gather nearby and swoon over his every move.
So it is that the hunky, 23-year-old British star of the hot teen vampire films "Twilight” and "New Moon” seems a bit preoccupied as he is ushered into a midtown hotel suite to discuss his new movie, "Remember Me,” during a recent press event hosted by Summit Entertainment.
Flanked by a team of stern, clock-watching publicists who admonish everyone around, "No pictures; no autographs,” Pattinson looks slightly sheepish as he’s handed a bottle of Fiji water and settles into a chair.
His hair tousled and his face fashionably stubbled, he’s decked out in gray shirt, gray wind-breaker jacket and rumpled dark jeans, appearing every bit the successor of moody-broody heartthrobs in the James Dean-Johnny Depp lineage.
"Remember Me,” a contemporary romantic drama about two young lovers struggling to deal with family relationships damaged by untimely deaths, was shot on location around New York City, and Pattinson admits through a series of rueful laughs that his red-hot celebrity made the production a chaotic ordeal. Everywhere they filmed, groupies and paparazzi crowded in and created turmoil.
"It’s weird,” Pattinson said. "I did this film, and I hardly knew anyone on the crew because I couldn’t get out of my trailer, especially the first month. I mean, I didn’t know anyone on the set. It was really odd.
"But at the same time, it’s really a quite nice lesson in discipline because you literally have to do it,” he said. "You can’t say, ‘I’m not performing until all these people go away.’ It was way more intense than any of the ‘Twilight’ films even.”
Director Allen Coulter said he knew going in that Pattinson’s feverish celebrity would require extra layers of security around the filming.
"I knew when Rob was going to the bathroom accompanied by about 14 guards that we had real security issues,” Coulter said. "I mean, we expected something, but not what we got. Joe Reidy, a masterful assistant director who’s been with DiCaprio working with Scorsese and others, even he was staggered by the intensity of it. It was tough.
"The first few days in particular, when we had to get our footing, Rob and the others managed to perform intimate scenes when we had 30 to 50 guys on the sidelines with cameras, that we were barely able to control, not to mention 700 to 1,000 young girls all vibrating. It was not easy for the cast to act, and it was not easy for us to do our jobs.”
Despite rigorous security efforts and lots of burly production assistants to keep crowds at bay, "you simply couldn’t defeat it,” the director said. "They (groupies) had inroads and ways of finding out where we were going to shoot. And we’d show up somewhere at 5 a.m., and there would be girls standing there waiting for us so they could see Rob walk from his trailer to the set. They’d see him for maybe 15 seconds. They’d wait all day for that.”
Still, Pattinson, who went from a supporting role in two "Harry Potter” movies to international stardom as sexy vampire Edward Cullen in the first two films of "The Twilight Saga” series, said he’s learning to deal with the daunting distractions of fame.