"After the last one comes out, you can kind of have two failures – and they'd better be low-budget failures. Because if you have one big-budget failure you're pretty much done in this environment."
It's an odd thing to say, given the circumstances. After all, he's the second-richest actor in Britain behind Daniel Radcliffe, with a fortune of some £32m. He's an international sex symbol who need never work again, yet he's leading the charge of a young Hollywood Brit pack that includes Andrew Garfield, Tom Sturridge, Henry Cavill and Alex Pettyfer. If there's anyone who should not be nervous about the future, it's Robert Pattinson. And yet he is.
"It's different for Kristen, for example," he continues, warming to his theme. "She doesn't think about it like that at all, because she grew up gradually, doing independent movies and stepping up the ladder, whereas I was doing progressively smaller movies in England, after Harry Potter… to the point where I was doing nine-day shoots for, like, 20p and a packet of Space Invaders. And then this happened. So I'm not just another actor who's around and jobbing. When you hire me for a job, you're hiring…"
"The audition was at Catherine's house in Venice," he recalls of the moment that was to change his life, and his lifestyle, forever – which involved messing about on Catherine's bed with Kristen, to see if they had any chemistry. "It was me, her and Kristen, and her assistant videotaping it. I was the last one of the day and I was in there for four hours, which was longer than anyone else before me. So I kind of knew. I was like: 'Hmmm, something's happened.'
The producers were not impressed. They thought Pattinson looked scruffy and too old for the part. But Hardwicke pleaded and got him another meeting – this time minus the pharmaceuticals.
"I shaved, like, 50 times before I showed up," says Pattinson. "I made myself look all neat and tidy, wearing a white crew-neck T-shirt. It was almost not to be. Not a single person wanted me at that thing, only Catherine and Kristen."