The only similarity between Robert Pattinson's work in "Twilight" and his new film "The Rover"? The screaming fans who still appeared as he walked the red carpet in Los Angeles on Thursday at the U.S. premiere of the Australian indie movie.
"It's always distracting when that happens," "Rover" director David Michôd said in a rare lull of silence outside the Regency Bruin Theatre.
Before casting Pattinson in "The Rover" – the director's second film (the first was 2010's "Animal Kingdom") -- Michôd said he wasn't versed in Pattinson's vampire period.
"I was pretty much totally unfamiliar with his work, but I had had a meeting with him before I even know I was going to make "The Rover" and really liked him," Michôd said. "I found his physical energy really kind of beguiling and he was really sort of emotionally available, so I really wanted to sort of see what he could do. And, he just knocked my little socks off to the extent that me and my casting director turned to each other once he left the room and went, 'Well, OK, that's done, right?'"
That meeting eventually led to Michôd casting Pattinson in his new movie, which features the star and Guy Pearce as an unlikely duo who embark on a quest across a post-apocalyptic landscape. Pattinson trades glittering skin and perfectly coiffed hair for open wounds and a shoddy buzz cut.
"It's just so kind of stark, and it was just so different," Pattinson said of the material. "Something just spoke to me in it, and I really don't know quite what it was."
He added, "If these scripts came along once every six months, I would do them every single time. But they just don't."
Pearce noted that he "saw a transformation before Day 1, really," and Liz Watts, one of the film's producers, said she believed the team ethos helped Pattinson hone the character.
The actor, she said, "came to the outback and put up with flies and heat and dust and all the rest." (Pattinson has praised the isolated location of the film for helping him focus on the role.)
There was a different vibe in Westwood on Thursday night, the screaming fans a reminder of Pattinson's more typical moviemaking experience.
Clutching a three-foot rendering of Pattinson's scruffy face, Nancy Cambino, 47, said she traveled from her native Long Island, N.Y., to see Pattinson at "The Rover" premiere. She became a fan during his "Twilight" days, and has met him multiple times. But it's not "Twilight" that keeps her holding her Pattinson cutout.
"I actually don't like 'Twilight.' I never did," Cambino said. "I'm a Rob fan, not a 'Twilight' fan. I saw 'Twilight' and I went, 'Oh, I like this guy,' and I went to watch all his other movies and I like them much better."
Cambino said she already had her ticket to see "The Rover" that night at a public screening, eagerly pointing to the words on her Pattinson poster below the movie's title.
"A career-defining role. That's what it's all about," she said.