Plenty has been written about whether or not the Twilight movies are a problematic depiction of teen romance, but Pattinson repeatedly tried to tell us that his character Edward was a bad guy, comparing him to "an axe murderer" and the type to "freak out one day and shoot someone." He also said that he would "like to break the hands and mouth" of the person that came up with his famous R-Patz moniker.
But this is all just prelude.
Our real story begins in 2011, when Pattinson appeared on The Today Show to promote his movie Water for Elephants, in which he played a man who literally runs away with the circus. It was during this interview that Pattinson told a deeply strange story.
"The first time I went to see the circus, somebody died," he said. "One of the clowns died." When then-host Matt Lauer asked how the clown died, Pattinson elaborated: "His little car exploded. The joke car exploded on him... Seriously. Yeah. My parents had to everybody ran out. It was terrifying. It was the only time Ive ever been to the circus."
Dark, right? It sounds like the kind of formative, traumatic childhood experience that would haunt a person long into adulthood, and surely discourage them from ever making a movie set in such an environment. But don't worry, Pattinson doesn't have any clown-shaped scars in his psyche ; because he made the whole thing up.
In another interview on the Water for Elephants press tour, Pattinson was asked to elaborate on the story, at which point he revealed that it was all made up, a fiction, a tall tale told in a moment of abandon:
"I said those things. But I actually made the whole thing up," he explained. "Its coming back to haunt me. I said it on some show. It was really early in the morning the day after the New York premiere. Someone asked me what my experience with the circus was and I was like, I have nothing interesting to say. I dont know why I said that!"
Dana Schwartz, writing for The Cut , tried to mine some logic or reason out of Pattinson's increasingly odd behavior during interviews, and reached the conclusion that he just realized consequences are for other people.
"He was like a cursed prince in a fairy-tale who wished on a monkey paw. Here is your charm and your fame, BUT mwahahaha nothing you say will ever matter. He is Phil Connors in Groundhog Day trying to kill himself over and over again. Robert Pattinson telling Matt Lauer a fake anecdote was a pointless shout into the void, like eating a tableful of pastries when you know your life will restart the next day. Life is meaningless. Celebrity is false. One day, even Twilight and its hordes of fans will be dust. Like a made-up clown in a made-up clown car, were all going to die."
More recently, Pattinson has gained attention for the fact that he keeps bringing up just how often his characters tend to jerk off, most recently in his new black-and-white thriller The Lighthouse . "I keep masturbating, he said. "In the last three or four movies, Ive got a masturbation scene. I did it in High Life. I did it in Damsel. And The Devil All the Time. I only realized when I did it the fourth time."
And just this week, Pattinson confessed to Jennifer Lopez during an Actors on Actors conversation that he thinks there is a ballerina inside him . (We're hoping he means figuratively, and not literally.)
Roll on the press tour for The Batman . Things are gonna get strange.