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Robert Pattinson

Although Robert Pattinson will star as vampire Edward Cullen in the two final Twilight films, many sense he already has itchy feet for new pastures.

Water for Elephants, out this Friday (April 22), tests his talents away from Twilight‘s supernatural milieu. He plays opposite Reese Witherspoon in a Depression-era romantic drama set amid the world of a traveling circus.

When asked about the new film Pattinson told me: “It’s not in the fantasy genre so that changes a lot of things. I really love the part so hopefully that will come across.”

In Water for Elephants, the young British star worked with Oscar winners Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz, along with director Francis Lawrence, who found him very easygoing on the set.

Despite the mobs of teenage girls who fling themselves at Pattinson, the director says: “There still some purity there that is unbelievable with this kind of craziness around him.”

But Lawrence concedes that typecasting is always a potential pitfall for a leading actor in a blockbuster franchise: “I think that’s a tricky thing when you become an icon based on a very specific thing,” Lawrence says. “It’s tricky to break out of that.”

Even though Pattinson is branching out into other roles — he’ll be appearing soon as a 19th century amoral Parisian playboy in Bel Ami — there are the two installments of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn in the pipeline. The star will have to contend with being Edward Cullen at least until the last film is released in November 2012.

Tom Brook‘s reports on cinema can be seen every Tuesday and Thursday morning on BBC America.

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By Tom Brook