LOS ANGELES – “She is quite a flirt,” the 24-year-old heartthrob, Robert Pattinson, said of his 9,000-pound co-star, Tai, the lovable pachyderm in his latest action-drama movie, “Water for Elephants.”
The feeling is mutual as the “Twilight” sensation kisses the trunk of Tai during our pictorial with both of them in the parking lot of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.
“Tai has done more movies than me,” Robert said blushing. Tai, who lives in Perris, California with principal trainer Gary Johnson, is a motion picture veteran who has done several movies already including “Bigger than Life” and “The Jungle Book.”
Based on Sara Gruen’s 2006 novel of the same title, the movie is about Jacob Jankowski (Robert), a vet student, who falls in love with The Benzini Bros. Circus’ star performer, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), who is married to the controlling ringleader and circus owner, August (Christoph Waltz). Jacob and Marlena become closer to each other when both take care of Rosie the Elephant (Tai) who is nearly nine feet tall.
So how did he bond with his new pet love, we asked. “I don’t know if there was a real trick to the special bonding,” he said. “I just fed her a lot of peppermints. That’s about it. That’s the way to get an elephant to like you. Feed it Jelly Beans and peppermints every time you see them and then she started following me around. But I don’t know if I learned a lot about elephants in general. Tai is unique in just being so intelligent. She is phenomenally intelligent and she could even do impressions of other animals. It was totally ridiculous. She was kind of a freak among the elephants but I like them. I had an amazing time working with her.”
Robert admitted that working with animals gave him a different perspective on animals. “It’s definitely a totally different experience being on a set where there are a lot of animals,” he revealed. “There’s a calm that it creates. People are a lot happier. Nobody was complaining about anything every single day. I guess it provides a perspective on what you’re doing when you see an elephant that is just kind of content with pretty much anything if you give him some food. I treat animals in many ways the same as I treat people. I’ve met a bunch of new people on the job. God, that sounds like I’m completely insane.” He laughed.
Robert, who lost a dog last year, just adopted a new one from a shelter recently. “His name is Bear,” he disclosed. “He’s just a mutt from a shelter and he had this thing called Parvo. We took him to the vet. I don’t know but I think I am the kind of person who will adopt a whole shelter. In fact, if I were an animal, I would be a dog. A dog kind of fits into my lifestyle quite easily sitting around watching TV, doing nothing.”
With the last installment of the “Twilight” series almost over, Robert revealed he would love to have more control over the jobs he do. “I hope my career will allow me to do that as I get older,” he confessed.
But what he is really looking forward to, he said, is “to be able to live in a neighborhood without worrying that people are going to break into my house. I’m pretty happy with things really. I’d like to write some of my own material and have a little bit more time to do jobs rather than being a rush through everything. And maybe, do movies where it doesn’t mention ‘Twilight’ in the first line every single time. I’ll see what happens.”
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Reese Witherspoon, who just got married to agent Jim Toth in a private ceremony at her ranch estate in Ojai, California, revealed that she wore a classic Monique Lhuillier wedding gown at her wedding.
“The gown was just really beautiful,” she said. “Monique can probably describe it better than I can. All of her gowns were so beautiful and she’s been a family friend of Jim’s for a very long time. So it was very nice to be able to go into her atelier and have her make this beautiful dress. It was really an honor.”
Her daughter, Ava Elizabeth Phillippe, also wore a Monique Lhuillier creation at her wedding. Reese also changed into another Monique Lhuillier dress for her wedding party.
The 35-year-old actress revealed that it was inevitable to marry somebody who is also in the industry. “It’s one of the inevitable things about love and work. I work a lot and I usually run into people who work in the same business as me. There’s sort of a shorthand. This business has its own shorthand, its own vernacular and the same people you see over and over again. It’s kind of natural that you would gravitate towards someone who understands what you do for a living.”
We asked her where her bravery comes from in the choices she has made in her life like starting over in love, dating a younger man, singing in a movie and the like. “Maybe it’s just foolishness,” she said and laughed. “As I get older, I get more nervous. I don’t profess to any kind of expertise in love. I’ve had all my ups and downs. And when I do films, I literally shake for five days before I start a film.”
As for working with Robert, Reese said, “When you work with Rob, there are lots of paparazzi and lots of fans around and they were showing up in buses like literally on the set. I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s definitely a phenomenon that I haven’t seen this amount of attention or excitement about an actor in a really long time. Before I met him, I wondered how he handled his popularity. I didn’t have that kind of instant popularity. It built slowly for me. The loss of privacy is always difficult.
“Meeting Rob, I noticed he really handles it as best as you possibly can. As a 24-year-old man who travels the world and is internationally known, he’s a very quiet guy. He loves to read and watch old movies and he’s very smart. He’s not out at nightclubs, trying to make himself more famous and getting throngs of women following him around. He’s very quiet and shy and sort of stays at home a lot. I’m always trying to drag him out and he’s like I can’t go there. His family is really nice too and they came to the set. That helps tremendously to make you feel grounded. He has a great support system from his mom, his dad and his sisters. It seems like he’s got his head on straight.”