Robert Pattinson, Twilight

Robert Pattinson was intimidated to audition for the role of Twilight's leading man — and his confidence didn't get a boost when fans decried his casting.

The uneasiness started before he was even cast as Edward Cullen, when he read 50 pages of the original vampire book.

"Even in the synopsis," he told reporters, "it's like, 'Edward is the perfect being. He's so witty and beautiful, and so crazy, he's funny, he'll open doors for you and stuff," adding with a laugh, "'He'll drive you in his Volvo.'"

Before the Twilight phenomenon, Pattinson's work included a small part in two Harry Potter films, plus a couple of roles in British indie films like Little Ashes, among others. When he was cast in the big-screen version of Stephanie Meyer's book series, fans immediately revolted against him — and called for a boycott of the movie.

"They had this picture from a Viking film," he said. "I looked like somebody beat me in the face. I was wearing this disgusting wig, and they were like, 'This is Edward.'" A full 75,000 fans had signed a petition against him.

"That was my welcome into Twilight," he said.

Of course, their disappointment quickly faded. His face is plastered across magazine covers, TV screens, posters and billboards worldwide, and he jokes about "scream sessions" with fans worldwide who shriek when they meet him. But the 22-year-old Brit still has his insecurities.

"I still believe the initial reaction when I got cast was the true reaction," he said. "And now, everyone's like, 'OK, I just love the book so much, I'll just let him go with it.... OK, he's beautiful!'"

Yet, the actor isn't holding fans' initial criticism against them, now that the pendulum has swung. "I prefer sticking with the people [who] hated me. Then at least you have to fight for something," he said. Comparing how his fans respond to him now, he added, "You get little girls like, 'I want to have your babies!' It's like, seriously. I don't even want to have my babies."

Pattinson said the early response also affected how he played the role, leading, in part, to his more nuanced performance.

"The initial reaction was 100 percent, he's completely wrong for it," he told reporters. "And I agreed with them. I played it differently, I didn't play it like some guy who knew he was a beautiful person, I hope."