Robert Pattinson Has 'Strength,' Says 'Water For Elephants' Director

'I was a little skeptical, because I only knew him from 'Twilight,' ' Francis Lawrence admits to MTV News.

Robert Pattinson has certainly been branching out from "Twilight." His latest venture outside the world of vampires who sparkle in the sun is the vintage romantic drama "Water for Elephants." He plays Jacob, a 20-something who quits veterinarian school after his parents die in a car accident. He accidentally joins a circus and, from there, discovers more about life and falling in love with the boss' lady, played by Reese Witherspoon, than he could have imagined.

Director Francis Lawrence, who recently wrapped up work on Beyoncé's new music video, said Pattinson possessed the qualities necessary for the part.

"I was a little skeptical, because I only knew him from 'Twilight,' and 'Twilight' was a very stylized movie and it was really hard to tell what he was capable of," he told MTV News at the flick's NYC premiere on Sunday. "But when I sat down with him, I judged him just based on who he is, and I thought, 'Wow, I could really use this guy, because this guy kind of is Jacob from the book.' He still has an innocence and there still is a purity to him. He's humble, even with all of this success. He's a man, but he's still a little uncomfortable in his own skin. He has strength, and you know he had all the things of this guy, and I thought, 'If I can just use who he is, we're set.' "

It wasn't just Lawrence who was excited about having Pattinson in the flick, but also Twilighters, who showed up on set hoping to catch a glimpse of the star.

"They were there every day, but I have to say, they were really respectful," he recalled. "They kept their distance; they stayed outside of the gate. ... We went to Tennessee, and we came to our first set, which was in the middle of nowhere. It was like pulling up to Woodstock. There was cars parked for miles for all of the Rob fans that were waiting. They had camped out at night [in] all of the ditches in the side of the road. We thought we were in the middle of nowhere and nobody knew where we were."

Check out everything we've got on "Water for Elephants."

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