VENICE, California — Catherine Hardwicke celebrated the seven nominations of "Twilight" at Sunday's MTV Movie Awards by inviting us into the home where she auditioned her no-names-turned-superstars, and showing us the bedroom where Robert and Kristen shared the smooch that would eventually become a Best Kiss front-runner.

Next up, Catherine led us into the living room where she keeps a magazine rack. And, after spinning around the rack to reveal dozens of covers featuring her lead actor, she was eager to discuss Robert Pattinson's nomination for Breakthrough Male Performance.

"I remember when we first cast him. We put it on the Internet, and people were sending e-mails [saying], 'He's revolting! He's disgusting! He can't be Edward!' And of course, the fans, after we started putting out some photographs of him looking like Edward, they turned around," Hardwicke grinned. "Now he's pretty much on the cover of every magazine! It's pretty crazy."

Walk into any supermarket and you're bound to find a few RPattzes staring at you while you're in the checkout line. But while every year brings with it a few new Hollywood beefcakes, Hardwicke said she's most proud of Rob because his breakthrough might be building a career to be proud of for decades.

"I think he could do some really interesting roles, like Johnny Depp has chosen — such unique roles," she explained of the actor, who first auditioned (the biology scene) in her dining room, then went into the bedroom to try out that famous kiss. "He can transform himself into other characters, and I love that Rob will do things that we don't expect. He's going to do really unusual, unique things — and I'm looking forward to it."

What's even more remarkable is that, a mere 18 months ago, Twilighters were upset by Pattinson's casting. "People had posted their own opinions of who should be Robert online — pictures of male models that they'd put on the Internet and say, 'This has to be Edward!' and those guys probably couldn't act," Hardwicke remembered. "In fact, we looked at a lot of those guys — and they couldn't act."

Now Rob's amazing breakthrough has seen him go from "the guy in those 'Harry Potter' movies" to one of the most desired leading men in Hollywood. And along with the pleasures of his breakthrough has come a bit of pain — as best evidenced by Hardwicke's magazine collection that also includes such tabloid headlines as "Twilight in Trouble" and "Twilight Fight."

"Now everybody [knows about him], everybody is paying attention to every little thing Rob does," Hardwicke said of the new pressure on him as he's been working on the "New Moon" set. "At the time when we filmed the first movie we had a few fans [surrounding the set], like, 10 people would find us. Now it's like everywhere Rob goes it's a circus.

"People are dissecting everything," she sighed. "If he's looking [grumpy for a moment] it's like, 'Oh, Rob's upset!' It's a crazy time."

Although Hardwicke refuses to pick a favorite between RPattz and fellow Breakthrough Performance nominee Taylor Lautner, she told us that she'll be screaming louder than anyone if Rob walks onstage Sunday night to receive his trophy.

"Robert has that soul, that passion, that depth. He's a very interesting person in his heart and soul. The movies he watches are weird independent films and foreign films; the books he reads are these great, obscure things. He's a musician, an artist, and he's very special and unique," she explained, making his case as a true Hollywood breakthrough. "I can't wait to see what he does next."

Will the vampires grab more trophies than the slumdog? What was the year's ultimate onscreen WTF moment? It's up to you to decide the winners of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Vote now, and tune in on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET, when the big show airs live from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.

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