LOS ANGELES — Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson sit side by side on a sofa at the Four Seasons hotel, discussing the end of the five-film project that made them famous and brought them together.
"Twilight" rocketed both to superstardom, and their real-life romance only propelled them further. With Friday's release of the final film in the franchise, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2," the young actors bid farewell to the worldwide fantasy sensation, but not to the tabloid attention they garner wherever they go.
Dedicated Twi-Hards were devastated when Stewart admitted in July to cheating on Pattinson in a "momentary indiscretion" with her married "Snow White and the Huntsman" director. Bella and Edward, er, Stewart and Pattinson briefly split, which not only threatened to jeopardize marketing for the final "Twilight" film, but unraveled the real-life element of the vampire love story.
Now reunited, the pair finish each other's sentences during a recent interview as they talk about how much their lives have changed since the first "Twilight" movie was released in 2008.
"After the first one, I mean, it's a different world you're living in," says Pattinson, 26.
"Also, we're at that stage of life when things are shifting anyway," adds Stewart, 22, who was just 17 when she first played Bella Swan.
Global fame makes growing up challenging, they say, acknowledging they've become more insular.
"It's a really weird thing because you kind of have to hide," Pattinson says, "and hiding really destroys the thing which, for one thing..."
Stewart interjects: "That fuels you as an actor."
"Yeah. It destroys your fuel," he continues, "and also it destroys — you get to the point where you start to lose interest in things because you spend so much time..."
"Guarding," Stewart says.
"Yeah, and that's your world," Pattinson says. "Your world gets smaller. There's a massive contraction. And the weirdest thing is the more you contract it, the more the (public) interest goes up. It's so crazy. There's no way around it. You're either on a 24-7 reality-TV show, or people think you should be."
"No, it's hilarious," Stewart says, not looking like she finds it very funny. "Either way, people are like, 'Ugh. Famewhores.'"
But she has wanted every "Twilight" film to be successful and knows it's not popular to complain about the personal costs of fame.
"This is a really scary question to answer because people instantly just hate you for even saying that anything is close to unsavory or whatever or however you want to put it," she says.
Director Bill Condon, who began working with Stewart, Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in 2010, says the young megastars understand the pressures of the spotlight.
"They appreciated the good stuff about it, they were able to kind of glide through the stuff that wasn't so good, and, really, they're three very grounded human beings who really just, I have to say, matured into better versions of themselves," Condon said. "They didn't get altered by it, which is kind of extraordinary."
Stewart said it's been an indulgence to play the same character for so long, but there is some relief in having reached the end of her story.
"There are so many beloved moments in this series that we would think about for five years," she said. "They weigh on you, whereas in a normal movie, you've got five weeks, five months... We, for five years, have been waiting for the story to be told. And now that it is, I don't want to say that I'm so excited that it's done, because that sounds like I just don't want to do it anymore, but I'm just excited that we don't have that on us anymore."
Wrapping up the second "Breaking Dawn" film was a relief for Condon, too.
"It's something you obsess on for so long," he said. "It's good to say goodbye to it."
Pattinson and Stewart are also glad to finish the last round of "Twilight" promotions and press interviews.
"Doing press for a different movie, you're literally just talking about the movie," Pattinson says. "This, 90 percent of the time we're talking about our lives rather than the movie."
"But this is it," Stewart says. "It definitely makes today easier."