British actor Robert Pattinson was just 22 when he landed the role as Edward Cullen in Twilight, and he instantly became a global pin-up, named "the most handsome man in the world" by Vanity Fair and one of the "100 most influential people" by Time.

The Rover

He's 28 now and determined to prove himself as a serious actor, moving on from straightforward leading-man roles (Water for Elephants) to edgier fare by arthouse filmmakers like David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis and this year's Maps to the Stars), Werner Herzog (the forthcoming Queen of the Desert alongside Nicole Kidman), Anton Corbijn, Olivier Assayas and James Marsh. 

More: read our review for The Rover

This summer he's starring in the grim near-future Australian thriller The Rover by acclaimed filmmaker David Michod (Animal Kingdom). It was a script that immediately caught his attention. "This didn’t really feel like a film script," he says. "It felt like a dream." And he especially enjoyed the fact that his character was secondary to star Guy Pearce. "There's something about not having to drive the story forward: you can just be the condiment. It's really kind of freeing just being the sidekick weirdo."

More: 'The Rover' Review Round-up: Violence, Friendship & Robert Pattinson's Us Accent (In Australia?) 

He was also happy not playing a handsome man for a change. "If someone's saying you've got to look pretty for one thing, you feel like a bit of an idiot, because you're a guy," he says. "And then you're thinking about stuff that really doesn't mean anything. You're just posing. As soon as you take away the allowance for your own vanity, it's kind of a relief."

And by deliberately choosing to avoid the expected path of leading man and action hero, he feels like he's stretching himself as an actor. "I never went to acting school," he says, "so this is just me trying to get better."

Watch the trailer for Rover