Cheryl Hagan spent 10 hours in the car Thursday, driving up from Orlando with her 12-year-old daughter just for the chance to get close to a vampire.
Her trip to West Cove Road in Walker County, Ga., where “Twilight” star Robert Pattinson is filming his new movie, “Water for Elephants,” is her first visit to a movie set. But she has attended 11 “Twilight” conventions, including one in Boston two weeks ago.
“We drove to Boston, so 10 hours is nothing,” she said Friday morning. “I know that I’m obsessed, and I’m OK with that.”
“Obsessed” is the operative word. Fans of Pattinson, best known for his role as vampire Edward Cullen in the “Twilight” series, have a website titled “robsessed.com,” which trumpets itself as “the ultimate, all-access guide to the world’s biggest, hottest new star.”
Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Carmen Erwin, left, and Marla Prince, right, drove to West Cove Road in Kensington, Ga. to try to get a glimpse of Robert Pattinson, the actor who plays Edward Cullen in the popular Twilight series, on the set of Water for Elephants. They were the self proclaimed resident cougars for the day.
Members of “Team Edward” — yet another title bestowed upon Pattinson fans — started gathering Thursday night on West Cove Road in the community called Trickum by locals. By sunrise Friday morning, the normally quiet stretch of two-lane road was filling up with cars bearing Florida, Alabama, Illinois, Tennessee and Georgia license tags.
By 9 a.m., about 50 people stood in the already-sweltering heat near a Walker County Sheriff’s Office car on the road that runs between Pigeon and Lookout mountains. By 11 a.m., the crowds were twice that size.
“I’m hoping Rob will at least come out and wave,” said 16-year-old Ashley Gretzinger, of Rock Spring, Ga. Her grandfather, Ben Yother, drove her to the set.
“If I see him, I will be happy,” she said.
The fans on West Cove Road were kept about a quarter of a mile from the house, but the early arrivals were able to see the star through the oak and cedar trees as scenes were shot in the front yard of the farmhouse selected back in the spring by location scouts.
Oscar winner and Nashville native Reese Witherspoon also stars in the film, but no one at West Cove Road seemed interested in seeing her. And there’s no indication she’s coming to the area to film.
Fans reported seeing Pattinson on Thursday night at The Meeting Place restaurant on Market Street and at the Read House.
Officials with Chattanooga’s Tri-State, which is providing security for the movie set, said there were no reports Friday of overzealous fans busting through the security perimeter, trying desperately to meet Pattinson.
On Friday, the main job of the company, a division of ERMC, was to make sure people were not coming onto the property and to keep an eye on the equipment, said Terry Higdon, director of security for Tri-State.
He said he couldn’t say how long the company was contracted to provide security, nor would he say how many security personnel were on the movie site.
The rest of the shooting schedule and any possible additional locations are not known, but more scenes will reportedly be shot sometime Monday and perhaps Tuesday at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, which has a working train and has been featured in recent films such as “Leatherheads” and “The Scottsboro Boys.”
Jill Dorje, 40, drove her 13-year-old daughter Maya down from Liberty, Ill., hoping to get a glimpse. Maya said she has done some acting in school and community theater and had applied to be an extra for this film.
“I’m a fan of his movies and would like to see him,” Maya said.
Chattanooga’s Film Commission, which falls under the auspices of the city’s Education, Arts and Culture Department, has been working the last two years to make Chattanooga a viable choice for big-budget Hollywood films, according to Missy Crutchfield, director of the department.
“When crews come here, they sleep in our hotels, they eat in our restaurants, they hire painters, carpenters, crew and extras,” she said. “They can have a tremendous economic impact.”
“We are here because we love Robert Pattinson.”
Bethany Campbell, 18, Red Bank
“They (his girlfriend and her friend) made us come with them.”
Carlos Ramirez, 19, Red Bank
“I think it’s crazy, dude.”
Andy Ramirez, 18, Red Bank
“I applied to be an extra but did not get the part. We came here because it was closer than any other place to us to be able to see him.”
Maya Dorje, 13, Liberty, Ill.
“She (my daughter) wanted to come and I was open to the idea. We have no idea if we will be able to get close enough to see him.”
Jill Dorje, 40, Liberty, Ill.
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Pattinson draws the fansStaff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press -The movie crew moves in a portable air conditioner into the house being used to film Water for Elephants Kensington, Ga. which stars Robert Pattinson. Pattinson also plays Edward Cullen in the Twilight series.
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Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...