For Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, a perfect date night typically went something like this: a couple of cold beers, an indie band playing onstage, annoying paparazzi nowhere in sight. Taking in a concert by British musician and Pattinson pal Bobby Long at L.A.’s Hotel Cafe on July 19, the couple “were in a great mood,” says an observer. “Rob had his arm around Kristen most of the night. They looked very cute. Everything seemed great between them.”
Not for long. Just five days later, the three-year romance between Twilight‘s Stewart, 22, and Pattinson, 26, who reigned as Young Hollywood’s golden couple, was shattered by revelations that the ferociously private actress-in a series of mortifying tabloid photos-hooked up with Rupert Sanders, the 41-year-old, married-with-kids British director of Stewart’s hit Snow White & the Huntsman. The scandal stunned Pattinson, who had been blissfully unaware of any problems in his carefully guarded relationship-and drove a stake through the heart of “Twihard” romantics (see box, page 68), many of whom lashed out against Stewart with wounded hostility. “Kristen you had everything,” tweeted one fan, “girls dream to have your life, your bf, and you…you’ve just ruined these years!”
While #TeamRob fans vented, the actor himself found a surprising place to hide out: the serene Ojai, Calif., vacation estate of actress Reese Witherspoon, 36, with whom he has remained friends since they appeared together in 2011’s Water for Elephants. He’s “heartbroken and angry,” says a close source, and has been “drowning his sorrows” since the indiscretion exploded into worldwide news.
Stewart, meanwhile, hunkered down too, consumed with guilt and regret over her “huge mistake,” a confidante says. She’s been leaning on her family for support. “Kristen’s sad and upset and desperately wishes she could turn back the clock.”
Also thrown into turmoil: the nearly nine-year marriage of Sanders and his wife, actress-model Liberty Ross, 33 (see box below). After photos surfaced of Stewart and Sanders making out at an L.A. park and in a car on July 17, Sanders apologized to his “beautiful wife and heavenly children.” (Ross-who tweeted “wow” just as the news emerged-hasn’t seen Sanders since. “Her sole focus is on protecting the kids,” says a source.)
Stewart issued an astonishingly raw apology, saying she had “jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.” Behind the scenes, her private confession to Pattinson was even more wrenching. “Telling Robert was the worst thing she’s ever had to do,” says a Stewart source. According to insiders, Pattinson was blindsided when Stewart broke the news to him just before the story broke on July 24. “There were no signs that either of them was unhappy,” says a Pattinson source. “He would have done anything for her.”
The fallout has been swift and painful. Pattinson fled his home in L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood, which the couple had shared since September 2011. He huddled with friends at the L.A. lounge the Churchill before asking to crash at the retreat owned by Witherspoon, whose “bawdy” and “raucous” sense of humor he has praised; she has called him “just the nicest guy.” There, reeling from the deception and humiliation, Pattinson spent a few nights drinking, leaning on friends including his manager Nick Frenkel. For days the actor ignored a barrage of tearful texts and calls from his pleading girlfriend, says a source, and ordered Stewart to move her things out of his home. “This has been such a blow to Rob,” says the Pattinson source. “Talk about having his heart ripped out.”
But by last weekend, Pattinson had relented and he and Stewart began talking again. Still, those close to both sides say he is not in a forgiving mood. “Rob just isn’t going to be able to get beyond the cheating-one time or not,” says the source who knows them both.
Beyond the betrayal, sources say Pattinson found Stewart’s public apology excruciating. “It’s heart-wrenching for such a private person,” says the same source. Why would Stewart, who has said she is “repelled” by interest in her personal life, bare her soul to the world? “Kristen wanted to own up to things, as hard as it was for her to address publicly. She’s punishing herself.” Plus, Stewart wanted to make it clear that “she wasn’t having some long-term affair,” says the source in her circle. “She got caught up in a moment and immediately knew it shouldn’t have happened.”
Both Stewart and Sanders insist it was the briefest of indiscretions. Although Ross’s brother Leopold reportedly told Britain’s tabloid The People that the affair had begun during Snow White‘s filming last fall, a source close to Liberty calls the quotes “fabricated.” But others say the dynamic between Stewart and her director-whom Pattinson “was never a huge fan of,” says a source-raised eyebrows. During the June press tour for the film, “their body language and chemistry was definitely notable,” says a source. Given their ages and “significant others, the flirting seemed inappropriate.” The Stewart source says she first rebuffed Sanders’s advances. “Rupert had been infatuated with her since the production, but she always kept it professional because she loved her boyfriend,” says the source. “She still does. It only became a flirtation recently, and she was lured into a brief situation that she never wanted.” Sanders’s dad, Michael, also downplays the fling as a “storm in a teacup.”
Her romance with Pattinson, however, was one in which both stars had invested deeply. Although a source refutes reports that Pattinson was planning to pop the question-“Rob was never going to propose in the near future”-he was in it for the long haul. With shared passions for alt-rock musicians and literature, the twosome loved their low-key, boho lifestyle. Yet their personalities also diverged, with Pattinson more “outgoing and sweet” and Stewart guarding her spirited streak, says Twilight actress Ayanna Berkshire: “It’s hard to have a relationship when you are the end-all be-all for somebody. When you are really independent that can be stifling.” Stewart expressed a certain restless yearning to Elle in June. “You can learn so much from bad things,” she said. “I can’t wait for something crazy … to happen to me.”
For now, both stars-who will be thrown together during the promotional tour for the final film in the Twilight saga, due out Nov. 16-are still trying to get their heads around everything that happened. “I’m not sure they’re going to be able to work through this,” says the Stewart source, “but Rob is all that matters to Kristen right now. She loves him so much. She’d do anything to be able to get through this and be together.”