The "Twilight" hunk had to get up close to a series of circus animals in his new romantic drama, including elephants, lions and giraffes.
But the star insists it was a wild zebra that caused the most trouble -- and almost left him branded a coward.
He says, "Zebras are impossible to tame. One of them pulled away and ran towards me and I got out of the way. Afterwards everyone thought I was a p---- getting out of the way, and apparently Christoph Waltz had got in front of Reese and other actresses and protected them."
However, Pattinson, keen to save his reputation, checked the film footage of the incident and realized Witherspoon had simply jumped behind Waltz to save herself: "I watched the playback and Reese just literally grabbed Christoph as a shield."