David James/Twentieth Century FOX
01/03/2011 at 01:12 PM EST
While Robert Pattinson's on-screen chemistry with Reese Witherspoon is palpable in their upcoming film, Water for Elephants
, it was his other co-star who got him to commit to making the movie in the first place.
"Rob was non-committal until he saw the elephant," animal coordinator Paul "Sled" Reynolds tells PEOPLE
. "After he met Tai, he knew he wanted to do this movie. He absolutely adored that elephant."
Tai, who is 42 years old and weighs almost 9,000 lbs., enjoyed the kind of closeness to the Twilight
star that millions of fan girls could only dream about. Here, in this exclusive still, Tai's trunk comes very close to meeting Pattinson's smiling lips. For more about Water for Elephants and exclusive pictures from the movie, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE magazine.See more movie animals on PEOPLEPets.com:Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon Get Close in 'Water for Elephants'Exclusive Clip: Jinx the Cat's Best 'Little Fockers' Moments