How did Robert Pattinson go from 'Twilight' to 'The Batman'?
Robert Pattinson has led a more interesting and varied career than people might think. When the news emerged back in May 2019 that he'd been cast to play Batman, one of the greatest pop culture icons and superhero favourites of all time, people had one question on their minds. Isn't that the fella who played the creepy vampire in 'Twilight'?
Robert Pattinson, for his part, has made no secret of distancing himself from the 'Twilight' franchise. The romantic drama follows a teenage girl who falls in love with a hundred year old vampire. Which is of course gross. Fan fiction for 'Twilight' would inspire the 'Fifty Shades' series, which similarly portrayed its male protagonist as controlling, domineering and possessive. Pattinson was not fond of the role and made it very clear that he also thought his character, Edward Cullen, was a creep. He said as much, frequently, in interviews, even when promoting the series.
Pattinson was also put off by the celebrity that came with the 'Twilight' series. It was so much more than what followed 'Harry Potter' (his breakout role was Cedric Diggory in 'Goblet of Fire'; the character died by the end of the movie). He described the sound of 'Twilight' fangirls screaming as “the sound you hear at the gates of hell”. He also admitted: “The more I read the script, the more I hated this guy. So that’s how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself… Plus, he's a 108 year-old virgin so he's obviously got some issues there.”
In between the 'Twilight' movies, Pattinson tried different roles in 'Remember Me' (2010) and 'Water for Elephants' (2011). Though also in romantic drama territory, he clearly was looking for something more matures than teen-aimed fantasy material. Though 'Water for Elephants' proved a misstep, getting slated by critics for his lack of chemistry with lead Reese Witherspoon, 'Remember Me' did alright. Funnily enough, one review for it described the actor as "still brooding" but also distancing himself from "'Twilight', apparently in search of his 'Five Easy Pieces' or 'Rebel Without a Cause'." Somewhat ironically, Pattinson would go on to star in James Dean biopic 'Life' (2015) with Dane DeHaan playing Dean.
While it took Pattinson a while to shake off the role of hearthrob - 2012's 'Bel Ami' was another feature that saw women fawning over him - it was clear he wanted something more. In the mid-2010s, he made two David Cronenberg movies, 'Cosmopolis' and 'Map to the Stars'. In our interview with Robert Pattinson, he talked of how "you try and find interesting directors to work with". And you don't get much more interesting and experimental than a director like Cronenberg. Later Robert Pattinson also made two films with David Michôd. In 2014, there was 'The Rover', opposite Guy Pearce, and last year's Netflix movie 'The King'.
Pattinson was happy to step back as lead and take supporting roles in the likes of 'Queen of the Desert' (2015), starring Nicole Kidman, and 'The Lost City of Z' (2016). Both films failed at the box office, as did Pattinson starrers 'The Childhood of a Leader' (2015) and 'Damsel' (2018). But 'The Batman' star pressed on, consistently landing roles and further exploring arthouse and indie productions. He even starred in a couple of shorts, including one for GQ titled 'Fear & Shame'. The short proved a self-reflective work as it saw the actor attempt to buy a hot dog while avoiding media and fans. It earned high praise from the critics.
The indie movie that particularly had critics sitting up and paying attention was 'Good Time' by the Safdie brothers. The writer-director brothers have broken into the mainstream now with 'Uncut Gems', starring Adam Sandler in one of his best performances ever. In 'Good Time', Pattinson too turns in a career-best performance as a bank robber who goes to incredible lengths for the sake of his developmentally disabled brother.
'High Life', which came out a year later in 2018, also proved to be a highlight of his career. In it, he plays a celibate criminal who's sent on a mission to space. Pattinson will work with director Claire Denis again in 'The Stars at Noon', which is in post-production. Thus for all people's belief that Pattinson disappeared after 'Twilight' and is now playing Batman, the actor has kept busy. In the past decade, he's accumulated around 20 credits, so he's been consistently working.
Moreover, since being confirmed as the next Dark Knight, Pattinson turned in a wonderfully deranged performance in 'The King'. As the Dauphin, he stole every scene from Timothée Chalamet and was easily the best thing about the period drama. Recently 'The Lighthouse', which sees the actor play a lighthouse keeper protege who descends into madness, again demonstrated the range and talent of the 33-year-old actor.
It's interesting to see that having worked on so many indie projects, and expressed his disgust for fame and celebrity, Pattinson turning to franchises again with the movie mammoth that will be 'The Batman'. Why now? "You try and do the opposite of what you've done before," he told us. "You try and find new facets for stuff to do and try to keep it interesting for yourself."
You'll next see Robert Pattinson in the much-anticipated Christopher Nolan movie 'Tenet', which arrives in cinemas on August 26th. 'The Batman' will hit cinemas October 1, 2021.