Robert Pattinson’s rise from promising 18-year-old heartthrob to 34-year-old Hollywood heavyweight has been a long time coming. From wizard and vampire franchises, to an indie focus during the rebuild of his image within the industry, to a comeback into public relevance, he has gone through the wringer when dealing with keeping his career steady and consistent. Following hot on the heels of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Tenet, Pattinson’s hard work and raw talent led him to star along with Tom Holland and Mia Wasikowska in The Devil All the Time on Netflix. Then, in 2021, he’ll play his biggest role yet: Batman. But how did he chart this long and chaotic road?
Twilight: the necessary evil
After a short yet promising stint in the Harry Potter franchise, Robert Pattinson played the role of Edward Cullen, a centuries-old vampire in the hit teen franchise, Twilight. This role brought him worldwide recognition and allowed him to establish himself as a famous actor. However, this early fame proved to be a double-edged sword.
The five-movie run in the Twilight franchise put Pattinson in danger of being typecast. He faced the kind of adulation that doomed so many good-looking actors in the past. In other words, his longevity in the industry was at stake. However, Pattinson used this opportunity to chart his own path, which led him to play out-of-the-box characters in indie films by some legendary directors.
Stepping into the world of indie films
Between 2012 and 2019, Robert Pattinson amassed quite the acting CV while working in indie, art-house films. Choosing the path less taken may have seemed risky but it paid off in the long run. It allowed him to take refreshing roles that would stretch his acting abilities and force him to step out of his comfort zone with every film.
His role as a self-destructive billionaire in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis set the ball in motion, leading to multiple unique roles in The Rover, Map to the Stars and the Safdie Brothers’ 2017 hit Good Times. Perhaps his best work to date, Pattinson received critical acclaim as the unkempt, low-life criminal Connie Nikas, who creates havoc around New York whilst trying to get his disabled brother out of jail.
Since Good Times, Pattinson was viewed as a rising talent within the film industry and among film buffs. After meticulously building his résumé, his career had begun to skyrocket.
The Return to Mainstream Cinema
With more maturity, a string of legitimate acting credits and his charm still intact, the time was right for Pattinson to return to blockbusters. Amid two highly acclaimed releases, he was cast in Christopher Nolan’s epic thriller, Tenet, in 2019.
In the movie, Pattinson played Neil, a terribly English, “slightly rascally” (to quote Nolan) British intelligence officer who helps John David Washington’s “Protagonist” complete his mission and save the world. Despite the limited dialogue and lack of backstory, Pattinson created a believable and entertaining character. Clearly, Pattinson is a lot more comfortable with eccentric and dark characters, which will, no doubt, make for a fascinating take on Batman.
Instead of chasing after boundary-pushing material or work with cinematic auteurs, Robert Pattinson has constantly pushed himself, testing his own sense of comfort and demanding audiences do the same along with him. He has seamlessly redefined his place in the industry, from a teen heartthrob to a serious actor that isn’t afraid of portraying diverse, sometimes bizarre, characters.
A magnetic force with an undeniable presence, Robert Pattinson is on the road to becoming an icon.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.