Ask any average Joe on the street about Robert Pattinson and I can guarantee the general response will be, “Who, the guy from Twilight?” Now, don’t get me wrong, the Twilight franchise is absolutely fine. In fact, the fantasy movie series is actually pretty fun. But, Pattinson has crafted such a fascinating and diverse body of work since Twilight ended, and he deserves some recognition for just how talented he really is.
The Twilight saga ended in 2012, and in the decade that followed, Pattinson has been very shrewd in picking his projects. No more blockbusters, no more teen movies. There has, however, still been some bat-related content in his filmography, despite leaving the vampire franchise far behind him.
The decision to cast Pattinson as the titular hero in the new Batman movie was certainly a divisive one when it was first announced. There was a very clear split between those who had followed his career through epic time travel movies like Tenet and surrealist horror movies like The Lighthouse, and those who had no idea what Pattinson had been up to since Twilight.
I remember speaking to my co-worker at the time about the casting announcement. Now, I should say, she frequented the cinema pretty regularly, she knew about movies, her tastes extended further than simple mainstream schlock. Her response to Pattinson being Batman: “Well, that’s stupid. Why would they choose him?”
When I pressed her on her negative reaction, and asked if she had seen any of his more serious work, she had not. All she knew was this skinny kid from the Twilight movies was going to play Batman, and she didn’t like the sound of that.
Even more recently, during the huge press tour and promotional push for the release of the latest DCEU movie, I was able to find people who either didn’t know Pattinson was playing Batman, or didn’t really even know who he was beyond the vampire romance movies.
My step-dad, a purveyor of more obscure movies and the indie film scene, told me he had seen the posters for The Batman and thought it looked cool. “Who’s playing Batman then?” he asked. A look of confusion as I explain why Robert Pattinson will be a good Caped Crusader.
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Obviously, no one can watch every movie ever made. It’s totally normal for there to be gaps in people’s viewing habits. But, my experiences of discussing Robert Pattinson with people do make me curious as to why his association with Twilight dominates perceptions so much.
Now, Twilight is an incredibly popular, successful, and well-known franchise. According to ComicBookMovie.com, in the summer of 2021, Netflix reported that each of the five Twilight movies occupied the top ten movies on the streaming service. These movies have grossed over $3.4 billion worldwide. Their success is undeniable.
It stands to reason then, that the lexicon of all the normal people out there who don’t obsess over movies, would only connect Pattinson with the phenomena surrounding the movies based on books that captured the hearts and minds of readers the world over. But, it would be nice if anyone reading this decided to dive deeper into the incredible filmography of one of the most talented performers working today.
Since 2012, Pattinson has worked with some of the best and most exciting filmmakers in the industry, including David Cronenberg, Christopher Nolan, Claire Denis, the Safdie Brothers, and Robert Eggers. And, he’s been absolutely amazing at every turn.
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In 2014’s The Rover, Pattinson stars opposite Guy Pearce, as a mentally-troubled criminal. It’s a totally transformative role for Pattinson, who imbues his character Rey with all kinds of ticks and mannerisms, and by the end of the movie, evokes such sympathy from the audience.
A supporting role in The Lost City of Z offers a far more subtle and low-key performance from Pattinson, but impressive nonetheless. His role as Henry Costin here, is arguably one of his most mature and composed displays to date.
However, Pattinson is never more captivating than when he goes to the darkest, most unhinged end of the spectrum; something he has done multiple times, and to great effect, since 2017. This new side to Pattinson began with Good Time, an edge-of-your-seat thriller movie from the Safdies.
I would posit that it is this role, as the manipulative and manic Connie Nikas, that really shifted opinions on Pattinson within the sphere of film critics, film fanatics, and indeed, among his peers too. This is Pattinson unleashed, uninhibited, and unkempt. The conventions of being a movie star are nowhere to be seen here, as Pattinson proves there’s more to acting than being really, really good-looking.
Pattinson’s descent into movie madness continued from there, and produced probably the two weirdest movies of his eclectic filmography to date. High Life, the twisted sci-fi movie from Claire Denis thrust Pattinson into space, for a sexual thrill-ride which will leave your jaw on the floor. It’s not for everyone, sure, but it does once again display the unbelievable range Pattinson possesses.
And then, perhaps my favourite of all his movies. In 2019, Pattinson paired with Willem Dafoe for the Robert Eggers dark comedy movie The Lighthouse. Billed as a horror, but with some of the most hilariously bleak and bizarre humour I’ve ever seen, Pattinson is truly all-in with this performance. He masturbates over a wooden mermaid, he kills a seagull, and he professes his desire to have sex with a steak. What more could you ask for?
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You’d think that anything Pattinson did after that impressive run would be hard-pressed to live up to what we saw before, but his brilliant form has continued into the 2020s. Not only was he the best thing about the rather mediocre The Devil All The Time, but he also returned to the big-budget scene with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet.
Aside from the terrible character name, his suave and enigmatic Neil is the kind of charismatic hook that was needed to keep audiences engaged with the mind-bending science of Tenet. After nearly ten years away from the eyes of the general public, Pattinson was seemingly ready to re-enter the spotlight again.
What better way to announce your return to the big-time than to nab the role of the most famous superhero of all time? Pattinson is a self-proclaimed “freak” and a massive fan of Batman, and in collaborating with Matt Reeves, he arguably gave us the best portrayal of the Dark Knight, offering something no other Batman actor had done before.
The Batman is essentially a detective movie set in the grimy, gritty world of Gotham City, and Pattinson’s brooding, edgy performance as Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego finally allows the titular character to be more interesting than the Batman villains around him. Any doubters he had before The Batman, should be fully-fledged members of team Battinson by now.
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So, you see, there is so much more to Robert Pattinson than Twilight. While that mega franchise certainly afforded him the luxury of exploring the independent film scene to nurture his talents, and obviously made him a household name, it’s time to ditch the “Twilight guy” references.
Call him Batman. Call him the weirdo. Call him the psycho lighthouse keeper. Explore all of his amazing films from the last decade and realise that he may just be the best actor of his generation, and thank me later.