Who would have thought that the most talked-about actor of the moment could be a 26-year-old who was barely known to North American audiences just a few years ago? It Started With a Tweet.
On July 23, 2019, the actor Robert Pattinson—better known to fans as the hot-blooded vampire in the hit movie series The Twilight—tweeted out that he would be open to acting in a superhero movie, if the script was good.
The news was soon after picked up by multiple media outlets, and the rest is history. Within a day, Pattinson had begun filming scenes for The Batman with director Matt Reeves ( War For the Planet of the Apes, Deadpool). Several days later, the first footage from the set of the Joaquin Phoenix-fronted project—dubbed ‘The Joker’ or ‘Joker footage’ by fans—was released to the public.
This article will examine the circumstances surrounding Pattinson’s decision to pursue an acting career, as well as his preparations for the role of Batman.
Pattinson is the son of film producer and director David Pattinson (Best known for Little Lord Fauntleroy). He grew up in England with his younger brother and sister, and was educated at London’s famed King’s College. His mother is German, and his father is Scottish.
The actor had a small role in the 2005 film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and then gained international recognition for his portrayal of the tragic King Robert the Bruce in Peter Flannery’s 2006 film The New King Henry VIII. After briefly studying theatre at the University of Oxford, he landed a role as the suave and sophisticated Quentin Tarantuluz in the 2007 romantic comedy Get Set for Sale. The film, which was made in Germany, was a major success, and increased his popularity further. He followed this up with a number of high-profile film and TV roles in the years that followed. His breakthrough role came in 2011 with the comedy smash Never Been Kissed, followed by the biopic The Rover two years later. In 2018, he appeared in three movies: the Oscar-nominated drama Waves, the action-adventure Joker, and the family comedy Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
One of the most famous faces in Hollywood, Pattinson is a bonafide global superstar and recognized as one of the finest actors working in film today. In 2020, he will be seen star in the upcoming crime thriller Midsommar, opposite Florence Pugh and Will Poulter. In addition to his acting career, he is a published author, with two books to his name. His first, Good Omens: The Nice and Naughty Version, was released in 2018, and told the story of his friendship with director Terry Gilliam ( The Dark Knight Rises, Umbrella). In November 2019, his second book, An Uncanny Affection: Reflections on Love, Loss, and Leadership, was released. Gilliam called it “an extraordinary piece of writing.”
The Batman script, written by Scarecrow directors Jeremiah S. Chechik and D.J. Carrey, was originally titled ‘The Quiet Murderer’. The filmmakers revised the title after realizing that it was already being used for a play. The current script is believed to be the final draft of a much longer story, with earlier versions containing additional character development and a more conventional villain plot. The main difference between the earliest and final versions of the script is largely in the script’s middle section, which was considerably expanded.
The earliest draft of the script dates back to 2016, when Reeves was still attached to direct. The project was then called “The Quiet Murderer,” and focused on the early days of Batman’s career. In the original story, Bruce Wayne is a wealthy businessman who volunteers for a social cause and devotes himself to fighting crime and injustice. When his wealthy business partners learn that he is operating outside of the law, they try to bring him back into the fold by any means necessary. However, when Wayne refuses to give in, and continues to fight crime as Batman, the business community turns against him.
The filmmakers changed gears on the project in 2018, shortly after Carrey and Chechik replaced Reeves. They decided to go for a more iconic and traditional approach to Batman, casting Pattinson in the lead role.
While the final script does feature some references to modern-day issues such as cybercrime and gun control, the original version was primarily concerned with the origins of Batman.
The Making of The Batman
From the very beginning, Pattinson was determined to do his research in order to portray Batman accurately. One of his first impressions of the character was that he wanted to make sure that the audience understood what it means to be a Batman, and that the portrayal was consistent with the character’s established mythology. As he discovered more about the character, he became even more excited about the project.
During an appearance on The Graham Norton Show, he gushed that he had read every issue of Detective Comics multiple times, and that his favorite story was “Ten Shades of Gotham,” the first appearance of Batman.
In order to prepare for the role, Pattinson became friendly with Matt Reeves and Tim Burton, the director of the 1989 Batman movie. He also studied the work of forensic psychologists who have examined the lives of criminals, and even became a graduate student at the London School of Economics. Ultimately, he cited “[Burton]’s influence” as the reason behind his decision to pursue an acting career.
Robert Pattinson as Batman
Reeves first introduced Pattinson to the world as the dashing lead singer of the band The Cosmos in his 2016 film Nightmare Before Christmas. However, it was in 2020 that audiences really began to take notice of him, with numerous articles and videos spotlighting his dramatic transformation into Batman.
The actor revealed in an interview that the costume fitting took place five weeks before the start of principal photography, and that he spent about four hours a day, seven days a week, putting it together. In order to ensure that he maintained his athletic look while in the cowl, Pattinson worked with a personal trainer who helped him lose five pounds. He added that he used “performance-enhancing drugs” to further speed up his transformation process. While he wouldn’t go into detail, he did say that the experience was “physically and mentally very challenging.”
Pattinson also offered an insight into what it means to play a character many consider to be one of the most iconic and legendary figures in modern culture. “Being able to play such a unique character, there’s a certain catharsis in that,” he said.
As for the rumors that he would be playing a different Batman in the upcoming Shazam! (2020), Pattinson firmly refuted the idea in an interview with EW.