It’s been three years since the phenomenal success of Killing Them Softly. Since its release, the film’s director, Tommy Lee Jones, has said that he thinks about the character of Roy McBride—played by Robert Pattinson—almost every day.
“I love that kid,” Jones said of McBride in 2016. “He’s just an all-around good kid who gets involved in stuff that he shouldn’t be involved in and doesn’t quite know how to extricate himself from the messes that he gets into.”
The 2007 indie film is set in a small Ohio town where a local policeman reluctantly partners with a professional killer to solve a crime. But while the movie was a critical and commercial success, it largely forgotten that Robert Pattinson was even in the film. Despite being nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award, Killing Them Softly still feels like a lost cause for Pattinson’s fans; he rarely if ever promotes the film, and hasn’t released any new music since the soundtrack’s initial release.
But the former teen heartthrob is finally getting his due. After years of being overshadowed by his more famous Twilight co-stars, Pattinson has quietly been carving out a space for himself in Hollywood, starring in acclaimed films such as The Lighthouse and Dune. And with the upcoming premiere of his latest film, Harriet, it seems like he’s determined to keep up the good work. Though his latest film doesn’t hit theaters until October 12th, we’re already seeing the 34-year-old actor in theaters around the country. And while this may not be the kind of box office that will make or break his career, it’s still a sign of respect for the hard work that he’s put in.
Though a critical and commercial success, Killing Them Softly is most known for being the final outing for Bill Murray. The two had previously partnered on Screwball, and it was after working together on that film that Murray decided to give Pattinson a call, asking if he wanted to star in a film with him. The result was one of the best comedy performances of the 21st century, as Murray’s character reluctantly teams up with a hit man (Pattinson) to kill a woman they had both slept with (Angelina Jolie).
“I always say that Killing Them Softly is one of the greatest films ever made,” Pattinson said in an interview with GQ. “I really do believe that because it’s really an ensemble piece. It’s not just about Bill Murray and me fighting crime, it’s about four different people coming together and trying to solve a crime.”
While many in Hollywood might see Murray and Pattinson as a typical “comedy” pairing, the film expertly dissects how complicated and uncomfortable these types of relationships can be, particularly when combined with other tensions such as race, class and gender. The film is also one of the first to question if “doing good” is really a goal in itself, and whether or not one is capable of truly being “good” while simultaneously being an extremely successful assassin.
But while he might be appearing in more prestigious films thanks to Killing Them Softly, it’s still not enough to bring back the fame, or at least the recognition, that Pattinson had as a teen heartthrob. And if we’re truly being honest, maybe that’s for the best. Though his career has undoubtedly benefitted from Killing Them Softly, it’s also led him down some unexpected—and somewhat unwanted—paths. For years, it wasn’t uncommon to see posters featuring both Pattinson and his Twilight co-stars on a beach, sunnies, and an impossibly blue sky. But all of that changed after Breaking Dawn, the series’ fifth and final installment. In the years since, he’s mostly stayed away from the spotlight, appearing only in smaller film and TV roles. He rarely gives interviews, and doesn’t really do promotions for his films. While he might be best known for his partnership with Jones, it’s been a long time since he was just a pretty face with an inexplicable connection to vampires.
What Is He Doing Now?
These days, Pattinson seems to be enjoying his role as an “actor’s actor”, playing characters that he feels comfortable inhabiting. He had arguably the most interesting role in the upcoming Wonder Woman, playing a cynical psychologist who specializes in treating superheroes. The film marks Patty Jenkins’s (director of Wonder Woman) return to the big screen after a decade, and is sure to attract fans of the comics. It also gives Pattinson the opportunity to play a character that he feels more comfortable with, someone who isn’t afraid to express their emotions.
Earlier this year, he was in theaters for the latest installment of the Ghostbusters franchise, playing a supporting role in Deadpool 2. The upcoming film is already one of the most highly-anticipated sequels, largely thanks to its leading man, Ryan Reynolds. It was also announced that the actor had signed on to play the role of the Joker in Joker, once again teaming up with Joaquin Phoenix, who is set to reprise the role he played in Todd Phillips’s previous Joker film.
So while he might not be a household name, it’s been a while since we’ve seen or heard much from Robert Pattinson. But with his latest film Harriet hitting theaters this week, it seems like he’s determined to change all of that. Though many might see this as a step down, or even a step back, for Pattinson, it’s most likely a sign of further creative growth and, perhaps, a return to form. After all, as Jones said of his former protege: “There’s no limits to what he can do. He can play a cop, or a criminal, or a king, or a president, or God. We don’t label him; he’ll let us know when he’s ready.”