The news this past week has been dominated by the passing of actor Robert Pattinson, who died at the age of 30. The news of his tragic death broke last Tuesday night, April 25, when a representative for his family said that he had died of asphyxiation after hanging on a hook at his home in London. The following Monday, his family confirmed the sad news in a statement that read, “It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic passing of our beloved Robert. While we mourn his loss, we thank you for your ongoing love and support.”
Pattinson was one of the most recognizable faces in global entertainment. He rose to fame for his role in the Twilight films opposite Kristen Stewart. The actor is also known for his work in the David Cronenberg films The Golden Compass and A Dangerous Method. In 2016, he published an autobiography, I’ll Be Your Mirror: How to Be Yourself (And Let Others Love You, Too).
Here, we’ll explore six things you may not know about Pattinson.
1. He Was Cast In One Of The First Ever Reality TV Shows.
In the 1980s, MTV launched the reality TV genre, and in 1991 they debuted the very first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is credited with kick-starting the entire genre. In the show’s early days, people weren’t quite sure what to make of it. Variety wrote in 2015 that MTV still had reservations about how much of a reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race was, while Entertainment Weekly described it as “the original reality show.”
Regardless, the show became an instant hit, and people started to realize the potential of reality TV. To this day, RuPaul’s Drag Race remains one of the most popular series on TV, while competition shows like Survivor and The Voice remain staples of the genre. It even influenced other genres of TV shows, including Netflix’s House of Cards and The Handmaid’s Tale, both of which feature shocking twists that are eerily similar to those found on Drag Race.
One of the stars of RuPaul’s Drag Race was a then 23-year-old Robert Pattinson. The Scottish-born actor had already made a name for himself in Britain, where he had appeared in a number of TV shows and films, and was even a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He became famous in the United States for his role as Charles “Chas” Partridge, a stoner English boy in the 1987 film Better Than Sex. In fact, it was that role that got him the audition for RuPaul’s Drag Race.
2. He Was One Of The First Famous Faceplants On Reality TV.
There is perhaps no other reality TV star whose faceplant has become as iconic as that of Robert Pattinson. During his appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race, he tripped on the catwalk as he was walking towards the camera, hit his head on the ground, and was left with a bloody nose and some missing teeth. He went on to appear in a string of reality shows in the following years, including Celebrity Survivor and Dancing with the Stars, often being referred to as “Britain’s Worst Dancer” for his embarrassing dancing exhibitions on national television. After a few years of this, he seemed to have had enough of being in the public spotlight and quit the business altogether.
Sadly, his life didn’t take a turn for the better. In 2017, he gained 35 pounds and was consequently fired from Dancing with the Stars for being overweight. He went on to lose a significant amount of weight, but it was too little too late. In May of that year, it was revealed that he was arrested for heroin possession in September 2016.
3. He Broke The Internet In 2015, When He Posted A Pic On Instagram Of Himself In A Horse Mask.
If there was one photo that summed up 2015 for many people, it was the one that Robert Pattinson posted on his Instagram account in that year. The photo shows the English actor wearing a horse mask, standing in a field of sunflowers with a dog resting its head in his lap. The photo’s caption read, “Last year was the first time in a long time that I felt like myself again. 2015 was a very positive and proud year for me. This photo sums up the essence of my time working with (director) David (Walsh) on (the 2016 film) London Fields. A big thanks to @davidfalconer for letting me be a part of such a fantastic project. X.”
The horse face is a cultural reference to the zodiacal sign of the horse, which is associated with wealth, success, energy, and drive. The symbolism of putting a horse head on your Instagram profile goes back to the Wild West, specifically the 1880s and 1890s. At that time, westerners would wear a mask of a horse head on social occasions, especially at celebrations and Halloween parties. As the 20th century progressed and people became more progressive, so did the way they treated mental illness and addiction. It wasn’t until the 21st century that people started wearing masks in the streets to signify their support for groups like the LGBT community and people with mental illnesses.
4. He Changed His Name From Robert To Ron.
In the early 2000s, Robert Pattinson started using the stage name “Ron.” The choice was inspired by and is seen as a play on words with the Welsh magician Harry Houdini. Houdini was known for using the name “Houdini” as a stage name, and it’s likely that this is where Pattinson got the idea. Houdini lived from 1874 to 1926 and always used his native Welsh language when giving advice or speaking to the public. It is thought that only a few people still speak Welsh, and if they do, it is almost certainly due to the influence of Houdini. Perhaps it is no coincidence that many people who knew Houdini also knew Pattinson and named him after the famed magician.
5. He Almost Got Engaged To Katherine McAlpine.
In 2014, news broke that British designer and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham was set to propose to model and entrepreneur Kate McAlpine. The couple was described as “stepping stones” for the other engaged couples in Britain at the time, and it was hoped that their commitment to one another would inspire other young couples to take the leap and ask ‘the question.’”
Unfortunately, the proposal was called off just a few weeks after it was announced. McAlpine cited “difficulties” as the reason for the cancellation, and it was soon revealed that her father had suffered a heart attack and was in intensive care. This was a blow for both Beckham and McAlpine, who had been together for a number of years. A heartbreaking picture of McAlpine wearing a gorgeous dress and holding up a painting of a bird with a diamond ring inside was circulated around the internet, showing the depth of their affection for one another. Many sources have cited the heartbreak as the reason for McAlpine’s descent into an accidental drug overdose in 2016, which ultimately led to her death.
6. He Was Open About His Addictions In The Past.
In his book I’ll Be Your Mirror, Pattinson candidly discusses his problems with addiction. He reveals that he first tried drugs at the age of 17, while living in Edinburgh, and that he had previously been addicted to alcohol and cigarettes. He also discloses that one of the reasons he found the horse mask photo so appealing is that it reminded him of a young Harry Potter, who was often photographed wearing a similar mask.
Pattinson attributes his problems with addiction to social pressures. He was brought up in a family where alcoholism was prevalent, and as a teenager, he was influenced by his peers. “I have been the victim of peer pressure my entire life,” he writes. “I’ve never felt that I fit in with the ‘cool kids.’” One of his earliest memories is of sitting in a crowded cafè and seeing a group of teenagers pull out makeshift pipes and joints and take huge snorts of heroin. He was subsequently offered the drug, and it soon took hold of him. According to Pattinson, if he wasn’t feeling pressured to behave in a certain way, he wouldn’t stray down the dark path of addiction. “I don’t want to be that guy who falls off the wagon,” he writes. “I don’t want to be defined by my vices.”
This is certainly a better option than the version of yourself that ends up in rehab, which is made all the more heartbreaking by the fact that it often happens to be someone you love. It’s time to let go of the past and start fresh. After all, that’s what the new year is for.