In the span of a few short months, Robert Pattinson went from being a handsome, but otherwise unknown English actor to landing a lead role in the highest-grossing Hollywood film yet made. So how did he do it? Let’s take a closer look.
A Change Of Scenery
It’s been a hard year for Hollywood and its fans. After years of creating comic book characters and monster movie cameos, the industry finally had its fill of giant, tentacled creatures and superhero battles. The box office results bear that out with Avengers: Endgame, which beat the record held by Avatar with an estimated $2.8 billion worldwide, becoming the second-highest-grossing film of all time. It’s a triumph for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a boost for Warner Bros., which saw its films Crossbones and The Nun beat out other comic book adaptations, including Deadpool and Logan, for the top spot at the box office.
But while audiences were glued to their seats for large chunks of Avengers: Endgame, the originality of the film itself was not what won over viewers. Many viewers, myself included, were unimpressed by the amount of retreading present in the latest installment of the superhero franchise. I felt that director Justin Lin’s addition of more Mandarin Chinese and English-sounding dialogue than before was a poor substitute for truly unique dialogue.
A Rising Star
While Endgame was dominating the box office, it wasn’t the only thing breaking Hollywood’s streak of bad luck. Early in the year, Disney’s acquisition of Fox caused a corporate shuffle that resulted in several high-profile film projects being canceled or put on the back burner. But even as the studios began to recover, the wave of cancellations continued and new productions were delayed.
One of the casualties of the merger was director James Gunn’s Suicide Squad. Scheduled for a February 2021 release, the film was pushed back several times and was eventually released in August 2021, more than a year after its initial publication date. One of the reasons for the lengthy production time was the need to add more Mandarin Chinese dialogue to the script, which was written in a style closer to that spoken in China rather than the English spoken around the world. Suicide Squad also starred Will Smith and gained the dubious distinction of being the first Disney and Warner Bros. project to hit $100 million at the box office.
Disney had also decided to scrap its planned Mulan live-action adaptation, starring Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while most studios shut down production during the lockdowns, Sony decided to soldier on in the face of the pandemic and produced The Girl from the Sea, the final chapter in the Sherlock Holmes saga, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Ariana Grande.
A Role In A Major Film
For years, Robert Pattinson has been best-known for playing tragic characters on film. From his breakout role in the 2005 Stephen King adaptation, The BFG, to his turns in the 2014 film, The Rover, to the 2020 war film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, he’s often played a character torn between two worlds: the human and the monstrous. But in recent years, Pattinson has been branching out, finding success in genre films that are a change of pace from his usual roles. Here’s a rundown of his recent performances:
- Walking Dead: Death Match (2019)—Pattinson plays a SWAT Team Leader who becomes the second-in-command of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) after the former leader (David Morrissey) is murdered by Sasha (Samantha Morton) and Gabriel (Amaury Noca).
- Avengers: Endgame (2019)—Pattinson plays the father of an orphaned girl named Betty (Cora Donaghy), who joins the Avengers soon after they’re founded. While not a traditional damsel-in-distress role, Betty ends up on team Captain America just as her father is about to be killed by a giant worm-like creature. Fortunately, she’s saved by Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.).
- Jupiter’s moons, as seen from Earth (2018)—One of the highlights of Darren Aronofsky’s epic solar system movie, Jupiter’s moons is an almost entirely computer-generated sequence that sees Pattinson’s character, Alex DeLarge, explore the solar system and interact with otherworldly creatures. In another Aronofsky film, Mother! (2019), Pattinson plays an art dealer who befriends a New York City woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and helps her navigate the world of high-end merchandise.
- The Lighthouse (2019)—Based on the children’s book by Yann Martel, the 19th century story of a light found at the end of a dark and stormy night, Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse stars Robert Pattinson as the light-bringer, Alan Pryce. Set in a small Scottish town, the movie is a quiet, contemplative character study about a man who sets out to bring light to the world.
- Trolls (2018)—A dark comedy starring Mike Myers and featuring a soundtrack by the legendary John Williams, whose music is featured in many of the films in which he scored, Trolls is about a humanoid race of trolls who live in the London Underground and go on adventures above ground. Although not as popular as Myers’ other comedies, Trolls was a critical and commercial hit, earning Myers the Razzie Award for Worst Actor and spawning a sequel.
- The Lighthouse (2019)—See above.
- Cargo (2019)—Walking with Beasts, the 2019 film that stars Liam Neeson, sees him play dual roles as a father who must protect his family after being presumed dead for 15 years and a powerful, though unstable, drug lord. In his spare time, Papa Neeson hunts down the monsters that escaped from the military’s control in the early 21st century. Like many of Neeson’s recent films, Cargo is a contemplative character study that sees the actor give a powerful performance.
- The Commuter (2019)—Robert Pattinson’s final appearance in a Ridley Scott movie before he took a hiatus from acting to concentrate on his music career sees him play a wealthy software designer who is forced to return to his hometown for his mother’s funeral, and whose life is turned upside down when a series of attacks by animals leave people dead and injured. Although it was released in the UK as Autumn Game, The Commuter is most associated with the dark winter months.
A Break From Playing A Tragedy
With a run of successful, if slightly varying, dramatic roles behind him, it’s time for Pattinson to take a more light-hearted approach to his next project. While we don’t know much about it yet, he’ll be portraying a real-life superhero named Abb in a biopic about the early life of Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Deadpool) and produced by Peter Chernin (The Revenant), the film will see Pattinson’s character meet Lee while he’s still working a nine-to-five and discovering the joys of superheroics.
So how did Robert Pattinson go from playing brooding young men to leading man? It all started with The Rover. Pattinson was originally set to star in an adaptation of the popular Elmore Leonard novel, but when plans to make the movie fell through, he took the role of a lifetime as a gangster named Jacob Fry in the 2014 movie. Although the role wasn’t what he was expecting, it turned out to be a career-making performance that garnered him positive reviews and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
With strong performances in both Avengers: Endgame and Jupiter’s moons, coupled with a string of impressive supporting roles in movies like The Commuter and Death Match, it’s clear that Robert Pattinson has what it takes to be an action star as well as a dramatic actor.