Two Hollywood stars who have been fixtures on our screens for years were on-again, off-again dating partners in recent months. First, it was reported that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were an “item” with an “on-and-off” romance. After months of speculation, the couple finally confirmed their engagement. And then came the split. On Dec. 21, 2018, Stewart filed for divorce from Pattinson, citing irreconcilable “differences” as the reason. In response, Pattinson filed papers of his own, requesting joint legal and physical custody of their daughter, Gigi, and listing “fear of reprisal” as a concern.

A Brief History of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re probably a fan of Robert Pattinson. The 28-year-old Scottish actor burst onto the scene in 2007 with the critically-acclaimed debut film, “Breaking Dawn,” which was based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Stephenie Meyer. Since then, he’s appeared in several big-budget films, most notably “The Lost City of Z,” “Saving Mr. Banks,” and “The King’s Speech,” which earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Before “The Twilight Saga,” Pattinson had already established himself as a leading man with strong romantic leads in films like “Twilight” and “Remember Me.” “The Twilight Saga,” however, is what propelled him to worldwide fame. Released in 2010, the first of what would become a franchise of four films quickly became the biggest blockbusters of all time, racking up a combined global box office of over $16.5 billion. It also earned Pattinson an unprecedented degree of celebrity, with fans showing up at his house, stalking him on social media, and besieging him with proposals.

Although he’s enjoyed success in Hollywood, Pattinson has stayed true to his Scottish roots. He’s frequently been seen with his wife and daughter on his arms, often appearing at award shows with his kilt and bagpiper gear. In 2016, he founded the production company, High Street Films, and began working on a slate of films, including the musical “Death on the Nile,” starring Andy Serkis and Marion Cotillard. In 2019, he’ll be seen in the upcoming Quentin Tarantulin film “Barry.”

The Making of ‘The Twilight Saga’: How It All Started

The idea for “The Twilight Saga” began, according to “Breaking Dawn” author Stephenie Meyer, as a simple brainstorming session between herself and her husband, author Neil Gaiman. The two had been discussing the “Fantastic Beasts” series of Harry Potter films, in which J.K. Rowling’s characters are transported to a fictionalized version of London, and how it would be fun to see a young adult version of Newt Scamander. In the novels, Scamander’s case of magical creatures and magical lands are the stuff of fantasies, and it’s exhilarating to think about what the films might have been like. There are no limits to what filmmakers could do with that kind of imagination and creativity.

It was while watching one of these films that Meyer had the idea for a story about a young woman whose life is suddenly turned upside-down when she witnesses a young man’s death. The death would trigger her allegiance to a mystical world of vampires, werewolves, and witches. Suddenly, she found herself in the middle of a war between these creatures of the night, and her own family is caught in the crossfire. The only way to save them is for her to unite both sides and broker peace between the rivaling parties. With that, the story took shape.

Meyer started to write the script for “The Twilight Saga,” working with her friend Ashley Eyherie on the first draft. Eyherie, who had collaborated with Meyer on several projects before, was brought on to polish the script and make it more cinematic. The duo settled on the name “Lycanthrope,” which is the medical term for a werewolf. Then, they turned to Roger Avary, who had written the script for “Killer Condom,” to help rewrite the first act.

What they came up with was groundbreaking, at least for the time. Before “The Twilight Saga,” vampire fiction had mostly focused on elder statesmen and men in their late 20s and early 30s dating women in their 40s or early 50s. The series broke the mold, featuring a 28-year-old man dating a 19-year-old girl, which represented a significant shift in perspective for both audiences and critics. It was the kind of “Pulp Fiction” moment that movies had been waiting for—at least, those made for adults. To this day, “The Twilight Saga” remains one of the most forward-thinking series of its time, breaking down gender barriers and subverting Hollywood’s traditional ideas of age-appropriate relationships.

Why Does Everything Have to End in Love?

“The Twilight Saga” is unique among vampire adaptations, not only in its setting, but in its emphasis on romance. The first film in the series introduced us to a world where supernatural creatures co-exist alongside humans, and where there’s a healthy, romantic love between them. In subsequent films, fans watched as the romantic tension continued to build, culminating in a satisfying relationship that drew upon the strengths of both partners and was, at times, remarkably adult in its content.

In “Breaking Dawn,” the final installment of “The Twilight Saga,” we are once again introduced to the gorgeous and mysterious Volturi, who want to “civilize” werewolves and vampires by imposing their own values on the story. In the fight for Bella’s (Meyer) life, the Volturi are forced to retreat, which represents the ultimate defeat of chaos and violence. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that the adventure is over—quite the opposite, in fact. The series ends on a romantic note, with Bella and Edward (Pattinson) reaffirming their love for each other.

“The Twilight Saga” challenged our ideas about romance, sex, and gender equality, making them relevant almost 15 years later. Even then, it seems fitting that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart would find themselves on-again, off-again, given the volatility of their personal relationship in the years leading up to and following the release of “The Twilight Saga.” In 2011, they were married in a spectacular ceremony in France. Since then, they’ve maintained a relatively low public profile, rarely appearing together in public or sharing any kind of meaningful updates on social media. So, it was probably only a matter of time before their on-again, off-again relationship ended in betrayal and heartache.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

In many ways, “The Twilight Saga” was ahead of its time. The films were released before the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements ignited a cultural shift in how sexual harassment and assault are perceived in our society. While many praised the pair for their groundbreaking portrayal of an adult, egalitarian romantic relationship, others were quick to criticize them for being “too perfect” and lacking in conflict. The films did well financially and critically, but did less well commercially, in part, because they were so ahead of their time. Hollywood is still trying to figure out how to handle age-appropriate romances between adults and children, as the topic remains heavily debated today. In 2020, Disney will release the animated “Secret Life of Pets,” which again will explore the theme of adult responsibility and child rearing. As it turns out, children are a treasure trove of insight when it comes to matters of the heart.

For those interested in the topic, “The Twilight Saga” still offers something unique. In “Breaking Dawn,” Meyer explores the nature of romantic love, questioning if it’s even possible for people to fall in love with their best friends. Even today, these questions still don’t have clear-cut answers. In the series, vampires and werewolves are presented as equals, enjoying a healthy, romantic relationship with the permission and support of their families. For many women (and some men), “The Twilight Saga” was a revelatory series, showing them that romantic love was something they could strive for, and something that was worth fighting for.