Well, it’s finally happened. After a long, arduous search that spanned years of obscurity, drama, and turmoil, the world finally got to see the beautiful, raw, and unfiltered side of 28-year-old actor Robert Pattinson. The film director Uma Thurman recently shared some fascinating behind-the-scenes anecdotes about shooting Pattinson’s debut film, Killmonger.
“He had such a beautiful, vulnerable quality, partly because he was a complete unknown,” Thurman told Vogue in an interview published Friday.
The Oscar-nominated director went on to laud Pattinson’s onscreen charisma and raw talent, adding that he’s “an extremely intelligent and empathetic person. Even though he comes across as this wild kid, he’s actually quite emotional.”
Thurman’s insights come just a few weeks after the publication of Killmonger‘s explosive expose, The Lost Journals—a collection of Pattinson’s early poetry and musings, which reveal the troubled and introspective young man behind the charming and confident onscreen presence.
The journals paint a picture of a young man who is candid and open about his feelings, as well as his struggles with addiction, depression, and anxiety. While only an excerpt of the journals was published in The Lost Journals, it’s clear that Pattinson was blessed with a sharp mind and a vivid imagination that served as ample inspiration for his poetry.
A gifted writer, photographer, and painter, Pattinson was born in London in 1985 to Hollywood lighting director Donnie Wahlberg and actress Lynne Taylor-Wood. He began showing an interest in art at a young age, and by the age of six was painting professionally. Growing up in England, Pattinson attended a number of prestigious schools, including Eton, where he was reportedly known for his “rowdy” attitude and love of practical jokes. He later attended Marlborough College in London, where he studied English literature.
After leaving Marlborough, Pattinson headed to Los Angeles in 2009. There, he connected with the production company Beach Tree films, which would later become his managers. He then began working on his debut feature, The Rover, alongside producers Will Gluck, Andrew Kosove, and Jocelyn Glover. The film follows a young man, played by Pattinson, who is forced to hide when the police come to search for his killer. While shooting, Pattinson was also working on his acting career, landing roles in Chi, The Dark Knight Rises, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. In 2016, he followed up The Rover with another English-set indie film, Belle, which was co-produced with Gluck and Kosove. The film stars Pattinson as a young man who travels to Scotland to find the woman he loves, only to discover that she’s already married. The couple’s dysfunctional and complicated love story was warmly received by critics, who hailed Pattinson as a serious talent.
The following year, the actor traveled to Budapest to shoot Good Time, the action/comedy feature in which he plays a drug dealer who helps a young woman (Elijah Wood) elude the police. The film was directed by Alan J. Pakula and was a rare collaboration between Pakula and Wood, who also co-starred as an adulterous couple in the director’s 1992 film, Hawk. Good Time premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it was met with largely positive reviews. Some critics felt that the film’s humor was forced, but many more were won over by the onscreen chemistry between Wood and Pattinson.
Before Killmonger and The Rover, Pattinson was represented by the boutique agency Beach Tree. His first major sale was as lead actor in the 2013 psychological thriller, A Most Violent Year, which was produced by Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Lion Productions and Aperture Entertainment and had a limited release in theaters. The following year, he starred in the crime thriller, Southpaw, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and was directed by Antoine Fuqua. The film was an unqualified hit, grossing over $100 million at the box office worldwide.
While the two titles mentioned above are a far cry from the dramas for which he is best known, it’s clear that over the past few years, Pattinson has been honing his craft. Since 2013, he has been working with renowned playwright Michael Cunningham on a stage version of How to Disappear Completely, the critically acclaimed 2007 play that follows the story of three estranged sisters who must reunite and confront a family secret. The play received rave reviews when it premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and Cunningham later adapted it for the screen.
The Killmonger Story
In August 2018, Killmonger director Uma Thurman began shooting her new film, The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy-adventure about a group of pets that have to save their owners from a mysterious and dangerous animal called a Yeti. Along with featuring some of the most beloved cartoon characters of all time, the film also stars Louis C.K. As Thurman worked to find the right look for the animals, she decided against using fur and instead went for a faux fur look, which she felt was more vibrant and life-like.
While working on The Secret Life of Pets, Thurman shared a few details about her experience making Killmonger. She first learned of the role while on vacation in New York City, when she saw a young man wearing a hoodie with the image of an African crowned lion on it. Impressed by the image, she decided to Google it and discovered that it was a character from Killmonger. She then called her agents in London and asked what the story was about.
The agents told her that it was a “dark and brooding” film that wasn’t appropriate for her. Undeterred, Thurman decided to read the script, which was then still unnamed, and fell in love with it. She then called her manager and said, “I want to do this film. I think this is a unique opportunity to try something different.”
The Killmonger script, which was written by Taika Waititi and Jesse Woudstra, is an adaptation of Geoffrey Thorne’s 2014 graphic novel of the same name. The story follows a young woman named Amory (Sophie Turner) who discovers that her boyfriend Robert Pattinson, who she met in rehab, is in fact her twin brother, Thomas. When their abusive father (Jim Broadbent) discovers Amory’s secret, he blacks out and eventually dies from a stroke.
Amory then discovers that she is a descendant of Tiki Matai (Mélanie Poisson), a famous tattoo artist who was the subject of a famous murder case in the 1970s. Amory feels responsible for her ancestor’s murder and seeks to find out who killed her and why. The film’s producers felt that the novel was the perfect jumping off point for a fresh take on the traditional revenge tale. Amory’s quest for vengeance drives the story forward, while also providing an opportunity for the creative team to experiment with different styles and themes, as well as introduce a number of new characters and locations.
Waititi, who also directed the 2015 indie hit, What We Do in the Shadows, is known for making genre-bending films that often feature fantastical creatures and settings. This is somewhat evident in Killmonger, which blends fiction and documentary elements into a dark and satirical thriller about fame, fortune, and family loyalty. In an interview with EW, Waititi said, “It’s a weird one, because it’s not really like anything I’ve ever made. It’s like a combination of everything… We did a lot of research into tattoos and what they mean, so there’s a lot of that in there. But it’s also a story about fame and how quickly that can go to your head.”