It has been an eventful year for Robert Pattinson. In May, the British actor was hospitalized following a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics. He underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his heart, but afterwards, his career was thrust into limbo as he recovered from his brush with mortality. The actor was originally placed on cardiac arrest medication to regulate his heart rate, and has now been released from the hospital. However, his status as an in-demand leading man was permanently altered as a result of his brush with death, and he’s since been focusing on supporting roles in B-movies and television shows.

The Allergic Reaction And Its Aftermath

The last 12 months have been a whirlwind for Pattinson. In January, he was named one of the highest-paid actors in the world, with an estimated net worth of $40 million. He then made a romantic comedy with Tiffany Haddish, which earned them a rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. In May, he was hospitalized following a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics. He underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his heart but, afterwards, his career was stuck in limbo as he recovered from his brush with mortality. It was later revealed that the pressure the actor was experiencing was caused by a burst blood vessel in his brain, which was the result of a concussion he sustained while filming David O. Russell’s The Fighter in December 2013. The incident occurred when a stunt fell on Pattinson, jamming his head into the pavement. The injury led to headaches and forced the actor to wear a helmet on the set of The Batman in February 2015.

A Damaging Image Campaign

News of Pattinson’s hospitalization traveled like wildfire, prompting some to rush to judgment, blaming the incident on his heavy drug use. The actor has openly discussed seeking treatment for substance abuse issues, but has never named names or provided specific details about his past drug use. It didn’t help that his representatives released a statement saying, “He has never taken illegal drugs and would never consider doing so. He has always been a responsible, law-abiding citizen.” The stigma that comes along with being diagnosed with cancer is a very different matter, however, and Pattinson has spoken openly about how he’s felt stigmatized since being identified as Mr. Darcy’s diseased brother in last year’s wildly popular film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The actor has gone on record as saying that he thinks the film will always be linked to his diagnosis — regardless of whether he’s ill or well — and that he now has to watch his words and actions to avoid being labeled a cancer patient.

How Will The Scare Affect His Career?

The news of Pattinson’s condition forced the Hollywood community to take a step back, and reexamine the 35-year-old actor’s status in the industry. While he was hospitalized, his representatives reportedly held meetings with studios, networks and potential employers to discuss his working conditions and demands. Ultimately, the meetings resulted in a compromise: Pattinson would no longer work in films that were released in the summer, in an effort to avoid potentially putting his health at risk.

Since his hospitalization, he’s mostly appeared in smaller, more intimate films, lending his voice to animated shorts and documentaries. He also hosted an Oscar party in his honor, served as a judge for the MTV Movie Awards and appeared at the premiere of Tiffany Haddish’s The Wedding Singer, lending his famous good looks to the red-carpet. He hasn’t completely given up acting, however, and has recently appeared in supporting roles in the films Beautiful Creatures (in theaters now) and The King (out now). In fact, he may return to more mainstream cinema roles at some point, depending on his recovery.

A Differing Stigma

Pride and Prejudice is one of the most well-known and beloved films of all time. The 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s popular novel has become a cultural phenomenon, attracting a dedicated following even among those who have never read the book. The film is filled with wonderful little details that fans have picked up on over the years, and with each successive installment, the list has only grown. When the first movie was released, people with HIV/AIDS were still quarantined, and the stigma that came along with being diagnosed with an incurable disease was very real. It was a different matter when it came to mental illness. The community still rallied around those who were victims of abuse and neglect, and the stigma that was once attached to being labeled “crazy” is all but disappeared. Nowadays, those who are affected by mental illness are no longer considered “crazy” but, rather, “ill.” The same cannot be said for cancer, however. Even though it’s been almost 20 years since screenwriter David O. Russell’s Darcy was diagnosed with an incurable disease, the stigma that comes with being labeled a cancer patient is very real, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Hollywood community. In 2019 alone, there were reportedly more than 70 movies and TV shows that featured cancer as a main character or story arc, but only a handful of those were actually about cancer. The vast majority of films and TV shows about cancer feature survivors trying to overcome their illness — or feature the disease as a metaphor for other issues.

Pattinson is one of the most in-demand leading men in Hollywood. As one of the most recognizable faces in the world, it’s not hard to see why. He has a charisma that is unparalleled in the industry, and he frequently finds himself working with some of the biggest names in film. He has appeared in blockbusters such as the Twilight franchise and has starred in prestigious movies such as The King, Beautiful Creatures and a long list of critically acclaimed indie films. While he has had to adjust his daily routine to avoid putting himself at risk of infection, he has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and the stigma that comes along with cancer doesn’t seem to be holding him back.