Once the most adorable of the Twilight stars, Robert Pattinson’s appeal has extended beyond cinema screens to include fashion, music, and of course, books. The English actor has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, with a string of successful films leading to a memorable turn as the malevolent Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series – and now the upcoming sequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – alongside the mega-hit Twilight films.
With the publishing industry paving the way for a fresh crop of literary sensations and Game of Thrones fever taking the world by storm, perhaps it’s no wonder that a 21st century literary renaissance is currently underway.
From Twilight to Wordsworth
The actor’s cinematic legacy was in part established with his role in the Twilight films; playing the reserved and unassuming Edward Cullen, he wowed audiences with his endearing chemistry with co-star Kristen Stewart. The pair went on to become romantic partners and the film franchise was subsequently revived in 2017 with the arrival of yet another young adult novel spin-off, the New Moon.
The actor found further acclaim as the villainous Voldemort in the Harry Potter series, based on J.K. Rowling’s bestselling novels. Pattinson played the part with restrained menace, imbuing the role with gravitas.
It’s not just film roles that have held this popular British actor’s attention, however. In recent years he has diversified his interests, exploring different facets of creative culture in a bid to stay fresh as an actor. He has taken on various supporting roles in some of the most highly regarded films of the 21st century, including American Beauty (1999), Cold Mountain (2005), and The Lost Girls (2013).
While filming the latest instalment of the Twilight series, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, in Chicago, IL, in 2012, the actor spent a considerable amount of time in the city’s bustling bookstores, indulging his love for all things literary. During an appearance on Chicago’s WGN Morning News, he even went so far as to call the city “the greatest book town ever.”
Thriller Goes Classic
The Harry Potter films maintained a classic slant throughout, from the haunting score by Édgar Álvarez to the grandiose production design by Alan Lee. It would follow that the actor’s next big-budget film, the 2017 thriller Good Time, would echo these classic sensibilities.
The film follows a getaway driver (Pattinson) who, when his services are no longer needed, finds himself targeted by the wrong kind of people. He manages to flee to a small town in search of safety, determined to clear his name and leave the toxic atmosphere of Los Angeles behind him. A throwback to the classic Hollywood panic-stricken heist thriller, Billy Wilder’s Kiss Me, Not Kill Me (1953), Good Time is one of the actor’s most visceral thrillers to date. For some, it will be the culmination of Pattinson’s transition from cute teen actor to chilling thriller star.
The Transformation Is Complete
Pattinson began exploring alternate routes to stardom several years before the release of his first film, the 2004 horror Van Helsing. He first came to prominence for his comedic talent, appearing in multiple British comedies and earning an international following with his portrayal of the dorky Artie in the 2005 cult classic Shaun of the Dead. It was this facet of his acting that would inform his portrayal of Lord Voldemort. In a 2007 interview with Vanity Fair, Pattinson shared, “I think I approached [Voldemort] more as a comedian than anything else. I remember watching the [Harry Potter] films and being like, ‘This is brilliant. This is exactly what I need to be playing.'”
The actor has gone on to establish himself as one of the most esteemed comedic actors of our time, winning multiple awards and critical acclaim for his portrayal of a bungling accountant in the 2013 film To Do Or Not To Do. The fact that he can straddle both dramatic and comedic roles with such ease is a testament to his broad versatility as an actor.
‘The Kid’: An Inevitable Twist
The Harry Potter films were very much a product of their time, with scenes of witchcraft, magic, and wizardry commonplace in the cultural zeitgeist of 2001. It would follow that the next film in the franchise, 2010’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, would mark a significant departure both in tone and content from the previous nine entries. While the first film sees Harry Potter enter his final year of school, the second, and what many consider to be the darkest film yet, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, finds the young wizard entering his most perilous years, as Voldemort’s reach now stretches far beyond the realm of fiction.
The film is an adaptation of the final three books in the Harry Potter series, which see our hero battle a villainous Voldemort who has taken on plant-like proportions and made a deal with the devil himself, the late Emperor Claudius, played by an uncredited Michael Caine. The second film in the franchise is aptly subtitled ‘The Final Showdown’ and makes for one of the most poignant and terrifying depictions of evil ever put to film.
Pattinson would not go on to star in another film for well over a year, the 2014 fantasy film Legend, which is set in a world where dragons and vampires co-exist. The actor has previously voiced his love for the fantasy genre and has directed multiple episodes of the popular sitcom, Modern Family, so it’s no wonder that he would align himself with the fantastical in his latest project. Director and co-writer Mike Flanagan, who previously collaborated with the English star on his directorial debut, The Caretaker, spoke of their partnership in the following terms: ‘We’re very much a team and I think that’s what makes this film work’, he said. ‘I think that Robert has a real eye for visual style and he has a real feel for old-school movie magic.’
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The decade since the release of his first film, 2003’s Fright Nights, has seen the English actor take on a variety of roles in both small and large-scale productions. It would follow that his swan song as a leading man would arrive in the form of an adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s prequel to the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which he will co-star in and direct.
In the coming years, we will see the English actor take on not one but two parts: the quidditch World Cup in 2021 and a new instalment of the legendary Twilight saga, the fourth and concluding part, The Final Episode, in 2024.
Back To The Future
It’s well-established that one of the great pleasures of life for the star is time-travelling. Since his early days as Romeo in the 2005 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, he has portrayed various pivotal characters in modern classics such as Back to 1914 (2009), Time Bandits (2009), and A.C.O.D (2019).
The Englishman returns to the big-budget realm with 2021’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle, co-starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, and Halle Berry. This being said, he can still be counted on for smaller independent films, such as the upcoming drama In Memoriam, which will mark his feature-length directorial debut. In it, he plays the part of a schoolboy who is determined to prove his masculinity by avenging the death of a beloved teacher. The coming year will also see the English actor appear alongside Emily Blunt and James McAvoy in the gangster film Black Widow.
A Career To Remember
It was not always going to be this way for the English actor. After making his mark in British cinema, he was tipped for global stardom, with Hollywood executives scouting his distinctive English accent. With Twilight, Harry Potter, and various other franchises under his belt, it’s fair to say that this has not happened. Still, in an age where fame and fortune appear to be democratised, it is surely only a matter of time before this happens. As for the future, we can expect to see the English actor remain a busy performer, perhaps even take on a part in the next Twilight film, or film adaptation of one of J.K. Rowling’s other famed series, the Fantastic Beasts franchise.