When you’re one of Hollywood’s most in-demand stars, every other role starts to look mundane. So when Twilight’s Robert Pattinson took top billing at this year’s Venice Film Festival, fans were over the moon. Not that his performance and his character’s tortured backstory were unexpected. After all, as one of the stars of the most successful vampire series of all time, Pattinson was well-equipped for the role of vampire-wanting-to-be-human Edward Cullen.
But Pattinson is now taking a step back from his film career – and fans are wondering whether or not he’ll be able to reinvent himself as an actor. The actor’s representative has yet to confirm if this will be a permanent move, but for now, it looks like it: Pattinson hasn’t appeared in a major film since 2016’s Dark Shadows, and even then, it was a cameo in a Marvel film. This year has so far been quiet on the acting front for Pattinson: He had a role in the comedy series Handsome, created by and starring Jimmy Kimmel, but it wasn’t enough to make a dent in his fan base.
There’s no question that Pattinson is one of the most respected actors of his generation, and for good reason: He’s gorgeous, he has a incredible résumé, and he brings gravitas to every role he takes on. Plus, let’s be honest – he’s stuck in an acting rut. After an extended break from filming, it’s time for Pattinson to dive back into the scene and give Hollywood something new to talk about.
It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment when things changed for the worst for Pattinson. But if you go back far enough, you can trace the beginning of the end to the actor’s involvement in the highly publicized and brutal 2017 motorcycle accident. In that crash, Pattinson hit his head on a rock and suffered a traumatic brain injury. The accident was so bad that it left him in a coma for three days and robbed him of his memory. In the weeks and months that followed, Pattinson underwent intense therapy and had to learn how to walk, talk, and eat again. As a result of the accident, his fans (and maybe some Hollywood executives) started to wonder if the talented actor was still the same man they fell in love with on screen.
It was around this time that Pattinson decided to take a break from acting. The accident had shaken him to his core, and he wasn’t sure he was equipped to dive back into a film career. He admitted that the accident had also changed the way he looked at acting. “I had to ask myself, is this a job? Or am I pursuing a passion?” he said. “This is not a decision I would want to rush.”
The Dark Shadows Incident
The Dark Shadows Incident was not the only event that soured Pattinson on acting. Another turning point came about two years earlier, when he starred in the acclaimed drama film The Lost Girl. The film was widely hailed for its realistic portrayal of addiction and its message of hope, but it was also a step back for Pattinson. Playing the dual role of a charismatic yet troubled artist and an aspiring vampire, Pattinson shed a new light on his talents, displaying a more complex and nuanced side to his acting. This new mature performance impressed fans, critics, and even some of his competitors. In an interview with the New York Times, producer Tim Burton said that he and director Joe Johnston were “blown away” by how much Pattinson had grown as an actor in just a few years. “He was an incredible find,” Burton said. “He really did surprise everyone with how good he was.”
The Self-Care Ceiling
It wasn’t just Burton and Johnston who noticed a shift in Pattinson’s acting; fans started chiming in as well. In 2016, when he was promoting the premiere of The Lost Girl, Pattinson spoke openly about his battle with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. “I have a very high threshold for self-care and self-love,” he said at the time. “I need to make sure I give myself enough space to recover and to be me. If I didn’t have self-care, I wouldn’t be able to function normally.”
Pattinson isn’t the only Hollywood celebrity to take a step back from acting; other famous face Lloyd Haynes also retired last year, citing mental health and age constraints as his reasons for walking away from the business. Haynes was best known for portraying serial killer Ted Bundy in the highly acclaimed and influential 1980 miniseries Evil. Like Pattinson, Haynes saw his career stagnate after many years and decided to call it quits when he was 50 years old. “I needed a break from the business and the stress and the grind,” he said at the time. “I haven’t acted in a few years, and I don’t intend to act in a few more years. Maybe I’ll pop in from time to time to give the fans what they want, but for the most part, I want to enjoy being Lloyd Haynes, actor.”
The Re-invention Of Edward
It would be a mistake to assume that because Pattinson took a break from acting that he automatically decided to become a recluse. Far from it: While he was in rehabilitation, he was ordered by doctors to get as much sleep as possible and to avoid situations that might jeopardize his health. So it was during this time that the actor spent a lot of solo time reading and studying psychology. He also started taking voice acting classes, which helped him find the right tone for Edward Cullen’s gruff yet tender voice.
In 2018, as he started to feel better and regain his strength, Pattinson returned to the screen in a huge way. For years, his biggest roles had been in small, independent movies; the Hollywood blockbuster had mostly disappeared. So it was a total surprise when he landed a leading role in the eagerly awaited adaptation of the Roald Dahl book The Night Angel, alongside Florence Pugh and Lena Headey. The three-time Oscar winner turned to Twitter to share his excitement about the upcoming movie.
“One of the most exciting things I’ve ever worked on. I can’t wait for you to see it. And yes, I am playing the Devil, haha,” he wrote. “Thank you to everyone involved for believing in my crazy dream. I love you all.” The movie itself has yet to be released, but it has created plenty of buzz and has already won a 2019 ACE Eddie award for best supporting actor in a movie. Maybe it’s time for Pattinson to reinvent himself yet again.
With so much talk of reinvention and new roles, it’s hard not to be curious about what Pattinson might do next. There are many potential projects that he could tackle if he decides to get back into the game. From historical epic to monster movie, there are countless roles that he could play. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that Hollywood is going to throw everything it can at Pattinson at the same time, hoping that he’ll come back with a bang.