Robert Pattinson landed on our radar when he played a young Harry Potter in the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. Since then, he’s starred in a number of other films that focused on young characters, many of which became successful franchises. Now that he’s older, more mature, and more experienced, what will he do next?
It was only a matter of time before he returned to the role that made him famous. Last week, it was officially announced that he’ll reprise his role as Harry in a film adaptation of the best-selling Harry Potter book series. The film will be shot back-to-back with a sequel to the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was released in 2016. In addition to playing the iconic character, Pattinson will also serve as an executive producer on the film. Joining him in the crew is The Avengers’ Karen Gillan, who will play headmistress Minerva McGonagall.
Since arriving in Hollywood, Pattinson has worked steadily, appearing in films like Twilight, The Lost City, and Deadpool. But with his return to the big screen in a Harry Potter film, he’s hitting arguably the biggest platform in popular culture. How will fans react to his comeback? Let’s take a look.
The Sequel That Never Ends
Pattinson’s last film was 2018’s Dark Phoenix, and while it was a massive box office success, it wasn’t entirely successful. The film underperformed at the box office, managing only to gross $745 million worldwide, which isn’t spectacular if you’re looking for a franchise player.
As much as we’d like to believe that Hollywood just writes success stories for famous A-listers, the truth is they can’t do it all the time. Look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While it’s brought in billions at the box office, it still struggles with a lot of problems, from a dearth of female representation to a general lack of unique characters and stories. Even when they do have something great, it often feels like it’s struggling for attention.
That’s why, even though the general consensus is that Dark Phoenix was a fantastic movie, it’s hard not to feel like something’s missing. The MCU desperately needs its own Spiderman, for example, or Black Widow. These characters would bring in fresh eyes and new fans, creating something greater than the sum of its parts. Even the appearance of a character like Captain America, a beloved icon who hasn’t been on the big screen since 2011, would be enough to get people talking again. (Don’t forget about the Winter Soldier, either.)
Pattinson is clearly aware of this. In an interview with Vanity Fair, he said that he wants to give fans a film they’ll enjoy and feel satisfied by. He also said that the pressure to keep creating interesting stories and characters for the films is enormous, adding:
“The only way that an actor can prove that they’re an actor is by engaging with an audience and having them on your side. So if you want to be an actor, you have to be willing to do that. You have to be excited by the idea of being in a room filled with people and not being able to talk for five minutes because you’re so focused on giving the best possible performance.”
Back To The Future
Back in 2014, the future of the MCU looked pretty grim. The previous year had been a bit of a struggle, with two weak entries in the franchise (The Wolverine and Iron Man 3) followed up by an Avengers movie that underperformed at the box office. To make matters worse, Disney CEO Bob Iger had just sold off LucasFilm, which contained the franchise’s original stars (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill). This had serious ramifications for the future of the MCU, which was slowly losing its original charm.
Then, the unthinkable happened. While watching the latest Captain America film, I suddenly felt like I was transported back in time, to that dark moment in Marvel history when the character was considered unbankable and unfixable. The Russo Brothers, who are known for their precision and attention to detail when it comes to these things, had taken note of my agonizing and had decided to make me a promise: In the next Captain America movie, Steve Rogers would be shown as the completely different person he had to become to save the world. My heart was literally racing as I walked out of the theater and rushed home to write the first draft of this article.
One Of The Most Tricky Career Decisions
There are countless reasons why Pattinson might choose to return to the role that made him famous. Money would be a major factor, considering the lucrative contract he signed with Disney in 2015, which will earn him millions every year for the next ten years. (He just turned 28, so he’s just entering the prime of his career.) Along with the fame and fortune, comes the attention and the pressure to deliver good performances in frequently filmed films, something he’s obviously not been enjoying.
On the other hand, returning to the role could be an opportunity to develop some new facets of his character. It’s fair to assume that a decade has gone by since he first played Harry, and the character has grown with him. Now that he’s older and more mature, it’s time for him to grow even more and show us a new side of himself as an actor.
Even if you’ve never heard of Pattinson or his work, you can’t deny that he’s one of the best British actors of his generation. He’s proven time and time again that he can play a variety of characters with ease, portraying an 18th century Serbian prince in the 2005 film Flesh And Blood, a Roman soldier in 2014’s Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, and Aladdin’s evil genie, among others. While it’s easy to dismiss these characters as one-dimensional, due to the nature of the source material, it’s obvious that Pattinson brings a new dimension to these characters, giving them depth and making us care about them.
It’s About Time
Even if you’ve never heard of the Harry Potter books, you know who they are. For decades, the Harry Potter series has been one of the best-selling book series in the world, with over 850 million copies sold. The franchise has also been consistently profitable for the first time since it began, with the eight films now bringing in over $14 billion at the box office alone. (That’s more than the entire lifetime gross of the MCU.)
And for good reason. The series is something of a gem. It doesn’t get bogged down by endless exposition or drawn-out battles. Instead, we’re immediately thrown into a witty and engaging story populated by interesting and varied characters. The films are often funny and charming, with an abundance of heart and a generous helping of wisdom.
The novels have been praised for their cinematic adaptation as well, with the most recent instalment, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, being heralded as one of the greatest magical film series of all time. (Time magazine named it the “most anticipated Hollywood film of the year.”) While it’s easy to see why fans are so excited about this latest film, it seems that the pressure is beginning to get to Pattinson. In July 2019, it was revealed that he’d suffered a major depression episode while filming the movie. While he managed to continue working, it’s fair to assume that this experience affected him deeply.
Will The Success Of Other Films Help or Hurt?
Pattinson’s last film, Dark Phoenix, was a critical and commercial failure, grossing only $745 million worldwide, not nearly enough to make up for the $14.8 million cost of production. Even his next film, The Magnificent Matilda, starring Angela Lansbury and Hugh Grant, didn’t manage to reverse the trend and became the lowest-grossing of his career, earning only $11.9 million worldwide.
This isn’t to say that these films aren’t respectable — far from it. In fact, they’re quite good. But, considering their underwhelming performances at the box office, it seems that the pendulum has swung in favor of other franchises, with Avengers: Endgame, the final installment in the MCU, becoming a box office monster, and Spiderman becoming the first ever superhero movie to cross the $1 billion mark at the box office.