When news broke last week that Robert Pattinson had decided to call it quits on Twilight, fans and social media erupted with an outpouring of sadness. After spending years playing the sexy and heroic vampire, Pattinson, 37, had finally grown into the part and become the fan-favorite protagonist of the series, which itself had become one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of the decade. Breaking Bad himself, Bryan Cranston, wrote a heartfelt message to the actor on Twitter, expressing his condolences and wishing him the best. “I always thought you were the most interesting character on the show,” Cranston said. “I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Best of luck to you in whatever you do.” In an interview with TIME, the actor said he had no idea how much the role had changed him. “I was just doing my job,” Cranston said. “I never expected it to affect me so much. It was a shock when I watched [one of the final episodes] and saw how deeply he’d invested in that part.”

Why Act?

Before he became the world’s most recognizable vampire, Pattinson spent years working as a bartender and hotel bellhop before moving to London to pursue his acting career. A self-described “shy, nerdy kid,” he was initially drawn to performing because it allowed him to be “more confident,” a skill he feels is needed in life. “I’ve always been interested in doing different things, taking on different characters,” he said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “I thought that in acting you get to explore all these different sides of yourself. You can play someone who is confident, or insecure, or someone who is a total jerk, or a sweet person, someone who is caring and protective, or nasty, vindictive. It’s such a versatile way of living.”

Pattinson’s extensive TV credits include dramatic series such as Game of Thrones, where he starred as the tragic king Robert Baratheon, and dark comedy series like Sister Wives, where he played the sexually confused Brian. More recently, he has starred in the superhero sequel Deadpool 2 and the comedy series Dumb, Bozo, or Not Sorry, where he plays the exasperated son of Joan Rivers. In 2017, he was named the world’s greatest actor by Time magazine.

Behind the Scenes of a Mega-Pop Culture Sensation

While audiences have learned to love and respect Pattinson for his on-screen characters, they’ve also learned to love and respect the actor himself. Many fans have praised him for the transformation he’s gone through, and how he’s managed to keep his private life out of the tabloids while playing such prominent roles. In an interview with GQ, Pattinson revealed that he’d decided to stop acting because he wanted more time with his family and felt that his fans would still be interested in his work. “It’s a good problem to have,” he said about the paparazzi. “I feel like a proud father.”

The actor also revealed that he’d been taking voice lessons as a kid and had a love for classic literature, which probably accounts for his sweet-natured portrayal of the tragic king Robert in Game of Thrones.

Looking Back

While many may be sad to see the conclusion of an era, it’s important to remember that there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about the future. As for Pattinson, it’s been an amazing run. Acclaimed for his versatility, the British actor has starred in a number of major films, as well as smaller indies and documentaries. In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, he called his journey an “incredible ride” and said he wouldn’t change a thing about it. “I mean, I’ve had some incredible times, made some incredible friends along the way, and felt like I’ve even helped some people in some way,” he said. “It’s been incredible. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

The future holds plenty for Pattinson, who is reportedly in talks to star in Star Wars and a number of other major Hollywood projects. As for Twilight, it still has one more movie to go before it’s over, with Robert Zemeckis, who directed the first two installments, confirming that there will be a third and final film.

Pattinson has also been linked to Emma Watson’s, Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring collaborator Anna Watson’s, new film The Legend of Bear Grylls. The movie is based on the life of the famous British survivalist and marks the directing debut of Michael Curtiz, who most recently helmed the indie film Don’t Waver. A third film in the franchise, also starring Emma Watson, is currently in pre-production and will be released in 2022.

In the meantime, fans can celebrate the legacy of Robert Pattinson and his work behind the camera with these wonderful quotes.