It’s been a rough week for pop culture. On Tuesday, it was revealed that Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin has passed away at the age of 88. On Wednesday, it was announced that legendary comic book creator Stan Lee had also died at the age of 95. On Thursday, it was revealed that legendary horror filmmaker Stephen King had died at the age of 66.

All of these heavyweights went out with a bang, releasing amazing content just a few days before they passed. But while their work will live on, their children may not. The children of Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Harry Potter are now adults, and the twilight of Hollywood’s golden era is nearly upon us. People are starting to see the generation that grew up in the golden era as something different. The phrase “digital native” has been banded about so much it has lost its meaning. But perhaps the best way to think about this group is as the “I was broken when I was a child era.”

This isn’t intended to be an obituary or a tribute to these brilliant creators. Instead, it’s an acknowledgement that something special happened in the world when they were children, and it continues to this day. It’s a combination of things – the climate, the economic security, the freedom – but ultimately, it’s down to chance and timing. It’s not something that can be replicated.

In many ways, the children of Hollywood’s golden era are still figuring things out. And this is nowhere more evident than in the case of Robert Pattinson. The 27-year-old British actor has been a revelation since bursting onto the scene in 2012 with the critically acclaimed indie drama, The Great Gatsby. Since then, he’s appeared in significant studio films like Alien: Covenant, The Fate of the Furious, and most recently, Avengers: Infinity War. He’s also lent his voice to several major video games, including the Grand Theft Auto series and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. But outside of the big-budget blockbusters, it’s been a steady diet of indie fare for the talented Brit – and this is probably a credit to his upbringing. Growing up in the child-centered countryside of England, he absorbed inspiration from iconic English landscapes and was surrounded by art and literature.

Pattinson was born and raised in Twickenham, a suburb of London. He has two siblings – a sister, Lily, and a brother, Charlie. His parents are the British actors David and Victoria Pattinson. The family still resides in Twickenham, where Pattinson grew up. In spite of the urban jungle that is Los Angeles, he maintains a strong bond with his native London. He still visits the city regularly and even bought a home there, which he uses as a getaway. He has also frequently been spotted around the city, soaking up the scenery like a tourist.

A Born Actor

Pattinson studied acting at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts – the same academy that trained the likes of Al Pacino and Stephen Merchant. While he was there, he participated in several plays, some of which were successful. But perhaps the biggest turning point in Pattinson’s acting career was 2011’s The Twilight Saga. This was the year that his star was on the rise. He nabbed the role of the tortured and tormented vampire, Edward Cullen, in the first of the four Twilight films. In retrospect, this may have been the perfect preparation for the role as it allowed him to develop his vocal cords, as well as gain invaluable acting experience.

It’s been a steady stream of high-profile projects since then. In spite of the significant success that he’s had, Pattinson has acknowledged that he hasn’t quite found the right role yet. He told IndieWire:

“There are some characters that I’ve played where I’ve been like, ‘This is it. I’ve found my character. This is who I am.’ And then there are other characters where I’m like, ‘No, that’s not me. What am I doing? This is weird.’ I think that I’ll always be searching for that sense of identity.”

In the meantime, he’s starred in some genuinely amazing films. Along with The Great Gatsby, it’s been a return to literary fiction for Pattinson. He’s starred in three of the four Twilight films, as well as 2013’s Beautiful Creatures. All of these films are heavily based on well-known literary works, and it shows. The films are often compared to each other because they’re all so different yet so similar at the same time. But what they have in common is they all feature characters that the audience can actually empathize with.

Breaking Boundaries

While many of Hollywood’s biggest stars are older generations who grew up during the golden era, it’s important to remember that this isn’t solely the case. In fact, many of today’s biggest stars were inspired by the filmmakers, writers, and actors of the golden era. So it wasn’t just chance that saw the likes of John Wick, Sofia Boutella, and Chi McBride join the big-budget movie scene. These stars were breaking boundaries, and it was seeing this that inspired today’s generation.

Pattinson is definitely the product of the child-centric golden era. He grew up surrounded by creativity and artistry, and this is probably why he gravitated toward acting and filmmaking as a career. The British actor has said that, as a kid, he used to write and direct films with his friends. This was back when iPhones didn’t exist and the entire concept of digital self-expression was a far-fetched idea. It was a way for him to find his voice and share his feelings with the world. This is why he is such a talented performer – he’s able to convey so much emotion and feeling through his eyes and his voice. And it’s not just acting skills that set him apart. He is, in fact, a born filmmaker. His entire family are professional creatives, which may explain his curiosity and affinity for film. He has expressed a desire to direct more films in the future, and this could very well become a reality.

Gothic Influences

Besides breaking boundaries, the child of the golden era faced significant societal barriers. Growing up in the shadow of the Thatcher era and the AIDS epidemic, children were taught to be wary of the outside world. There was a certain dark, mystical atmosphere that surrounded early-’80s Britain. This is why Gothic influences appear frequently in the work of these iconic creators. It’s a theme that is repeated throughout the works of Stephen King and the Coen Brothers, among others. In some ways, the world that these creators and actors grew up in was similar to a dystopian future – the economic anxiety that swept Britain in the ‘80s and ‘90s was a clear precursor to the fear of a financially insecure future that many of today’s millennials are facing.

An Identity Crisis

It’s been a tumultuous week for Hollywood, and it’s not over yet. Black Panther is on its way to becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time. But the biggest surprise performance came from Jussie Smollett. The talented actor and singer-songwriter played an important role in a film that many believe to be Michael Bay’s redemption tale. But even more impressive is that he played Michael Bay. In 2019, the director cast Smollett as the lead in his next film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, partly due to his personal connection to the character. The two previously collaborated on the 2013 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But even more impressively, Bay hired Smollett after being personally inspired by his music and performance in Last Chance Kiss. This is an important point. Many of Hollywood’s biggest stars and creators were children during one of the most tumultuous times in recent history. The ‘80s were a decade of uncertainty and insecurity, marked by social activism, recession, and a tumultuous international climate. For younger generations raised during this time, identifying with famous figures from this era may therefore be a way of dealing with their fear of the unknown. It could be that this is why so many big-name actors and musicians turned to literature and cinema in the first place – to explore, understand, and give an identity to the tumultuous decade that shaped them.