In today’s world of social media and 24-hour news cycles, it is easy to get distracted. Huge stories break, and before you know it, an entire day has gone by without you giving much thought to anything. It is rare to find a story that stops you in your tracks, but when that happens, you know you are onto something special.
When it comes to pop culture and celebrity, sometimes the most compelling stories are the ones that are quietly emerging from the shadows. Take the case of the man known simply as “Joker”, winner of this year’s Academy Award for best costume design: his outfit, complete with mask, is hauntingly reminiscent of the character actor John Gilbert, who also happened to be a notorious practical joker. The resemblance is uncanny.
When Gilbert died in 1958, it was originally reported that he had committed suicide. However, that was not the case, and it would be another 16 years before his true identity was revealed. It turns out that John Gilbert was born Robert Pattinson, and he was simply choosing to go by another name to avoid the public eye. The revelation of his true identity caused a media firestorm, and it wasn’t long before he decided to take his talents to Hollywood, where he would go on to become one of the most recognizable male faces in the movie industry. He would even star in his own line of films, most notably, The Joker’s Wild in 1966, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest sports films of all time.
In 2018, news broke that the actor had been diagnosed with papillary cancer. He decided to go public with the news of his illness, and he even appeared in a YouTube video where he shared his experience with the disease. In it, he said:
“It makes you think about what’s important in life, and it’s your family. You just want to spend as much time with them as you can.”
Gilbert died just three months later, at the age of 71. Soon thereafter, Pattinson was named the literary godfather of practical jokes, and his iconic status in the field was assured.
Pattinson’s Iconic Status
Over the years, Pattinson would go on to star in numerous Hollywood classics, such as Batman Begins, where he played the role of Bruce Wayne; the Twilight Saga, where he starred as both vampire Edward Cullen and werewolf Jacob Black; and Water for Elephants, where he portrayed an elephant trainer. He would also make cameo appearances in several other films, such as Knocked Off, where he portrays an assassin who wants the starring role in the next installment of a movie series he is starring in; and Inception, where he appears as a shadowy figure in a dream within a dream.
In 2018, at the age of 53, Pattinson finally garnered the star power he was long overdue for. The actor won the Academy Award for best costume design for his work on “Dune”, fittingly enough, and he also starred in the critically acclaimed film, which is based on the classic literature by Frank Herbert. It was a chance to shine on the silver screen, and he made the most of it.
In interviews leading up to the Academy Awards, Pattinson was candid about his health issues. He revealed that he had been struggling with various health problems for years, and he attributed his longevity to good genes and the support of family and friends. The actor also expressed his desire to continue working and to keep challenging himself. He said:
“I don’t want to sit at home and do nothing, so I’ll keep knocking off roles. If the roles are good, fine. If not, then maybe it’s time to move on to something else…”
Pattinson’s continued work as an actor in 2019 has not yet been revealed, though fans may get the chance to see him in action in the upcoming Joker anthology, The Curse of La Llorona. In it, he plays the terrifying Clown Prince of Crime, and he also voices one of the demonic clowns that appear in the film. Fans of the Batman universe will get to see a different side of their favorite superhero, and it will be interesting to see how the Joker’s influence on Batman will play out in future installments.
From Joke To Role
When it comes to celebrity and pop culture, many people forget that before he was famous, Pattinson was actually a renowned prankster. He was even the subject of a 2003 documentary, The Life and Times of Robert Pattinson, which was named one of the “Top 10 Sports Docs” in a 2009 Sports Fans Monthly poll. In it, filmmaker Charlie Beaudoin chronicles the life and times of one of Hollywood’s most iconic figures. You may know him from his film work or his years spent in the spotlight, but chances are, you know a lot about Robert Pattinson without even knowing it.
It all started with jokes. As a child, Pattinson would tell grown-ups that he was only joking, a routine that eventually became all too familiar. The truth was that he was never actually able to let go of his need to trick people, especially adults. It was only in 2014 that he opened up about his constant urge to play tricks on others, and he called it his “Dark Side.” He said:
“When I was little, I would tell grown-ups that I was only joking, and then they’d laugh and think I was funny. It never occurred to me that they might not think so. I always thought that if I could make them laugh, then I’d succeeded in being funny. I was never completely comfortable being funny on my own, so I always needed an audience. Even now, I feel nervous performing stand-up comedy. It’s like having a conversation with a room of people you don’t know well. You’re not sure how they’re going to react to what you say, and it can be a bit nerve-racking.”
While the documentary explores his prankster past in some depth, it does not dwell on it too heavily. Instead, it focuses on his acting career and his continued interest in fashion, especially when it comes to his costume selection. In it, he is seen wearing a variety of stylish outfits, all of which he credits to his costumer. He even wears a pink dress, which he describes as his feminine side, and he says that he may one day dress up as a woman again. The documentary features several of his favorite fashion designers, including his longtime personal shopper, who has dressed him from head to toe over the years. He wears the same outfit—a black jumpsuit with a white collar—in almost every scene, and it’s clear that he takes pride in his appearance, often praising his outfits in interviews.
Joker As A Fashion Icon
When it comes to fashion and style, people often associate John Gilbert with the zany, whimsical characters he often portrayed on screen. However, before his acting career, he was already a renowned fashion icon. He designed women’s clothing and had his own fashion house, named after himself. It was only fitting that his last film role was as a crazed fashion designer, and it was one that he enjoyed playing. Before he passed away, he reportedly said that he was proud of his work, which has led to his fashion house, Gilbert Clothing, being recognized as one of the “Top Ten Vintage Clothing Lines in America”. The label continues to this day, and you can even purchase vintage John Gilbert pieces from the brand’s website, with the master’s designs still being hailed as some of the most iconic fashion-related products in existence. It is easy to see why: the designer was a truly exceptional man, and his legacy will live on for generations to come.
Gilbert’s influence can still be found in popular culture today. Several characters and symbols are closely associated with the fashion designer, not the least of which is the Joker. For decades, fans have pointed out the uncanny resemblance that John Gilbert’s descendants still bear to him, and it was only a matter of time before someone finally decided to cash in on the legacy, winning an Oscar along the way.