If you’re a fan of the Twilight film series, you’ll most likely also be a fan of Robert Pattinson, the actor who played the sensitive and romantic Edward Cullen. But aside from his memorable performance, what is it that makes Pattinson so endearing?

You might be surprised to learn that not all of Pattinson’s projects were a part of the Twilight franchise. In fact, he has been very selective in choosing his projects, often going against the grain by starring in romantic comedies and dramas rather than fantasy epics. While he was part of the ensemble cast of the 2009 romantic comedy Dinner for One, he took a much more subdued role as Ben, a struggling artist who relies on his friends for help when his painting doesn’t sell well.

Pattinson’s latest film, What If, marks his first lead role in a romantic comedy. The film, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, follows Pattinson as he tries to win over his ex-fiancée’s best friend, Mia (Temple Turner). But the truth is, Pattinson had been trying to win back Mia for a while. She broke up with him after he spent a year living in Paris, indulging in his new-found fame as a result of the Twilight films. According to the actor, his desire to make a romantic comedy finally came together as a result of a chance encounter with a fellow Twilight actor on a plane ride to Hollywood. Without mentioning any names, Pattinson explained to Vanity Fair that the two stars talked about their romantic lives and he was inspired to write a romantic comedy about an “empty-nester” who tries to relive his teenage years.

Romantic comedies have seen a bit of a renaissance in recent years, with the success of films like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and Shopaholic cementing the genre’s comeback. What If is the latest in a string of recent romantic comedies that have centered around mature audiences and featured relatable protagonists. Although the movie will probably never be considered classic material, the combination of Turner’s sassy best friend and the actor’s endearing persona make it a welcome addition to the genre. And maybe most importantly, it shows that even after all these years, Pattinson still has a lot to offer the screen.

A Career-Making Performance

Although his role in Twilight was comparatively small, Pattinson quickly established himself as one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming young stars. The actor’s breakthrough role came three years later in 2013’s To Do List, a romantic comedy about a woman (Olivia Wilde) who realizes her best friend (Katherine Heigl) is trying to sabotage her relationship. Despite the film’s critical drubbing, it went on to become one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time. Since then, Pattinson has been featured in big-budget action films and major blockbuster openings, as well as smaller independent films that manage to gain popularity on the festival scene. What If marks his first leading role in a romantic comedy, and it’s clear that the actor is determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Turner’s character, Mia, is also determined to pursue her best friend, and she isn’t going to let her boyfriend (played with amusing ferocity by Jason Bateman) get in the way of that. Together with her sassy best friend, she concocts elaborate schemes to sabotage Robert’s attempt at winning her back.

Along with Wilde and Heigl, Turner is among the highest-grossing actresses working today, having starred in such blockbusters as The Matrix, Divergent, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. As for Bateman, he will always be known for playing the straight man to Robin Williams’s antics in Deadpool. But since then he has established himself as a leading man in his own right, taking on more serious projects and portraying charismatic leaders. And it’s clear that even in his forties, Bateman still has a lot to offer the screen, both literally and figuratively.

An Acting Career You Might Not Have Expected

It’s always exciting to see a talented young actor break into the mainstream, and it’s rarer still to see one who chose a career in acting. As previously stated, Pattinson has been very selective about the roles he takes on, usually steering clear of anything too high-profile or glamorous, preferring to focus on character-driven roles with nuanced dialogue. And perhaps it’s because of this that his career hasn’t received the adulation of some of his Twilight co-stars. Even though he was part of the ensemble cast of the Twilight films, he worked hard to ensure that his name wasn’t constantly in the headlines, shunning interviews and photo shoots.

Forbes currently ranks him as the 12th most influential celebrity over 40, and 21st most influential celebrity under 21. It would appear that his desire for privacy has paid off, allowing him to carve out a niche for himself in Hollywood while still enjoying the fruits of his early success. While the rest of his co-stars bask in the glow of Twilight’s legacy, Pattinson has gone about his business quietly, continuing to stake out a place for himself within the industry. In the coming months, we’ll likely see more of him on our screens, but we’ll also see more nuanced roles that allow him to shine while keeping his identity a secret.