It seems like only yesterday that we were finding out that the Twilight Saga had sold more than 150 million copies worldwide. Since then, the series has continued to be popular, with the latest entry in the saga—Breaking Dawn—likely to be the last book in the series.
The success of the Twilight books has led to a cottage industry of young adult fiction, with vampire stories becoming all the rage. And while we may not see our children walk the streets wearing Twilight apparel just yet, it appears that vampires may become an increasingly popular subject for young adult literature.
Take Robert Pattinson, for example. After rising to fame for his role as Christian Grey in the Twilight Saga, the English actor has gone on to appear in a number of high-profile films, from Prometheus to The Great Gatsby, as well as TV series like The Walking Dead and Elementary.
Pattinson has always been open about his love for horror fiction, and it seems that his increasing fame has led to a whole new wave of fans. Today, we’ll explore the origins of his passion for vampires, as well as look at some of the films and books that he’s been in.
The Passion for Fangs
It was probably inevitable that the success of the Twilight movies would lead to a rise in popularity for vampires. After all, the films are filled with romantic tension, creepy creatures, and a whole lot of suspenseful action—all of which are classic ingredients for a successful horror/fantasy/romance series.
It was also no accident that the actor playing the central role in Twilight, Robert Pattinson, was drawn to vampires. While on the surface, the connection may appear to be a case of Hollywood stars aligned, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. It was Pattinson’s decision to play the vampire that led to his success in the first place.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Pattinson discussed his decision to take on the role of a vampire in the 2007 film, noting: “I kind of made my name playing a vampire in the Twilight Saga. I guess you could say that I became famous playing a vampire.”
He added: “And then I got the chance to play a real vampire in the movie adaptation of the classic Dark Shadows, and that was a real challenge. So I guess that just proves that your average Joe can be an amazing actor, and all you need to do is give them a chance.”
Pattinson’s portrayal of the undead in Twilight was so good that it earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 2008 Academy Awards. It also won him numerous fans, most notably, J.J. Abrams, creator of the TV series Lost and The Millenium Falcon.
And it wasn’t just his casting in Twilight that helped launch his acting career; it was also the way he performed the part. As Abrams put it in his blog post announcing the Best Supporting Actor nomination: “… it was Robert Pattinson’s brilliant portrayal of both Matthew and Victoria that truly won me over.”
Abrams has gone on to say that he would like to see Pattinson play a variety of villains in the future.
Similarly, author Stephenie Meyer has referred to Pattinson as “one of my new favorite actors,” adding: “He is so good […] and I can’t wait to see what else he does.”
From Twilight To The Great Gatsby
It might seem surprising that a bestselling YA fiction author would mention an actor she’s just met, but that was Meyer’s exact reaction when she first read about Pattinson’s role in The Great Gatsby.
“I thought it was a mistake,” she told The New York Times about the announcement that Pattinson would play the iconic American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald in the upcoming Baz Luhrmann film adaptation. “I had just started writing, and I didn’t want to ruin it.”
Luhrmann has since apologized for the “terrible mistake,” saying that he hadn’t seen enough of Pattinson’s work to cast him as one of the greatest writers in American history. He also added that he would have preferred to bring in an actor with more “intellectual heft.”
Nonetheless, the Great Gatsby is one of the few films that Meyer actually endorsed, praising it as “a real feat of filmmaking.” While she admitted that she didn’t “really like” the film, it was well-made and featured “some wonderful performances,” she said.
She added: “If you can get past all the dancing and the car crashes, it’s a really good film.”
Dark Shadows, World War Z, And More
Pattinson may have gained a reputation as a romantic lead, but it was his work in smaller films that helped establish his credibility as an actor playing more complex roles.
He took on a variety of villains in 2011’s Gucci Mane’s Trap House, playing a cannibalistic doctor named Ben Jones. In the same year, he starred in the psychological thriller Under the Skin, as a voyeuristic skin-theft ringleader who targets young women. Both films were box-office flops, though, earning only $20 and $16 million respectively worldwide (not adjusted for inflation).
Nevertheless, it was Pattinson’s portrayal of Dracula in the 2014 film, Dracula Untold, that finally endedearning him major critical acclaim. The indie horror film, based on the 1912 play by W.C. Fields, tells the story of two rival clans of vampires—the Van Helsing and the Van Cleefs—who are locked in a bloody struggle for supremacy. While most of the film takes place in historic Transylvania, Dracula himself was played by American actor Gary Oldman, who won raves for his performance in the role.
Dracula Untold was a rare box-office and critical success for an indie horror film, and it’s arguably one of the best films of the year, as well as attracting a large, dedicated fan base. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight about the film, Oldman called Pattinson his “favorite young actor.” He’s even gone on to say that he’d like to work with him in the future.
“He is such a promising young actor,” Oldman said. “I mean he is talented, he has range, and he’s physically attractive. So what’s not to like?”
It may not sound like it, but Oldman’s praise wasn’t limited to acting. He also praised the direction and visual style of the film, calling the combination “a joy to watch.”
A New Direction
Pattinson may not have found major mainstream success, but he has definitely found success in indie circles, starring in films like the 2007 drama The Golden Hours and the 2012 dark comedy The Lost Girl. The latter, in which he plays a London drug dealer who crosses paths with a young woman (played by Lily Collins) on the hunt for her kidnapped sister, was a commercial and critical success, grossing over $45 million worldwide. And while he’s been acting for over a decade, it wasn’t until he took on the role of Dracula in 2014 that he finally found major mainstream success.
In 2017, he’ll play the lead in the upcoming musical adaptation of the classic Disney film, Aladdin. The actor has also been cast as the title character in the upcoming film adaptation of the classic manga, Death Note, opposite of Death Stranding’s Lutzko. We’ll have to wait and see how audiences respond to these more adult-themed projects before we can truly say whether or not we’ve seen the last of Rob Pattinson.