Often imitated, rarely duplicated, Robert Pattinson has been named Britain’s Most Eligible Bachelor and Europe’s Sexiest Man Alive! He is one of the most popular and renowned British male celebs – and now, an international superstar. After a self-imposed media ban prior to the London 2012 Olympics, Robert made an emotional return to his native country and to his fans. The 28-year-old Twilight star was last seen wearing a white t-shirt with the words “Wild things live here” on the front, alongside the hashtag #ImNotAshotter. Today, we celebrate this incredible journey with an up-close look at the South African beauty phenomenon – and what life is like for the ultimate bachelor on the other side of the world.

‘Twilight’ Changes Everything

If you’ve seen one of the Twilight films, you know exactly what to expect from Robert’s latest outing – a gang of vampires and werewolves are out to drain his good looks! Twilight is set in present day but was actually filmed mostly in Romania. This vampire saga is based on the best-selling novel by Stephanie Meyer and follows 17-year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who moves to Forks, Washington, to live with her aunt and uncle. Along with her best friend Alice (Samantha Sheen), Bella must fight the romantic impulses of a handsome, older Alpha Vampire named Edward Cullen (Pattinson). Edward, a retired vampire, has been trapped in a loveless marriage for centuries and is reluctantly compelled to take a mate. In order to do so, he turns to Bella for assistance. She agrees to be his mate but discovers that she is pregnant – with twins she didn’t know she was carrying! Amidst the frenzy of motherhood, Bella must continue fighting for her independence and the survival of her newborn babies – as well as the safety of her new family. A sequel, titled Twilight Saga:Eclipse, was released in 2013 and followed the couple’s journey as they adjusted to being a family of four.

While the Twilight franchise has enjoyed success worldwide, it was initially banned in South Africa. When the first film was released in 2010, it was classified as “R-rated” and didn’t receive an adult rating from the BBFC until January of this year. The sequel didn’t fare well either, barely receiving a 12 rating from the BBFC – one of the lowest scores ever. Despite the adult classification and BBFC rating, Twilight’s popularity in South Africa far outweighed the restrictions placed on it by film watchdog groups. In fact, the franchise is so influential in South Africa that in 2014, a professional wrestling league was named after Bella’s fictional “sister”, Victoria.

‘Remember Me’ Is Another Big Success In South Africa

Bella wasn’t the only famous vampire in South Africa in 2014. Rise of the Planet of the Apes debuted in theaters and became the country’s all-time-highest grossing film, raking in more than $60 million at the box office. It was followed by another successful reboot, in which a mysterious virus turns a group of South Africans into flesh-eating monsters. Nowhere to be found in nature, this virus has no cure and only leads to more monsters! For some reason, these movie monsters are extremely popular in southern Africa, and 2014 was the year that saw a veritable “boom” in the movie monster scene. One of the best movies of the year was The Return, an independent thriller about a man who returns from the dead to avenge his wife’s murder. Starring John Malkovich and Ian McShane, this twisted tale was another big hit and is considered one of the most underrated films of the year. While movie theaters in South Africa show all types of movies, from family comedies to action films, these days, they are mostly affiliated with the local language networks or large commercial studios.

Being A Good Dad Is A Full-time Job

Being a good dad is a full-time job for Robert Pattinson as well. The actor has become somewhat of a role model for young men in South Africa, who look up to him for fatherly advice. Over the years, he has established a strong bond with the country and donated a great deal of money and time to worthy causes. This year, it was announced that he would be making a substantial donation to the Pretoria Children’s Hospital in memory of his newborn son, Flynn. In 2015, he plans to visit the hospital and meet with the children and their parents.

Recently, the South African government honored the Twilight star for his philanthropic work, presenting him with the Order of Ikhamanga, which is given to individuals who have “made a lasting impact on the country and its people”. While this was a major award for the British actor, he said it was “a great honor” to receive the award and that it is “important to give back to your country”. Furthermore, he praised Nelson Mandela and the ANC for “guiding [his] life and giving [him] the chance to do something worthwhile with [his] time”. Perhaps the most prominent acknowledgement of Robert’s work in Africa came in the form of a public letter from Nelson Mandela. In it, the former South African president wrote: “I consider it an honor to be associated with a man as principled as yourself. You have sacrificed greatly for your art and for the benefit of others. Your selflessness is an inspiration to us all.”

A Rolling Stone Press Junket

As the most eligible bachelor in the country, it is no surprise that Robert has attracted a crowd of female admirers. From Hollywood supermodels to European royalty, the ladies can’t get enough of him. It doesn’t hurt that he is a self-proclaimed “bad boy” with a “dangerous” charm. He once joked: “I’ve had a lucky escape, honestly. I’ve always been surrounded by amazing women.” In keeping with his “bad boy” image, rumors abound that the actor has had several extramarital affairs. In 2013, he addressed the issue, saying: “What’s all the fuss about? I’ve been in a lot of relationships over the years, and I haven’t really wanted to ruin anybody’s life by talking about them. Especially when I’ve been in a lot of relationships myself. I don’t want to bring anybody down. I just want to do my thing and be happy.”

A Home Away From Home

While the rest of the world continues to celebrate Robert’s good fortune, the South African press has been quick to point out that his celebrity has not been paid for by British tabloids but by the local press. In an article for South Africa’s The New Age newspaper, Kate Quill interviewed the actor’s publicist, who said: “The world knows him for his beauty and acting skills but we feel that he would like to show the country that he is more than that. He would like to be seen as a role model for young men and show that he is a kind-hearted person who regularly gives back to the community. He has been very open about his charitable works both in the UK and internationally and this is something that the South African people should celebrate.”

While in South Africa, you won’t find many people who don’t know or like Robert Pattinson. His status as one of Britain’s most eligible bachelors and as a sex symbol with an international fan base have made him a bit of a celebrity ambassador for the country. If you’re visiting or traveling through South Africa, you might catch sight of Robert as he makes his way to or from the airport – or perhaps you’ll find him at a bookstore, coffee shop, or museum. If you’re lucky, he’ll even invite you to a premiere or award show!