While we’re all eagerly anticipating the release of The Great Gatsby this month, it’s probably safe to assume that very few of us know a ton about the real historical figures the book is based on. We’ve all heard of Robert Pattinson and his wild escapades, but have you ever wondered about the man behind the Twilight persona? Who was this character who flew around in a private plane, smoked crack and drank heavily? What was he doing in the south of France in the summer of 1974? We took a look at the real Robert Pattinson, and what makes him so fascinating.

Early Life

Robert Pattinson was born in London on June 23rd 1975. His parents were the well-known screenwriter and film producer B.P. (Barbara Prichard) and David Pattinson, a lawyer/agent. They separated when Robert was just 2 years old, and his mother took him and his elder sister Rosie to Los Angeles to live with her new husband, David Spitz. The family then relocated to Malibu when he was 8 years old.

It was in Malibu where he first showed signs of artistic promise. He played guitar and wrote songs for his sister Rosie’s band, The Rosettes. He also took a keen interest in drawing and began creating his own comics, which he autographed and sold to his neighbors and friends. Some even say that at such a young age, he showed signs of eccentricity, as he would often lock himself in his room and play his Nintendo while wearing headphones all day.

Career Highlight: Pattinson’s First Feature Film

In 1998, at the age of 14, Pattinson was selected to appear in Michael Bublé’s music video for the song “Believe.” The video was directed by the filmmaker Russell Brand, who also starred in it. Pattinson played the role of Russell’s best friend. A year later, he became the face of Christian Dior. In 2000, 14-year-old Pattinson signed a modeling contract with Next fame and became a muse to photographers. One of the best-known fashion photographers, Mario Testino, declared: 

“I was immediately attracted to Robert’s fresh, natural beauty and his unaffected and unselfconscious attitude. Even at such a young age, he exuded a kind of charisma that is truly exceptional. I have seen many young people grow up, but Robert is already showing the signs of a truly original, individual spirit – a spirit which I am sure we will see bloom in the years to come.”

As fate would have it, just a few months later, another teen heartthrob was born. James Franco, the son of filmmaker and actor Michael Franco, was chosen to play the part of Robert’s older brother Charlie in one of Michael’s movies, The Great Gatsby. The 19-year-old Franco immediately stole the show, and Pattinson, now 15 years old, became his shadow, growing his hair and using his social media accounts to promote Franco’s films. This is when the rumors about their closeness began to surface. One of the first to report on their budding bromance was entertainment blogger Michelle Collins.

“James Franco’s star is on the rise,” she wrote at the time, “and it’s only a matter of time before he starts dating the older brother of one of his co-stars. Could it be Michael?”

“Or,” Collins theorized, “could it be Robert?”

Indeed, it was the Internet who put the kibosh on the rumor that Franco was dating Robert. On July 2nd, 2014, the 19-year-old actor, who had recently started dating Emily Blunt, posted a picture on Instagram with the actress Natalia Vayntrub, 45, to confirm the rumors: “I’m dating Natalia Vayntrub. You probably already knew that.” (Vayntrub played Agent Richards in the 2016 comedy Spy.)

The following day, Emily Blunt’s rep issued a statement slamming the rumors about her dating Franco: “These rumors are completely without merit and baseless. She is currently not dating anyone.” A month later, the rumor mill was back in gear with several publications reporting that Franco and Blunt were back together. They’ve been inseparable ever since.

Pattinson’s Musical Career

Pattinson’s mother is of Norwegian descent, and his father is from Wales. Hence, it was inevitable that the 15-year-old’s first band, Afternoon Delight, would be named Dreamboat. The lead singer is Catherine McEvoy, and the rest of the band plays guitar, bass and drums. The group released a self-titled EP in 2008 which featured the songs “We Are Young” and “Dope Song.”

Pattinson then formed a new band, The Teenagers, with members of the Queers and the Wonder Girls. They released an album, Teenagers, in 2012, followed by a self-titled EP in 2013. The band has been around since before the release of Twilight, and they’ve performed at some of its most memorable events, including the after-party for the Twilight premiere in London and the Swedish Grammy Awards in April 2014.

The year 2014 was a busy one for Pattinson. In January, he released his debut album, titled Visions, his sophomore effort came out in May, and his third album, titled GQ, was released in July. The album features collaborations with electronic music producer and DJ Avicii, rapper Big Sean and singer Miley Cyrus.

Private Jets and Outdoor Lifestyle

Pattinson’s next big move was to buy a $2.5 million (£1.8 million) vacation home in the French Riviera. The estate, named “Rive Droite,” sits on the water, and it features a giant pool and jacuzzi, a fireplace, a fully stocked bar, a walk-in pantry and a fully equipped gym.

It’s quite the lavish lifestyle for a boy who hasn’t even turned 16 yet. In 2016, Pattinson and his mother moved to a different estate in the same neighborhood. A source told the New York Post that Pattinson’s new French Riviera residence features a private pool, tennis courts and a cinema.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Pattinson also owns a 120-acre (47.2 hectares) Italian farm named “Petit Château Miraculous,” which he purchased in 2013. The grounds are completely walled, featuring a giant copper pool, terrace and vineyards.

Complexion

It seems that everything about Pattinson is beautiful, from his looks to his music. In addition to his native London, he’s also lived in Paris and Madrid. He has perfect teeth and he flaunts them often, which some might say is a bit much even for perfectionists. He was named Beautiful Person of the Year in 2015 by Hello! magazine, and that same year he was named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. If you’re unfamiliar, People magazine ranks the top 100 sexiest men and women in the world, and they keep a running list. In 2016, he made the list for the fifth and sixth place.

Pattinson’s physical appearance is often the subject of tabloid gossip. Before he began dating Emily Blunt, there were claims that he had undergone plastic surgery to make his nose more delicate. He has denied these rumors, but they continue to circulate. He also has a noticeable scar on his abdomen from a car accident he had as a child. There has been some speculation that he had anorexia as a teenager. In 2007, he dropped out of high school to focus on his acting career. It’s unclear if he ever graduated.

Why is the Internet Mad?

It all started with a tweet from Donald Trump in 2013 declaring his intention to run for president. The 45th U.S. president’s account @RealDonaldTrump is now the most followed account on Twitter with over 22 million followers. A few months after Trump’s tweet, users from the r/the_donald subreddit discovered that the Twitter account @jack had a golden ticket to enter any movie theater in the world. The only restriction was that you had to watch a particular movie: Apocalypse Now. This is when the #Apocalyptown hashtag began to trend.

The announcement that the Apocalypse Now movie was going to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival in May, which is when audiences might actually get a chance to see it, caused a tsunami of activity on social media. People began making plans to go to Cannes, some even traveling there just to attend the screening. The hashtag #cannes2014 was born, and it’s been used by people to this day to talk about that year’s festival.