When Robert Pattinson decided to sport a new fashion trend during the shooting of Twilight, he didn’t consider the implications. Less than a year later, he’s still the center of attention for his unusual choice of ink. The British actor played Edward Cullen’s best friend in the megahit vampire drama, which released in December 2012 and is still one of the most popular movies of all time.

While most stars were afraid to show off their tattoos during the filming of Twilight, or chose to cover them up, Pattinson decided to forego traditional methods of character identification and went for a full-body paint job. He based the design on the classic Batman motif and the phrase “I AM BATMAN” in tribute to the 70s TV series. But instead of being an idle boast, Pattinson made the bold choice to literally wear his Batman identity on his sleeve during the filming of the last movie. We’re not making this up.

Why Batman?

Pattinson himself is a self-confessed “massive nerd” who grew up watching the 70s TV series and enjoying Aikatsu!, another favorite show of his. He’s also a big fan of the comic book legend Bob Kane, the creator of the Batman identity.

“I think I was just really into comics as a kid and loved superheroes — it was before it was cool,” Pattinson told Entertainment Weekly. “Then I read somewhere that Bob Kane was 96 years old and I thought ‘Oh my god, I want to meet him!’, so I did, and had a chat with him. He was such a character. I just loved everything about him. He was my favorite superhero and ever since then I’ve wanted to be like him.”

Kane’s grandson told E! News, “He definitely had a thing for the Dark Knight. We found it very interesting that he picked Batman as his own homage. He always looked up to Bob and thought he was the best at what he did.

Taking Care Of The Tattoo

Pattinson made sure to take good care of his bold design and didn’t rush into getting it covered up. Instead, he spent the last year growing his hair out and watching YouTube videos to make sure his sleeve looked just right. He also said he got some tattoo sleeves designed especially for him.

“When I first got the tattoo I was like ‘Oh my god, this is so cool’,” Pattinson said. “I looked up some old-school tattoos and found some artists who do amazing work, so I did a bit of a combination of the two. I wanted to do something that was a little more detailed than just a simple design, but I also wanted to make sure that it was practical and not just some crazy design that I did for fun. So I went for the classic bat symbol with some added patterns and textures, like the goggles and the cape.

“I didn’t want to cover it up because I think it’s such a cool tattoo,” said Pattinson during an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. “I think it’s such a statement for someone my age, to put it that way. I’m not really sure why, but I didn’t really have a choice. I mean you’ve got to be kidding me, this is my body and I’m going to expose it wherever I want.”

Kimmel agreed, remarking, “We’re going to let the world see what you’ve been hiding.”

Making A Statement

When the camera wasn’t on, Pattinson tried to keep his sleeve a secret, but it was impossible – everyone knew exactly what it was. So, he didn’t mind when people stopped him on the street to ask about his unusual fashion choice. One day, a fan even took a picture with him and posted it on Twitter. Pattinson happily shared the photo and replied, “Thanks man! That’s exactly what I was going for!”

The actor said he didn’t intend to draw so much attention to himself, but instead wanted to show how cool and unique his tattoo is. “I didn’t do it for fame,” said Pattinson. “Like I said, everyone knows what this tattoo is, so I didn’t really have a choice…I just want everyone to know that this is a ‘secret’ tattoo.”

While many celebrities were afraid to show off their ink during the Twilight shooting, Pattinson decided to go for it. Even now, a year later, people are amazed by his choice and say he took the internet by storm with his sleeve.

“It’s just a matter of time before people start referring to me as ‘The Batman’ and I’m going to be just like Ben Affleck,” Pattinson said, comparing his newfound fame to the actor who famously portrayed the Dark Knight. “Everything has shifted now. I’m just doing interviews and everything.”

Despite all the attention he’s received, Pattinson still doesn’t feel that he’s really won the lottery. “I think I’ll always see myself as a slightly geeky character actor,” said the actor. “I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who is defined by a movie and this is obviously a huge thing. So, for the moment I’m going to enjoy it, but eventually I’ll have to get back to work.”

It’s hard to put into words just how surprising it was when MTV News reported that, after Twilight, Pattinson’s career was on the rise. His portrayal of Edward Cullen’s best friend was so integral to the story that it became practically impossible to tell which was performance and which was reality. And even today, people are still talking about the unique fashion choice he made while filming the last installment of the Twilight saga.