Few people possess the combination of elegance and gravitas that is Hollywood royalty. When you see the latest film rendition of Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, you’ll know exactly what we mean.

Most people know Robert Pattinson as the cheeky, chain-smoking, ladies’ man who portrays vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight films. But his acting résumé also includes acclaimed turns in The Lost Lord, Cosmo and the Pink Panther, and the upcoming The King. And let’s not forget about his iconic performance as Batman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. So while we wait for that film to be released on March 25, let’s take a trip down memory lane with a retrospective on Robert Pattinson’s remarkable transformation into a full-fledged acting deity.

From Sketch To Scene

Before Robert Pattinson became an English actor famous for playing iconic characters like Batman and the infamous Joker, he was a struggling artist who wanted to be a character designer. In fact, in 2009, he told Vanity Fair he was sitting at home, drawing inspiration from old movies to create his own quirky designs. As a self-proclaimed ‘design nerd’, the dichotomy of designing for films while also acting in them made perfect sense to him. In an interview with Vogue, he said,

“Being a character designer is like being an illustrator for films. It’s not really designing anything – you’re just drawing for other people. And that’s what I like about it […] I like the fact that you’re not really doing anything brilliant, you’re just illustrating what someone else wants. You’re not really the one making the choice, and that’s half the fun.”

That spirit of artistic collaboration made him ideal for the part, and he went on to win an award for his portrayal of Batman in the 2013 movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s popular The Dark Knight Returns series. But the role that would define his acting career was originally meant for another actor; screenwriter and director Christopher Nolan had considered him for an earlier project in the role of Bruce Wayne before turning to his friend and collaborator Kevin Spacey.

Spacey, The First Bad Boy Of Film

One of the most memorable scenes from the first season of House of Cards is a brilliant bit of cinematography where Spacey’s character Frank Underwood walks into the Great Room of the United States House of Representatives. As he makes his way to the microphone, the camera slowly tracks behind him, showing off the grandeur of the room and the sheer power of his presence.

This is a man who could make or break your career. He is not just any executive, but a man who was born to rule. In the scene, the audience is mesmerized as Underwood slowly takes the stage.

Underwood is a character many have compared to Donald Trump, and it is easy to see why. Just like Trump’s rise to power, the arc of Underwood’s character is all about ruthlessness and masculinity. He may couch his methods in ‘family values’, but his disdain for the political establishment and his drive to dominate are clear to see.

Pattinson, Sex God

Let’s fast forward to present day, and the combination of elegance and gravitas that is Hollywood royalty is undoubtedly embodied by Robert Pattinson. After graduating from NYU’s prestigious Film School, he became one of the hottest actors of his generation, cast in leading roles in blockbusters and prestigious art house films alike. But as we’ve established, Robert Pattinson is a man of many talents, and he has never shied away from showing off his more mature side. More than anything else, his transformation into an elegant, sophisticated matinee idol was complete with his iconic quiff and black-rimmed glasses, first worn in the indie film The Rum Diary.

From Brimming With Charisma To Something More

It was the last year of the century, and the 21st century was just around the corner. The world was going to change, and young Hollywood was shaking off its adolescent ennui to embrace the future. While some of the biggest names in showbiz were grappling with their own personal problems, celebrities were basking in the glow of a new century and a new millennium.

It was a time when Hollywood seemed to be at the forefront of culture, with the likes of Kabbalah, Bill Bratton and William S. Burroughs making a name for themselves, and Hollywood’s own Mick Jagger attracting fans from across the pond. Celebrities were in the vanguard of culture, with many using their fame and fortune to champion innovative, creative and daring work.

But above all else, we remember the year 2000 as the year of the celebrity sex tape. From Lindsay Lohan’s disastrously embarrassing performance to Britney’s fateful ‘˜03 mixtape and its accompanying video, the year 2000 was the worst of times and the best of times for celebrity sleaze. And it was also the year that Robert Pattinson decided to make the most of his fame by launching himself into a dizzying array of adult-themed material. The Brimming Robert was going to be different.

The Dirty Bozo

Before the year 2000, Robert Pattinson already had an established acting career. He’d acted in TV series including London Spy, had been in films such as the Harry Potter series and the Oscar-nominated Quilliam. Most notably, he’d starred alongside George Clooney in the 1997 film The General’s Daughter. By the time the year 2000 rolled around, he was ready to make a splash in the big screen with Bad Santa. A film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about a Christmas sweater who steals people’s joy, Bad Santa is an irreverent comedy about a grumpy, bad Santa (Pattinson) who wrecks people’s Christmas presents in the most humiliating way.

The satire was a massive hit. Bad Santa went on to become one of the highest-grossing holiday-themed films of all time. What’s more, the film’s popularity spawned a Broadway revival in 2014, with Pattinson making his New York stage debut in the role of Santa Claus. If you’re going to be a famous Hollywood celebrity, making a film and pursuing a stage career aren’t the only options available to you. You can also become a bestselling author or make-up artist, or even design jewelry or furniture.

But none of these options interest Robert Pattinson. He’s interested in one thing and one thing only: sex. While most of his contemporaries were struggling with the travails of fame, Pattinson was busy flaunting it. One of the first scenes in Bad Santa shows the brimming star in a Santa Claus outfit dancing around a Christmas tree. It’s a playful, funny scene that sets the tone for the rest of the film. And it’s not surprising that a film about a grumpy, bad Santa would be full of levity. We’re talking about an actor whose IMDb page is studded with funny anecdotes from his acting days.

But it’s not all fun and games for Pattinson. The actor has spoken of his desire to explore darker, more serious roles. He told The Telegraph,

“There’s always room for more depth in an actor’s performance, and I want to explore that more. If I ever decided to do a film about, let’s say, the Holocaust, that would be amazing. I would love to play a serious, complex role.”

With the runaway success of Bad Santa, it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that the actor would want to tackle more serious roles. After all, this is a man who has mastered the art of balancing comedy and drama with ease. With his incredible charm and charisma, it is no great feat to convince us that a character is funny or even remotely resembles reality, especially when that character is based on a real person.

The Dark Knight

But it’s not just about comedy for Pattinson. As we’ve established, he is a man of many talents, and not just as an actor. He is a capable director and a writer, having directed the 2010 British romantic comedy The Lost City and the 2014 film The Nut Job. Most notably, he was the writer and director of the Oscar-nominated The Rum Diary, which he also produced.

The Rum Diary is a love story between Hollywood legend John Huston (Clooney) and Argentine painter and author Patricia (Pattinson). Set in 1933, the film charts the romantic rivalry between Huston and his rival for the affections of Patricia, the lecherous screenwriter Basil (Albert Finney).