It’s been a busy year for Robert Pattinson. After ending his seven-year marriage to Hollywood actress Kristen Stewart, the actor has been working hard to put his feelings into words and show the world how deeply he cares for her in the wake of their split. And it’s all been captured on camera. In March, Stewart released a documentary called Heartbeat focusing on the couple’s relationship and their eventual break-up, and while it was a tough watch for fans of the Twihpster, it certainly kept them hooked to the small screen.
Now the 31-year-old actor is back with a new movie called Welcome to the Dark. In it, he plays a man who must face the emotional trauma of a deadly serious car accident he wasn’t prepared for. It’s an incredibly personal story for Pattinson, who has spent the last year trying to come to terms with the fact that his life was turned upside down when Stewart and a friend of theirs, Joe Miller, were involved in a serious car accident in April 2016. While neither of them were physically harmed, the documentary crew who were following the pair for a movie called Bottled Up caught the accident entirely on camera.
The resulting movie, Watch Life 2016, is an intimate portrait of an actor breaking down both publicly and privately in the wake of a shocking accident he never saw coming. In it, we watch as Pattinson struggles to understand how his life can change in an instant, while also grappling with the responsibilities that come with being a husband and a father. And it’s a story that he hopes will help other men looking for insight into what a healthy marriage should be like.
The Making of a ‘Wife Beater’
The movie opens with a glimpse of the happy couple, Stewart and Pattinson, cuddling up in bed post-wedding. As they bask in the glow of their accomplishment, an outsider, Joe Miller, interrupts to deliver some devastating news: He’s just signed a deal to star in a film called Moneyball, and he needs a wife to star with him. The couple’s marriage immediately takes a turn for the worse, and it’s clear that these two just aren’t compatible. They seem to thrive on chaos; their fights are vicious and leave a visibly dark bruise on the usually pale Hollywood starlet. But at least she’s consistent. The argumentative nature of the couple makes the world of difference when compared to the composed, almost saintly image they project on screen. It’s fair to say that their relationship is a study in contrasts. And that’s what makes it so interesting to watch.
In Miller’s time in the media spotlight, he’s become something of a joke, an overgrown child fascinated by celebrity culture who can’t help but throw temper tantrums when he feels overshadowed. It’s a sharp contrast to his quiet and modest nature off-screen, and it’s made him the butt of many a joke. But despite his insecurities, he’s an incredibly likeable character who just wants to be loved. In his search for love, he stumbles upon Stewart, who agrees to marry him in exchange for a part in Moneyball. But their happily ever after is cut short when Miller is injured during a football training session and needs immediate surgery. The trauma of watching his friend get cut open and begin to bleed is more than enough for Pattinson to absorb; he can’t deal with the added guilt of knowing that he’s the cause of his friend’s pain. The broken leg doesn’t heal properly, and Miller spends the rest of his life in and out of hospitals, where he eventually dies. (The movie is actually dedicated to him.)
Pattinson’s descent into alcoholism begins to take its toll on his personal life. He starts going to AA meetings and working through his problems, and things seem to be looking up. He gets a new manager, stops spending so much time away from home, and even gets a pet dog to help him move forward. But in a scene that will haunt him forever, he witnesses a horrifying car accident as he drives home one evening. The mangled remains of a motorcycle are strewn on the side of the road, and he can’t help but think of Miller. It’s been a sobering year for him, and he decides to take a break from his adventures as an actor to regroup and focus on his mental and physical health. He also decides to leave California and return home to England, to the surprise of everyone, including himself.
The Upside Down
Life hasn’t been easy for Stewart, either. While her marriage to Miller was, for the most part, plagued by his indiscretions and her drug use, it was also incredibly passionate and, at times, even happy. Their romance began to gain a lot of attention when they were spotted kissing and cuddling in an intimate embrace on the street; they’d go on to marry and have a daughter together. But while their on-screen chemistry was undeniable, it was clear that off-screen things were a bit more complicated. He was, after all, 25 years her senior. In the aftermath of the accident, their marriage crumbles apart, largely due to his lack of interest in dealing with his grief and, instead, going on to date and marry another woman, Halle Berry. (Both Berry and Stewart were absent from the film due to pregnancy.)
After the two had their daughter, Dylan, Berry and Stewart briefly reconciled, but the stress of being a working mother and a celebrity with a young child soon pushed them apart once more. This time, it was over Stewart’s disapproval of Berry’s supposed ‘bad girl’ image; she didn’t want her daughter growing up in the shadow of Hollywood stardom. While the pair had their ups and downs – including Berry’s alleged intimidation of Stewart – their friendship has persisted, and they often appear on best-wishes lists for one another.
Things aren’t easy for Stewart, either. Since the accident, she’s largely kept a low profile, shying away from the spotlight and focusing on raising her child. But it wasn’t long before she began to emerge from her shell. In April, she made her comeback at the 73rd Cannes Film Festival, where she was spotted out and about with her daughter, looking perfectly content and, in some ways, happier than she’s ever been. And while it was a triumphant moment, it was also clear that, behind the scenes, things still hadn’t fully settled for Stewart. She began to publicly battle with her good friend and rumored to be romantic interest, Cardi B, over what to wear at the Cannes Film Festival. (B suggested a jumpsuit while Binder, Stewart’s stylist, preferred a long-sleeved top; the argument made for an entertaining Twitter thread.) But the two have remained close, and it was clear that the sight of Cardi B supporting Stewart was more than a match for any adversarial Hollywood star or director.
The friendship extends to Cardi B’s mother, Alina, who is interviewed in the doc. She praises Stewart’s parenting, saying that it’s inspired her to be a better mother herself. It’s a touching moment, both between the ladies and between parents and daughter. The fact that these women – who have likely gone through so much together – were able to find a way to connect and form a bond speaks volumes about Stewart’s parenting and the strength of her character.
It’s been a trying year for both Pattinson and Stewart, but they’ve managed to find the silver lining in their ordeal. While it’s been a difficult road for them personally – particularly since Miller’s death – they’ve been able to draw on their experiences to help others. Pattinson’s participation in two separate bike accidents occurred just a few months apart and were, for the most part, survivable. It was a source of comfort to both parties. But he also credits Miller’s accident with changing the way he deals with stressful situations moving forward; it’s opened up his eyes to the fact that life can, at times, be incredibly unfair and misfortune can follow you around like a shadow. And while many have speculated that Miller’s death was connected to his alcoholism, Pattinson vehemently denies this. He stops drinking, asserts that Miller was sober, and credits the accident with helping him see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if it was a little brighter than before.
In the wake of the accident, Stewart began working on a book entitled Brave (named after their daughter), in which she chronicles the events that led up to and including the accident. She also uses the book to examine the complexities of motherhood, marriage, and gender in today’s world. While he was, for the most part, supportive of her efforts, he admitted in an interview that the book came as a bit of a shock. He’d gotten used to sharing his, and their, pain with the world, but he was clearly not prepared to share his personal story with someone else. His willingness to do so, however, is testament to both his sincerity and his desire to help other men going through similar, if not identical, situations.