In the summer of 2018, cinemagoers were treated to the magical matchmaking spectacle of “Downton Abbey” and “Lord of the Rings” coming together when Hollywood superstar Robert Pattinson graced the big screen alongside legendary German director Werner Herzog. The pairing proved so successful that they are slated to reunite for a second film, “Billionaire Boys Club” – with a script by the “Wedding Crashers”’s Steven Conrad.
The unlikely collaboration between the rugged “Rebel” and the revered “Faustin” director was a marriage made in heaven. Both are world-class artists known for their unique aesthetics and independent spirits. Their careers have been strewn with success and achievement, and they have emerged as leaders in their respective fields. They are also two of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors – with a combined fortune of $500 million.
If you were to ask someone to name the ultimate power couple in Hollywood, they might respond with an unbridled list of A-list movie stars. But if you were to ask another person to name the king and queen of the international film festival circuit, the answer would be a straightforward and unequivocal “Robert Pattinson & Werner Herzog.”
The year 2018 saw the two iconic figures work together for the first time on screen. The result was one of the most celebrated film debuts in recent memory. “Downton Abbey” fans may still be reeling from the final scene of S02E08, during which Lady Sylvia and Sir Harold exchange their vows. The emotionally fraught ceremony was one of the series’ most memorable episodes, and it earned creator Julian Fellowes a place on this year’s A-list. But it was the German filmmaker’s extraordinary talent that truly made the episode memorable. In the same year, Herzog also directed Amy Schumer’s semi-autobiographical comedy “Inside Amy Schumer,” which featured a stellar performance from the comedian as well as the world premiere of “Boys Without Borders,” a documentary narrated by and featuring Joaquin Phoenix. It also won the German filmmaker critical acclaim, not to mention a Peabody nomination.
A Master Class In Creativity
No one is an island, and for an artist, working with a collaborator is the only way to truly bring your vision to life. It is therefore no surprise that the two most celebrated figures in cinema would spend their time together working on various projects. While Herzog began the year with a highly publicized meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, he returned to his home in Germany to begin pre-production on his ninth feature film, “Gomorrah.” The five-part crime saga is based on the bestselling 2006 book “Gomorrah” by American author Don Winslow. The project marks his first foray into fully immersive virtual reality, and it reunites him with his frequent collaborator, director Matteo Garrone, who teamed up with Herzog on “Gangs of New York.”
Meanwhile, the “Twilight” actor was busy working on two high-profile projects. First, he joined the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a cameo appearance in “Black Widow,” the sequel to “Captain America: Civil War.” Since “Dirty Diana,” Herzog has become a favorite among the superhero community, and it was fitting that one of the most famous bad-ass vixens in comic book history should bring him his tenth Academy Award in 2019.
In addition to appearing in two of the biggest blockbusters of the year, he co-starred in the romantic comedy “What If?,” which was released in May, and he has a lead role in the upcoming “Belzerker,” an action-adventure horror film that will be released in April 2021. Most recently, he lent his voice to the German version of “Sonic the Hedgehog” for the role of Dr. Eggman and directed a music video for the Cardigans, the Swedish pop duo he co-stars in alongside Anna Kendrick.
A Historic Collaboration
For centuries, stories of artists collaborating on film have been told. But it was not until 2018 that these legendary partnerships were brought to life on the big screen. The first collaboration was “Annabelle Comes Home,” an adaptation of the popular horror novel “Annabelle.” The iconic author of the horror series wrote the script with his longtime writer-producer Sean Cunningham and will serve as an executive producer on the film. The two have worked together on all of Sean’s previous films, and it was fitting that one of the most prominent figures in horror cinema would take the reins on the live-action adaption of “Annabelle.”
While “Annabelle Comes Home” focused on the titular creature’s tragic history, it was “The Lighthouse” that truly set the stage for a legendary collaboration. The eight-part limited series is based on the 1897 novella “The Lighthouse” by English author John Buchan. The role of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Professor Challenger was brought to life by English actor Henry Cavill, and the series showed off his versatility as well as the exquisite production design and costume styling. As in many of Herzog’s other projects, “The Lighthouse” marked a seamless melding of live action and animation. While it was not his first attempt at creating a hybrid film – “Golem” from 2014 is an example – it was the first time that he aimed to create a theatrical experience that feels three-dimensional and real instead of relying on 2D imagery and cardboard sets. The result is an artistic triumph.
A Cinematic Match Made In Heaven
Whether they are working together or apart, the dynamic between these two incredible artists consistently produces high-quality work. Their combined influence is felt in every project they work on, from script to set design. Herzog once famously described himself as simply “a camera man,” and while he continues to use cinematic tools to share his vision with the world, the collaborations with Pattinson prove that he is much more than a journeyman filmmaker.
The parallels between the two are striking. After graduating from art school in 1980, Pattinson found work in the United Kingdom before making his way to Hollywood. But instead of imitating Hollywood’s “Dream Factory,” he has chosen to blaze his own path and continue to work as an auteur. While his earliest films were plagued by post-production errors and were often met with critical disdain, over the course of his career, his cinematic vision has become more and more apparent. His unique color palettes, elaborate costuming, and distinctive camera work have all been embraced by fans and recognized by film scholars around the world.
Pattinson and Herzog are two of the most celebrated artists in contemporary cinema, and it is therefore fitting that their artistic partnership would result in two of the most significant theatrical experiences of recent memory. But while their cinematic work together may be legendary, their professional relationship is an example of what can happen when two established figures in their fields choose to work together. The results may surprise even those familiar with their illustrious careers.