Robert Pattinson – From child actor to Hollywood heavyweight
Robert Pattinson has been around for a while. Perhaps you discovered him in the 2005 fourth cinematic instalment of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter anthology as budding wizard Cedric Diggory. Maybe you swooned over his portrayal of brooding vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight series (2008-2013). Or perhaps you latterly stumbled over him in the most recent film adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s unfinished horror novel The Lighthouse alongside Willem Dafoe.
Whatever your first exposure to the talented British thespian, chances are – barring role reprisals – you’ll never see the like from him again. Such is the chameleonic, ever-changing face of Robert Pattinson in a wide range of genres. And it is precisely this ability to switch mindsets and mannerisms with apparent ease that has won him such favour in Tinseltown and beyond.
Although the 35-year-old has gracefully transitioned from child actor to teen heartthrob to full-fledged leading man, given his slender frame and almost feminine features, few could have guessed that he would replace Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader in the upcoming The Batman film, beating out such other Hollywood heavy-hitters as Nicholas Hoult and Armie Hammer. Yet, the soon-to-air movie has already garnered much anticipation from DC Comics fans and is intended as the opening salvo in a new Batman trilogy. To celebrate Pattinson’s coup in landing the role, we delve into some of the lesser-known facts about the latest Dark Knight…
Robert Douglas Thomas Pattinson – to give the actor his full name – was born in London on 13 May 1986 as the youngest of three children. His mother, Clare, was a booker at a modelling agency, and his father, Richard, a vintage car dealer. The family was wealthy enough to send their only son to the prestigious Tower House School, an independent prep school whose alumni include fellow thespian Tom Hardy, comedian Jack Whitehall and journalist Louis Theroux.
Pattinson was soon expelled, however, for a rather shocking misdemeanour; he was caught stealing pornographic magazines and then selling them to his schoolmates. “I used to go in [to the shop] and take, like, one or two, and then put them in my bag. I was in my school uniform when I was doing it, and it was kind of risky,” he recalls sheepishly. “At the end, I got so cocky that I would take the entire rack.” Naughty, naughty.
The not-so-sweet 17-year-old had just three acting credits to his name when he landed the coveted role of Hufflepuff boy-wizard in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It was undoubtedly a coup for the budding actor, and arguably the role that put him on the map. Interestingly, due to delays in the filming schedule, he had to decide between accepting the part or attending university. “It went so far over schedule, I couldn’t go. It was supposed to be four months, but it ended up being 10 or 11,” he says. “I was 17 and I was the only person who wasn’t in school. I’d just hang about.”
First Cut is the Deepest
While Goblet of Fire is his first movie credit, the first part he landed was in an earlier film – 2004’s Vanity Fair. He acted alongside the star of the historical drama, Reese Witherspoon, playing her teenage son. Ultimately, though, his scenes vanished from the final cut of the movie – a decision he remained unaware of until attending its screening.
It was a huge shock for the young Pattinson, but it ultimately worked in his favour when he auditioned for the Harry Potter franchise. He recalls: “The casting director, Mary Selway, felt so guilty that no one had informed me that she basically gave me the first run at the part in Harry Potter, so I was quite glad I got cut in the end.”
Red Carpet Slip Up
In what may be the ultimate case of misjudgment, the Twilight star attempted to sneak quietly into the 2007 premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Los Angeles, even though he only appeared in a single flashback scene. His efforts to slip in unnoticed backfired as he was immediately swarmed by Cedric Diggory fans, and was soon ushered onto the red carpet with other members of the cast.
This embarrassing situation was exacerbated by Pattinson’s dishevelled appearance. “I’d just been walking through Hollywood and it was a long walk and it was boiling hot,” he later explained. “I’d been eating pizzas and drinking beer for the whole summer and I looked disgusting.” His agent was furious because he ‘looked like an unbelievable mess’ in photos taken by the press. “My agent still sends them to this day… I was just pouring with sweat, you can just see [from] the photos. I look horrendous…”
Sick for the Part
It’s not uncommon for actors to embrace a variety of pre-shooting rituals in order to make their portrayal truer to life. However, Pattinson is known for taking this to the extreme. To enter the dark emotional state needed to film The Lighthouse in 2019, he has admitted to spinning in circles and putting stones in his shoes to throw himself off-kilter so his performance in the psychological drama would seem disjointed. He even forced himself to throw up before critical scenes. When asked about the technique’s effectiveness, he answered: “I think everyone feels very emotional when they’re throwing up, and it’s quite a nice little trick to get there.”
Clamouring for the Cape
It’s no secret that Pattinson has a penchant for quirky roles and often eschews parts in more ‘mass-market’ productions in favour of smaller, indie films. So, many would be surprised to hear that he’d toyed with becoming the Caped Crusader even prior to being cast in the upcoming Batman reboot. “I’d had Batman on my mind for a while… [though] it’s such an absurd thing to say,” he shared recently. “I sort of had an idea to do it, and I’d been prodding Matt [Reeves, the film’s director]. He didn’t accept any prods, so I kept asking to meet him.”
Clearly his persistence paid off, and Pattinson was the one chosen to don the cape. Judge for yourself if he does the role justice when The Batman hits the silver screen on 4 March.