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The Transformation Of Robert Pattinson From Childhood To Batman

In the years since he starred as brooding, sparkling vampire Edward Cullen in the colossal teen drama "Twilight," actor Robert Pattinson never took his career where anybody expected him to. After making it big in a franchise he openly disliked (via The Tab), Pattinson defied conventional stardom by working on largely independent films.

His raw energy, collaboration with auteur directors, and willingness to disappear into ambitious, divisive works like "The Lighthouse" and "Cosmopolis" quickly marked him as a great talent. Only after establishing his artistry did the actor choose to star again in blockbusters like "Tenet" and as the iconic title role of "The Batman." For Pattinson, what's more important than anything is being in films with a unique identity: "If you provide a movie which kind of provides an entire culture with it...I think people really, really like that, and really respond to it" (via GQ).

With "The Batman" opening on March 9 and Pattinson now in a production deal with Warner Bros (via The Hollywood Reporter), it's a whole new era for the 35-year-old actor. Here's how Robert Pattinson went from romantic vampire to indie film mainstay, to becoming the next star to wear the cape and cowl.

Robert Pattinson wanted to be a performer at a young age

Figuring out Robert Pattinson's background when he famously makes up things about himself in interviews can be a little tricky, but there are some given facts out there too. He was born on May 13, 1986, in London, England to Robert and Clare Pattinson (via Biography).

His mother worked for a modeling agency and his sister Izzy later became a musician, and though Robert was shy, he had an early interest in performing. After getting expelled from his first prep school for selling adult magazines to his classmates (via GQ), he attended the Harrodian School and took starring roles in the institution's theater programs, including "Our Town."

He soon started acting professionally, landing a supporting role in the 2003 TV movie "Ring of the Nibelungs" at age 17. His part in the next year's "Vanity Fair" was unfortunately cut, but around this time, he auditioned to be the ill-fated Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." The young actor got the part, even getting called "the next Jude Law" by This Is London when the film was released in 2005. Hype was already circling around Pattinson — and "Twilight" wouldn't even become a phenomenon for three more years.

He became a movie star thanks to Twilight

Robert Pattinson was 21 when he received the part of Edward Cullen, the hunky main vampire of the "Twilight" films who romances human teenager Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), and he suspects to this day that he nailed the role because he'd messed up another reading the day before. The actor told W. Magazine in 2017 that "I think I was at such a kind of nothing-to-lose state, it was quite easy for me to do. But the audition was really fun."

The "Twilight" books by Stephanie Meyer and their subsequent film adaptations turned out to be a cultural phenomenon, and the movies made an incredible $3 billion at the box office (via The Numbers). But Pattinson was openly baffled at the popularity of "The Twilight Sage" and with the fandom centered around his character. "You get little girls like, 'I want to have your babies!' It's like, seriously. I don't even want to have my babies," he told TV Guide in 2009. Nevertheless, he reprised his role as Edward until the concluding "Twilight" film, "Breaking Dawn – Part 2," even as he began making movies separate from the franchise.

Pattinson filmed several romantic dramas in the early 2010s

In between "Twilight" installments, Pattinson seemed to be pursuing a career as the kind of romantic dramatic lead the public expected from his role as Edward. The films fit the handsome young actor on paper, but none of them really lingered with critics or with audiences.

This included the 2010 romantic coming-of-age film "Remember Me," where Pattinson played a troubled man named Tyler whose connection to Ally (Emile de Ravin) meets a tragic fate. "Remember Me" received rather negative reviews from critics, and while it did well at the box office (via Box Office Mojo), it's only been remembered for its controversial, disastrous ending.

Similarly, 2011's "Water for Elephants," an adaptation of the Sara Gruen novel, was financially successful, earning $117 million on a $38 million budget (via Box Office Mojo) but received mixed notices from critics (via Rotten Tomatoes). The next year "Bel Ami," where Pattinson plays a poor soldier who rises up the social ladder thanks to his skills in seduction, received little critical or public interest and seemingly ended his career as a romantic leading man for the moment. This could have stymied his career, but instead, the actor took a trajectory unlike any in recent Hollywood history.

Post-Twilight Pattinson became one of Hollywood's most ambitious actors

The same year that "Breaking Dawn – Part 2" was released in theaters, 2012, Robert Pattinson starred in David Cronenberg's creepy, futuristic satire of wealth, "Cosmopolis," as cold, sociopathic billionaire Eric Packer. The film was nothing like the "Twilight" films or "Water for Elephants." In fact, it was off-putting, intelligent, and extremely dark, but it was clear from interviews that Pattinson was proud of his work. "It was such a satisfying experience that I just kind of wanted to go more down that road" (via W Magazine).

It became clear that after "Twilight," Pattinson had vowed to only make interesting, eclectic films from now on. He emphasized to Backstage that as an actor, he needed to trust the artists he worked with: "And it's way easier to commit to stuff when you trust. Now, I'll only work with people who I've seen something [from] and it's really affected me." His supporting turns in ambitious films like "The Rover" and "The Lost City of Z" quickly garnered acclaim, but critics still hadn't seen how weird and compelling Pattinson could get. 

No one expected the actor to become an indie film legend

After years playing romantic hunks, Robert Pattinson continued to flex his muscles as a truly versatile actor in the last half of the 2010s. He was self-deprecating in interviews, joking in 2019 that he doesn't know how to actually act (via The Guardian), but he still proved himself to be a fearless performer in several ambitious new films, including "High Life" and "Damsel." His turn in "Good Time" as hapless bank robber Connie Niklas was Pattinson's most acclaimed role to date, with The AV Club calling the film "[Pattinson's] metamorphosis from YA heartthrob into electrifying character actor". 

Perhaps the actor's strangest performance so far has been in the black and white A24 horror comedy "The Lighthouse." A bizarre, crudely funny feature where two lighthouse keepers, played by Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, descend into madness while in isolation, the Robert Eggers film became a cult success almost as soon as it was released.

But after nearly a decade in the indie film wilderness, Pattinson was ready to try courting mainstream Hollywood once more.

He returned to blockbusters with Nolan's sci-fi spy flick Tenet

After years of working in offbeat independent films, Robert Pattinson, at last, returned to mainstream movie roles when he co-starred in Christopher Nolan's 2020 time-loop blockbuster, "Tenet." The actor played the rather tricky character of Neil, a friendly, likable spy handler who works with the Protagonist (John David Washington) in the mysterious organization of the title. It's a difficult performance because Neil has his own secrets, but is also inherently trustworthy. Pattinson has to use his megawatt charm to broadcast those good intentions to the audience.

And while the trippy science fiction action film was met with cautious if positive reviews, plus a box office beleaguered by the pandemic, Pattinson's performance as the friendly handler Neil was well-received. Slash Film noted how his "gleaming smirk...provides a dash of levity to the proceedings."

However, even before "Tenet" hit theaters, the actor had already decided to take on one of the biggest possible movie star roles in the current media landscape.

Pattinson is a new, younger Bruce Wayne in The Batman

Pattinson's casting as Bruce Wayne, aka "The Batman," in a gritty new take on the Caped Crusader helmed by "Let Me In" director Matt Reeves, was originally announced in May 2019 (via Variety). The actor commented that he had always been attracted to the character and tried to put his own spin on Wayne where "he's a bit out of control. He hasn't really defined what Batman is" (via Polygon). After some delays, including Pattinson himself testing positive for COVID-19, the much-anticipated superhero film will be released on March 9, 2022. 

Considering his new development deal with Warner Bros., and the upcoming hot franchise film, Pattinson should be feeling some confidence. But he recently told GQ, "When anybody asks me, What are your hobbies? I'm...fretting. Worrying about the future."

You'd think that Pattinson of all people would be more relaxed about his prospects. Still, that's not how one of the most fearless, compelling performers of his generation has ever operated. Whatever Pattinson does next on-screen, viewers can only be certain that like his other roles, it'll be unlike anything they ever expected from him.