Move over Robert Downey Jr, there’s a new comeback kid in town and his name is Robert Pattinson! As we draw ever closer to the release of Tenet and Matt Reeves’ The Batman, it becomes much harder to ignore his rising star. The man has come a long way from his tenure as Edward Cullen in the highly popular, if not reviled, Twilight Saga. He’s proven to the world that he’s more than just a pretty boy with a pension for open-mouth emoting. Over the years, Pattinson has reinvented himself, taking on challenging roles in smaller films. Now, here he is, in the big leagues with directors like Christopher Nolan. Recently, Netflix released a trailer for a film called The Devil All the Time. There, he plays an “unholy preacher” and boy does he play a mighty fine fiery one at that.
Some of you still remain unconvinced of Pattinson’s talent or perhaps ignorant of his works beyond his vampiric endeavours. Well, allow us the chance to change your perception with a list of great films starring Pattinson. Some of them you may be familiar with, others may absolutely shock you!
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Those who grew up with Warner Bros’ Harry Potter franchise will undoubtedly remember Pattinson’s first major acting debut. He played the incomparably sweet and magnetically charming Cedric Diggory in Goblet of Fire. Much has been said of his dashing good looks, off and on-screen but there’s far more to the young actor’s performance here than wizarding prom king. Diggory was a romantic foil to Potter’s relationship with Ravenclaw’s Cho Chang. A sort of adversary to our main hero’s quest to find love amidst wizarding conspiracies and deathly plots. I’ll admit, I really wanted to hate this guy and yet I couldn’t. There was something so unabashedly pure about Diggory that felt organic to his nature.
Besides the fact that Diggory was a Hufflepuff, Pattinson understood the emotional tension of the script and played to it brilliantly. He knew when to lean into Diggory’s more competitive side without ever having the character dip into the realm of douchebaggery. He understood the pressure on Diggory’s shoulder to maintain a strong appearance which fed into the character’s ability to empathize and even befriend Potter. Pattinson’s nuanced and well-balanced performance as Diggory was one of the main reasons why the Potter fandom flew into despair at the moment of his death.
2. The Rover (2014)
This next pick’s probably going to make some of you a tad uncomfortable. Fresh off Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, Pattinson decides to try his hand at playing smaller, indie roles. At this point, we’d seen the actor attempt to branch out from romantic films with Salvador Dali’s Little Ashes. However, he never could quite escape the shadow of typecasting. In 2014, though, he finally broke free with a Mad Max inspired dystopian western called The Rover. In the film, he plays a slow-witted, possibly mentally-disabled robber who becomes a victim of circumstance. Left behind by his brother and fellow robbers, Reynolds is left to the mercy of a rage-filled ex-soldier, Eric whom he forms a bond with.
Say what you want about the film’s pacing or borrowed plot. What cannot be denied is Pattinson’s powerful performance as Reynolds. It takes a lot of courage and dedication to play such a vulnerable part. Often times, the relationship between Eric and Reynolds can border on abusive. And yet, he can’t find the strength to break free from his dependence on him. Pattinson animates his role with great humanity and spirit. There’s a particularly painful scene in which Reynolds confronts the robbers who abandoned him to die. It was akin to watching a hurt child crying out at a cruel and unforgiving world that only responds to violence. The pain in his eyes, the shiver in his voice. Chills.
3. Good Time (2017)
Speaking off mentally disabled brothers (great segue, right?), Pattinson plays a sibling to one in Benny and Josh Safdie’s 2017 crime thriller, Good Time. Not unlike their most recent film Uncut Gems, Good Time is another high-stakes, pressure cooker drama that follows morally compromised characters trying to fix one f**k-up after another. It’s great and Pattinson here is phenomenal. When a bank robbery goes bad, Pattinson’s Connie Nikas is forced to leave his mentally-challenged brother Nick behind. The clock is ticking as he does everything in his power to free his brother while eluding the authorities. His night long quest will take him to some very dark and strange places.
The Safdies have this magical way of bringing out of the best in all their actors’ performances. It’s almost as if they injected them with crack or speed before rolling the cameras. Coupled with an engaging plot of rapid-fire pacing and a fantastic cast, we get to see Pattinson shine as a criminal. There’s just such frantic and anxious energy about his whole performance in the film. There was never a moment on camera in which Pattinson’s Connie could catch his breath. It’s nearly on par with classics the likes of Dog Day Afternoon. When all was said and done, my palms were still sweaty after the experience. It’s just that good.
4. The King (2019)
One of the most underrated films of 2019 has got to be David Michod’s The King. Interestingly enough, Michod also directed The Rover. Alongside a stellar cast of actors, Michod recreates a Shakesperean epic/coming-of-age story that sees Timothee Chalamet’s King Henry V ascend the Throne of England. A mere teenager, Henry must navigate through European politics, gruesome battles and court treachery to become the Warrior King. In his conquest of France, only one thing stands in his way. A deluded but dangerous French prince, the Dauphin, Louis who is played by Pattinson. Don’t let his flowing, golden mane and eccentric fashion sense fool you. The Dauphin is as unhinged as they come. For real, this guy’s batshit crazy!
The first time Henry, and the audience, meets the Dauphin is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Pattinson’s Louis backhandedly compliments Henry’s bravery to invade France by telling him that he has “giant balls” but a “tiny cock”. All this comes right after Pattinson explains to young Henry the horrors he will inflict on his army, with sadistic glee if I may add. The scene alone is worth the price of admission but it doesn’t stop there. Pattinson’s Dauphin proceeds to stalk and murder English children in the woods like some kind of serial killer to further provoke Henry to wrath. He is both deeply menacing and hilarious at the same time. Man, if Pattinson wasn’t already playing Batman in Matt Reeves’ film, he’d certainly make for a damn fine Joker.
5. The Lighthouse (2019)
This film…this right here is the one that solidified Robert Pattinson’s hallowed place in the halls of cinema. Directed by The Witch‘s Robert Eggers and co-written by his brother Max, 2019’s The Lighthouse will go down in history as one of the greatest psychological thrillers of the 2010s. It is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. A testament to the power of sound and colour in the creation of atmosphere. A sea yarn that feels as old and authentic as the bones of the Leviathan. Most importantly, it is the piece that forever marks Pattinson’s apotheosis into the same league as Orson Wells, Anthony Hopkins, Jack Nicholson and dare I say, Daniel Day-Lewis. The best part of it all is how elegant it is in its simplicity. It’s essentially about two lighthouse keepers losing their shit!
The chemistry, tension and relationship between Pattinson’s Thomas Howard and Willem Dafoe’s Thomas Wake is primordial. The clash between the old and the young. Within the roiling sea of initial niceties, passive-aggressive banter, mad speeches and frightening outburst is every shade of the craft brought to an awesome life. It’s endlessly fascinating how Pattinson and Dafoe’s dynamic shifts from master-slave relationship to blue-collar camaraderie to dormant eroticism to finally prey-predator. If there was ever any doubt in the man’s thespian gifts, let this be your hour, or two, of faith. This is Pattinson at his best and I am excited for more to come.