R Pattz: forte beyond the fangs

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[Words by Lucy Fitzgerald (she/her)]

[Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash]

In Harry Potter’s fourth instalment in 2005, Robert Pattinson portkeyed into our lives as golden boy Cedric Diggory, before finding fame in a certain fantasy franchise as Edward Cullen. Boldly traversing genres in recent years, from psychological horror and crime, to espionage action and 15th century period drama, Pattinson has proved he is one versatile vampire with acting chops that simply do not quit. The R Pattz Renaissance has officially arrived.

After having your face printed on every conceivable article of jewellery and clothing available in Claire’s Accessories, it can be difficult to assert yourself as a serious actor. Pattinson’s very public derision of the Twilight Saga and Stephanie Meyers’ fan-fiction style prose was comical, making it abundantly clear that he was desperate to take on a more demanding role. Post-Twilight, he made some critical and commercial splash in Remember Me (yes, the one with that ending) and Water For Elephants. But it was after playing a hypnotic billionaire in Cosmopolis in 2012 (getting quite the CV boost working with directing deity David Cronenberg) that Pattinson found his stride, swapping Teen Choice Awards for Independent Spirit Awards and Nickelodeon slime for Cannes. Leaving behind Dali’s pencil-like whisker he donned in Little Ashes, and welcoming a bushy, beer-soaked moustache as he descended into insanity in Robert Egger’s homoerotic The Lighthouse is symbolic of his growth. Under the direction of the anxiety-inducing Safdie Brothers (Uncut Gems) in Good Time, he mastered a New York Queens accent as a bank robber. In Netflix’s The King and Devil All The Time, Pattinson entertained us with a questionable French accent in the former, and a more convincing Southern one in the latter, albeit as a paedo preacher.

While the previous generation was asked Oasis or Blur, my playground partition was Team Edward or Team Jacob. After a positive response to his role in Harry Potter and The GobbleMeSwallowMe, Twilight secured Pattz a global militia of online admirers. In a 2018 Teen Vogue article deconstructing the cultural phenomenon of “Twitter’s White Boy of the Month,” Gabe Bergado traced the concept’s origins back to Pattinson who “fulfils the digital aspect of the role”; “the first Twilight film came out in 2008, just as social networks such as Facebook and Twitter began to become popular”. “But”, warns Gabe, “with each rise also comes an eventual fade away – to make room for the next month’s oblation.” Timothée Chalamet has been impeached from TWBOTM throne, and Tom Holland’s ability to tingle our Spidey senses may come to an end upon the expiration of his Marvel contract. However, a 12-year-long thirst, resulting in mass meme-ification, currently seen most violently on TikTok, proves Pattinson’s pop culture presence prevails. At the time of writing, the virality of a low-resolution photograph of him standing awkwardly in a kitchen, looking dishevelled in a brown Adidas trackie, is inescapable.

On one level, Pattinson operates as a typical Hollywood celebrity, starring in sultry Dior fragrance adverts and having a long-term, press-hounded romance with a co-star (his relationship with Kirsten Stewart was cattily catalogued on Twitter by the current Leader of The Free World). However he’s pretty eccentric when you dig a little deeper. Pattinson has never crossed into comedy film territory and he does not need to; his real-life persona is amusing enough. The cultural fascination around him lies in his non-conformity to regular celebrity etiquette. For example, while a gleeful Hugh Jackman is armed with palatable anecdotes on a press tour, Pattinson spirals into mumbles of profound self-depreciation that leave you sincerely wondering, is he…okay? Between making inaudible noises and alluding to having an existential crisis, his erratic manner is very unconventional for a former Sexiest Man Alive victor. The appeal of most popular stars is their capacity to be, in the words of Steve Carrell’s Cal Weaver in Crazy, Stupid, Love, “the perfect combination of sexy and cute”. Not only does Pattinson strike this balance, he elevates it with his insanity. I bestow upon him the unique honorary badge of being hot and unhinged. A plethora of videos exist on YouTube compiling his most chaotic moments. I implore you to watch his off-beat short film for GQ magazine, in which he obsessively pursues an authentic New York hotdog, panting in a Gollum-like voice “this city is a labyrinth, designed to mock me”.

The different takes on the Batman character exist in a long canon: Clooney’s camp, Bale’s bravado and Affleck’s apathy. When asked about his physical preparation for his 2021 portrayal of the superhero, Pattinson replied: “I think if you’re working out all the time, you’re part of the problem…You set a precedent. No one was doing this in the 70s. Even James Dean – he wasn’t exactly ripped.” It would be thoroughly refreshing to see a studio-approved deviation from the jacked-up action figure physique we are accustomed to. The promotional photos released so far depict Pattinson with distinctly dark eyes and hair, looking mega angsty. Will this emo sad-boi Bruce join Gotham’s Black Parade? After all Thomas Wayne, his father, took him into the city…

One thing I know for certain about Pattinson’s upcoming film, though, is that with the Glasgow Necropolis being featured, we can finally terminate The Scottish Inferiority Complex, once and for all!


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