In 2018 the Twilight Saga turned ten years old – and many will vividly recall the hysteria surrounding the teen vampire movies the previous decade. However, one person who’s never quite seemed to put the films behind him is Edward Cullen himself, Robert Pattinson.
There’s no denying that starring in Twilight made Pattinson into an international celebrity. However, the British actor has often struggled to cope with the level of fame and attention the movies brought him. As a result, he has struggled with the notion of becoming a global star – and he has also famously criticized the franchise.
However, that all appeared to change in 2019. Indeed, in April that year USA Today reported that Pattinson had caught a rerun of the second movie, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, on TV. And after reflecting on the film franchise that had made him a star, Pattinson found that his opinion on the vampire saga had completely changed.
Interestingly, Pattinson almost didn’t get a role in the film adaptation of the teen cult favorite. In fact, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer had expressed her interest in having British hunk Henry Cavill play Cullen. And Catherine Hardwicke – the movie’s director – didn’t really have Pattinson in mind to star as the film’s unlikely hero either.
However, Hardwicke seemingly had a change of heart when it came to casting Pattinson. In a 2008 interview with IGN, the director said of the actor, “He doesn’t look like a normal guy. And when you read the book, you think, ‘Who on the planet can live up to this description?’ But I think he does.”
Continuing to enthuse over Pattinson’s suitability for the role of Cullen, Hardwicke added to IGN, “He’s just got that chiseled face that photographs exactly like it’s described in the book. When you read about the sculptured cheeks and chiseled jawbone and everything. It’s like, ‘Wow. Did [Meyer] write this for [Pattinson]?’”
As a result, Pattinson received an invite to audition for Twilight at Hardwicke’s home. For it, Meyer granted the actor special permission to read from Midnight Sun. The then unfinished and still unreleased novel looks at the events that unfold in Twilight from Cullen’s perspective, giving Pattinson a better idea of the character’s personality.
During the audition, Hardwicke wanted to test the chemistry between Pattinson and Kristen Stewart – who’d already nabbed the role of Cullen’s love interest Bella Swan. As a result, the director had the pair act out a love scene on her very own bed. Revealing what went down in a 2008 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hardwicke later said, “The room shorted out, the sky opened up, and I was like, ‘This is going to be good.”’
Clearly then, Pattinson had left an impression. As a result, Hardwicke cast him as Twilight’s leading male, much to Meyer’s delight. In 2007 the author wrote on her website, “I am ecstatic with Summit’s choice for Edward. There are very few actors who can look both dangerous and beautiful at the same time, and even fewer who I can picture in my head as Edward. Robert Pattinson is going to be amazing.”
However, not everyone was happy with Pattinson’s casting. In fact, the actor experienced some backlash from diehard Twilight fans who didn’t want to accept him as their Cullen. Pattinson later told the Evening Standard, “The books have a huge following. I’ve already got bags of letters from angry fans, telling me that I can’t possibly play Edward… I hope I can prove them wrong.”
So with Pattinson confirmed as Cullen, filming for Twilight soon got underway. The movie then came out in November 2008 – and became an overnight box office success. Furthermore, that film alone would go on to make nearly $193 million in Canada and the United States, as well as over $200 million internationally.
But aside from Twilight’s financial success, the film made stars out of its cast, especially Pattinson and Stewart. However, for both stars the fame they experienced became a double-edged sword. With that in mind, both of them claimed to have experienced anxiety as the intense interest in the movies and their personal life gathered pace.
Indeed, Twilight was just the beginning of Pattinson and Kristen’s rise to fame in the roles of Cullen and Swan. The success of the movie gave rise to a five-film franchise which would inspire a loyal legion of vampire fans – known as “Twihards.” What’s more, the media attention surrounding Pattinson and Kristen increased when the news emerged that the pair were romantically involved in real life.
However, Pattinson got quite bored of the hoopla surrounding the Twilight films and his part in them pretty quickly. And by the time he got around to promoting the fourth film in the saga, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, prior to its release in 2011, Pattinson threw some major shade on the vampire franchise.
In a press junket with Moviephone, someone asked Pattinson whether he’d be a fan of Twilight if he wasn’t in the movies. And his response couldn’t have been more blunt. Pattinson quipped, “[I] would just mindlessly hate it without ever having seen anything. I just think I’m a bad person.”
But that wasn’t the only time that Pattinson has made his true feelings towards the Twilight franchise known. In fact, the actor has been quite vocal about his apparent disdain for the films. And over the years he has poured scorn an all aspects of the series, from its questionable storylines to obsessive Twihards.
For example, in 2009 – around the time the second movie The Twilight Saga: New Moon was released – Pattinson described his character Cullen as a “weirdo.” Not holding back, he told OK! magazine that year, “If Edward wasn’t a fictional character and you met him in reality, he is like one of those guys who would probably be an axe murderer or something.”
And Pattinson continued to call out the films’ storyline while promoting the franchise’s’s fifth instalment, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 in 2012. In an interview with WOIO’s Chris Van Vliet, the actor pointed out, “There’s a lot of stuff in the Twilight world that doesn’t make any sense. It’s like, why are they still going to high school, like up until last year? They’re 100 years old!”
And in one of Pattinson’s more restrained interviews in 2011, he told Vanity Fair that he found the frenzy surrounding his role in the Twilight movies “quite strange.” He added, “It’s weird, because people have this one-sided relationship where they look at your picture and feel they know you more than someone they actually know.”
Revealing he didn’t see Twilight’s appeal, in his interview with Vanity Fair Pattinson added, “People want it to define them, like ‘I’m a Twilight fan.’ That’s crazy to me. I think people really just like being part of a crowd. There’s something just tremendously exciting about hyping yourself up to that level.”
And in a 2013 interview with Germany’s Interview magazine, Pattinson took his contempt for diehard Twilight fans even further. He scathed, “Sometimes I ask myself what these masses of people do the whole day. They sit in front of their computers and comment on anything having even remotely to do with Twilight. Day and night.”
With that in mind, Pattinson must have breathed a sigh of relief when the franchise wrapped up on the release of its fifth and final film The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 in 2012. In fact, it seemed he could barely control his glee at retiring as Cullen during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
While interviewing Pattinson about the final Twilight movie, Fallon said, “It’s almost heartbreaking because [the fans] don’t want it to be over. It’s a little bittersweet, isn’t it?” However, Pattinson didn’t seem to agree. Replying drolly, he simply said, “For them!” before cracking up into hysterics.
Meanwhile, the five Twilight movies came out between 2008 and 2012. And together they grossed more than $3.3 billion worldwide. What’s more, Pattinson became one of Hollywood’s highest earning actors as a result. Indeed, Time magazine even named him one of the top 100 most influential people in 2010.
Nevertheless, Pattinson seemed eager to put his Twilight days behind him. And in the years following the release of the final movie, the actor managed to put some distance between himself and the vampire franchise. Indeed, he even split from his former co-star Stewart for good in 2013.
In the subsequent years, Pattinson earned critical acclaim for his performances in films including The Rover, Maps to the Stars, The Lost City of Z and Good Time He also became a brand ambassador for the fashion label Dior Homme. However, he arguably didn’t enjoy the same success he’d seen with Twilight.
But Pattinson still refused to look back on his Twilight years favorably. And in 2018 – the very same year that the first Twilight movie was celebrating its tenth anniversary – the actor couldn’t resist having another dig at the franchise. Pattinson joked in an interview with Variety, “[I] stopped mentally progressing around the time when I started doing those movies.”
However, some time between making that scathing statement and April 2019, it appeared that Pattinson experienced a change of heart when it came to Twilight. And in an interview with USA Today that month, he actually managed to say something positive about the franchise that had made him a star.
Analysing the influence Twilight has had on pop culture, Pattinson told USA Today, “It seems like with younger people in their late teens, early 20s, it’s sort of become quite a hip thing to like. It’s a fascinating second wave of people appreciating it, which is kind of cool.”
Pattinson then reflected further on how Twilight had stood the test of time. He added, “I think when anything becomes a massive phenomenon, there’s always people who get annoyed because it’s just everywhere. But now it seems like a retro thing: the soundtrack, the fashion. It’s like, ‘Oh, that’s so late 2000s.’”
It seems that Pattinson had landed on his new, softer, opinion of the franchise after catching some of The Twilight Saga: New Moon on television. Speaking of the movie, the actor and talented musician told USA Today, “It genuinely does have an incredibly good soundtrack. I completely forgot, but the soundtracks were quite ahead of their time.”
With that in mind, perhaps Pattinson just needed a little distance from Twilight to understand its attraction. And given that the fan obsession that had once surrounded him had died down, the actor had the space to look at the vampire saga in a whole new light. So it seemed he had made his peace with his part in the franchise.
Pattinson told USA Today, “It’s lovely now that the mania is not so intense. People come up [to me] and just have very fond memories of it. It’s a really sweet thing. I think the only scary part was right in the thick of it all, when it was very, very intense. Now the intensity has died down and it’s just very warm memories.”
Pattinson has made no secret of the fact he’s struggled to come to terms with his own fame in the past. Speaking of his rise to stardom in 2013, he told Australia’s Sunday Style magazine, “I just didn’t expect any of this and I didn’t ask for it. It was literally all luck. I just stumbled from job to job.”
In that very same interview, Pattinson admitted, “It’s difficult to remain sane. It’s really difficult.” He added that he’d struggled with the lack of privacy that comes with being a celebrity. The star continued, “In the beginning I didn’t even notice my life had changed so massively, because I was always working. I suppose eventually I got used to it.”
While speaking to Sunday Style Pattinson also opened up about his struggles with anxiety. He revealed, “I get a ton of anxiety, right up until the second I get out of the car to the event, when suddenly it completely dissipates. But up until that moment I’m a nut case.”
Pattinson then gave a further insight into his struggles with mental health, adding, “[I get] body dysmorphia [and] overall tremendous anxiety. I suppose it’s because of these tremendous insecurities that I never found a way to become egotistical. I don’t have a six-pack and I hate going to the gym. I’ve been like that my whole life. I never want to take my shirt off – I’d prefer to get drunk.”
Hopefully then, Pattinson’s experience of playing Edward Cullen has better prepared him for the trappings of fame. After all, he’s about to be thrust into the limelight once more. Though this time he’ll be at the helm of possibly an even bigger franchise than Twilight. That’s because in May 2019 Pattinson got the role as the latest Batman.
Meanwhile, the so-called Caped Crusader will return in 2021 with a new flick simply entitled The Batman. Matt Reeves – of Planet of the Apes fame – will direct the superhero movie, which is being made by Warner Bros. and DC Comics. And Pattinson will take the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman.
At 33 Pattinson will be the second-youngest star to take on the role of Batman after Christian Bale who was 31 years of age when Batman Begins came out in 2005. But what he lacks in age, Pattinson can certainly make up for in experience. After all, he already knows what it’s like to enthrall audiences while starring as a hunky anti-hero in a multi-million-dollar franchise.