Twilight is undeniably a cultural touchstone. It defined the current generation of young adults by exposing them at an impressionable age to the world of softcore porn, dramatic romance, and dreamy bad–boys. It singlehandedly ushered in an era of vampire and werewolf fiction, a genre still seen in popular media today like The Vampire Diaries or Teen Wolf. Twilight not only changed the lives of the girls who ate up hundreds and hundreds of pages of theatrical romantic drama, it also revolutionized the world of YA fiction and film. Perhaps most important are the consequences it had for the careers of its two main stars: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.
The duo constantly made tabloid magazine covers during the years that the iconic Twilight adaptations were being filmed. Not only were they starring in one of the most influential young adult film series—they were also the target of media speculation regarding their relationship from the get–go. Sometime in 2008, news broke that the actors playing everyone’s star–crossed lovers were actually dating in real life. Stewart and Pattinson’s relationship was thrust into the spotlight, an addition to the long line of onscreen couples who have become romantically involved in real life. Unfortunately, all this public scrutiny led both actors to go on a public–life hiatus after they finished filming Breaking Dawn Part 2 in 2012. While they still acted, they stayed out of the headlines.
So, what are these two actors up to now? Kristen Stewart has made headlines for discussing the LGBT problem in Hollywood and is performing in the upcoming remake of Charlie’s Angels. While still relatively private, she seems to be much more in the spotlight than Pattinson.
Pattinson, while maintaining relative elusiveness, has had an incredibly packed schedule. Just last year, he was in the infamous High Life which allegedly made audience members at TIFF walk out in the middle of the screening. This year, he has a full slate: the Netflix film The King on Oct. 11 with Timothée Chalamet, and on Oct. 18, the two–man movie The Lighthouse, starring him and Willem Dafoe. Pattinson is also going to be taking over the mantle of Batman, following the likes of Ben Affleck and Christian Bale. Unlike the dreamy Edward in Twilight, these roles are about grit, drama, and violence. It is clear, through these upcoming projects, that Pattinson is no longer just the cute boy from Twilight: he's breaking out from his past and trying to make his name as an actor.
People, of course, are hesitant, and some likely find it hard to separate him from the sparkling vampire he once was. Additionally, Twilight received a harsh reaction from critics; people called Pattinson dry and boring, and Stewart uninspired and bland. And they're right—both are a little stilted—particularly in the exaggerated romantic scenes. Yet, to be fair, the script is clunky and confusing, the subject material is melodramatic, and the production for the films was allegedly a nightmare. Pattinson’s hatred of being Edward is so often discussed that it’s become a meme of its own.
Despite his past, Pattinson has proved himself a talented performer in these recent roles. Reviews for The Lighthouse say that “this may be his best work [...] he throws himself entirely into the role and it’s fun to watch” and “it’s the most ferocious acting of Pattinson’s career”. Reviews of The King said that he “gooses the movie just when it needs a fresh shot of adrenaline.” This is not the same uncomfortable, cold actor who portrayed Edward a decade ago—this is a matured, professional performer taking on complex roles.
Robert Pattinson should no longer be considered ‘the vampire from Twilight’. The media’s obsession with typecasting actors effects them for the rest of their career—there's no doubt that Pattinson’s widespread fame in Twilight has been haunting him in audition rooms since. However, every role that he’s taken post Twilight indicates an incredible range and talent. He has already done all the work to break out of the shadow of his past. Now, all that's left is for us to acknowledge his growth.