Oh the Twilight guy, right? Not anymore. Sometimes, true talent gets deservedly exceptional roles right out of the gate. Most of the time, however, one must reluctantly work a few warm-up gigs to get the roles that are of real quality. This cannot be more true for Robert Pattinson, whose warm-up ended up being the wildly popular teenage vampire sensation, Edward Cullen. Despite scathing critical reviews of the films and more so his performance, Pattinson went on to prove audiences wrong and garner a reputation for himself as the actor he wanted to be. Though the reactions seem to be mixed, lots would say he went ahead and did it. These accomplishments have brought him attention from renowned directors and producers, even landing him a role in the overly anticipated and dark re-imagining of Batman from director Matt Reeves.
From his rough start as two characters both in book-to-movie adaptations, Pattinson has jumped a myriad of obstacles beyond his initial impression on audiences into the established, dramatic actor we know him to be today. Throughout the films we’ll be discussing today, he has ventured into and mastered — for the most part — what seems like a new accent for every film. Although, as it is with many, getting too emotional for a scene can take you out of the accent and cause some audience speculation. Be that as it may, R. Patt is becoming a well-recognized face in complex and arthouse films, making it essential to roll out his 10 best roles starting from the bottom.
10. The Twilight Saga (2008 – 2012)
Jumping right to it, the Twilight saga is one of Robert Pattinson’s first and worst claims to fame. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a newcomer to the rainy little Washington town of Forks from her home in Arizona where shiny vampires couldn’t possibly exist. Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is a pale-skinned, crazy-eyed, dead inside — obviously vampire? — high school student who can’t stand Bella’s smell but it turns out he’s just very hungry for her. Result? They fall in love and all kinds of things happen.
That’s pretty much the best way to sum it up but Pattinson himself has used some much harsher words to describe the films as well as the books, saying that if he had to watch the movies, he would “just mindlessly hate it.” There is actually a whole Tumblr page dedicated to the number of times he has mocked the book/movie series, which tells us that this was truly seen as a stepping stone for this recently evolved performer.
If you sincerely enjoy this series, you can actually stream every Twilight movie on Netflix right now. There’s also a hilarious drinking game to it if you want to watch so as to be knowledgeable enough to credibly make fun of it.
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Main Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Earlier and truer fans of Pattinson’s would be up in arms about the last film description for lots of reasons, but mostly because they might remember him first from his dreamy portrayal of Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In the midst of the immensely better book-to-movie series, the Goblet of Fire is the Harry Potter movie where multiple other witchy/wizardy schools come together to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. Cedric Diggory is the dreamy, charming, intelligent student that this tournament needs, although some superfans might argue that house Hufflepuff has no place in such an event.
Before Pattinson started taking on accent/dialect-heavy roles, he basically portrayed a version of himself that can do magic. Not that it’s a bad thing. In fact, this opportunity for Pattinson was a key step in securing his acting future, establishing that he can be a teenage heartthrob and has the dramatic acting chops to back it up.
Director: Mike Newell
Main Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Runtime: 157 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.7
8. Tenet (2020)
In a role that takes R. Patt closer to being James Bond than any other, Tenet involves multiple psychological twists that leave audiences guessing the whole time. “The protagonist” (John David Washington) and Neil (Pattinson), in their fight against terrorism and a war that may mean the end of the world as we know it, they have been provided with a secret word that could solve the puzzle: Tenet.
Pattinson doesn’t get too many chances to showcase his acting skills on screen in this high-grossing film. This movie, however, seems to be another strategic move for Pattinson, as it showed off his ability to be in an action film role and undoubtedly helped him to secure the role in The Batman. While it’s not exactly the best Christopher Nolan film, it still amazes with its puzzling sci-fi concepts and stunning visual effects.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Main Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki
Runtime: 150 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.4
7. Remember Me (2010)
During the film production of the Twilight saga, Pattinson seemed to be open to whatever role would take him away from his own personal nightmare of a film contract. In this movie, Tyler Hawkins (Pattinson) is a reckless mass of angst and anger after his parents split due to his older brother’s suicide. As he and his little sister attempt to stick together through it all, his father is absent as always; working hard while making no time for his children. Oh yeah, and there’s a romance story that feels out of place even though it’s the focus of the plot.
Despite the disheveled, confused plot, Pattinson’s performance is a standalone triumph as he gets the opportunity to display every human emotion — though mostly anger. It could be said that this film truly opened up more opportunities for him as a serious actor, even if the movie as a whole was thoroughly unimpressive.
Director: Allen Coulter
Main Cast: Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Caitlyn Rund
Runtime: 113 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1
6. Cosmopolis (2012)
Just before the release of the final Twilight film (freedom at last!), Pattinson was offered an exciting role under the direction of sci-fi veteran David Cronenberg. Eric Packer (Pattinson) is a 28-year-old finance wiz who is good at evaluating global currencies. When an anomaly in the market continues to take the Yuan into unpredictable territory, Packer finds it necessary to take his limo across town through mobs, assassination attempts, and various in-vehicle meetings with a spectrum of colleagues just to get a haircut. While the world around him panics, riots, and burns, Packer calmly and consistently continues to lose his mind and cheat on his wife to somehow maintain sanity — or just because he likes it.
Metaphorically and literally holding a gun to his own head, Pattinson’s Eric Packer gradually self-destructs and crumbles as his finances decay in the course of a single day. While the emotions of Pattinson are intentionally suppressed as is the intent of his character, his nuanced performance throughout is impressive and somewhat chilling to witness.
Director: David Cronenberg
Main Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Sarah Gadon
Runtime: 109 minutes
IMDb Rating: 5.1
5. The King (2019)
In a more recent and minor role, Pattinson got a chance to branch out and test his acting talents in a few different ways. In what is a somber and well-told tale of the ascent to power of Henry V (Timothée Chalamet), Pattinson plays opposite him as French Prince and psychopath The Dauphin. Though he doesn’t arrive in the film until later, his appearance is fresh and engaging as well as impressive. Experimenting with a surprisingly accurate French accent, he portrays the power-hungry, vengeful prince with slimy precision.
Pattinson was the first choice for this role for director David Michôd, who had worked previously with Pattinson on the indie sci-fi Rover. In an interview with MTV movies, fellow cast members praised Pattinson for his “colorful,” “awesome,” and “larger than life” performance, with Michôd adding that he “wanted him to push it, and I knew that he would because I knew that he’d have fun with it.” From watching the movie, Rob definitely adds an element that truly changes the tone of the film in the best way possible.
Director: David Michôd
Main Cast: Tom Glynn-Carney, Gábor Czap, Tom Fisher
Runtime: 140 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.2
4. The Devil All the Time (2020)
At this point in the list, it’s important to reiterate that the rankings are based on performance and not the quality of the film. With that in mind, this movie is dark, bleak, and pretty unexceptional. The absolute highlight of this film is the performances of the leading characters, including and especially Robert Pattinson. “Delusions!” Rev. Preston Teagarden maniacally exclaims to his loyal followers again and again. Pattinson’s character in this film is undoubtedly his most wicked and unlikeable, which is an impressive thing to accomplish after his shiny vampire days.
For this film, he employs an entirely new southern twang with a tinny and almost whiny tone. Though the effect may be discreet, the choices he made for the accent make the character that much stronger and despicable. Paired with this, he does an astounding job making the character simultaneously disgusting through finger-licking, curls of the lip, and subtle body language that communicates utmost discomfort to the audience. A truly impressive and grotesque character.
Director: Antonio Campos
Main Cast: Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough
Runtime: 138 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1
3. High Life (2018)
While it can be hard to follow what exactly is happening in High Life, the sci-fi concept being executed is undeniably original and visceral throughout this unsettling film. Pattinson is Monte, a member of a death row space crew that has been assigned to investigate a black hole at the edge of the solar system. Unaware of their true mission, the crew is subject to human fertility experimentation by a witchy and eerie doctor named Dibs (Juliette Binoche) who drugs them to safely conduct her trials. Most of this is summarized in flashbacks as Monte raises his daughter completely alone, hoping that the ship’s power holds up.
The range of human emotion that comes out of Pattinson in this film is precise and masterful, as he transforms into slightly different characters as the film progresses. Seeing as this is a more recent indie project for our Rob, it’s clear that his acting goals have always been to face new challenges as he has in every film released after 2016.
Director: Claire Denis
Main Cast: Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, André 3000
Runtime: 113 minutes
IMDb Rating: 5.8
2. The Lighthouse (2019)
A psychological and wildly abstract “horror” film, The Lighthouse garnered widespread recognition for Pattinson as a dedicated and dramatic actor. Two men both named Thomas (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) are working as lighthouse attendants on a dislocated New England island, both struggling to maintain sanity and their grasp on reality itself. Though this film is classified as horror, that is really only because of the tension created by masterful cinematography, a haunting soundtrack, and the stirring performances by the lead actors — who are virtually the only actors in the film. “Bad luck to kill a seabird!”
After watching Robert Eggers’ The Witch, Pattinson developed a relationship with Eggers that opened up a couple of roles for him. Since the roles were both period piece Englishman and Pattinson was looking for “stuff that was really really weird and crazy,” he turned both of them down but was soon after given this script. This is exactly the script Pattinson was looking for and with his take on a Downeast Maine accent, he absolutely blew it out of the water with the collaborative help from his co-star.
Director: Robert Eggers
Main Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman
Runtime: 109 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.5
1. Good Time (2017)
A wildly original, exciting, and heartfelt film from the Safdie Brothers, Good Time is a slow but sure rise in tension and anxiety that keeps the viewer enthralled. Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a selfish con man who dedicates one perilous New York night to the rescue of his brother, who has been arrested. Don’t let anything in the previous sentence make you think he’s a good guy, though, Connie is the reason that his brother has been arrested and taken into custody.
Pattinson is at his absolute best as the pathological liar Connie Nikas, bulldozing anyone and anything in his way and creating a trail of absolute destruction. Though the crisp writing, distinctive direction, and indelible cinematography are definitely great support to Pattinson, his performance stands alone and guides the audience along. This is one of those films where you don’t see the actor in the character’s shoes, you just see the character; and when it comes to incredible acting performances, Connie drags you kicking and screaming all the way to the finish line.
Director(s): Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
Main Cast: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Runtime: 102 minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.4
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