Robert Pattinson

10 mins read
Photo courtesy of Ryan Pfluger

Robert Douglas Thomas Pattinson was born on 13 May 1986 and is an English actor. 

Pattinson was born in London, the youngest of three children of Clare (Charlton), a scout at a modelling agency, and Richard Pattinson, a vintage car dealer. He grew up in a small home in Barnes with two older sisters, Elizabeth (Lizzy) and Victoria.

Pattinson started learning the guitar and piano at the age of four. He attended Tower House School, from which, aged 12, he was expelled for shoplifting adult magazines at a post office shop and selling them later to his male classmates. He completed his schooling at The Harrodian School. As a teenager he worked as a photo model for British fashion brands and magazines to improve his pocket money and developed a love of cinema where he counted Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando and Jean-Paul Belmondo among his acting idols. In his late teens and early twenties, he performed acoustic guitar gigs at open mic nights in pubs around London where he sang his own written songs either solo under the stage name Bobby Dupea, or with his band Bad Girls.

Pattinson considered becoming a musician or going to university to study speech-writing, but never thought about pursuing an acting career; his teacher in school even advised him not to join the drama club because she thought he was not suited for the creative arts. However, when he was 13, he joined the local amateur theatre club called Barnes Theatre Company after his father convinced him to attend because he was quite shy. At age 15 and after two years of working backstage, he auditioned for the play Guys and Dolls and he got his first role as a Cuban dancer with no lines. He got the lead role of George Gibbs in the next play Our Town, was spotted by a talent agent who was sitting in the audience and he began looking for professional roles. He also appeared in the plays MacbethAnything Goes, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Pattinson had planned to go to university, but couldn’t because the shoot for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire went over schedule. He used to share a flat in London’s Soho with fellow actor and good friend Tom Sturridge.

Pattinson had supporting roles in the German made-for-television film Ring of the Nibelungs in 2004, and in director Mira Nair’s costume drama Vanity Fair, although his scenes in the latter were deleted and only appear on the DVD version. In May 2005, he was scheduled to appear in the UK premiere of The Woman Before at the Royal Court Theatre, but was fired shortly before the opening night and was replaced by Tom Riley.

Later in 2005, Pattinson played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Pattinson learned how to scuba dive to play the role of Diggory.

In 2006, Pattinson appeared in The Haunted Airman a psychological thriller, aired on BBC Four. In February 2007, he appeared in a supporting role in a one-off television drama based on the best-selling novel by Kate Long, The Bad Mother’s Handbook.

In 2008, Pattinson was cast as Edward Cullen in Twilight, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer. The film was released on 21 November 2008 and turned Pattinson into a movie star overnight.

Pattinson’s other release of 2008, How to Be, was a low-budget comedy drama film written and directed by Oliver Irving. Pattinson then starred as Salvador Dalí in the film Little Ashes, a Spanish-British drama directed by Paul Morrison. He also starred in a short film entitled The Summer House, directed by Daisy Gili. This short film was later re-released as a part of an anthology film titled Love & Distrust, comprising five short films following eight individuals from diverse backgrounds on their quest for true contentment.

Pattinson reprised his role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight sequel, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which was released on 20 November 2009. New Moon brought Pattinson to global stardom and made him one of the highest-paid actors in the world.

His next film, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, was released on 30 June 2010.

Pattinson executive-produced and starred in the film Remember Me, which was released on 12 March 2010. In 2011, Pattinson starred as Jacob Jankowski in Water for Elephants, adapted from the novel by Sara Gruen. Pattinson reprised the role of Edward Cullen in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, which was released on 18 November 2011. Pattinson also played Georges Duroy in a film adaptation of the 1885 novel Bel Ami, and the film had a world premiere at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival. It was released on 12 February 2012.

Pattinson starred in the film adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, directed by David Cronenberg. The film competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Pattinson starred one last time as Edward Cullen in the final instalment of the Twilight saga, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 which was released on 16 November 2012. In May 2014, two of Pattinson’s films premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. First, Pattinson starred in David Michôd’s futuristic western The Rover, alongside Guy Pearce and Scoot McNairy. The film had its premiere out of competition at the festival.

Next, he reunited with Cronenberg in Maps to the Stars, a satirical drama described as a darkly comic look at Hollywood excess. The film competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. In the film, he played the role of Jerome Fontana, a limo driver and struggling actor, who wants to be a successful screenwriter.

In 2015, two of his films premiered at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February. First he appeared in Werner Herzog’s adaptation of Gertrude Bell’s biopic film Queen of the Desert alongside Nicole Kidman and James Franco. Pattinson appeared as T. E. Lawrence aka Lawrence Of Arabia in the film, a sharp-tongued, sardonic figure who can see through the pretensions of his bosses and colleagues.

Next he starred in Anton Corbijn’s Life as Life Magazine photographer Dennis Stock; the film deals with the friendship between actor James Dean and Stock. In late 2015, Pattinson appeared in Brady Corbet’s directorial debut film The Childhood of a Leader, alongside Bérénice Bejo and Stacy Martin. In the film, he played the dual roles, first a brief but crucial role of Charles Marker, a reporter in Germany during World War I and later as an adult version of the leader.

In 2016, Pattinson appeared in Paramount Pictures and Plan B Entertainment’s adaptation of The Lost City of Z, directed by James Gray. Premiered at the New York Film Festival, the film starred Pattinson as British explorer Corporal Henry Costin. He grew a heavy beard and lost 35 pounds (16 kg) for the film. Pattinson next starred in the Safdie Brothers’ neo-grindhouse thriller Good Time, as a bank robber, Connie Nikas. The film premiered in competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and proved to be a turning point in his career.

Zellner Brothers’ western-comedy Damsel was his first comedy since his 2008 film How to Be. Pattinson portrayed Samuel Alabaster, an eccentric pioneer who travels west in search of his fiancée. His last film of 2018 was Claire Denis’ science-fiction drama film High Life, set in space, about team of criminals traveling towards a black hole. Denis initially had Philip Seymour Hoffman in mind for the role of the protagonist, but after becoming aware of Pattinson’s commitment and desire to work with her, she cast him in the role instead. Pattinson starred as Monte, one of the criminals on the spaceship, who became a father against his wishes through artificial insemination, and raised his daughter as the ship progressed to the black hole.

Pattinson’s first 2019 role was Robert Eggers’s black-and-white psychological horror film The Lighthouse, set on a remote New England island in the 1890s. The film premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

Pattinson’s following two film releases premiered at 2019 Venice Film Festival; he starred in his second collaboration with director David Michôd, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s plays titled The King. He played Louis, The Dauphin, who served as the nemesis of Henry V. For the role, Pattinson adopted a French accent, which he based on the fashion industry people of France. He then appeared in Ciro Guerra’s Waiting for the Barbarians, based on a 1980 novel by J. M. Coetzee, alongside Mark Rylance and Johnny Depp.

Pattinson starred as a spy handler in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (2020), alongside John David Washington, and it marked his return to big-budget films. He based his character’s mannerisms on those of author Christopher Hitchens. Pattinson next featured as part of an ensemble cast in The Devil All the Time, a psychological thriller based on the novel by Donald Ray Pollock. Pattinson starred as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Matt Reeves’s 2022 superhero film The Batman. Reeves, following Ben Affleck’s departure from the role, wrote the character of Bruce Wayne with Pattinson in mind after seeing his performance in Good Time.

In May 2021, Pattinson signed an overall first-look production deal that encompasses the whole spectrum of Warner divisions, including Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Television, and HBO Max. The deal, which represents the actor’s first foray into producing, also takes into account a range of releasing platforms, among them theatrical, SVOD and television.

Pattinson is set to star in Bong Joon-ho’s upcoming science-fiction film Mickey 17 (2024), based on Edward Ashton’s novel Mickey 7, for Warner Bros. Pictures.

Pattinson began modelling at age 12, but his workload began to decrease four years later.

In November 2010, Pattinson was approached by Burberry to be the face of their brand with a £1m deal, which he turned down.

In June 2013, Pattinson was announced as the new face of Dior Homme fragrance. In 2016, he also became the first brand ambassador of their Menswear collection. In late 2013, he appeared in a black and white short film with French-American model Camille Rowe, as the new face of Dior Homme Fragrances. Between 2013 and 2020, he appeared in three advertising campaigns of the fragrance for television and print. Collaborators included directors Romain Gavras, Frédéric Sofiyana, and The Blaze, and photographers Peter Lindbergh, Nan Goldin and Mikael Jansson. Goldin also released a book titled Robert Pattinson: 1000 Lives, a collection of Pattinson’s images from the 2013 campaign. In February 2016, he was also announced as the first ambassador of Dior Homme menswear and appeared in multiple of the brand’s print collection campaigns, photographed by Karl Lagerfeld, Peter Lindbergh and David Sims.

Pattinson plays the guitar and piano since age four, and writes his own music. He appears as the singer of two songs on the Twilight soundtrack: “Never Think”, which he co-wrote with Sam Bradley, and “Let Me Sign”, which was written by Marcus Foster and Bobby Long. The songs were included in the film after director Catherine Hardwicke added Pattinson’s recordings into an early cut without his knowledge. The soundtrack for the film How to Be features three original songs performed by Pattinson and written by composer Joe Hastings.

In 2013, Pattinson played the guitar on the Death Grips song “Birds” from their album Government Plates, which was achieved by drummer Zach Hill recording Pattinson’s playing on his phone in a jam session and later sampling the part into the song itself. In a March 2017 interview, Pattinson stated that he would contribute music to his upcoming film Damsel. In February 2019, Pattinson collaborated with the Nottingham band Tindersticks and released the song “Willow” for High Life original soundtrack.

In October 2020, Pattinson made a cameo appearance in the band Haim’s performance of the song “3 a.m.” on Late Night with Seth Meyers. He performed the song’s opening spoken-word section via a front-facing facetime call video, reciting the lines of the phone call at the beginning of the song.

Pattinson supports and promotes the ECPAT UK’s campaign Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People to stop human trafficking. At 2009 Cannes Film Festival amfAR event, he raised $56,000 for the cause. In June 2010, he donated his own artwork to PACT which auctioned on eBay, to help the organization working for missing children. He also donated a sketch, drawn by himself, called Unfinished City which auctioned at $6,400. The money from the auction went to an Arizona-based homeless center Ozanam Manor. In January 2010, he participated in charity telethon Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief. In March 2010, he signed off a guitar, the money raised from the auction went to Midnight Mission. He raised $80,000 for the GO Campaign by donating a meet and greet with himself on the set of Breaking Dawn and later again by auctioning a private screening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.

In August 2011, he helped to raise awareness towards cancer by highlighting The Cancer Bites campaign during his acceptance speech at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards. In August 2013, he visited Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and participated in arts and crafts with the patients. In September 2013, he joined International Medical Corps and became one of their first responders, to help raise awareness before the disaster strikes by strengthen of communities. He participated in a charitable auction Go Go Gala, organised by GO Campaign and bought a cello made out of recycled material, at $5,600 on 15 November 2013. In March 2014, he donated autographed items for auction to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Research Foundation. In May 2014, he donated his bike for an Auction to Benefit the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), who provide primary healthcare services to the people living in the outback. He participated in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, promoting the awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In November 2014, he participated in GO Campaign’s annual charity function. In October 2015, he joined Global Goals Campaign, which aims to end poverty by 2030.

During the first lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020, Pattinson donated to GO Campaign emergency funds, that were used to provide food and hygiene products to vulnerable families in London and Los Angeles. While shooting The Batman in Liverpool in October 2020, Pattinson surprised a ten-year-old autistic Batman fan by sending DC Batman gifts, because the boy waited every day on set to meet Pattinson, but could not do so because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Pattinson is reluctant to discuss his personal life and has expressed an aversion towards the paparazzi industry and tabloid journalism. In 2017, he opened up about suffering from anxiety, which began in his early years in the public eye.