Best Robert Pattinson Performances

15 Feb 2022 | 5 MINS READ
Best Robert Pattinson Performances

In the decade since The Twilight Saga wrapped up, Robert Pattinson has been working hard to establish himself as more than just a sparkling vampire with an oh-so-pretty face, and has made a name for himself in independent film thanks to his collaborations with Claire Denis, James Gray and the Safdie brothers, among others. Now, as R Patz and his stellar jawline join forces with Bong Joon Ho for futuristic sci-fi Mickey 17, there’s no better time to revisit the actor’s greatest performances, from his blockbuster beginnings to the present day.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Not his first film (that would be the 2004 TV movie Sword of Xanten), but this is the one that put him on the map. For the fourth instalment in the blockbuster fantasy franchise, the teenage Pattinson plays Cedric Diggory, a popular member of the Hogwarts student body, who represents the school in the Triwizard Cup. His character’s (spoiler!) death is appropriately, rattlingly dramatic, and Pattinson, even as a naïf, shoulders the weight of the moment admirably. YASMIN OMAR

Twilight (2008)

Like many heartthrobs before him, and many heartthrobs since, Pattinson has been very critical of the YA romance that made his name. Catherine Hardwicke’s lo-fi love story Twilight, which launched Pattinson to global stardom as a vampire struggling not to kill his human beloved (Kristen Stewart), has been churning around in a love-hate, reclaimed-disowned cycle since its release. Say what you will about the movie itself – with its clunky visual effects and perma-blue filter – but anyone who was a teenage girl at that time (guilty), will attest that Pattinson’s brooding bloodsucker Edward Cullen was a hormone-altering revelation. His dark and tortured take on the character, with his clenched, I’d-die-for-you sincerity, set unrealistic amorous expectations for a whole generation of women. YO

Cosmopolis (2012)

Between the releases of Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and Part 2, Pattinson snuck in a Don DeLillo adaptation with body-horror master David Cronenberg, which played in competition at Cannes. The discursive, day-in-the-life drama mostly takes place within the luxurious confines of a limo cruising around Manhattan, whose passenger is Eric (Pattinson), a spoiled, billionaire fund manager who – despite his security guard’s warnings that his life is in imminent danger – is heading out for a haircut. Pattinson, exuding cool in his dark sunglasses, is a picture of control as the entitled Wall Street broker, while also hinting at consternation beneath. YO

The Rover (2014)

Pattinson co-stars as one of many limping, desperate and dusty men in this post-apocalyptic Australian road movie created by Animal Kingdom director David Michôd (with whom the actor reunited in 2019’s The King for a scene-stealing supporting role as a ludicrously accented French nobleman). In arguably his first post-Twilight role requiring any real grit, Pattinson plays Rey, a dim-witted, drawling Southerner pulled into loner Eric’s (Guy Pearce) unrelenting revenge mission to track down his stolen car. There’s a John Wick  vibe to the film – albeit less commercial and more menacing – and Pattinson’s turn as this needy yet volatile young man is creepily convincing, and proves he has acting chops far beyond less convincing earlier outings such as Bel Ami (2012) and Water For Elephants (2011), where he played to type as a ladies’ man and love interest respectively. ALLY WYBREW

Maps to the Stars (2014)

Pattinson’s understated and nuanced performance in Cronenberg’s satirical portrayal of celebrity culture Maps to the Stars steals the show from under the noses of a number of high-profile stars including Julianne Moore, John Cusack and Mia Wasikowska. In his second collaboration with the filmmaker, Pattinson plays Jerome, a limo driver desperately trying to make it as a screenwriter, who gets caught up in the volatile lives of the rich and famous around him. Cronenberg called it a ‘hard sell’ during production and it certainly is: an acerbic, often psychedelic and challenging watch that’s been compared to David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001). AW

Life (2015)

Pattinson shines as Dennis Stock, a frustrated photographer looking for his big break alongside Dane DeHaan’s James Dean in this moving biopic. Playing the man behind the camera of some of the most famous images ever taken, Pattinson has big shoes to fill, yet is deft in his performance as a loner who connects subconsciously with Dean’s offbeat, soon to be mythical, rising star. Slow-motion flash bulbs, long, low-lit close-ups and sporadic snare drums blend to create a moody mise-en-scène that matches the solitary awkwardness of its two protagonists. There’s a strained yet intimate frisson between Stock and Dean, with Pattinson once again excelling as a complicated, awkward character. AW

The Lost City of Z (2016)

To borrow an old cliché, Robert Pattinson is a character actor trapped in a leading man’s body. In other words, his dashing good looks prevent him from being the little freak he clearly wants to be (this is someone who loves lying to the press about watching clowns die). The actor’s supporting turns allow him to undermine his own image. In James Gray’s jungle adventure, for example, Pattinson, with an immense, scraggly beard, is almost unrecognisable as an aide-de-camp assisting Charlie Hunnam’s colonel on a mapping expedition across Bolivia. His temperament, too, is prickly, with his booze-swilling curtness. It’s a small part, but he leaves such an impression that you miss him when he’s gone. YO

Good Time (2017)

Before the Safdie brothers drew international acclaim with their adrenaline-fuelled, Adam Sandler-fronted Uncut Gems (2019), they brought us Good Time, a similarly high-octane tale about a thief (Pattinson) attempting to free his disabled brother from prison while avoiding capture. Mostly taking place over the course of one night, this punky, 35mm-shot caper is awash with red and blue filters, and features an electronic soundtrack that sets a relentless pace, while Pattinson runs around as an unsympathetic bundle of chaos with a clipped Queens accent. It’s easily one of the actor’s best performances, a factor that no doubt contributed to it playing in competition at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. AW

High Life (2018)

Pattinson had long been a fan of Claire Denis’s work when the chance arose to star in her first English-language film, the nightmarish, erotic and violent space thriller High Life. Somewhat divisive for critics – this is a film both director and leading man have admitted they are unable to explain – High Life is nonetheless an impactful work that sees Pattinson as Monte, one of a group of Death Row prisoners sent into space on a suicide mission. Co-starring Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth and André 3000, this timeline-hopping film is both provocative and bizarre, but never dull, in no small part thanks to Pattinson’s untethered performance. AW

The Lighthouse (2019)

The beauty of Robert Eggers’ film – a surrealist, horror-tinged tale of two 19th-century lighthouse keepers (Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) trapped on a remote New England island – is in the eye of the beholder. From certain angles, the film is a psychological thriller of muffled screams and wayward bodily fluids; from others, it’s a twisted, tar-black buddy comedy, in which the wild-eyed seamen spar over their claustrophobic living arrangements. Pattinson delivers one of his typically go-for-broke performances in The Lighthouse – smashing a seagull to death and masturbating over a mermaid figurine with the same intense gusto – as his character slowly descends into madness. YO

The Batman (2022)

Returning to blockbuster cinema after a purposeful post-Twilight pivot into indies, Pattinson brings emo energy to the caped crusader for Matt Reeves’ noirish detective story. In the lead-up to release, the actor teased that he’d alienate fanboys with his ‘weirdo’ Batman, and gleefully told GQ that he wasn’t sticking to the training schedule he was given (‘I think if you’re working out all the time you’re part of the problem’). While not reinventing the wheel entirely – Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne still has that gruff, Christian Bale-esque voice – he proved adept at bottom-half-of-the-face acting, his curled lip emanating severe ennui. YO