Robert Pattinson's Most Pattinsoniest Performances

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Following his time as vampire teen heartthrob Edward Cullen in the "Twilight" movies, English actor Robert Pattinson has purposely gone on a wild career trajectory to try and distance himself as much as possible from the franchise. He's starred in a wide variety of independent films, taking on intense and bizarre characters at nearly every turn. Whether he's playing the Dauphin of France, a madcap Southern preacher, or a gangster racing against time, he's always delivering a top-notch performance that's dialed up to 11. Despite his intensity and commitment to his roles, the actor doesn't believe in Method acting, and has been vocal about the importance of separating the performance from himself. He told Variety in 2019:

"I need to know when you're on stage and when you're off stage. I need to know that between action and cut, that's the thing. That's the safe space. I need to know it ends. I need to know there's a cut coming, and then I'll feel safe. If it just feels like you can't get out, that's when you go crazy."

That's especially important for Pattinson, who seems drawn to tortured, bonkers characters. He gives so much of himself onscreen that it would be almost ludicrous to demand that of him off-screen as well; no one has that energy, not even cinema legend Nicolas Cage, whose unhinged intensity almost feels like the foundation for Pattinson's brand of wild. Fans of Pattinson's can see him next as one of the most tortured and bonkers characters of all time, Bruce Wayne, in Matt Reeves' "The Batman," in theaters on March 4, 2022.

To celebrate, I've collected the roles where Pattinson's gone the hardest, the weirdest, and the Pattinsonsiest. Where available, I've also shared where you can stream these Pattinson performances, because everyone needs more of this amazing actor in their lives. 

The King

Where you can stream it: Netflix

"The King" is a long, serious epic, starring Timothée Chalamet as the titular King Henry V, or "Hal." The film is an adaptation of Shakespeare's plays about the English king, though there's no Shakespearean dialogue to be had. Instead the characters speak in a manner more like the folks on "Game of Thrones," alternating between poetry and profanity. Chalamet is good as the young and inexperienced Henry, but Pattinson steals every scene he's in as the villainous Dauphin. He has a ridiculous wig, extravagant costumes, and a French accent that borders on caricature.

The Dauphin himself is an fanciful character, refusing to engage with Henry in French because he likes speaking English poorly, as a way to further demoralize him and his people. If you took the sniveling Prince John from Disney's "Robin Hood" and gave him a Grey Poupon accent, you'd get something close to Pattinson's dastardly dauphin. He's a villain, but he's having so much fun that it's impossible not to have a bit of fun along with him. Pattinson injects life and humor into the film, helping it feel a little less dour.

The Lighthouse

Where you can stream it: Amazon Prime, kanopy

Filming "The Lighthouse" was hard on Pattinson. The performer arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia early, spending weeks practicing his unique dialect and getting into the mood for the role. In Robert Eggers' second film, Pattinson plays a former lumberjack turned lighthouse keeper called Ephraim Winslow, trying to survive his first season trapped in a lighthouse with Willem Dafoe's elder lighthouse keeper, Thomas Wake.

"The Lighthouse" is claustrophobic and tense, forcing Dafoe and Pattinson into increasingly uncomfortable situations as their characters begin to lose their minds. Whether he's having a battle with a seagull or screaming about flatulence, Pattinson is a barely-contained explosion of paranoia and rage. As the two men begin to spill their secrets and Winslow grows increasingly insane, Pattinson leans in completely, delivering a wide-eyed and horrifying performance that has to be seen to be believed. Seriously, who else could possibly keep up with Dafoe going at full intensity? 

The Devil All the Time

Where you can stream it: Netflix

"The Devil All the Time" is a slow simmering Southern gothic that follows a star-studded cast of sinners as they try to contend with their inner demons. Tom Holland stars as Arvin, a tortured young man with a traumatic past who tries to do what's right in spite of himself, but it's Pattinson as the town's hot-blooded new preacher that takes the movie and runs away with it.

It's impossible to say exactly what Pattinson is channeling here, as his accent is undefinable and his mannerisms fiercely unusual, but it's breathtaking. The actor tapped into a very weird, dark part of the Southern gothic aesthetic and is squeezing it for all it's worth, slithering around his scenes like syrupy sweet tea laced with cyanide. Pattinson likes to get really big and weird with his performances, but this is probably his biggest and weirdest, and he more than makes up for his lack of screen time with his ferocity. While he's not actually playing the Devil, this role does make me want to see Pattinson play Lucifer himself, because he's got the sympathetic but horrendous fallen angel vibe down pat. 

Good Time

Where you can stream it: Showtime, kanopy

Before the Safdies blew everyone's minds with "Uncut Gems," they were making our hearts race with "Good Time," a tense thriller about a low-life named Constantine (Pattinson) who must race against the clock to help his mentally disabled brother get out of prison. Despite having a fairly impressive name, Constantine is one of Pattinson's more subdued roles. He is our gateway into this world of gangsters and thieves, and though he's been engaged with it all long enough to understand it, he still seems a little wide-eyed and out of place.

Pattinson's performance in "Good Time" is haunting, and Constantine is a complex character whose ambiguous morality but devotion to his brother make him someone to root for, even when it feels wrong to do so. "Good Time" is by no means a fun time, but it's proof that Pattinson can play complicated characters without massive outbursts or bizarre accents, and it's one of his best performances yet. 


Where you can stream it: Roku

On the completely opposite end of "Good Time" is "Damsel," a sometimes-sweet dark comedy western that follows Samuel Alabaster (Pattinson) and his bride-to-be Penelope (Mia Wasikowska) as they travel across the American frontier. Their romance and their journeys don't go as planned, with just about everyone on the prairie trying to win Penelope's heart.

Samuel is a very kind of role for Pattinson, who has a habit of playing scumbags and psychopaths. Instead, Samuel is a good-natured, honest man who will do the right thing at any cost. He's a Saturday morning cartoon character brought to life, a lovable nerd who would get shoved into lockers if he lived a century later. While "Damsel" isn't nearly as wild as some of the other entries on this list, it's such a great example of Pattinson's range that it's necessary viewing for his fans.

All the Rest

Regardless of which role he takes on, Pattinson always gives it 100%. He's the straight man to a whole ship full of insane people in Claire Denis' "High Life" (on Showtime), a wealthy businessman with both charm and paranoia in David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis" (on Amazon Prime), and surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in "Little Ashes" (on Hoopla). About six months before "Twilight" made the actor a household name and a teen-girl bedroom wall mainstay, he played Dalí in the small British film about the painter. While Pattinson may scoff at Method acting now, he was trying to experiment with it then, and his onscreen masturbation was, well, real. At least in this one he's not whacking it to a wooden mermaid. 

We'll have to wait and check out "The Batman" when it hits theaters on March 4, 2022 to see if Pattinson's Batman deserves a spot alongside his other incredible and totally gonzo performances. Until then, we'll just have to picture him brooding about the Batcave and channeling his inner madman.