Robert Pattinson close-up

Whether you know him as Cedric Diggory, Edward Cullen, or Batman, you most likely recognize Robert Pattinson. The British actor rose to fame in the 2000s with his roles in the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" franchises, his soulful stares and chiseled jawline making him a teen heartthrob.

Born on May 13, 1986, Pattinson began acting as a teenager and has now racked up dozens of film and television credits. He’s also something of an enigma; while most movie stars appear to carefully curate their public personas, Pattinson doesn’t seem to put much thought into his. In fact, it can be hard to separate truth from fiction — not because Pattinson has spun a myth about his life to sell himself to Hollywood, but because he leans into the chaos and tells lies to the press just for the fun of it. "Pattinson tells me that sometimes he’ll just make something up in an interview, in order to say anything at all," wrote Daniel Riley in a 2022 GQ profile of the actor.

The admission has only made Pattinson’s transformation that much more fascinating to his legions of fans, though.

He always wanted a career in the performing arts

Robert Pattinson on the red carpet

Robert Pattinson had "a very, very nice childhood," as he told The Guardian. Rather than setting his eyes on the silver screen, he actually dreamed of a career in music. In fact, he was discouraged from becoming an actor by a drama teacher. "She just thought I wasn’t cut out for the creative subjects," he told W magazine.

Biography notes that it was Pattinson’s father, a car dealer, who convinced him to try his hand at acting, even attempting to bribe him to attend a school with a strong drama program. Pattinson eventually ended up at the institution — the Harrodian School — but no bribe was necessary. While there, he honed his skills as a leading man in plays and musicals including "Our Town" and "Anything Goes."

His father’s influence went deeper than inspiring his child’s eventual career. Pattinson told Interview that he "used to love listening to him talk about sales techniques," explaining, "It’s a performance of reading your audience and seeing where you can lead them. Selling something is pretty similar to playing a character — kind of."

Robert Pattinson began acting as a teenager

Robert Pattinson posing

Teenage years are always formative, but they were especially defining for Robert Pattinson. In an interview with The Guardian, he said that his teen years were a time of discovery for him, and that he’s still attached to the clothing and music that he was into when he was younger. "In a lot of ways, I haven’t developed past 15," he admitted.

After getting his start acting in school plays, he turned to the big screen. Pattinson’s first role was in the 2004 film "Vanity Fair." While the film appears on his resume, Pattinson’s scenes were cut. He told W magazine that he "was 15 or 16" when he was cast as Reese Witherspoon‘s son in the film, and that he didn’t know until it was released that he wasn’t actually in the movie. "Basically I went to the screening and no one had informed me that I was cut," he explained. "So I went to it. … And they got on to my bit and it was just a totally alternate ending."

Biography writes that his first role that made it to the screen was in the made-for-TV movie "Ring of the Nibelungs" (also known as "Sword of Xanten"), which was released in 2004.

He got his big break as Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter franchise

Robert Pattinson smiling

Robert Pattinson’s disappointment at having the scenes from his first film role cut didn’t last long, as it led to his role as Cedric Diggory in the "Harry Potter" franchise. He explained to W magazine that "Vanity Fair" casting director Mary Selway "felt so guilty that no one had informed me that she basically gave me a first run at the part in Harry Potter. So I was quite glad I got cut in the end."

While Pattinson only starred in one "Harry Potter" film — "Goblet of Fire" in 2005 — the role introduced Pattinson to big-budget films. "It felt very, very intimidating," he told GQ.

The film changed Pattinson’s life in more ways than one. Shooting went over schedule, interrupting his plans for his education. "It’s the reason I didn’t go to university," he told Time Out.

Robert Pattinson nearly quit acting after Harry Potter

Robert Pattinson at an event

Landing the role of Cedric Diggory in the "Harry Potter" franchise may have been Robert Pattinson’s big break, but he nearly quit acting after the film, telling GQ that he used his "Harry Potter" earnings to support himself as he pursued his first passion: music. "I don’t know where I had the kind of belief in that, because there was absolutely no one saying that there’s any kind of music career on the table," he admitted. "But I was doing a lot of gigs all the time. I was just constantly doing open mics all the time, and then I ran out of money, basically."

Alas, music didn’t work out for Pattinson, who, per Bustle, plays the guitar and piano. After the young star burned through his "Harry Potter" savings, he started to realize that music might not be the right path for him, and he ultimately returned to acting.

Twilight changed everything for him

Robert Pattinson with Twilight costars

After his role as Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," Robert Pattinson took roles in smaller films like "The Haunted Airman" and "The Bad Mother’s Handbook." As he explained to Collider, "I specifically hadn’t done anything which anyone would see since ‘Harry Potter’ because I wanted to teach myself how to act. I didn’t want to be an idiot."

Pattinson’s roles after "Harry Potter" kept him working, but that’s about it. "I was definitely going in the wrong direction in terms of a career," he admitted to GQ – but that all changed when he landed the role of Edward Cullen in the 2008 film adaptation of "Twilight."

Playing the vampire in the popular teen franchise established Pattinson as a bonafide star — and affirmed his career choice. As he explained to E! News, "It was a massive turning point in my life. … I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to be an actor until after that movie, so I’ll always appreciate it."

He had to learn to adjust to fame after Twilight

Robert Pattinson at Twilight premiere

The "Twilight" franchise catapulted Robert Pattinson to fame and turned him into a heartthrob. "It was such a wild experience," he told W magazine. "And what a strange way to spend my early 20s."

The success would have been enough to transform anyone, but Pattinson said that becoming famous as a young adult wasn’t as bad as being a child star. "I didn’t star in Twilight until 21," he explained to Vanity Fair. "It’s different because you’re still young, but you’ve had a life beforehand. Whereas if you are 10, it’s a totally different thing."

Still, it took a lot of adjusting. In an interview with Collider, Pattinson said he wasn’t fully prepared for being famous, but that he was fine being recognized as long as he was safe. "I just don’t want to get shot or stabbed," he said.

Fame was one thing, but some of the fans could be hard to deal with. "I get a lot of crying from teenage girls, but lately a lot of them actually want me to bite them, which is a bit worrying," he told The Week.

Robert Pattinson branched out after Twilight

Robert Pattinson at premiere

The "Twilight" franchise wrapped with its fourth installment, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2," which was released in 2012. After that, Robert Pattinson veered away from teen blockbusters and began to branch out. He worked on the 2012 film "Cosmopolis," telling W magazine that he was excited to work on a project with director David Cronenberg. "It was such a satisfying experience that I just kind of wanted to go more down that road," he said.

He worked with Cronenberg again in 2014’s "Maps to the Stars," and also landed roles in lesser-known films like "Queen of the Desert" (2015), "The Lost City of Z" (2016), and "The Lighthouse" (2019). ScreenRant notes that the years following Pattinson’s stint as vampire Edward Cullen were pivotal in illustrating his acting range.

In an interview with the BBC, Pattinson explained that he deliberately sought out quirky, unusual characters. While he had already proven he was leading man material, the actor admitted it felt safer — not to mention more interesting — to seek out independent projects rather than big-budget films from major studios. "You can see quite a lot of examples of it not really working out for people, so I just thought it would be a silly idea to try to do a massive action movie or something," he said. Pattinson added that if his career did end up being short-lived, he didn’t "want to end my career on a ‘transitional’ movie."

He was out of the limelight for a time

Robert Pattinson smiling

While Robert Pattinson has worked steadily since first breaking into the movie industry, his desire to act in independent films rather than big-budget blockbusters did jeopardize his status as a Hollywood A-lister. "I literally started [2019] with no job," he told the BBC. "I remember my agent saying, ‘You’re not really on anybody’s list. The movies are well-reviewed, but they aren’t big hits.’"

While Pattinson’s name was strong enough to get several indie films greenlit, his avoidance of blockbusters also meant that those roles dried up. As he explained to GQ, his agents told him that major players in the industry assumed he wasn’t interested in them. The reality came as a shock to Pattinson, who realized that he wanted more career stability. He elaborated, "The problem which I was finding was, however much I loved the movies I was doing, no one sees them. And so it’s kind of this frightening thing, ’cause I don’t know how viable this is for a career … I don’t know how many people there actually are in the industry who are willing to back you without any commercial viability whatsoever."

Robert Pattinson returned to mainstream roles

Robert Pattinson on the red carpet

While some actors might have struggled to return to big-budget films after spending years focusing on indie projects, Robert Pattinson somehow managed to land a huge movie role after deciding he wanted to make the leap back to blockbusters. As he told the BBC, a week after his agents told him he wasn’t being considered for major roles, he was offered a part in a Christopher Nolan film — much to his shock. "I was like: ‘Wait — how did that happen?’" he recalled.

The film was 2020’s "Tenet," a trippy thriller that was nominated for a slew of awards and grossed over $365 million at the box office worldwide. "Rob seemed to be in exactly the right place in his career to want to come along and invent with me," Nolan told GQ about tapping Pattinson for the film. The New York Times praised Pattinson’s performance as Neil as "delightful," while RogerEbert.com praised his returning role as "charming."

He joined the DC universe as Batman

Robert Pattinson at Batman premiere

Robert Pattinson isn’t someone who does things halfway — and that holds true for his return to big-budget films. Just after shooting began on "Tenet," Pattinson landed one of the most iconic roles of his career: Batman. The 2022 DC film "The Batman" is about as big as blockbusters get, but Pattinson didn’t seem perturbed by this. "I think sometimes the downsides … kind of seem like upsides," he told GQ. "I kind of like the fact that not only are there very, very, very well-done versions of the character which seem pretty definitive, but I was thinking that there are multiple definitive playings of the character."

Pattinson tackled the role in his own way. Rather than focusing on getting in peak physical form, he said he stuck to a diet regimen and did some exercise, but told GQ, "I think if you’re working out all the time, you’re part of the problem." While Pattinson did get in shape for the role — he told People that, at one point, he was even "counting sips of water" — he seemed to be just living his best life, regardless of Hollywood’s expectations. "I’m old and boring," he told The New York Times of his return to the spotlight. "And I only have abs, like, two weeks a year."

NPR praised his performance, writing that "Pattinson shines in the darkness." Datebook wasn’t quite as won over, but still admitted that Pattinson has "an interesting screen presence."

Robert Pattinson lacks confidence in his acting skills

Robert Pattinson smiling

The world has seen Robert Pattinson grow from wizard to vampire to superhero — but audiences still don’t quite know what to make of him. Is he a brilliant actor, or just a good-looking guy who lucked into his career? While he’s gotten a lot of hate for some performances, notably being nominated for multiple Razzies for worst actor, he’s also received many positive reviews and accolades. CBR has noted that it’s only a matter of time before he is nominated for an Oscar.

Ask Pattinson, though, and he’ll say he’s been walking on thin ice for much of his career. "I mean, I was still in school and I really was just sort of stumbling into things," he told W Magazine of his early career. "I couldn’t believe I was getting any of the stuff I was getting. I didn’t understand how it was happening … it took me a long time to really feel like I was a part of it or knew how I could add to anything in any way. I thought I was scamming everybody for years."

Pattinson has revealed anxiety over his career before, telling The Guardian in 2019 that he’s not very confident in his acting skills. "I only know how to play scenes, like, three ways," he said. "I’m nervous on, like, every single movie." He insisted he’s making things up as he goes along, saying, "I don’t really know how to act."

He values his privacy

Robert Pattinson with fans

Robert Pattinson has come to terms with his fame over the years, but he’s still not comfortable with it. "I don’t think anyone can understand what’s happening," he told The Guardian in 2022. You wake up one day and you’re suddenly a star … really weird."

Pattinson is notoriously uncomfortable with the paparazzi, often going to great lengths to escape them over the years. He sees the public’s fascination with him as a side effect of doing what he loves rather than as a good thing. "All my life, I’ve hated crowds," he said. "I was quite a paranoid person anyway, so it doesn’t really feed well when people are looking at you. I’m not really in the right job. … I don’t like the attention."

Pattinson has coped by keeping his life as private as possible. NBC News notes that he doesn’t have any public social media profiles. As he’s gotten older, it’s been easier to keep a lower profile. "When I was younger, the paparazzi would be crazy to me — I’d be leaving a place, and people would be screaming abuse — but I can’t imagine it going back to that," he told The New York Times in 2022. "Do people really care anymore? The gossip magazines have all kind of gone away, and everyone just puts their stuff on Instagram anyway."

Robert Pattinson’s acting future is anyone’s guess

Robert Pattinson smiling

Robert Pattinson’s career has been an unpredictable one, to say the least. What the next decades hold for him is anyone’s guess. Per Variety, he’s set to return for a sequel to "The Batman." He’s also starring in the upcoming science fiction film "Mickey7" (via Deadline). We’ll likely see him continue to tackle indie projects, and he’s even joked in interviews about dabbling in adult films someday.

Then again, he could just retire if he wanted. Per Celebrity Net Worth, he’s amassed a $100 million fortune over the years, which means he could never star in another film and still live comfortably for the rest of his life. Perhaps he could even pursue that music career that has thus far eluded him. No matter what Pattinson ends up doing in the coming years, the world will be eager to tune in.