Five of Robert Pattinson’s best performances: from Cedric Diggory to 'Tenet's' Neil

As he wins rave reviews for his portrayal of Bruce Wayne in ‘The Batman’, Robert Pattinson has emerged from his teen heartthrob beginnings to become one of Hollywood’s favourite character actors

From left: Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory in 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', Connie Nikas in 'Good Time', and Neil in 'Tenet'. Photo: Warner Bros, Elara Pictures
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It’s still relatively early in the year, but Robert Pattinson has already put in one of the most acclaimed performances of 2022, thanks to his turn in The Batman.

The latest iteration of Gotham City’s storied Caped Crusader is eyeing big box office success ahead of it March 3 release date, having garnered rave reviews for its new take on the story we know — or think we know — so well.

Front and centre in the gushing reviews is Robert Pattinson, 35, the British actor who surprised many, not least of all himself, by turning a run of teen idol roles as Harry Potter’s Cedric Diggory and Twilight’s Edward Cullen into an acclaimed career that has long said farewell to its heartthrob roots.

No mean feat, given how Hollywood is littered with the broken dreams of pin-up boys who couldn’t break free from the double edge sword of eye candy status.

“His search for truth is relentless,” his High Life co-star Juliette Binoche told GQ. “That explains also his needs of going into different worlds [in] movies and films.”

Here, we look back on five stand out performances by Robert Pattinson:

1) Cedric Diggory, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, 2005

As Pattinson tells it, his agent felt so bad when he ended up on the cutting room floor, edited out of the 2004 Reese Witherspoon vehicle Vanity Fair, that she put him forward to play Hogwarts’ golden boy Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Dropping, quite literally, into the public consciousness when Diggory jumps down from a tree to port key away to the Quidditch World Cup with Harry et al, the role proved the perfect foil for Pattinson's cheekbones and cut-glass jaw.

While golden boys, as we know them, all too often veer into teacher’s pet territory, Pattinson invests Diggory with a charm and everyman likeability, making his demise at the hands of the newly made-flesh Voldemort a devastatingly poignant turning point in the series.

2) Connie Nikas, ‘Good Time’, 2017

Fans of writer-director brothers Josh and Benny Safdie’s work will know that it’s best to just cling on and enjoy the ride when it comes to their films.

The duo behind Netflix’s Uncut Gems, went full-on guerrilla for 2017's Good Time, and found in Pattinson a leading man willing to go platinum blonde and to the wall for this visceral, relentless race through the New York you won’t find in the guide books.

Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a small-time crook, whose big bank job dissolves into a farce to rival Dog Day Afternoon, when his intellectually disabled brother Nick (Benny Safdie), who he sprung from psychiatric care to bring along on the job, is caught by police and sent to prison.

In this modern-day George and Lennie-esque fable, Connie does whatever it takes to bail his brother out of Rikers Island, right up to that didn’t-know-he-had-it-in-him finale.

3) The Dauphin, ‘The King’, 2019

Cast your mind back to 2019, when one of the biggest cultural social media flashpoints was Pattinson’s wig, not to mention French accent, in Netflix’s The King, the streamer’s take on an array of Shakespearean texts including Richard II and Henry V.

While Timothee Chalamet was rightly lauded as Prince Hal, the man who would become King of England, Pattinson proved a scene stealer as the spoilt Dauphin whose unshakeable belief in his own mortality would see him come, less to a noble end, than a cringe-worthy fizzle, right before the main event of Agincourt.

4) Thomas Howard, ‘The Lighthouse’, 2019

Directed by Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse is a prime example of the “all in” approach Pattinson brings to his roles.

Channelling the intensity of his Good Time character, although on a much less wordy scale, Pattinson more than holds his own against one of Hollywood’s masters of scenery chewing, Willem Dafoe.

The story follows two New England lighthouse keepers who get stranded on their remote island after a storm. But whether we’re watching their descent into madness, or whether they’re already languishing in purgatory is for the viewer to decide.

The “What?” scene remains a stand out.

5) Neil, ‘Tenet’, 2020

There’s a certain genre of director who revels in giving their characters just the one name or designation, with the stand-alone monikers usually an indication that the film itself, and not the actors, is the star.

In Tenet, Pattinson’s Neil impeccably navigates these waters in Christopher Nolan’s almost purposefully impenetrable film, bringing to the big screen a version of the louche, clipped-of-vowel, well-suited Englishman that encompasses the likes of Tom Hardy’s Eames in Inception, and can be traced back beyond Michael Caine’s Alfie Cartwright in Alfie.

As the CIA agent the audience is often unsure if John David Washington’s character, Protagonist, should be trusting, Pattinson proved he could turn his hand to mind-bending action, remaining a cool, unruffled touchstone amid whatever the film is actually about.

Updated: March 01, 2022, 11:49 AM