Robert Pattinson has already had a unique career, going from teenage heartthrob in Twilight to the internet's lighting rod of hate to his current status as a highly talented staple of the artsy indie scene. Though the 33-year-old actor is still shaping his legacy — who isn't excited to see he and Matt Reeves' take on the Caped Crusader in The Batman? — he's had to work hard to put his sparkly days from Twilight behind him.
There have been a number of interviews where Robert Pattinson has seemingly dissed the vampire franchise (other members of the cast have made similar comments). The internet loves to hate on the undeniably successful series, so of course fans of Pattinson and critics of Twilight gobbled those soundbites up. While the actor's comments were likely made in good humor, they've also taken on a life of their own thanks to contextless Twitter and Tumblr posts.
Take, for example, his 2017 interview in W. Although it covered his entire career, a section of the interview focused on his time with Twilight. One of the more frequently referenced quotes of Pattinson's comes from an exchange about the vampire-romance's story.
"I mean, if it hadn't been so successful, I think people would have thought it was really weird. It's a really weird story. But I think once it becomes mainstream, it's difficult for people to see how strange the story is," Pattinson explained.
Another frequently referenced line is from a Moviefone interview where he was asked whether or not he'd like the films if he wasn't involved in them. "I think I am a judgmental and cynical person who would just mindlessly hate it without having seen anything," he said. "I just think I'm a bad person."
While it seems like a burn towards the films, it also omits the lines from just before. "It was really fun, yeah," he said. "It was such a wild experience. And what a strange way to spend my early twenties. I never really quite knew how to play a vampire though."
Essentially, it seems as though Robert Pattinson knew he had to distance himself from the franchise if he wanted to find roles outside of shallow, stoic, and sexy. A franchise is a blessing, sure, but it can also become a stain on an actor's career and leave them unable to branch out. With a series of career-defining performances in Good Time and The Lighthouse (and those are just two easy examples, as he's got an astonishing amount of praise for most of his post-Twilight performances), Pattinson's now able to let off the gas a little and view the past through a less-critical lens.
"It's lovely now that the mania is not so intense," he said last year. "People come up and just have very fond memories of it. It's a really sweet thing. I think the only scary part was right in the thick of it all, when it was very, very intense. Now the intensity has died down and it's just very warm memories."
The biggest issues with Twilight weren't its narrative missteps or restrained performances. The films are far from perfect and can be tough to get through for some Pattinson fans, sure, but they quickly became much more than romance fodder for pre-teens. Twilight became a cultural touchstone of hate and easy jokes, parodied so often that the originals no longer mattered as much as the jabs about sparkling vampires and lip-biting. Especially in the first few years after its original 2008 release, it was a losing proposition to do anything but go with the jokes.
Again, it's deserving of a lot of those cracks and criticisms, but as we know now in our social media-heavy world, the meme often outgrows the inspiration. To fight against that would mean a ton of negative or mocking coverage, and it'd make it even harder to branch out of the tween romance pigeonholing that could have happened to Pattinson.
By keeping the joke going and being honest about some of the franchise's failings, he could move on with less difficulty than if he'd kept quiet. And just like that, his negative comments took on a life of their own and became this meme-y narrative about Robert Pattinson hating the films or regretting his time spent on them. Like he said in his Moviefone interview, he'd probably have joined in on the hate train had he not been in the films because it's easy to get caught up in the idea of the franchise instead of the actual films of the series.
The reality is simple: Just read Pattinson's own words. Sparkling aside, it's all warm memories.