By now, most of us have heard the news that Robert Pattinson will be suiting up as the Caped Crusader for Matt Reeves’s The Batman. And while we’re stoked to watch him take on such an iconic role, we have questions. For example, what drew Pattinson to the role in the first place? Is he afraid of getting backlash for his portrayal of such a renowned superhero? Is he nervous to carry on Batman’s legacy? All of these thoughts have been swirling around in our brains since the casting news first broke, and thanks to a new interview with The New York Times, we finally have answers.
“If I’d done it a few years ago, I would have been incredibly nervous,” Pattinson said when asked about how it feels to be cast as the lead in an enormous blockbuster film after working on several smaller, art-house movies including The Lighthouse, which hits theaters this Friday (October 19). “… I’ve still got a few months before we start shooting,” he added. “Plenty of time to have a panic attack!”
But Pattinson is certainly more excited than he is nervous. Sure, Batman’s technically a superhero, but part of what drew the actor to the role was that the character is flawed. “His morality is a little bit off,” Pattinson said. “He’s not the golden boy, unlike almost every other comic-book character. There is a simplicity to his worldview … which allows you to have more scope with the character.” And unlike other superheroes, Pattinson insists that Batman’s “not a hero.” “He’s a complicated character,” he said. “I don’t think I could ever play a real hero — there’s always got to be something a little bit wrong.”
So, what is Pattinson’s aversion to playing wholesome and exemplary characters? For him, those kinds of roles often feel like a cover-up for what’s actually going on in an actor’s life. “I’ve always thought that the only reason you’d want to play a good guy all the time is because you’re desperately ashamed of what you’re doing in real life,” he said. Instead, Pattinson prefers a challenge. “The most fun part of doing movies is that you can explore the more grotesque or naughty sides of your psyche in a somewhat safe environment,” he said. “And it’s always more fun if you’re shocking the people in the room.”
As thrilled as he is to be the next Batman, Pattinson knows he has to tread lightly while talking about the character — mainly because diehard fans of the comic books might come for him. “I just fear that when I say anything about Batman, people online are like, ‘What does this mean?’ And I don’t know! I used to be very good at censoring myself, but I’ve said so many ridiculous things over the years, so I’m always curious when I’m promoting these movies how many times I can mess up.”
Public scrutiny, however, is something Pattinson is used to — especially after starring in Twilight and suddenly finding himself at the center of all the mayhem. “Maybe I’m just used to abuse by now,” he said, adding that, unlike his Twilight days, he “didn’t get death threats” when The Batman casting announcement was made public.
Considering the amount of attention and criticism Pattinson received for Twilight, some people are surprised that he’s willing jumping back into a franchise with a built-in fandom. But with more years of experience under his belt, Pattinson’s confident that such a level of stardom won’t be as difficult to navigate this time around. “People don’t really mess with me in the same way now that I’m older,” he said. “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. Do people really care anymore?” I guess we’ll find out.
Check out the full New York Times interview here, and catch Pattinson in The Lighthouse, which hits theaters this weekend (October 19).