When news broke in May that actor Robert Pattinson was in line to lead Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated reboot The Batman, most assumed the accomplished actor was sought out for the role. While the Caped Crusader is certainly a coveted part for most young actors in Hollywood, ever since Twilight ended, Pattinson has eschewed blockbuster filmmaking in favor of working on indies with challenging directors. As it turns out, however, Pattinson was in no way above actually chasing down the role of Batman. Something he did well before news broke of his potential involvement, which hit the trades prematurely.
Speaking with Variety, Pattinson reveals that when news broke in May of his involvement with The Batman, he hadn’t even auditioned yet, and he was worried the leak had just cost him the part:
“When that thing leaked, I was fucking furious. Everyone was so upset. Everyone was panicking from my team. I sort of thought that had blown up the whole thing… It was terrifying. I was like, ‘Oh fuck! Does that screw me because they are so intent on secrecy?’”
As it turns out, Pattinson had only met with writer-director Matt Reeves at that point, after months of the actor prodding the filmmaker to let him take a crack at the role. Yes indeed, Robert Pattinson chased down the part of Batman before Reeves had even finished the script:
“I’d had Batman in my mind for a while. It’s such an absurd thing to say. I sort of had an idea to do it, and I’d been prodding Matt. He didn’t accept any prods. I kept asking to meet him.”
The two finally met after Reeves finished the script and was ready to start the casting process, and following the Cannes debut of The Lighthouse (during which news of Pattinson’s involvement first surfaced), the actor flew back to Los Angeles to audition in the Batsuit. Which, as he explains, is a weird experience:
“I put it on. I remember saying to Matt, ‘It does feel quite transformative!’ He was like, ‘I would hope it does! You’re literally in the Batsuit.’” Pattinson describes what the moment was like: “You do feel very powerful immediately. And it’s pretty astonishing, something that is incredibly difficult to get into, so the ritual of getting into it is pretty humiliating. You’ve got five people trying to shove you into something. Once you’ve got it on, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I feel strong, I feel tough, even though I had to have someone squeezing my butt cheeks into the legs.’… You’re trying to think of the way to balance, how to bring something new to it and not want to scare people off, and work in the confines of the costume.”
As it turns out, Pattinson officially won the role of Batman over Nicholas Hoult on his first day of filming Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film Tenet, which gave him an opportunity to ask the Dark Knight Trilogy director for some advice:
“It’s so bizarre. I was like, ‘What a coincidence this is happening. It’s absolutely crazy. I was talking [with Nolan] about things to do with the Batsuit. How to get more movements in it.”
Pattinson reveals elsewhere in the interview that he had a general meeting with Marvel Studios around the time of Guardians of the Galaxy, but nothing came of it—although it’s interesting to consider the alternate history in which Pattinson plays Star-Lord or Ant-Man in the MCU.
After years spent using his Twilight clout to get fascinating films like High Life, The Rover, and Good Time made, Pattinson is wading back into the waters of franchise filmmaking—albeit still with a strong bent towards interesting filmmakers. Sure he’s starring in two upcoming blockbusters, but they’re directed by Christopher Nolan and Matt Reeves, and Pattinson’s tremendous talent will ultimately bring yet another layer of intrigue to these studio-backed projects, elevating them above simple “blockbuster movies.”
But that doesn’t mean Pattinson is leaving independent filmmaking behind. He’s got The Lighthouse opening in October, from the director of The Witch, and he’s due to reteam with Claire Denis on The Stars at Noon. Next up, however, The Batman is set to start filming this winter ahead of its Summer 2021 release date.