How is Robert Pattinson going to escape the shadow of Twilight to carve a sustainable career on the big screen? dispenses some free advice…

There is a giant elephant in the room when it comes to Robert Pattinson’s career: literally, with the release this of his new 1930s-era circus romance Water for Elephants opposite Reese Witherspoon, but also figuratively, as the big unanswered question is just how the hell the 24-year-old is going to escape the shadow of Twilight to carve a sustainable career on the big screen.

The last instalment in the bafflingly, terrifyingly successful vampire series – Breaking Dawn – has been cynically split, Harry Potter-wise, into two lucrative parts to be released this November, and in November 2012.

So while publicity duties for the emo-horror-love story franchise will occupy Pattinson for the next year and a half, he has just wrapped the actual filming work on both movies, and so is looking to put the tween phenomenon behind him and focus on the next phase of his career.

Water for Elephants is the British hunk’s latest attempt to distance himself from the iconic role of Edward Cullen, but it has only been a modest success so far in the US. Critics have carped at the lack of chemistry between Pattinson and Witherspoon – indeed, some say R Patz has generated better on-screen heat with his pachyderm co-star Tai – but the blame for that can hardly be placed at his feet alone. Witherspoon and co-star Christoph Waltz are both Oscar winners; the lukewarm reception for the movie arguably reflects much worse on them.

That said, Pattinson hasn’t had the most illustrious track record so far when it comes to demonstrating his range beyond looking pale, dreamy and fanged-of-tooth. Little Ashes, anyone? Then there was his 2010 teen angst flick Remember Me, a dull, lifeless affair, enlivened only by a spectacularly tasteless final twist that got everyone’s attention purely because it was so wildly misjudged and inappropriate – and not in a good way.

So looking beyond Breaking Dawn, what can Pattinson do to re-invent himself in the eyes of audiences and Hollywood studios, as well as helping to drive the stake into this first financially rewarding but creatively stifling phase of his career? Luckily for him, is on hand to dispense some free advice that should stand him in good stead*:

*Bring the funny:

My God, have you ever seen a young, hot, rich celebrity more miserable than Pattinson – apart from his soul-sucking on/off, on-and-off-screen lover Kristin Stewart, that is?

As recently as last month, Pattinson was once more cribbing to ‘Vanity Fair’ about how the fan mania surrounding Twilight is such a prison sentence. Jeez, stop being so self-Robsessed dude. Show us some of that alleged sense of humour that co-stars like Witherspoon praise you for.

Do some videos for Instruct your agents to get you a guest spot on 30 Rock. Do something to get out of the ‘Hugh Laurie-Misery-Fame-Trap’ category before you permanently become the youngest old grump in the world.

*Embrace your inner pr*ck:

Failing that, why not shock all the Twi-Hards out there by acting like a total, unadulterated geebag wherever you go? Stop being so nice and gushing in interviews about how great the fans’ support has been. Instead, turn up at the MTV or Nickelodeon awards and dismiss all the aficionados as deranged fantasists who should be drafted into military service to teach them a thing or two about the real world. Become a bad boy. Swear live on air. Have a wardrobe malfunction. Dump Stewart and start shagging around. A bit of edge might work wonders for you.

*Shave you from yourself:

Chop off that lovely hair. How can anyone be expected to believe you as anything other than eye-candy if your locks have their own team of stylists to be listed in the final credits? If nothing else, this move might test the Samson-esque nature of your career thus far: do your stylishly dirty/messy tresses really provide the secret to your success?

*Play around with your image:

You said in a recent interview that you’d love to play “a big fat person”. It might be a smart move to trod the pudgy/physical transformation path carved out by the likes of De Niro (Raging Bull), Hardy (Bronson), and, erm, Zellweger (Bridget Jones).

How about being really out-there and setting up a biopic of Susan Boyle with you doing a gender-bending turn as the frumpy Scottish singing sensation herself? It worked a treat (the other way round) for Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There.

Alternately, go super-skinny a la Bale in The Machinist or, erm, Zellweger in Every Movie But Bridget Jones. We hear that you’ll have to shed 6pc of your body fat to assay the lead role in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis. Now you’re sucking diesel!

*Go to acting school:

We say this one from a place of love. Because Rob, even you yourself have acknowledged your own acting limitations. In a recent edition of ‘Entertainment Weekly’, you admitted feeling painfully self-conscious and unqualified while rehearsing opposite Kristin Scott Thomas and Uma Thurman on the set of your next flick Bel Ami (no, gay male readers, not that Bel Ami).

A spell in drama school might gift you the skills and the confidence to pursue and take on meatier parts. And let’s face it: if you’re feeling inferior as an actor to Uma Thurman, it really is time to re-asses your life.

* cannot be held legally responsible for any subsequent career problems, lawsuits, breaches of contract, Twi-Hard retaliatory attacks, or catastrophic loss of earnings


Words – Declan Cashin

Water for Elephants is out now.