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Fame is a tricky thing, and when that fame comes, it can have a profound impact on who you are as a person that is difficult to prepare for. For actor Robert Pattinson, his fame really kicked off when he was cast as Edward Cullen, one of the leads in Twilight. The Twilight movies, based on a series of incredibly popular young adult novels, became a smash hit at the box office, and made Robert Pattinson a household name with a long career ahead of him. But despite their commercial success, the experience of making the Twilight movies was not without its issues for the actor. Working on the franchise films caused Robert Pattinson to lose his sense of self, as he explained.
When something becomes really big you really get an awareness of how small you are, like where it is when you first start acting and you feel like a big shot when you're only doing something small. My ego was a lot bigger when I first started. Then you start losing control of a lot of different aspects of your life and also the job, especially when you're doing sequels to something. It doesn't matter what you think: a) it's already been written in a book, and b) the tone has already been set up and the machine is already in motion. It's frightening when you lose your sense of identity.
What Robert Pattinson is describing here is part of the franchise filmmaking churn. Franchises like Twilight are brands unto themselves with hundreds of millions of dollars staked on their success. When working on a small project, your daily life might not change that much, and you have some latitude and creative input on your character. Learning about your character and building them is a rewarding experience for an actor, and being able to influence the direction of the character and the film itself can somewhat inflate your ego. But franchise filmmaking is an entirely different beast. As Robert Pattinson discussed on Variety's "Actors on Actors," Twilight was already laid out, the novels had been written and the studio had already decided what it wanted. So the creative latitude and influence he previously enjoyed with his characters in in smaller films was not available to him in Twilight.
Pattinson also spoke to losing control over personal aspects of his life. When you are part of a franchise film, your obligations around press and promotion are tenfold what they are when working on a smaller project. Your schedule on and off set is micromanaged and entirely dictated for you. You might feel like a big deal as an actor, but in a large franchise film you are not only beholden to your director, but the studio, financial backers and the shareholders as well. There are a lot more people with more power making decisions for you, and that can be unmooring.
Being famous and being yourself is a tricky balancing act that not everyone can do. In the wake of his years on The Twilight Saga, both Robert Pattinson and co-star Kristen Stewart have seemingly eschewed most big-budget fare and favored smaller and more eclectic projects. Instead of drinking the Kool-Aid of franchise films, Robert Pattinson has recently appeared in films like The Lost City of Z and received an Indie Spirit Award nomination for his work in Good Time. While Robert Pattinson may have lost his sense of self while making Twilight, he seems to have found it again and is finally starting to break free from identity as Edward Cullen.