Franchise actors who find themselves enjoying the fame and fortune right from the very beginning of their career are often forced to face the harsh reality afterwards. Many of them will be remembered as that one character forever, but some have fought their way out of the box. Here are the kids who made brave choices and proved they can embody deep, complex characters.
Robert Pattinson: from a sparkling vampire to Cronenberg’s favorite
He uttered some of the most cheesy lines in movie history, such as “You better hold on tight spider monkey,” and “You’re like my own personal brand of heroin.”His teenage actor label didn’t stick for long though: he was done with the vampire Edward Cullen in 2012 when he also starred in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don de Lillo’s Cosmopolis. Back then, IndieWire cautiously called him “surprisingly adequate” for his portrayal of a ruthless, wealthy broker during one day full of chaos, self-destruction, and paranoia. “He told me that he was scared about Cosmopolis because he had not really wanted to do a movie where he was the lead and had the whole movie on his shoulders,”Cronenberg admitted for The Hollywood Reporter.
The days when Pattinson doubted himself as much as almost everyone else seem to be long gone. He appeared in another Cronenberg’s movie, Maps to the Stars, and critics loved him in Good Time. We can’t wait to see him in Claire Denis’ newest feature, High Life, where he stars as Monte, a criminal sent on an alternative energy finding mission in space with a daughter he had against his will.
Shia LaBeouf: From Transformers to von Trier & his own Sundance triumph
Most people remember LaBeouf thanks to Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, where he played Sam Witwicky. His memories of this era are not the fondest. “My hang-up with those films was that they felt irrelevant. They felt dated as f*ck… You come up on these stories about Easy Rider and Raging Bull and De Niro and Scorsese and Hopper, and you find value in what they do. Meanwhile, you’re chasing energon crystals,” he admitted to Esquire. He has publicly decided to leave his studio movie career behind, opting for risky projects such as highly explicit Nymphomaniac, directed by legendary Lars von Trier. “I’m done. There’s no room for being a visionary in the studio system. It literally cannot exist,” he said to The Hollywood Reporter.
He stood out in a Cannes winner American Honey (2016), and he is currently attracting attention with Honey Boy, a movie he wrote about his own tumultuous childhood, where he stars as his abusive father. The film’s director Alma Har’el received the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Vision and Craft at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Emma Watson: From 10 years at Hogwarts to Coppola and Aronofsky
The first thing she did after she said goodbye to Hermione Granger, Harry Potter’s best friend? She cut her signature hair. “I’d been on Harry Potter for ten years, so I needed to mark the end of it in some way. I needed a drastic change,” she explained for Metro. And that’s how we came to know her as the unforgettable Sam — the main character’s dream girl — in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. She didn’t hesitate to take a break from acting when she needed to focus on her “personal development”, and she cooperated with some of the most accomplished directors of our time: Sofia Coppola (The Bling Ring) and Darren Aronofsky (Noah).
Kristen Stewart: from Twilight & Razzie to Olivier Assays
After the Twilight saga ended, Stewart’s chances to shake off the often cringe-worthy Bella seemed slim. She was a regular nominee at Razzie Awards, winning the Worst Actress category in 2013, despite her forays into indie throughout the whole Twilight ordeal. Moreover, she had to endure public shaming after she was caught cheating on her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson with a married man.
Stewart’s bold move towards independent, sometimes controversial movies has paid off. She exceeded expectations as a soldier who befriends a man imprisoned in Guantanamo (Camp-X Ray) in her first role after Twilight. Her efforts culminated in Clouds of Sils Maria, a collaboration with the director Oliver Assays: Stewart became the first American actress to receive the prestigious Cesar Award in France. She has a number of intriguing films under her belt, including Still Alice, Equals and another Assays’ project Personal Shopper.
Daniel Radcliffe: From Harry Potter to nudity, a gay beatnik and a farting corpse
Radcliffe has been refreshingly honest about his feelings regarding his Harry Potter role. “It’s hard to watch a film like Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince — because I’m just not very good in it. I hate it. My acting is very one-note and I can see I got complacent and what I was trying to do just didn’t come across,” he explained for The Daily Mail. Since then, he has shattered his child actor image on numerous occasions: he has even appeared nude on stage (Equus) and regularly on the screen (Horns, What If and Kill Your Darlings). His career after 10 years of Harry Potter is nothing if not full of surprises. In Horns, he portrayed a man who wakes up with horns which force people to share their deepest secrets, and in Kill Your Darlings, he was a famous gay poet Allen Ginsberg. He truly gambled with Swiss Army Man, where he was… a farting corpse that befriends a man stranded on an island — a performance that required “an incredible control of his body and face, not to mention an utter lack of vanity or ego.”
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