How to tell if an actor will be be more than a pretty face.
In WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, many critics pointed to the lack of chemistry between Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. And more specificially they pointed to Pattinson being the weak link in this Oscar-winning cast. I’d say Pattinson is not terrible in the movie. He doesn’t have a lot to do. Could a more talented young actor done more with the part? Probably. I try to imagine what a younger Robert Deniro, Robert Downey Jr, or Johnny Depp would do with a somewhat underwritten part. (And why couldn’t the director pull more out of the green actor?)
What those three more seasoned actors have that I think Pattinson does not yet have — is gravitas. Life experience that is touched by pain that informs the actor’s performance. It could be that Pattinson has not had enough life experience yet. His easy smile suggests perhaps things have come too easily to him. Or if he’s had challenges, perhaps he hasn’t yet learned to tap into them.
But many attractive young actors have surprised us with performances we didn’t see coming. Heath Ledger’s performance in “Brokeback Mountain” might be one example. Robin Wright Penn’s recent performance in “The Conspirator” could be another. Then there are guys like Keanu Reeves who will probably never surprise us. I won’t defend Pattinson. But I’d say give him time. See if he will improve with age like an unripe peach. Or maybe he will only be a pleasantly diverting peach. Not memorable for the richness of its flavors and scents. Just a nice peach.