All of us know the bittersweet feeling of reaching the end of a chapter in our lives, bidding farewell to the one and striding optimistically into the other. So we can surely empathise with Daniel Radcliffe and Robert Pattinson, two actors now approaching their own particular cusps, boy-men whom the gods put on to a million bedroom walls but who now must face life as adults.
Stalkers and observers of film industry news will both already know that with the two last Harry Potter films complete, Radcliffe has just this week announced the first role of his subsequent existence, plumping for an obscurely motivated remake of All Quiet on the Western Front. Pattinson, meanwhile, has recently been mulling over his present with the Twilight series and future without it, speaking glumly from a furtive nook in Beverly Hills of his desire to work with Todd Solondz (don’t worry, Robert, I’m sure that can be arranged) and discussing his ongoing involvement with the all-conquering vampire saga as if it were a sentence in a particularly brutal young offenders’ unit, only the thought of life on the outside keeping him going.
For each, the doors of their gilded cages stand ajar. And in both cases, even a churl would wish them luck in keeping a lid on the fear that everything else from here on in could only be a postscript, their celebrated younger selves forever looming monstrously over them. Fast forward to 2030, and there they are, still toiling away, Pattinson the shared teenage crush of a generation of middle-class mums, Radcliffe fiercely growing his latest beard in the attempt to distract from the Potter films’ role as his cinematic baby photos.
But then perhaps it’s unfair to expect either actor to flourish. Because those few happy role models that exist for them actually, on closer inspection, don’t quite tally with their circumstances. Leonardo DiCaprio, of course, parlayed his adolescent stardom into an adult career, but the actual movies he made were always for grown-ups, whereas Radcliffe and R-Patz have made their names in what are, however lavish and beloved, films made for kids. Strictly speaking, they have more of a spiritual ancestor in Frankie Avalon than they do DiCaprio.
Which doesn’t even address the question of whether either party can act, or, if not, whether they might be able to learn. The truth is it’s anyone’s guess: what they have been asked to do in their respective vehicles tells us almost nothing. If you were, for reasons of personal embitterment, to be uncharitable, you could say that on the evidence so far, Radcliffe has really only mastered two facial expressions, thereby doubling the number employed by the forever vaguely perturbed Pattinson. They could surprise us; history suggests they won’t. Todd Solondz is, you imagine, already rubbing his hands.
But then again, would it be such a terrible fate for either actor if this was as good as it ever got, and the rest was simply a long road to a guest spot on Casualty? Each of them have already made unfathomable sums of money and known, for good and ill, fame at its most hardcore. Or there again, perhaps I’m underestimating how far they might go. After all, as a pair of smooth-cheeked young men from the home counties with private educations, perhaps a more, well, powerful future might some day await them – and all of us.