Watch This offers movie recommendations inspired by new releases, premieres, current events, or occasionally just our own inscrutable whims. This week: You don’t have to go to the theater to get your Robert Pattinson fix. We’re looking back on some of the best performances from the one-time vampire, future caped crusader.
In his first credited big-screen gig, Robert Pattinson played the small but pivotal role of Cedric Diggory in the fourth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire. The casting was a masterstroke. Although most of the Hogwarts students were played by unknowns (unlike their teachers), Cedric still had to be memorable enough for his (spoiler alert) inevitable death to feel like a tragic game-changer. His Cedric is noble, luminous, and, most importantly, unforgettable, so when he dies at the hands of a resurrected Voldemort at the end of the film, we understand the grave seriousness of this evil force being unleashed back on the wizarding world.
Goblet Of Fire is among the most eventful of the Harry Potter movies, containing as it does the Quidditch World Cup, the Yule Ball, and all three strenuous tasks of the Triwizard Tournament. (We ranked the film at the top of our Run The Series rundown.) Cedric shows up in the first few minutes of the movie to accompany Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and the Weasleys to the Quidditch World Cup, immediately drawing the attention of Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ginny (Bonnie Wright). He’s as at home there as he is strolling around Hogwarts in his Hufflepuff robes with an almost Elvis-esque swagger.
Though friendly, Cedric is introduced as a rival for Harry; the two compete not just in the Triwizard Tournament but also for the affections of classmate Cho Chang (Katie Leung), who Cedric escorts to the Yule Ball when Harry takes too long to ask her. Even the famous Boy Who Lived pales compared to the impossibly confident Cedric, the golden heart of Hogwarts—a role that puts Pattinson’s brand of magnetic charm to perfect use. He’s not on screen that much, though, at least until the film’s climax: the third challenge, a terrifying maze inspired by Stephen King’s The Shining. Pattinson brings a manic energy to the scene that anticipates his urgent work in later movies.
And then Cedric and Harry run straight into Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Valiant to the very end, Cedric lifts his wand in the face of certain defeat; Voldemort orders his execution with the cruelest of dismissals: “Kill the spare.” It’s a shocking death at that point in the Harry Potter saga: While we know Harry’s parents were killed by Voldemort, we didn’t get to know them as characters, and we’ve seen Harry, Ron, and Hermione get into impossible scrapes in the previous three movies, always to emerge unscathed. Cedric’s death raised the stakes of the series, helping prepare audiences for the many more brave, innocent lives that would be lost in future installments. And Harry’s hysterical refusal to leave his body provides one of the franchise’s most downbeat endings.
If Cedric had been played by an actor with anything less than Pattinson’s alchemic combo of looks and charisma, the loss wouldn’t have hit as hard. In his big-screen debut (the actor’s role in 2004’s Vanity Fair had been left on the cutting room floor), Pattinson stood at the center of a franchise’s turning point, helping sell the gravity of one of its most unforgettable moments. Just a few years later, he’d be headlining his own blockbuster YA adaptation.
Availability: Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire is currently streaming on HBO Max, FUBO, and Sling. It can also be rented or purchased digitally from Amazon, iTunes, Microsoft, Redbox, AMC, DirectTV, and VUDU.