Heart-throbs! Hollywood's leading leading men

Vampiric British star Robert Pattinson leads the pack of young actors who set teenage hearts a-flutter. And he can act, too
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The Independent Culture

He has set millions of teenage hearts a-flutter and now the Twilight star Robert Pattinson is raising pulses among film executives keen to cash in on his profile.

The 23-year-old heart-throb, whose appearance this week at the premiere of New Moon – the second-screen instalment of Stephenie Meyer's four-book vampire saga – caused mass hysteria among British fans young and old, is joining an exclusive Hollywood club of leading men believed by industry insiders to be able to carry a film.

The first adaptation in the series, Twilight, last year topped the UK box office with a £2.5m opening weekend. Movie bosses will be hoping Pattinson's popularity and the current vogue for all things vampire, fuelled by TV shows such as True Blood, can help New Moon to an even better showing.

But it remains to be seen whether the growing legion of bright young things, including the Twilight talent and High School Musical's Zac Efron, all have the acting ability to match the cinematic eye-candy status.

Hollywood's Holy Grail is to find young talent that can emulate established stars such as George Clooney and Brad Pitt, who cemented their careers by balancing roles showcasing their good looks with those highlighting their acting abilities.

The veteran film critic Barry Norman said there was a danger of young actors being type-cast if they stuck to the teenage "popcorn" genre. "It's an easy route for the young and the pretty, but I don't think necessarily that is going to be a good springboard to launch a long career," he said.

Tatiana Siegel, a reporter for Variety who covers castings at the four major film studies in Los Angeles, said British hunk Pattinson was "the most in-demand actor of the generation". She added: "Now the trend in Hollywood is not so much to have an actor who carries the movies, but a brand, like Twilight. Robert Pattinson is one of the few actors that the studios can build a movie around."

His co-star, Taylor Lautner, is also hot property. The 17-year-old piled on 30lbs of muscle for his role as the werewolf Jacob Black. He has been quoted as saying he would never take his shirt off on-screen again, but teenage girls breathed a sigh of relief this week when he denied the comment, adding that he would strip off if the role required it.