Robert Pattinson sparkled as the fictional vampire star of the Twilight film franchise, and now historians say the London-born actor is related to a legendary vampire in real life, too.
Pattinson, 28, is a distant cousin of Vlad III Dracula, the 15th-century Transylvanian nobleman whose bloodthirstiness inspired the legend of Count Dracula.
Styling himself a defender against the Ottoman Empire, Vlad’s penchant for dangling his enemies from spikes earned Vlad his epithet: “the Impaler.” In 1462, as he retreated from a battle, he ordered thousands of captured enemy troops impaled on the battlefield as a deterrent to Ottoman forces pursuing him. Scholars believe Bram Stoker based the title character of his 1897 novel Dracula on the real-life count.
That’s a far cry from Pattinson’s depiction of Edward Cullen, the brooding, love-struck immortal of the five Twilight films. And Vlad’s atrocities are even more further removed from Pattinson himself, whose mother was a modeling agency scout and whose father was a vintage car dealer.
Nevertheless, genealogists at Ancestry say Pattinson and Dracula are linked — and through the British royal line, no less. Pattinson is distant cousins with Prince William and Prince Harry on their father’s side, likely through the Pickering family who lived in Yorkshire, England, in the early 1500s. That makes Vlad the ultimate creepy uncle to Prince William and Robert Pattinson.
“Tracing Pattinson’s family back to Vlad was difficult research, but the pieces that unraveled created the perfect accompaniment to the Twilight Saga,” said Anastasia Tyler, a genealogist at Ancestry. “Without any myth or magic, we find royalty and vampires lurking in Pattinson’s life — making his story just as supernatural as the one he’s playing on screen.”
—Sandie Angulo Chen