Robert Pattinson plays Dennis Stock, a Life magazine photographer in his new movie 'Life' about '50s actor James Dean. (Photo: Stock)

Robert Pattinson plays Dennis Stock, a Life magazine photographer in his new movie ‘Life’ about ’50s actor James Dean. (Photo: Stock)

Robert Pattinson plays photographer Dennis Stock in his new movie “Life,” opposite Dane DeHaan, as actor James Dean. But Pattinson lacked “the guts, energy and imagination” of the real-life character, says his widow, Susan Richards.

Richards was Stock’s fourth wife, who married him in 2006, four years before his death. She remembers her husband as a “ferocious and remarkable man.”

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But after watching Pattinson in action, she said his portrayal in the film came across as “very insecure, very low on confidence,” she tells London’s Guardian newspaper.

“He wasn’t very bright, he wasn’t talkative. He seemed confused, inarticulate,” Richards said.

“I saw a lost soul [on screen], with none of the confidence, humor, charm or intelligence that drew me, and so many others, to Dennis. That wasn’t the man I knew,” she said.

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The film, directed by Anton Corbijn, portrays a brief period in the lives of both actor and photographer in 1955. Dean was between his first and second films and still relatively unknown. Stock was scratching around for assignments.

Yet their sessions resulted in some of the most iconic photos of that era.

Life magazine, then the largest circulation publication in America, published the photo spread. Six months later, Dean died in a car crash and the images helped turn the actor into a legend.

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They also came to symbolize the alienation and disaffection of young people with the straight-laced, highly stratified 1950s. Dean would become a symbol of the emerging Beat Generation and later the counter-culture of the 1960s.

While Dean and Stock became friends, a dynamic tension also existed between them. Dean was both defiant and uncertain about his growing celebrity and mistrustful of Hollywood.

Stock, at least according to his widow, was hard-driving, ambitious and street-smart.

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John G Morris, his editor at photo agency, Magnum, told The New York Times that Stock was so difficult he called him “Dennis the Menace.”

But he had a eye for photography and his fingers on the pulse of social change. Stock, more than anyone, realized that Dean was more than just an actor. Dean was the embodiment of his generation.

“Now that he is gone, I realize that I vastly underestimated the talent of Dennis Stock,” Morris said.

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But the movie fails to convey that, according to Richards. In a telling scene, Dean tells his family that Stock is “prickly, pushy and opinionated;” in short, a typical New Yorker.

But Richards says Pattinson’s character is shy and diffident, with nervous tics and hesitant mannerisms, very unlike the real man.

“If he liked you, he would clamp himself to your life. If he didn’t like you, he could be a very ugly person. But he was a warm man, and that warmth wasn’t in the film at all,” Richards said.

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Despite her views, critics have generally liked the film. It has a positive 64 rating on, which tracks reviews.

The film hits theaters domestically in December. It’s already out in the UK and Australia.

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