"Do you think you can make this guy look good?"
Believe it or not, it was 15 years ago when audiences were introduced to Edward Cullen, Bella Swan, and Jacob Black with the big-screen adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, which shot vampires, werewolves, and Bella's hot dad into the mainstream. Speaking on the milestone anniversary, director Catherine Hardwicke recently told Variety that casting Robert Pattinson as a brooding, super-steamy vampire was initially a hard sell and that studio executives didn't think that he was attractive enough to be a leading man. She was right, however, and the films went on to launch a $3.3 billion franchise and made household names of its cast, including Pattinson and his signature brooding bloodsucker.
“When he came over to my house, he had black bangs for hair and was kind of out of shape because he was hanging out at the pub all the time,” Hardwicke said of Pattinson's audition. “After we did the fun auditions [with Kristen] at my house for a couple hours, then I looked the next morning at all the footage I shot and recorded and I thought it worked not just in person but it works on screen. I had to be sure. Of course, in person, I just got carried away, but you have to be sure it translates [to the screen].”
“Then I sent it to Summit and he went over to meet them,” she added. “They called me back and go, ‘Do you think you can make this guy look good?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I do. Did you see his cheekbones? We’re doing a makeover on the hair and everything and he’s going to start working out and he’s going to be gorgeous.’ But they didn’t believe it at first. He like walked over there with a stained shirt or something. It was Rob.”
The industry publication notes that Pattinson wasn't the first choice for the studio or Meyer. When the Twilight movie was announced, fans of the novels and Meyer wanted Henry Cavill (pre-Superman) in the lead role. While Cavill said in 2022 that it “would have been cool” to play Edward, Hardwicke thought he looked too old to play a high school student. She championed Pattinson and famously shared a story of how he and Stewart shared their first kiss on her bed.
“They did the kissing scene and he fell off and landed right there on the floor,” Hardwicke said during an appearance on The Big Hit Show podcast last year. “He fell off the bed. I’m like, ‘Dude, calm down.’ And I’m in there filming with my little video camera, whatever … In the end, Kristen was like, ‘It has to be Rob.’”
“I could tell they had a lot of chemistry, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ I thought, 'Kristen was 17. I don’t want to get in some illegal things,'” Hardwicke continued. “So, I remember I told Rob, ‘By the way, Kristen is 17. In our country, it’s illegal to have a sexual …’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, OK, whatever.’”
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