Robert Pattinson sank his teeth into the hearts of moviegoers as the brooding star of “Twilight” 15 years ago, but the film’s director says studio executives needed some convincing when it came to the actor’s on-screen presence.
On Monday’s episode of the “Happy Sad Confused” spinoff podcast “Watchalong,” director Catherine Hardwicke recalled auditioning Pattinson and co-star Kristen Stewart at her home before starting work on the blockbuster film.
At the time of the audition, Hardwicke said Pattinson “had black bangs for hair and was kind of out of shape because he was hanging out at the pub all the time,” but his chemistry with Stewart shone through.
Pattinson quickly became Hardwicke’s top choice to play glitter-skinned teen vampire Edward Cullen, but Summit Entertainment, which produced the film, expressed a fair share of doubts, specifically regarding the actor’s looks.
“He went over to meet them,” Hardwicke said. “They called me back and go, ‘Do you think you can make this guy look good?’ And I’m, like, ‘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 walked over there, I think, with a stained shirt. It was Rob.”
The director, whose credits also include “Thirteen” and “Prisoner’s Daughter,” also confirmed that actors Ben Barnes, Shiloh Fernandez and Jackson Rathbone were also serious contenders for the role of Edward before Pattinson was signed. Rathbone ended up appearing in the film as Jasper.
Interestingly, Pattinson wasn’t who “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer envisioned as Edward, either. In a 2007 blog post shortly after plans for the film were announced, Meyer lamented that actor Henry Cavill had aged out of the role.
“The most disappointing thing for me is losing my perfect Edward,” she wrote at the time. “Henry Cavill is now 24 years old.”
Though it isn’t clear if Pattinson himself was aware of the studio’s and Meyer’s views, Hardwicke told “Watchalong” host Josh Horowitz that she tried to give the actor “a lot of love and encouragement” on set.
“Rob is a very modest person and [a] very humble person, and self-deprecating in a way,” she explained. “He was nervous about, ‘Am I living up to the book? Am I gorgeous enough for the book?’ And I would say, ‘Let’s just do this scene, and if I have any problems, I’ll let you know.’”
History would show that Hardwicke’s instincts and Pattinson’s efforts paid off. Despite mixed reviews, “Twilight” became a global blockbuster, raking in a reported $407 million at the box office worldwide. And though Hardwicke didn’t return to direct the remaining four films in the franchise, each was a commercial hit.
Watch video of Catherine Hardwicke’s “Watchalong” chat below. Her comments on Robert Pattinson’s audition begin around the 9:35 mark.