PREVIOUSLY: Stay-at-home mom Stephenie Meyer has a dream that grows into the Twilight phenomenon.
According to Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, Edward Cullen's face was "perfect," his lips "flawless," his teeth "brilliant," his voice "irresistible." Even his jacket—his jacket!—"smelled amazing."
For filmmakers, the descriptions presented a challenge: Who was flawless enough to depict the flawless? As Meyer herself would confess to FEARnet, "I didn't really know if there was anyone who could do it."
In Britain, meanwhile, a young actor with no claims or illusions of perfection was at loose ends—and about to quit acting.
The "Next Jude Law"
In his suburban London stomping ground, a teenaged Robert Pattinson joined a local amateur theater group. "Pretty girls," he told Virgin Media, made him do it. Not bad-looking himself, Pattinson soon landed an agent and a movie.
His role in 2004's Vanity Fair was small, and left out of the final cut, but not inconsequential as it led Pattinson to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The fourth film in the blockbuster franchise shared a casting agent with Vanity Fair, and Pattinson won the role of Hogwarts golden boy Cedric Diggory.
The movie, released in 2005, was an even-bigger Harry Potter hit than usual, and Teen People dubbed its new face "The Next Jude Law." Ever self-deprecating, Pattinson said he didn't see the connection.
In late 2006, as New Moon, Meyer's followup to Twilight, was being devoured by readers, producer Karen Rosenfelt met with Summit Entertainment. Per an account in TheWrap.com, Rosenfelt, a onetime exec at Paramount Pictures, which ran MTV Films, let the upstart independent studio in on a secret: Twilight was going to be "huge." At the time, Edward and Bella were stuck in development hell. When Paramount formally cut Twilight loose, Summit pounced.
Burned by her first Hollywood suitor, Meyer wanted to make sure the new one was serious—especially, about her story. Her laundry list of conditions included no fangs, no coffins—and no messing with Edward's "and so the lion fell in love with the lamb" line to Bella.
In July 2007, Meyer announced she and Summit had come to terms. Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen) and Melissa Rosenberg (The O.C.) were named director and screenwriter, respectively. Next stop: assembling the cast.
As the search for Edward Cullen got underway, Meyer was happy—and wistful. Years prior, when MTV Films was going to make Twilight, the author had expectantly cast the film in her head. For Edward, she'd envisioned Henry Cavill, the future big-screen Superman (Man of Steel).
But by the time the Twilight movie finally got moving, Meyer reluctantly decided Cavill was no longer young enough to credibly play a teenager—even a teenager who'd been a teenager for decades and decades.
Moving on, Meyer polled her readers for their best Edwards. French actor Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising) was a popular choice. In the end, her readers sided most with Hayden Christensen (the Star Wars prequels), Orlando Bloom (the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises), My Chemical Romance lead singer Gerard Way, and a certain Harry Potter alum.
In the summer of 2007, unfamiliar with the Twilight books, if not the debate over who was the most worthy Edward, Pattinson was off the Hollywood grid.
"I was going to quit [acting] because I never got any jobs," he would recall on Today, "so I guess it's not really quitting when you're not getting jobs—it's just surrendering to fate."
At the end of the year, however, Pattinson was in Los Angeles, and while he wasn't exactly keen on Edward Cullen, he was game. He agreed to read with the actress who'd been cast as Bella.
And everything changed.