PREVIOUSLY: On the verge of quitting acting, Robert Pattinson has a change of heart.
Kristen Stewart was her own woman as early as kindergarten. "I wore a T-shirt…that said, 'Kick butt first. Ask names later,'" she would tell London's Telegraph.
As an actress, the Los Angeles native worked with Jodie Foster (Panic Room), Glenn Close (The Safety of Objects) and Sean Penn (Into the Wild), and been dubbed a "prolific industry veteran," all before turning 18.
Heading into 2007, Stewart had four films set for release, but zero interest in a synopsis she'd read for a new movie about a girl who falls for a vampire: "I was just, like, 'Nope,'" she recalled for MoviesIreland.
Change of Heart
On her Website, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer threatened to "throw [herself] off a tall building if they cast some lip-synching, pop star-slash-actress" as Bella Swan.
No such dramatics were warranted. Tipped off by Emile Hirsch, who starred in Into the Wild, and who'd worked on Lords of Dogtown with Catherine Hardwicke, the Twilight director set her sights on Stewart.
The two met in Pittsburgh, where Stewart was at work on the comedy Adventureland. Hardwicke knew in an instant she'd found her Bella: "I was absolutely taken with her," the filmmaker told Empire. Stewart, in turn, was taken with the offer: By that point, she'd read the complete Twilight screenplay, and done a 180. "One day, [Stewart] came to set, and she was like, 'Oh, I think I'm doing some vampire picture,'" Adventureland director Greg Mottola recalled for E! News. "She was excited."
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Stewart's first Twilight assignment was to help Hardwicke find Edward, a search that had gone from impossible to hopeless. Thousands of audition tapes had been scanned, nearly 100 actors had met with Hardwicke, and, still, no winner had emerged.
In December 2007, four potential Edwards—Ben Barnes, Shiloh Fernandez, Jackson Rathbone and Robert Pattinson—were summoned to Hardwicke's Venice, Calif., home. Barnes had the most career momentum, having landed the starring role in the big-budget Chronicles of Narnia sequel, Prince Caspian. Pattinson, by comparison, showed up for the audition "all sloppy," Hardwicke remembered for MTV; his hair, still dyed black from his turn as a young Salvador Dali in the indie film Little Ashes, was all wrong; he didn't know his lines.
Then he came face to face with Stewart. "She had a lot of fight in her," Pattinson said, per the San Antonio Express-News. The actor got an idea: If Bella was strong, Edward could be vulnerable—tortured, even.
Pattinson tried his approach in the meadow scene, at the juncture where Edward tries to scare off Bella by letting her glimpse his superhuman physical prowess and anger. "I played it as this god is broken at this normal girl's feet," he said, per About.com.
Then came the kissing scene. Pattinson, for whom a pre-audition Valium had done little good, was revved-up, a tad too revved-up. Hardwicke had to remind the actor the film was going to be rated PG-13. Overall, however, she was encouraged. "It was electric," Hardwicke remembered for Entertainment Weekly. Pattinson and Stewart did the kissing scene again, and then a third time.
After the long day, Hardwicke huddled with Stewart, and lamented at the deliberation to come. Stewart was in disbelief, as she recounted to Vanity Fair. "I was like, "'Are you kidding me!? It's such an obvious choice!'," she remembered telling Hardwicke.
"Not to put down any of the other actors who came in, because they were really good, but everyone came in playing Edward as this perfect, happy-go-lucky guy," she said in Teen. "But I got hardcore pain from Rob."
Pattinson got the job. Twilight had its couple.