Taylor Lautner's new look was an overnight sensation.
"Oh my God!," an Access Hollywood reporter gasped in early 2009 as Lautner flexed a cannon of a muscle for the camera (Later, for good measure, Lautner offered a glimpse of his sculpted abs, too.)
The scary part was Lautner wasn't bragging, and he wasn't done—he talked of needing to another five pounds to his significantly bulked-up frame.
The scarier part was Twilight was blowing up just as big.
Even before filming began on New Moon, Summit Entertainment gave the greenlight to a second sequel, Eclipse, to be based on the same-titled third novel in author Stephenie Meyer's series.
Said Lautner to MTV.com: "It's crazy."
"They have a lot of heat on them," Chaske Spencer, cast in New Moon as Sam Uley, the top dog in Jacob Black's wolf pack, told Parade. "They're in a world of their own."
The romance rumors that sprung up after Twilight's release intensified as the low-budget movie grew into a global franchise.
"It becomes a joke," Pattinson told Entertainment Tonight.
Stewart assumed a harsher stance: "I'm not going to give the fiending an answer," she would tell Entertainment Weekly.
And she didn't.
The $50 million New Moon, shot under the fake-out title Unnamed Sports Movie, per TheWrap.com, began production in April 2009. With Vancouver, British Columbia, standing in for Forks this time out, the set was even chillier than Twilight's, especially for Lautner and his wolf-pack costars, who were tasked with playing hot-blooded, shirt-eschewing canines.
"I was sure I was gonna get sick," Lautner told Collider.com. (He didn't.)
The partially clothed cast and crew pressed on. A Nov. 20, 2009, release date was locked. The tight time frame meant that director Chris Weitz would be finishing off New Moon while yet another filmmaker, David Slade (30 Days of Night), would get cameras rolling later that summer on the $68 million Eclipse.
In the interim, a different sort of cold front blew in: Rachelle Lefevre, the flame-haired actress who'd played the vengeful vampire Victoria in Twilight and New Moon, was dumped from Eclipse in a scheduling conflict with the studio and replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard.
Weeks after her dismissal, Lefevre told People she was "devastated" by the firing, but ultimately "grateful" for Twilight. She was also, she said, impressed—impressed by how Pattinson and Stewart had weathered the franchise and everything that came with it unchanged.
On Nov. 10, 2009, a few weeks after the completion of principal photography on Eclipse, and only days before the release of New Moon, everything changed.
On the tarmac at a small airport outside of Paris, the 23-year-old Pattinson and 19-year-old Stewart were photographed walking arm in arm.
"They seemed very calm, in love," an on-scene photographer recounted in People.
"From the minute [Stewart] arrived in Paris, she seemed lighter, happier," another account went on X17 Online. "I think she finally decided not to fight it anymore, and let her relationship live out in the open!"
To the press and public that had clamored for proof, any proof, any sign, of an off-screen relationship, this was it; this was the moment.
Twilight wasn't going back, and neither were Pattinson and Stewart.