Twilight first came onto everyone’s radar when the first film was released in 2008, and no one really expected just how big it was going to be. It became a worldwide craze, and suddenly everyone was dreaming about finding love with a vampire or a werewolf; but would the film franchise have been the same were it not for the cast?
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have since become disenchanted with their Twilight days; Stewart admitted on The Ellen Degeneres Show (via E! News) that her breakout role was “uncomfortable,” while Smosh reports that Pattinson said he wasn’t a fan of his character. But there is no denying that this role brought them giant paychecks and stardom, and there are many, many other big stars who would have loved to have taken their place. Although it’s impossible to imagine Lucy Hale or Jennifer Lawrence as Bella Swan, or Dave Franco as Edward Cullen, that didn’t stop them from trying out, sometimes for multiple roles.
Below are 15 celebs who either auditioned to be a part of Twilight and found themselves rejected, or who the screenwriter and author thought would be perfect for the role, but their dreams just never materialized.
Lucy Hale is probably best known for her role as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars, but there was another role in a big franchise that she auditioned for, and that role was as Jane Volturi in the Twilight sequel, New Moon. She told Twist magazine (via MTV News) about the audition, saying, "Well, I did read [for the role of Jane]. We had some talks about it. But I think they just offered it to Dakota Fanning, the role I was interested in. Which is great — I'm a huge fan of her! So I think she'll probably take that. And I mean, as of right now, I'm not sure if it's going to work out. But I'm definitely still going to see it!"
Despite not getting the part, Hale wasn’t too torn up being rejected and according to J-14, she thought everything turned out well in the end. She said, "I love everyone they've cast. I'm such a believer in everything happens for a reason and it's all about timing. I like where I'm at right now!"
Despite not being chosen, and not having hard feelings about it, it does seem that Hale really, really wanted to be in the films because before even auditioning for the role of Volturi, she had tried out for Alice Cullen. She said, "I auditioned for [the role of] Alice. I read the books and I wanted to be part of the first movie so bad."
It’s hard to imagine anyone playing the role of the brooding character Bella Swan, other than Kristen Stewart, but she was not the only actress who auditioned for the part. One of Hollywood’s greats, Jennifer Lawrence, also thought she would have been a good fit for the part, and auditioned in 2007. Although many people feel she is far too tough to have played this feeble character, with Rolling Stone noting that she “would have been perfect if Bella were a bad[expletive], but since she's a frightened waif, Lawrence ended up not getting the part.”
Not long after, Lawrence got a role in Winter’s Bone (for which she got an Oscar nomination), but she spoke about her earlier audition in an interview. According to Huffington Post, she said, “I love the Twilight books. I’m not even ashamed to say it, they are like [addictive substances] to me. So when I heard Kristen Stewart say, ‘I only read the first one,’ I was like, ‘Oh man,’ because she wasn’t a huge fan of the books...”
Then in 2018, she touched on the role again, telling Howard Stern (via E! Online) about the audition process. She said, “When you audition when you're a run-of-the-mill actor - we're all auditioning for all sorts of things - you just get like five pages and they're like 'act monkey!'"
Jacob Black was one of the most handsome characters in The Twilight Saga, and that’s thanks to Taylor Lautner. But there was another handsome actor who wanted the role, and that was Michael Copon. Capon really felt he was deserving of the part.
He told J-14 (via JustJared), that he was much bigger than Lautner in both muscle and height, and felt he would have been an asset because of this (and more).
He said, “I have nothing against Taylor personally. I think he’s great and tremendous at what he does. But it’s just adjusting to the fact that Jacob has to grow. It’s a matter of going with the storyline. It goes with the territory. I see so much in Jacob Black that I feel like wasn’t brought to the first film that if I had the opportunity, I would totally create an amazing character.”
According to MTV News, when working on New Moon, the producers were worried that Lautner may not have been able to bulk up, and Copon is a lot bigger, so they were considering recasting him. The thing is, despite Copon making his wishes to be in the film franchise known, even admitting to J-14 that he had read the first book and “dabbled through the Cliffs Notes of the second and third ones,” it would have been strange to have seen the character recast.
Vanessa Hudgens did not try out for the role of Bella Swan, rather, there was another part she was far more interested in; the role of Leah Clearwater. Ahead of the release of New Moon (the second film in the series), there was a rumor that Hudgens was interested in the role of Leah, and she told ExtraTV, "It's still a rumor. I'm really interested, I think it's a great project but nothing's happening as of now." She also admitted that she was a fan of the movie and that her sister had read all the books.
Ashley Greene, who played the role of Alice Cullen, may have sparked the rumors when she told MTV News that Hudgens had auditioned for the role. And when the publication caught up with her at a Golden Globes after party she confessed that she would like to co-star with Hudgens, saying, "I think she'd be great.”
But despite reportedly trying out, it seems the role was not meant for Hudgens. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg also seemed to have doubt about the casting, and told People, “I’m not sure about [final] casting but I had heard Vanessa Hudgens was going up for the part of Leah [Clearwater, a werewolf]. But at the moment, the part of Leah doesn’t happen until the third movie.” And according to People, reps denied that Hudgens was in consideration for the part.
It seems the role of Bella Swan is one that was highly sought after, because Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Michelle Trachtenberg also admitted to being interested in the part. Speaking of the role in an interview with Us Weekly, she claimed that she was in the running, saying, “There was definitely interest here and there because there’s only so few pale girls in Hollywood.”
She revealed that she had known the director Catherine Hardwicke [who directed the first film, Twilight] since the movie Thirteen, saying, “I was actually supposed to star in that, but I was on Buffy at the time.”
So, why didn’t Trachtenberg get the role? “I guess schedules never worked out,” she said, adding, “I already have Buffy. I’ve already done the vampire thing.”
It doesn’t sound like Trachtenberg was particularly upset about not getting the part, and perhaps Twilight fans will be pleased she didn’t get it because Zimbio noted how different the films would have been without Kristen Stewart. The publication notes that there would have been no Robert Pattinson (she reportedly championed him for the role), and that Taylor Lautner may have been recast because he is seven years younger than Trachtenberg.
Dustin Milligan had big dreams of starring alongside Kristen Stewart for the third time when he auditioned for a part in The Twilight Saga, but unfortunately, his dreams were not meant to be. In a 2009 interview with Access Hollywood, he joked about his rejection from the film franchise, saying, "I did my best Edward Cullen. But, unfortunately, I didn't have a British accent, so I didn't get the job!"
The man who did get the part was Robert Pattinson, who is British. Although, that wasn’t a requirement for the role, but Milligan told the outlet that Pattinson’s speaking voice would have definitely worked in his favor, especially with the ladies. He said, “It’s like, boom! Ladies love that.”
The publication notes that despite not appearing as Stewart’s lover onscreen, Milligan was with her on the set of The Messengers, and again in In the Land Of Women, and he enjoyed working with her. He said, “Kristen was actually a remarkable young woman. I met her when she was 15. And she at times would be acting like she was a 15-year-old and for most of the time behaving like a 40-year-old. She’s really really smart, very self-assured, she knows how she is.”
According to MTV News, ahead of New Moon, The Chronicles of Narnia actor Ben Barnes was reportedly campaigning for the role of the vampire, Aro. However, the role later went to Michael Sheen.
And apparently, this was not the only role that Barnes had wanted to be cast as, because he reportedly also tried his luck at the lead role of Edward Cullen (which went to Robert Pattinson).
E! News notes that after director Catherine Hardwicke [who directed the first film, Twilight] cast Kristen Stewart, their job was to find who would be the best for the role of Cullen, and among the hopefuls were Pattinson, Shiloh Fernandez, Jackson Rathbone, and Barnes.
But it was Pattinson that Stewart had the most chemistry with.
According to Twilight Lexicon, Barnes spoke about his bid for the role, saying, “There were quite a few auditions. I was the first person they kind of approached about it. It was all right. I very quickly read the first [Twilight] book. I really enjoyed it. I think Kristen Stewart is great. I think she’s a really good actress. And I really like Catherine Hardwicke. But then there were two things: First off, they didn’t want to mix Narnia and Twilight. I think it’s dangerous to mix characters from franchises while you’re doing one. So she definitely didn’t want Prince Caspian being Edward Cullen. It doesn’t make sense. And secondly, I’d still be shooting at age 30, playing 17, and nobody wants to see that. That would be kind of sad.”
Dave Franco is a lot more than just James Franco’s little brother, but his career would have turned out so different had he been cast in The Twilight Saga. And he could have been in Twilight, well, if his audition had been more successful. He revealed as much during an interview with MTV News, telling the publication, "I tested for Edward Cullen. I don't know how close I was. I read for [director] Catherine Hardwicke, but who knows. I mean, maybe there were still hundreds of kids left reading for Catherine Hardwicke."
What we do now know about the role of Edward Cullen is that it was read by a lot of famous actors who were vying for the part, but that Franco was not one of the top four who ended up reading opposite Kristen Stewart.
As mentioned earlier, the final four, according to E! News, were Robert Pattinson, Shiloh Fernandez, Jackson Rathbone and Ben Barnes, and it seems Franco was under no illusion that the part was going to go to him. When asked this question by MTV News he responded by saying, "No. No, no, no," and added, “At this point, I still don't know what I'm doing. At that point, I was in over my head."
It’s no secret that Kristen Stewart had competition for the role of Bella Swan, but it is surprising to learn just how many other famous actresses auditioned for the part, and among them was Lily Collins.
It was a role that made Stewart a household name, and it was one of the first auditions that Collins tried her luck with.
She revealed as much during an interview with CraveOnline (via Mandatory), saying, "This was many years ago. I was new on the scene, new at auditioning and it was always kind of this, 'What's going to happen?' everyone in the waiting room waiting for you. One of those anxious days as a young actor."
And this has not been the only time she has spoken of the audition, and what it was like when her career was just starting out. According to Hollywood, she is quoted as saying, "Yeah, one of my first auditions actually was for Twilight which is really funny now thinking about it. ... I think every young actor or actress in Hollywood starts to read some of the same material but I think everything happens for a reason and everyone who gets the roles they get were meant to. I’m a firm believer in that.”
This entry is a little different to the others on this list because despite actress Emily Browning reportedly being considered by the top Twilight people for the role of Bella Swan in The Twilight Saga, it seems that she had no interest in auditioning. Or did she?
According to MTV News, Browning has often been the subject of a debate about whether she turned down the role of Swan, despite author Stephenie Meyer wanting her to play the part. There is also much speculation about whether these rumors are true or not, and in a 2009 interview with the publication, Browning commented on the reports.
"Maybe I should set it straight a little bit, because there are so many rumors flying around," she said. "People are coming up to me and saying, 'Oh, my God. You turned [Twilight] down?' and all this horrible stuff! What actually happened is that I was asked to audition — not take the part, but to just audition — shortly after The Uninvited had finished filming. And I'm not the type of person who can just work back-to-back. So I was just exhausted, and I was like, 'I'm sorry, but I just can't sign on to a trilogy right now.'"
But the comments she later made to The Telegraph were quite different, as she criticized the series. She said, “...And yes, I was asked to – I wasn’t offered the part, which is what a lot of people have reported – but I was asked to audition for it. And it just wasn’t for me. I’d never heard of it at that point, but then I read the book and I just… No.”
Unlike many of the actors on this list who weren’t right for the various parts in the Twilight franchise that they auditioned for, Michael Welch actually did get a part in the film franchise as the character Mike Newton.
He described his character to MTV News, saying, “Mike Newton is a cool guy. He's a fun character. He is hopelessly obsessed with the new mysterious, interesting, beautiful girl in high school…” The girl he is referring to was Bella Swan, and he originally auditioned for a role which would have seen him as the love of Swan's life.
“Actually, I originally auditioned for the role of Edward,” Welch revealed.
“And as much as I appreciate my representatives thinking that I could pull off hauntingly beautiful — the most gorgeous creature you will ever see on the planet — it's not quite me. ... Then I auditioned for the role of Eric. ... I auditioned for pretty much every role before Mike. When we got to Mike, it really did seem to be the best fit. We went in and [director] Catherine [Hardwicke] held what's called a 'mix and match' session, where she gets a bunch of actors, we all stand in the same room together and read together to see who has the best ‘chemistry,’ whatever that means.” And despite not getting his first few choices when it came to roles, he still found his way into the films in the end.
It’s unclear whether Channing Tatum ever had any desire to play the role of Riley Biers, a bad vampire, who was in love with his maker, Victoria. The character is described on Fandom as someone who’s “fatal flaw was also his love for Victoria, which ultimately got him k—d." But one thing we do know is that the screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, wanted Tatum onboard for the third film, Eclipse.
At the Los Angeles Times' Book Festival benefit for the Writers Guild Foundation Rosenberg told E! News, “There’s a very big battle at the end with Riley, and I think Channing would do that so well. And there are some complexities to that character… He really is tragic. He’s a puppet for Victoria [played by Rachelle Lefevre]. So he has to break your heart a little bit at the end when he realizes that she doesn’t want him. Channing could do that beautifully.”
The role ended up going to Xavier Samuel, who told Sydney Morning Herald, “Twilight changed things for me, it opened up doors that wouldn't have necessarily been opened.” He later elaborated, saying, “I got a flirtation with celebrity that you don't often get to see in that extreme. It was such a gigantic phenomenon. I [have] been trying to not let an experience define and be the only thing that [I'm] known for…I wanted to be challenged and kind of do films and plays that are kind of uncharted territory.”
Earlier on this list, I noted that Dave Franco wanted the role of Edward Cullen, but it appears that he was not the only Franco sibling who wished to be cast in The Twilight Saga. According to MTV News, James Franco also had his sights set on the franchise and wanted to be in Breaking Dawn, and the director of the film, Bob Condon had considered him.
But the roles would have had to be as one of the new vampires, and Condon told MTV News he thought about it, but “nothing made sense.”
He added, “If it had made sense, and frankly if I had called and said 'do you want to play that vampire from that country,' it would have involved hanging around for two months in a scene with 80 people, and I don't know if he really would have wanted to do it."
Franco spoke to Playboy (via Digital Spy) about his interest in the franchise, and revealed how it all came about. He said, "I was working with a Yale undergraduate who had written an autobiographical play about putting on a theatrical production of Twilight in which I was a character. So I was interested in Twilight because I was going to be part of that play. I thought what a great connection it would be if I were also involved with the real Twilight."
Shiloh Fernandez came close to being Edward Cullen and made it as far as the final four hopefuls, but ultimately it was Robert Pattinson who was awarded the role. Fernandez later admitted that this had a lot to do with Kristen Stewart.
MTV News reports that he gave an interview to NextMovie, in which he admitted that the chemistry between him and the female lead, Stewart, was just not right. He said, "It didn't work because I wasn't right for the part. I read a quote recently that I supposedly said about Kristen… it was horrible. What I was really saying was it was me — I was the one who was nervous and awkward. She already had the role of Bella. I really wanted that part because I like the book and I think it's a fantastic role, but we really didn't mesh up. I'm sure Kristen would agree — I've never seen her besides that one day."
He also spoke about the role with V-MAN magazine (via MTV News) and acknowledged that at the time of the audition he had no idea how huge this role was going to be. “No one had any idea what Twilight would become,” he said. “At the time, it was just another audition. I didn’t realize I was missing out on stardom and giant paychecks.”
Someone in the Twilight franchise was a really big fan of Henry Cavill, and that someone was author Stephenie Meyer, who according to MTV News, claimed that he would have been her "perfect Edward."
The publication notes that when casting was underway for first Twilight film, Meyer reportedly posted this: "Indisputably the most difficult character to cast, Edward is also the one that I'm most passionately decided upon. The only actor I've ever seen who I think could come close to pulling off Edward Cullen is Henry Cavill. Henry was Albert, the young son in The Count of Monte Cristo. Can you see it? I know I can!"
She reportedly later changed her mind, feeling as though he had gotten too old, and instead proposed that Cavill played the role of Dr. Carlisle Cullen. Yet despite her thinking the actor would be perfect (for one role or the other), Cavill revealed that he had never been contacted to play the role.
It would have been very different with Superman at the helm. "I've heard this, but I haven't heard from Stephenie," Cavill said, adding, "I haven't spoken to her personally, and I haven't spoken to the producers."
According to Glamour, he also said that despite not being cast, he was “enormously flattered.” He said, "I'm flattered! It's enormously flattering. If a writer were to say that I am the writer's ideal choice, that's enormously flattering. I hope that I will be able to continue to perform in a way that will have other people saying it."
Sources: imdb.com, eonline.com, smosh.com, mtv.com, people.com, rollingstone.com, huffingtonpost.com, eonline.com, justjaredjr.com, j-14.com, extratv.com, usmagazine.com, zimbio.com, mtv.com, accessonline.com, eonline.com, mtv.com, eonline.com, mandatory.com, mtv.com, mtv.com, eonline.com, mtv.com, digitalspy.com, mtv.com, mtv.com, glamourmagazine.co.uk