The movie, which had massive blockbuster success, had Robert Pattinson as the heartthrob in Hollywood.
Yet, the director claims that there was quite a bit of concern over his looks in the casting process.
“When he came over to my house, he had black bangs for hair and was kind of out of shape because he was hanging out at the pub all the time,” Hardwicke said during an interview on the Watchalong podcast. “I thought ‘it works not just in person, but it works on screen.’ I had to be sure. Of course, in person, I just got carried away, but you have to be sure — does it really translate [to the screen]?”
Following the “fun auditions” Pattinson shot with co-star Kristen Stewart for the 2008 film which were later shown to Summit Entertainment executives.
“I sent it to Summit and he went over to meet them,” Hardwicke added. “They called me back and go, ‘Do you think you can make this guy look good?’ I said, ‘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 with a stained shirt… It was Rob.”
The makeover involved his “hairstyle, the eyebrows, even the teeth,” Hardwicke added. “He started working out and worked with a trainer. He put a lot of effort in; you know, beautiful effort into it.”
The Edward Cullen hairstyle was a particular source of conflict, the director said. She said she loved boys with long hair and had a vision of the vampire with long locks, but Pattinson was vehemently against it.
“We did hair extensions on him,” she revealed of an early move to create Edward’s look. “He hated them. He’s like, ‘No! No! Do not torture me!’”
The team was then “playing around [and] came up with this great hairstyle” that Pattinson ended up keeping throughout the four films. “Hairdressers told me right and left that kids would walk into their salon, ‘I need that hairstyle,’” Hardwicke remembered.
When it came to casting Edward, Pattinson was a clear choice for the director, but that was mainly because of his instant chemistry with Stewart. Hardwicke said she had her “eyes set” on the actress “very early on.”
As for her and her costar’s dynamic together, Hardwicke said it was clear from the beginning that they were meant to be Bella and Edward.
“Right when Rob came in there was pretty much no contest because the two of them felt that connection so strong,” she said of their chemistry read, which included the scene where they officially meet in biology class. “I don’t think she felt it so strong with the others but you know it totally makes sense because they’re both, like, so indie — indie music, indie authors, writers, films. I mean, they had all that stuff together.”
Pattinson eventually landed the role and sealed his way into fans’ hearts. Hardwicke revealed that the four finalists for the role happened to be Pattinson, Ben Barnes, Shiloh Fernandez and Jackson Rathbone. Although Rathbone didn’t get to play Edward, he did book the role of Jasper in the saga.