Twilight director says studio questioned whether Robert Pattinson was handsome enough

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke revealed that Robert Pattinson was nearly passed up for the leading role in the 2008 film because the studio was sceptical about his physical attributes.

Pattinson, 37, starred as the alluring vampire Edward Cullen who falls in love with human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) in the five-film fantasy romance saga based on the popular book series by Stephenie Meyer.

Recalling the British actor’s first auditions during a special “Watchalong” episode on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, Hardwicke remembered Pattinson, at the time, “had black bangs for hair and was kind of out of shape because he was hanging out at the pub all the time”.

Hardwicke shared that Pattinson and Stewart had “come over to my house”, where they filmed “fun auditions”. “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]?” the director said.

“I sent it to Summit [Entertainment, the studio financing the movie] and he went over to meet them,” Hardwicke recounted. “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 director confirmed that Pattinson eventually beat out three other final candidates for the role: Ben Barnes, Shiloh Fernandez and Jackson Rathbone, the latter of whom went on to portray Jasper in the series.

Twilight celebrated its 15th anniversary a few days ago, on 18 November.

Elsewhere in the interview, Hardwicke remembered warning the then-21-year-old Pattinson at the time that Stewart (then 17) was still considered a minor in the US.

“I could tell when they were doing the biology scene at my kitchen table, I saw the sparks were flying so much,” the director said. “I’m like, ‘Rob, I don’t know if you know that in the US, 17 [is] underage’ and they were shocked that I said that.”

The two began dating in 2009 but temporarily split in 2012 after it emerged that Stewart was having an affair with her Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders. They split for good in 2013 – Pattinson confirmed in a 2019 interview that they are on good terms with one another.

Pattinson and his wife singer-songwriter Suki Waterhouse, recently announced that they are expecting their first child together. Meanwhile, Stewart has been in a relationship with fiancée Dylan Meyer since 2019.