Nine years ago today, Twilight hit theaters. Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that the franchise spawned from Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling novels was (and in many ways, still is) a pop-culture force to be reckoned with.
It made international superstars out of its leads, Robert Pattinson (the vampire Edward) and Kristen Stewart (human high-schooler Bella), and the first film of the five-film series went on to earn over $400 million globally. All of the movies together have taken in $3.3 BILLION.
What’s most interesting to me about the Twilight series is how its leads have seemed to purposely distance themselves from the types of high-visibility, big-budget franchise films that made them famous. You could argue that’s because the Twilight movies weren’t exactly critically acclaimed, or that both stars were thoroughly sick of the hype machine and dealing with crazy screaming fans for more than five years straight . . . but you could also argue that both Pattinson and Stewart (who dated throughout the franchise’s theatrical run) have always been talented forces who simply want to prove they’re more than Edward and Bella.
That’s likely why both have now focused their careers on indies. While Stewart’s career began long before Twilight (she was Jodie Foster’s daughter in 2002’s Panic Room, remember?), she began peppering memorable roles into her portfolio almost immediately after Twilight was released. From Adventureland (2009) to The Runaways (2010) to On the Road (2012), she was steadily working on smaller films and making a name for herself outside of Bella. Next year she has two indies (Lizzie and JT LeRoy) and one bigger movie (Underwater) for us to look forward to.
As for our Edward, the world first knew him as Cedric Diggory in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. But nothing propelled him into the Hollywood stratosphere like Twilight. In the midst of those films he starred opposite Reese Witherspoon in the 2011 adaptation of Water for Elephants, but has since been exclusively in indies, including David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, the dystopian drama The Rover, and the true-adventure story The Lost City of Z, which was excellent.
And just today Pattinson hit the Box in his latest — and possibly trippiest — movie: Good Time. He’s earned rave reviews as a violent, not-very-bright criminal who’s on the run after breaking his brother out of jail. If Pattinson was looking for a role that would be the polar opposite of Edward in Twilight, this would be it.
I’ll close by wondering if one day — many, many years from now — we would ever seen Pattinson and Stewart reprise their Twilight roles. Right now my gut says “no way,” but at the same time I never thought I would see most of the original Star Wars cast back on the big screen as their same characters from the ‘70s and ‘80s, either. Harrison Ford alone has come back as not only Han Solo, but also Indiana Jones AND Deckard from Blade Runner, so you just never know.
Keep hope alive, Twihards!