As a child, Kristen Stewart had starred as Jodie Foster's daughter in Panic Room, but it wasn't until last year, with Sean Penn's Into the Wild, that she blossomed. ''Her mixture of innocence and longing just knocked me out,'' Hardwicke says. Hoping she'd found her Bella, she took a red-eye flight to Pittsburgh where Stewart, then 17, was shooting Greg Mottola's Adventureland and did an impromptu screen test with the actress. ''She'd been shooting all night, but she learned her lines on the spot,'' Hardwicke says. ''She danced on the bed and chased pigeons in the park. I was captivated.'' For Stewart, scoring the role was the easy part. She then needed to figure out how to play it. ''The only thing I could bring to Bella was to be myself,'' Stewart says now. ''She's an honest, up-front, seemingly logical girl. She's alone but not lonely.''
As for the character of Edward, Meyer describes him as ''devastatingly inhumanly beautiful.'' Not surprisingly, he has become a heartthrob to millions. ''Everybody has such an idealized vision of Edward,'' Hardwicke says. ''They were rabid [about who I was going to cast]. Like, old ladies saying, 'You better get it right.''' She almost didn't. Hardwicke had seen a picture of Robert Pattinson, a 22-year-old Brit best known as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but had been underwhelmed. So Pattinson flew to meet with Hardwicke at her home in Venice, Calif. His audition consisted of a love scene with Stewart on Hardwicke's bed. ''It was electric,'' Hardwicke says. ''The room shorted out, the sky opened up, and I was like, 'This is going to be good.'''
Fans weren't so sure at first, and some of the blogs were brutal. ''I stopped reading after I saw the signatures saying 'Please, anyone else,''' Pattinson says, laughing. To prepare for the role, the actor did more than just stay out of the sun. He wrote journal entries as Edward and shut himself off from his friends and family. ''I wanted to feel his isolation,'' he says. Still, Pattinson didn't transform into Edward in all ways. ''I was supposed to get a six-pack,'' he says. ''But it didn't really work out.''
No worries. Fans are already gushing about Twilight's teaser trailer surely a relief to Hardwicke. It was the fans who kept her motivated. On a single day, for instance, the filmmakers endured snow, rain, and hail. ''There were some days I cried,'' she says. ''But then I would see these girls and moms who loved the book standing in the rain [watching], and I'd think, 'I can't have a pity party. I better stand up and make this scene great. I don't care if it is hailing on me.''' Or, heaven forbid, the sun is shining.
From the Archive:
Stephenie Meyer: The EW Q&A (Aug. 2007)