Nothing can compare to the hype that surrounded the 2008 release of the first film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga, but the beloved series could’ve looked completely different if one actor was cast instead of Kristen Stewart as the main character Bella Swan. While most people picked sides for Team Edward or Team Jacob, there was a behind-the-scenes battle for the claim of several major Twilight roles, like Bella and Edward. In fact, Stewart wasn’t even Meyer’s initial choice for the role. She originally wanted Sucker Punch’s Emily Browning.
The extensive lineup of prospective Bellas included actresses like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Michelle Trachtenberg, Lily Collins, Sara Paxton and even Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence auditioned for Bella before she made it big with her role as Katniss Everdeen in another film series adaptation of young adult novels — The Hunger Games. Despite Lawrence’s rejection, she received her breakthrough role in Winter’s Bone two years after the release of Twilight’s first film installment. She later became the second-youngest Best Actress winner for her lead role in Silver Linings Playbook, after only 21-year-old Marlee Matlin for Children of a Lesser God, also the only deaf recipient of the award.
If Lawrence had been cast as Bella, the film industry would have looked a lot different. Her potential involvement with The Twilight Saga may have prevented both her role as Mystique in the X-Men film franchise and as Katniss in The Hunger Games film series. Similar to the search for Bella, over 30 actresses auditioned for the dystopian world’s favorite archer, including dominant names in the film industry like Saoirse Ronan and Shailene Woodley. Ronan had previously starred as Lina Mayfleet in the film adaptation of Jeanne DuPrau’s City of Ember, while Woodley later appeared as another dystopian main character, Tris Prior, in the film adaptations of Veronica Roth’s Divergent book series.
Several actors’ love lives would have also been potentially different if their respective roles had gone to other people. Stewart’s high-profile and long-term relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson might have never happened. Stewart would have also never cheated on Pattinson with 42-year-old Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders in 2012, which ruined both her relationship and Sanders’ marriage. Lawrence might have never met her X-Men co-star and former long-term boyfriend Nicholas Hoult. That said, everyone’s romantic life turned drastically different in the long run.
Significant others aside, Lawrence had no regrets about being passed over for the titular Twilight role. The Hunger Games actress recalled she “had no idea Twilight would be such a big deal” when she first auditioned. Lawrence also remembered Stewart’s inability to remain hidden from the paparazzi. Ultimately, Stewart’s glum personality and expression made the most sense for the role of Bella Swan, and Twilight fans wouldn’t have it any other way.