Many actors gained their fame from the Twilight franchise, but The Princess Switch series star Vanessa Hudgens was one of the biggest names to miss out on a part in the saga. The Twilight novels were a hit with teenage readers upon release, but the franchise did not become a full-blown pop culture phenomenon until it was adapted to the big screen. Beginning in 2008 with director Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight, the movie adaptations of Stephenie Meyers’ paranormal romance saga were massively financially successful despite failing to impress critics.
Although early drafts of the Twilight adaptations changed a lot from the original novels, the eventual movie versions of the novel saga stuck pretty close to the source material. As such, Twilight fans were not regularly incensed by the movies cutting characters or selling their stories short. However, there were a handful of exceptions to this rule, as proven by the case of Leah Clearwater.
The lone female shapeshifter in Twilight’s tribe of werewolves, Leah plays a pretty big role in the books wherein she hates Bella for her close connection to Jacob. Leah’s transformation into a werewolf prompts Harry Clearwater’s fatal heart attack in the Twilight saga, but in the movies, this detail is cut and Harry dies while trying to hunt down Eclipse’s vampire villainess Victoria. Originally, Vanessa Hudgens was attached to Leah Clearwater, but the star never played the role, possibly because she was a big name and Leah’s character was cut down so much that it may not have been a large enough role to entice the High School Musical star. Whatever, the cause, the star was connected to the part of Leah Clearwater, and it is still unclear why she missed out on it.
Leah’s role is not too substantial in the Twilight novels so, even before the movie adaptations limited her impact further, Hudgens may have wanted to stick with leading lady parts at the time. However, in an interview that took place with Hudgens when the disappointing Twilight sequel New Moon was released, the actor seemed up for the role and showed no sign of turning down the part if an offer materialized. Specifically, Hudgens said, “it’s still a rumor. I’m really interested, I think it’s a great project but nothing’s happening as of now”. Adding fuel to the speculative fire, Twilight actor Ashley Greene said Hudgens “would be great” in the part while series screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg said, “I had heard Vanessa Hudgens was going up for the part of Leah.”
Despite all this, the part of Leah eventually went to a smaller star, future Westworld actor Julia Jones. Jones, who also appeared in the acclaimed Wind River, may have been hired to avoid pulling Hudgens focus or because she came at a lower cost than the established star’s presumably high price tag. In any case, many stars were rejected by the Twilight franchise, meaning Hudgens was in good company with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Ben Barnes, Dave Franco, and Michelle Trachtenberg all being considered, and turned down, for roles in the series.