Sorry, Kristen Stewart Fans: Another Actress Was Meyer's First Choice for Twilight

Sorry, Kristen Stewart Fans: Another Actress Was Meyer's First Choice for Twilight
Image credit: Legion-Media

Bella Swan played by an Oscar-winning actress?

The Twilight movies made a household name of Kristen Stewart, and launched her career from small-time indie darling to marquee headliner in the space of just a few years.

But while Stewart’s face is now forever linked to Bella Swan, there were a number of other actresses who came close to nabbing the role… and one of them was actually Stephanie Meyer’s first choice.

Michelle Trachtenberg had known Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke for years. She told Us Weekly that she had been under consideration for the role of Bella, but that “the schedule had never worked out”. Whether that means she actually auditioned or not, we’ll never know. However, Trachtenberg has already starred on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so she had her time in the vampire spotlight.

Lily Collins is now recognized as the title characters of Emily in Paris, Love Rosie, and Snow White – but one of her first auditions was for Bella Swan. Collins told Crave that she has no regrets on losing out on the part, stating: “I think everything happens for a reason and everyone who gets the roles they get were meant to. I’m a firm believer in that.”

Those who like to sneer at Kristen Stewart's wooden Twilight acting will probably groan when they find out that they could have gotten Jennifer Lawrence instead.

The (now) multi-award winning actress was just another Hollywood nobody when she auditioned for the role of Bella. She probably doesn’t regret missing out on the role though, because three years after the first Twilight movie was released Lawrence was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in Winter’s Bone.

Emily Browning was Stephanie Meyer’s preferred candidate for the role of Bella, but she never actually auditioned for the part. The actress, who was already known for her work in Ghost Ship and A Series of Unfortunate Events, was a serious up-and-comer at the time. However, she was unable to audition for Twilight due to exhaustion from her tight filming schedule. Browning has never been anything but gracious when asked about her missed opportunity – but we have to wonder if she has a few regrets.

Bella wasn’t the only role that could have gone to someone different. Before Robert Pattinson snagged the role, producers also seriously considered Ben Barnes (Shadow & Bone) and Shiloh Fernandez (Jericho). Barnes lost out because he was already part of a teen-focused franchise (he played Prince Caspian in the Narnia movies), while Fernandez did a screen test with Kristen Stewart and the chemistry just wasn’t there.

Not all actors who missed out on a Twilight lead went home empty-handed. Jackson Rathbone originally auditioned for the role of Edward… but you probably recognize him now as Twilight’s Jasper Cullen.