Robert Pattinson’s performance as Edward Cullen in Twilight could have been more intense had he gone with the way he had originally planned to play the character – here’s why it changed. Back in 2005, Stephenie Meyer shared her unique vision of vampires, werewolves, and how these would coexist with humans in her debut novel Twilight, the first book in a series of four novels. The core of the series was the (often problematic) romance between vampire Edward Cullen and mortal Bella Swan, who had to overcome a variety of obstacles so they could be together and Bella could eventually become a vampire.
The Twilight book series was a big success with viewers but not so much with critics, who pointed out its many flaws, but that wasn’t an impediment for it to make the jump to the big screen a couple of months after the final novel, Breaking Dawn, was published. Twilight was released in 2008 and gave a face to those characters fans already knew and loved, with Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan, and Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black. Twilight drew even more criticism, now not only focused on the story but also the performances – and Pattinson’s performance as Edward could have been different, though not necessarily better.
When Robert Pattinson was cast as Edward Cullen, he hadn’t read the Twilight books, but he later did and was even allowed to read a manuscript of the then unfinished Midnight Sun, which tells the events of Twilight from Edward’s perspective. Pattinson, then, wanted to play Edward Cullen as a “brooding guy” to better reflect the intensity of teenage relationships (even if Edward was already over a hundred years old when he met Bella), but the producers weren’t on board with that, so they sent him the Twilight book with highlights marking every time Edward smiled in order to change his mind and play the character as more lighthearted and fun-loving.
Despite the producers’ efforts, Pattinson wasn’t convinced and clapped back with the book now highlighted in a different color to show all those times Edward frowned, which are a lot. Pattinson shared on The Howard Stern Show in 2017 that this almost got him fired, so in order to keep his job he had to change his ideas on how Edward Cullen was supposed to act, so he gave in and agreed with the producers on how to portray the character, but he still managed to give him a bit of that intensity and darkness later on in the Twilight Saga. This change wasn’t exactly for good, as his performance was still criticized and even he has mocked his work in the film series on different occasions, most notably in the Twilight DVD commentary.
Everyone had a different idea on how Edward Cullen was supposed to be like when making the jump to the big screen, and even some fans of the Twilight books didn’t fully agree with Robert Pattinson’s performance, so it’s hard to say if his initial plan would have worked better or not, but he might have at least been more comfortable playing a more intense Edward Cullen than the “lighthearted” version that made it to the big screen.