Today sees Breaking Dawn: Part 1, the fourth installment of The Twilight Saga, hitting movie theaters worldwide. Even before the first Twilight movie was released in 2008, the story and characters were already massively popular thanks to the bestselling book series by Stephenie Meyer. Many of the actors in the series, notably Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, are so associated with their Twilight characters that it’s hard to see how they’ll ever be able to shake their connection with the pop culture phenomenon. And while Breaking Dawn: Part 1 might end up being the highest-grossing film on many of the cast member’s CVs—it earned $31.3 million in ticket sales for midnight shows alone—it’s a fair bet that it’ll be far from the best in terms of quality. To that effect, MovieMaker highlights the best non-Twilight roles of Twilight actors.
Anna Kendrick (in Twilight as: Jessica Stanley)
?directed by Jonathan Levine
As a mere high school friend of Kristen Stewart’s Bella, Kendrick’s character isn’t involved in the day-to-day politics of the vampire and werewolf clans that most of the series revolves around; as such, her character is one of the more minor ones in the Twilight series. That means Kendrick isn’t as indelibly associated with Twilight as others who had their first big break with the series. Of the group of actresses who can count 2008’s Twilight as their first high-profile acting role—Kendrick, Kristen Stewart, Nikki Reed and Ashley Greene—Kendrick is the one who has had the largest measure of success since. She was nominated for an Oscar, BAFTA and SAG Award for Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air, and listed among her upcoming projects are next year’s The Company You Keep, directed by Robert Redford. In 50/50, out earlier this year, she was funny, endearing and sometimes painful to watch as Katherine, the well-meaning psychiatrist whose severe lack of on-the-job experience makes her interactions with cancer patient Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) about as awkward as a therapy appointment can possibly be.
Dakota Fanning (in Twilight as: Jane)
directed by Henry Selick
This Oscar-nominated animated film, based upon the Young Adult novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, follows Coraline (Dakota Fanning) as she explores her new home, meets her eccentric new neighbors and is pulled into an alternate version of her own life and almost killed by an evil doppelgänger version of her mother. Coraline‘s creepy visual aesthetic is a direct descendant of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which Selick also directed; it also maintained a lot of the whimsy and emotional poignancy present in his adaptation of James the Giant Peach. Much of that can be attributed to Fanning, who was perfectly cast as the lonely, adventurous Coraline, who is—rightfully—afraid of the creepy button-eyed people who want to kill her, but won’t let her fear stand in the way when it’s time to take care of business.
Kristen Stewart (in Twilight as: Bella Swan)
directed by Greg Mottola
In Greg Mottola’s (Superbad) coming-of-age comedy Adventureland, Stewart plays Em, a soon-to-be-college student whose distant father, gold-digging yuppie stepmother and—er—married boyfriend have managed to turn her into a human-sized ball of emotional confusion. Stewart is perfect in the role; though Em isn’t exactly the kind of person to bare her soul to her sort-of boyfriend James (Jesse Eisenberg), Stewart’s every gesture conveys Em’s fragile state, leading the audience to wonder when—not if—she’ll finally crack. When it finally happens—after James discovers Em’s affair with her married coworker (Ryan Reynolds)—it’s not some five-minute long weep-a-thon punctuated by tearfully-delivered explanations and apologies, and the movie is all the better for it.
Lee Pace (in Twilight as: Garrett)
The Fall (2006)
directed by Tarsem Singh
In The Fall, Lee Pace plays Roy Walker, a movie stuntman whose determination to keep his girlfriend from leaving him for the suave leading man by a way of performing an extremely dangerous stunt lands him in the hospital with two broken legs. There he befriends Alexandria (Catinca Untaru), an adorable five-year old with a broken arm and a vivid imagination. Roy tells Alexandria a fantastical story about five heroes (one of whom is played by Pace) on a quest to defeat the evil Governor Odious. What sounds on the surface like a cute story has some emotionally devastating moments; after all, Roy is seriously suicidal and takes advantage of Alexandria’s attachment to him to try and get her to bring him enough morphine to OD on, and that’s not exactly light and fluffy. Visually, the movie is stunning—it was directed by Tarsem Singh, after all—but that’s far from all it has going for it. For any fan of the short-lived TV series “Pushing Daisies,” starring Lee Pace—or, for that matter, for any fans of his performance in Breaking Dawn—The Fall is not to be missed.
Michael Sheen (in Twilight as: Aro)
?directed by Ron Howard
Theater-trained British actor Sheen certainly has no shortage of critically-acclaimed roles to reference: His performance opposite Helen Mirren in The Queen (as Tony Blair) garnered him a BAFTA nomination, and he was nominated for an Emmy for his role (also Tony Blair) in the HBO series “The Special Relationship.” More recently, he was one of the best parts of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris as the delightfully smarmy art snob Paul. In Frost/Nixon, he plays TV personality David Frost, who has been granted the only televised interview with disgraced President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). The film was nominated for the SAG Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” in 2009, and was nominated for five Oscars as well. Much of that can be credited to Sheen, who played Frost with a mixture of bravado and desperation to prove himself as something other than a mere talk show host.
Nikki Reed (in Twilight as: Rosalie Hale)?
directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Hardwicke co-wrote the script for this dark coming-of-age drama with its co-star Nikki Reed, who was just 14 years old when the film debuted at Sundance in 2003. The duo was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for the script, and Reed herself won the award for “Best Debut Performance” for her turn as Evie Zamora, the hard-partying yet emotionally fragile teen whose influence leads a once-sweet seventh grader (played by Evan Rachel Wood) into a world of drugs, drinking and sex. Thirteen remains Reed’s only writing credit to date. She and Hardwicke re-teamed for the first Twilight movie, which Hardwicke directed.
Peter Facinelli (in Twilight as: Carlisle Cullen)
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
?directed by Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan
Every teen movie has its bully, and Mike Dexter is to Can’t Hardly Wait as Biff Tannen is to Back to the Future. Dexter (Peter Facinelli) is the Homecoming King and über-jock who, on the day of high school graduation, dumps his longtime girlfriend so he can date “college women.” (“Women with no curfew, women on the pill, women… women, bro.”) Much to the delight of all those who tormented him, Dexter gets his comeuppance: He’s disabused of his notions about “college women” by his idol, the outrageously named Trip McNeely, who tells him that “College chicks are totally different, bro. They’re all serious and shit. They all talk about world issues and ‘ecolomological’ crap.” He asks his ex-girlfriend to take him back, only to be humiliated in front of his entire graduating class when she refuses, prompting him to have a hissy fit of epic proportions (“I’ll kick everyone’s ass in this room!”). Not to mention the whole “incriminating naked photos” incident that ends with him being arrested. While Can’t Hardly Wait was never going to win any Oscars (though it did get nominated for an MTV Movie Award), it is a fun ’90s comedy made even funnier by Facinelli, who played Mike Dexter with a wide-eyed vacancy that sometimes made him seem more “endearing doofus” than “evil bully.”
Robert Pattinson (in Twilight as: Edward Cullen)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
directed by Mike Newell
Prior to landing the role of Edward Cullen, Robert Pattinson was known best for playing Cedric Diggory, the Hogwarts student who finds that being the prototypical hero isn’t going to stop you being killed… not in the Harry Potter universe, anyway. When the Triwizard Tournament—think the wizarding equivalent of the Olympics—rolls into Hogwarts, Diggory finds himself in direct competition with Harry Potter for the coveted Triwizard Cup. When Diggory’s friends take it upon themselves to do a little trash-talking, Diggory does the honorable thing and tells them to back off. The fact that Diggory is nice on top of being smart, popular and athletic makes it even more of a bummer when a simple mistake puts Diggory in the line of fire between Harry and Lord Voldemort, who kills him without a second thought. Too bad. A vampire would’ve been much harder to kill.
Taylor Lautner (in Twilight as: Jacob Black)
Untitled Taylor Lautner/Gus Van Sant Project (2013)
directed by Gus Van Sant
Not much is known about this upcoming collaboration between Lautner and Van Sant—The Hollywood Reporter noted that it would be a “a small-budget film based on a nonfiction article in The New Yorker magazine that Lautner has optioned” and that Lautner would produce the project through his production company Quick Six. For now, that’s all we know, but that’s certainly been enough to get people talking about what form this collaboration between Lautner—who went the action star route in his critical flop Abduction—and two-time Oscar nominee Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) could take.