Unless she’s announcing a surprise new album, Taylor Swift stays off the news for the most part. That’s why it created a buzz among movie and pop culture fans alike when we heard that TayTay could have been in a Twilight movie.
Yes, America’s Sweetheart is, unsurprisingly, a Twihard or a die-hard fan of the Twilight book and movie franchise.
This interesting piece of info was revealed in a recent episode of The Twilight Effect with Ashley Greene and Melanie Howe podcast. It’s one of the more popular rewatch podcasts right now, in which the actress who played Alice Cullen breaks down iconic moments, behind-the-scenes drama, and frequently asked questions about the movies and books with her friend and co-host.
Director Chris Weitz was a guest on the podcast, who said Taylor Swift was dying to be a background actor in New Moon, but the director ultimately decided against it. “The hardest thing for me was to be like, the moment that Taylor Swift, like, walks onto the screen, like, for about five minutes, nobody is going to be able to process anything.”
There is some validity to his concern at the time. Taylor Swift’s rise to stardom was as much of a cultural phenomenon as the popularity of the Twilight movies. Her appearance could have taken attention away from even the sparkliest of vampires.
It’s not as if any of the Twilight movies needed a cameo from a rising pop star, anyway. The five movies went on to make a whopping $3.4 billion worldwide, effectively making it one of the highest-grossing film franchises of all time.
I’ve recently rewatched the Twilight movies, from Twilight to Breaking Dawn Part 2, all in one weekend. Not that I’d still consider myself the Twihard I became when I first read Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance novels as a tween, or that I even care about being Team Edward or Team Jacob, but I can honestly say that the movies are still highly entertaining many years after they’ve been released.
The Cinematography Captured the Mood of the Books Really Well
Forks, Washington—a real place, by the way—was always described as damp and gray in Stephenie Meyer’s books. Catherine Hardwicke’s first installment was criticized for being a little too blue, but I think the cinematography styles in all the Twilight movies are spectacular.
Hardwicke used blue filter to capture Forks the way the author described the setting in the books. We can’t help but feel as cold and pale as a vampire’s skin, which I think is the intention behind the choice.
New Moon was warmer in terms of the hues, which is an equally deliberate choice. It highlighted Edward’s absence and Bella’s growing attachment to Jacob, who is a much warmer character, so to speak.
And who can forget the iconic action scenes? Never before did we witness vampires so graceful and athletic before the Twilight movies. The werewolves’ version of training or playfighting was something to commend as well.
But the Cullens’ friendly game of baseball is easily one of the best scenes in all the Twilight movies. The thunderstorm, the Cullens’ family dynamic at play, their carefully-selected outfits, and the music to match made it so much fun. It was a huge contrast to the seriousness of their situation.
For a few minutes, they just seemed like a normal American family enjoying a game of catch—but with enhanced abilities that made the game much cooler to witness.
It’s a Compelling Tale About Family, as Much as It Is About Romance
When I first read the books, all I cared about was the complicated love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob, obviously. Every teenager who clutched the Twilight novels to their chest—or tacked a movie poster to their bedroom wall—was obsessed with the intense love connection the characters shared.
Upon rewatch, I focused less on that storyline and realized that the familial relationships of the Twilight movies were just as strong. On the one hand, we have vampires who choose their own family and stick to them through thick and thin.
On the other, there are werewolves—technically shapeshifters—who form unbreakable bonds with their packs. Both families demonstrate the importance of protecting your own, even if that means crossing dangerous creatures, or death.
It Paved the Way for More YA Novels and Movies To Be Made
If there is one Twilight-related hill I will die on, it’s that the movies paved the way for young adult fiction to flourish. Not to insult the entire Harry Potter fandom, but it had been a few years since the first of the Harry Potter books has been published and subsequently turned into a successful film. The books began as children’s literature and became more mature as its readership grew older.
But Stephenie Meyer’s novels about forbidden love between humans, vampires, and werewolves were really the first series to succeed in reeling in a young adult audience. Hot on the heels of Twilight’s success, the YA genre saw some worthy additions with The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, to name a few series titles.
Similarly, we saw plenty of these get turned into blockbuster YA movies. The Twilight movies were even credited for starting the trend of splitting a book into two movies, at least for the YA genre.
It Knew Its Audience and How To Make Them Obsessed with the Story
On that note, Twilight, both in book and movie form, really understood its audience. Romance is something that plenty of young adults begin to care about, but are not really encouraged to talk about. Young adults, especially teenage girls, who blabber on about love are often called whiny.
Twilight really tapped into this all-consuming passion (or obsession) that grows within us at some point. If we couldn’t experience it ourselves, reading about romance was an acceptable alternative.
The fantasy aspect of the Twilight saga only added to the series’ appeal. To top it all off, the cast was instantly beloved by the Twilight movies’ viewers. Although some were unconvinced by Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Bella, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner were perfect in their roles. I know it gave my group of Twilight-obsessed friends a hard choice between Team Edward and Team Jacob.
The Soundtrack Is Iconic
The best thing about the Twilight movies is the soundtrack. It’s one element that Twihards and critics can agree is top choice, and it’s all thanks to the movies’ music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas.
According to an interview with Vice, Patsavas wanted the songs to feel like tracks in a mixtape that you shyly give a crush. It was intimate and contained a mix of romantic ballads and alternative rock. The producers sought out original tracks from many upcoming artists like Paramore and Christina Perri, as well as established names like Muse. As a result, we have a very moody mix of songs like Decode and Supermassive Black Hole.
That said, the Twilight movies did make some choices that remain unforgivable a decade and a half since the saga concluded.
Bella as a Character Was Kind of Replaceable—Maybe That Was Intentional?
Young readers obsessed over Edward or Jacob and ignored Bella. It feels intentional—it has to be—to have the protagonist be such a flat character. There wasn’t anything that made her stand out except the irresistible scent of her blood, to which only vampires were privy. But on most accounts, she was an average teenage girl.
The only explanation is that Stephenie Meyer created Bella in such a way that makes her relatable. Perhaps teenage girls were meant to put themselves in Bella’s shoes, which is honestly a smart choice.
That said, Bella was the worst in more ways than one. She ditched her friends all the time, was willing to have her parents believe she was dead, and changed her entire life for a vampire she’s only known for a short time.
Not that I’m crucifying her for falling madly in love. We’ve all done some questionable things in the name of romance, but Bella was too stubborn to consider her choices for more than a minute. She also forced Edward to turn her into a vampire so they could be together forever, but was suddenly willing to sacrifice herself for their baby and leave Edward to care for their hybrid child for eternity.
The Relationships Between Bella and Edward and Even Bella and Jacob Are Borderline Toxic
The Twilight movies did an accurate job of portraying the complicated relationships between the saga’s characters. Maybe they were too accurate because the many red flags became very obvious.
First off, the “love” the lead characters bordered on obsession. Edward was overprotective. He stalked her like prey. Fine, maybe not like a prey, since he wasn’t going to drain her of her blood. Vampires couldn’t sleep so he had plenty of time on his hands, which he used to watch over her.
Meanwhile, Bella’s identity was dependent on her vampire beau. New Moon revealed just how co-dependent she was. The moment Edward skipped town, she fell into a deep depression and put her life at risk so she could hear him talking to her.
It’s not as if Jacob was that much better as a partner to Bella either. They were never actually a couple but Jacob came on to Bella so many times, knowing full well she was committed to Edward for eternity. He also acted like her boyfriend and got mad at her personal choices. At one point, he even manipulates her into kissing him.
The Vampire and Werewolf Mythologies Weren’t Established Very Well
While the Twilight movies were really about romance, the mythology was crucial to the storytelling. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the weakest aspects of the franchise.
The lore of vampires and shapeshifters is interesting but there’s a lot of inconsistency we can’t see past. For instance, vampire abilities were glossed over as human traits that become magnified when they turn.
That might work for some abilities like Emmett Cullen having super strength or Jasper Cullen’s ability to control people’s emotions. Maybe Alice’s husband just had great empathy when he was still a mortal.
However, there are vampires with inexplicably strong abilities that just make no sense. Like Kate who can generate electric currents through her body. Or Benjamin from the Egyptian coven who could control the elements like an Avatar.
The saga’s biggest plothole, however, comes in Breaking Dawn with Bella’s surprise pregnancy. How the hell did an undead person impregnate a mortal, let alone form a human-vampire hybrid through their union? Stephenie Meyer did explain this at some point, but those were long after the books and Twilight movies were made, so it wasn’t such a satisfying reveal.
All of the Other Actors Were Great Except for the Lead
Listen, I’ve loved Kristen Stewart since Panic Room. I think she’s a fantastic actress but the Twilight movies just didn’t showcase her best moments on screen.
Perhaps it had something to do with the way Bella was written in the books and on the script. The acting was as bland as the character. I was screaming for the Spencer actress to give us more emotion than a straight face when I rewatched it.
The only thing Kristen Stewart had going for her acting in the Twilight movies is the chemistry she shared with her leading men. I’d argue that she had more chemistry with Jacob, who actually made Bella laugh.
The CGI Was…a Choice
And finally, the most unforgivable thing about all the Twilight movies: the awful CGI. Specifically Bella and Edward’s creepy CGI baby, Renesmee, in Breaking Dawn Part 2. Director Bill Condon explained that they used visual effects instead of casting a real baby because the hybrid child was far from normal. She was supposed to have an otherworldly appeal, which is why the producers chose to go this creative direction.
Up to now, I’m still surprised that they greenlit the doll baby, which the production team actually nicknamed Chuckesmee. Renesmee in the Twilight movies didn’t look inviting at all. She had large and bulging eyes, a nose and a mouth that looked too mature for a baby’s face. Everyone, including the directors themselves, agree that it was a disaster.
Love it or hate it, the Twilight Saga is a popular franchise and one of the most palpable cultural phenomenons of our generation. There are plenty of good things about the movies, from the soundtrack to their influence on the YA genre. But there are also plenty of misses that balance the Twilight movies out.
Since it’s not cool to hate on the Twilight movies anymore, or anything people like or find comfort in, I suggest spending this weekend binge-watching the iconic series.