Back in the early 2010s, Twilight mania was in full force. The films opened to millions at the box office, hordes of adoring fans, and mediocre to abysmal critical ratings. Reviewers weren’t the only ones who didn’t like the Twilight Saga; for a time, it might have been even more popular to hate on the vampire series than to actually enjoy it.
And while reviewers had negative things to say about the series, the harshest critics of Twilight have always been its stars. All of them knew they weren’t making high art, but some more than others have been able to see the positives of the films that kicked off their careers. From parody to criticism to outright hate, the Twilight cast has said quite a lot about this strange franchise.
It’s never been secret that Edward Cullen actor Robert Pattinson feels a level of disdain for his character, the series, and its fans. He even admitted in the DVD commentary of the first Twilight film that he ran out of the theater part way during the premiere.
In the lead-up to the penultimate film, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Pattinson laughingly claimed that “a lot of the stuff in the Twilight world doesn’t make sense.” He expanded, asking, “why are [the vampires] still going to high school” when they’re over “100 years old.” In an interview with W Magazine, Pattinson described Twilight as “a really weird story.” He goes on to reference the grisly birthing scene in which Edward must give Bella a cesarean section with his fangs, which he found especially strange given that “this [movie] is just a thing for little girls … it’s difficult to get past.”
On fans, Pattinson told Vanity Fair in 2011 that he “can’t really understand” Twilight’s appeal and that many of the fans “want [their fandom] to define them … people really just like being part of a crowd.” To Germany’s Interview magazine, the actor identified many of the franchise’s fans as “older” and mused on “what these masses of people do the whole day. They sit in front of their computers and comment on anything having even remotely to do with Twilight.”
When speaking to E!, Pattinson spoke frankly about Edward’s biggest fan: author Stephenie Meyer. The actor recalled that the first book had him “convinced Stephanie was convinced she was Bella” and that it felt like “it was a book that wasn’t supposed to be published.” “It was like reading her sexual fantasy,” he continued, calling the author “completely mad and … in love with her own fictional creation.”
In an interview with Moviefone, Pattinson unequivocally stated that he wouldn’t have been a Twilight fan if he hadn’t starred in the film series. “I think I am a judgmental and cynical person who would just mindlessly hate it without having seen anything; I just think I’m a bad person.” On his character, Pattinson told OK Magazine, “If Edward wasn’t a fictional character and you met him in reality, he is like one of those guys who would probably be an axe murderer or something.”
He has also expressed confusion over the romance fans see in the series, saying in a segment of Variety’s Actors on Actors series that he found it “strange how people responded to … [a story] about this guy, and he finds the one girl he wants to be with, and he also wants to eat her. I mean, not eat her, but drink her blood or whatever.”
Kristen Stewart looks back on playing Bella with fond memories, but that doesn’t mean that she sees the Twilight saga through rose-colored glasses. In a 2015 interview with legendary singer/songwriter Patti Smith for Interview Magazine, the actress admits that the production “wasn’t entirely cohesive… We ebbed and flowed.” She goes on to say she understands “anybody who wants to talk sh*t on Twilight” but that she’s ultimately “proud” of the series. “My memory of it felt—still feels—really good.”
On Ellen the next year, Stewart explained that playing Bella during her teenage years was rough because “something personal became not the most personal thing” during “the most uncomfortable, terrible, weird” period of her life. Like Pattinson, Stewart wasn’t afraid to criticize Twilight’s many plot holes. In an appearance on The Graham Norton Show in 2012, the actress poked fun at the fact that “as soon as she becomes a vampire, they kind of ignore their duties. Instantly, they just wanna bone. It’s the most ridiculous situation. Like you just had a child. Really?”
Like Pattinson and Stewart, Jacob’s actor Taylor Lautner faced immense public scrutiny from the media and fans, so much so that it affected him for years after the series ended. The actor admitted in an interview on Today Show Radio that, during the height of his Twilight fame, he had a sense of “resentment” toward the franchise, but now that he’s had time to reflect, he “wouldn’t change” what happened. The resentment’s understandable, given that the franchise was always objectifying his body. “It’s not fun,” the actor told E! News about being shirtless in the films before describing shooting in “horrendous weather conditions.”
But the worst part of the experience for Lautner was “always [being] the only person with my shirt off.” In a more recent interview on The Toast podcast, Lautner confessed that the fan obsession with the Edward/Jacob rivalry impacted him. “It was a little bizarre, the competitiveness. There wasn’t a competitiveness between me and Rob, but having that constant reminder, it definitely had an impact.”
It isn’t just Twilight’s main cast that’s expressed criticism toward the franchise over the years. On the topic of Lautner, Elizabeth Reaser, who played Edward’s adoptive mother Esme, said that she was “weirded out” by the adult women ogling the then 16-year-old’s body. She went on, saying, “Taylor was … still a boy when much older ladies would be asking me about his body … It was just really inappropriate.”
The actor who played Emmet Cullen, Kellan Lutz, told Document Journal in 2012 that he “didn’t like the script” at first. He added, “How scary would a glimmering vampire really be?” When looking back on making the films with co-star Ashley Greene on her podcast The Twilight Effect, Lutz said he nearly didn’t return for the final two films because of the amount of time that was spent “just waiting on set,” which started to cause him to “fall out of love” with acting.
Anna Kendrick, who famously forgot she was even in Twilight, recalled to Vanity Fair that shooting the series “was like some trauma event” that “bonded” the cast, likening the entire thing to a “hostage situation.” Overall, Kendrick was grateful to not be part of the main cast. “The best part was that I got all the fun with none of the consequences,” notably the “creepy super-fame.” Given Twilight’s massive success and admittedly bizarre source material, it’s no wonder that its cast has said plenty of negative things about the series.