Yesterday, Summit Entertainment took another step to piss off fangirls nationwide. They announced that Bryce Dallas Howard (best known to comic fans as Spider-Man 3‘s Gwen Stacy, or perhaps as Ron Howard’s daughter) would be replacing Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria, the one of the series’ baddest vampires, for Eclipse, the third movie in the series. Since Summit already sped on to make New Moon and Eclipse without Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the first film, I wasn’t too surprised that the reason given was “scheduling conflicts.”
Now, though, Lefevre’s statement seems to imply that there was something else behind her bump:
“I was stunned by Summit’s decision to recast the role of Victoria for Eclipse. I was fully committed to the Twilight saga, and to the portrayal of Victoria. I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules. My commitment to Barney’s Version is only ten days. Summit picked up my option for Eclipse. Although the production schedule for Eclipse is over three months long, Summit said they had a conflict during those ten days and would not accommodate me. Given the length of filming for Eclipse, never did I fathom I would lose the role over a 10 day overlap. I was happy with my contract with Summit and was fully prepared to continue to honor it. Summit chose simply to recast the part. I am greatly saddened that I will not get to complete my portrayal of Victoria for the Twilight audience. This is a story, a theatrical journey and a character that I truly love and about which I am very passionate. I will be forever grateful to the fan support and loyalty I’ve received since being cast for this role, and I am hurt deeply by Summit’s surprising decision to move on without me. I wish the cast and crew of Eclipse only the very best.“
Twilight is hardly Shakespeare, and I don’t have a problem with movies being a commercial product per se, but I don’t like the rush to capitalize on the success of the first film making subsequent ones suffer. This seems to be less of a scheduling conflict on Lefevre’s part and more of a calculated decision by the studio–is Howard that much more bankable a name than someone who’s already built the part through two films and will thus have fan loyalty?
Judging from her brief screen time in the first film, it certainly wasn’t Lefevre’s acting or looks that hurt her–who can forget the last shot of her walking down the stairs, shaking her mane of hair loose with a look on her face that needs no words to tell us that Bella is in deep trouble? The directors stuck with Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black despite obvious physical differences between him and his character–several inches in height, for a start–so why dump Lefevre just in time for the movie where she gets her biggest scene?
Update: Thursday 7/30 1245 Eastern: The Plot thickens. Over on SciFiWire, they have an interesting rebuttal from Summit, claiming, well, that it’s all her fault to begin with.
Here’s Summit’s reply:
Ms. Lefevre’s representatives were advised as early as April that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE was expected to start shooting in early August.If Ms. Lefevre was, as she describes “passionate,” about being part of THE TWILIGHT SAGA, we feel that she and her representatives would have included us in her decision to work on another film that would conflict with the shooting schedule of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE.
It was not until July 20th that Summit was first informed of Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to BARNEY’S VERSION, a commitment we have since been advised she accepted in early June. Summit had acted in good faith that she would be available to fulfill her obligations both in terms of rehearsals and shooting availability for THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE. We feel that her choice to withhold her scheduling conflict information from us can be viewed as a lack of cooperative spirit which affected the entire production.
Furthermore Ms. Lefevre took a role in the other film that places her in Europe during the required rehearsal time, and at least ten days of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE’s principal photography. This period is essential for both rehearsal time with the cast, and for filming at key locations that are only available during the initial part of production.
Contrary to Ms. Lefevre’s statement, it is simply untrue that the Studio dismissed her over a ten day overlap. It is not about a ten day overlap, but instead about the fact that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE is an ensemble production that has to accommodate the schedules of numerous actors while respecting the established creative vision of the filmmaker and most importantly the story.
If all that is factual, Summit may actually have a case for being “right” this time.