It is fairly certain that no one will ever know exactly what led to the abrupt recasting of Victoria, played by Rachelle Lefevre in Twilight and New Moon, just prior to the filming of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. There was so much back and forth between Summit, the studio that produces The Twilight series, and the actress herself that it is hard to be sure where the truth lies. One thing is clear, however. Twilight fans were not at all pleased that one of the cast members from the movie they loved so dearly was out of the picture halfway through the series. Once the smoke cleared, Lefevre still had her supporters, but in general, everyone moved on. By the time New Moon hit the theaters, few people remembered the drama at all. Lefevre was still on the screen though, albeit briefly, but with the role of Victoria taking on more prominence in Eclipse, one has to wonder how the cast change will affect the reception of the film.
I, for one, was angry when I heard Lefevre had been given the boot and was replaced with Bryce Dallas Howard. Although I think Howard is a fine actress, I particularly liked her in The Village, it is hard to picture anyone embodying the character of Victoria better than Rachelle Lefevre. Lefevre has a sultry, sensual vibe with enough of an edge that she is completely believable as the imposing figure Victoria must become. I just can’t see Howard the same way.
Toying with something that works this late in the game is a dangerous idea. Cast changes midway through a series can take viewers out of the story. Of course, Eclipse has a few things working for it in this area. First, Victoria is seldom seem in Twilight and New Moon. She is a pivotal character to be sure and plays a large roll in pushing the drama and suspense of the film, but her screen time is fairly minimal. Had this casting change been made to a member of the Cullen family, I’m sure there would be a much greater impact.
The second, and likely most important factor in this recasting drama, is that Summit replaced Rachelle Lefevre with Bryce Dallas Howard who could at the very least pass for Lefevre’s sister if not twin. These two women look enough alike that with make up and hair, the transition should be near seamless. Considered with the scare glimpses we get of Victoria in the first two films, there shouldn’t be any significant impact on Eclipse – at least not visually. Emotionally speaking, it might be a bit of a different story.
It’s hard not to feel a little sad for Rachelle Lefevre. She had a part in one of the biggest movie franchises of the decade even though it was a small one. She stood in the background for two movies and Eclipse was her time to shine. The Victoria character plays a huge role in Eclipse – the book at least – and this was really Lefevre’s chance to be noticed. Instead, it will be Howard that will be taking the spotlight and that has to smart.
I’m giving Bryce Dallas Howard the chance she deserves. She didn’t ask to be thrown into the center of this controversy. She simply accepted a role and did the job she was hired to do. I’ll watch her as Victoria with an open mind, but I won’t be able to help wondering what kind of film Eclipse would’ve been had Rachelle Lefevre still be a part of it and I’m sure I won’t be alone in finding Victoria’s scenes somewhat bittersweet.