The movie adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga were beset with ridiculously high fan expectations thanks to how much adulation the characters’ looks received through the eyes of central narrator Bella Swan. From the impossible beauty (and sparkles) of the Cullen family vampires to the papery skin textures of the Volturi guardsmen to the animal strength of the Quileute pack members, Meyer’s attention to descriptive detail meant the cinematic iterations had to be perfectly faithful to keep fans happy. While some of the characters came to life just as written, others were practically unrecognizable. Here’s how the cast of Twilight should really look, according to the books.
The casting of Kristen Stewart in the role of Bella Swan, the clumsy human who has a chance encounter with sleepy town destiny, was remarkably on-point, especially once she threw in her brunette extensions* (*the wig from movie three was…not good) and some chocolate contacts. She was pale, spindly, and just as awkward as described in human form.
Bella’s take: Physically, I’d never fit in anywhere. I should be tan, sporty, blond—a volleyball player, or a cheerleader, perhaps—all the things that go with living in the valley of the sun. Instead, I was ivory-skinned, without even the excuse of blue eyes or red hair, despite the constant sunshine. I had always been slender, but soft somehow, obviously not an athlete…My skin could be pretty—it was very clear, almost translucent-looking—but it all depended on color. I had no color here. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 9/10 — Lip-biting and excessive sighs aside, this one was about as accurate as it could be.
Bella’s thoughts on the “Adonis”-level attractiveness of Edward Cullen were constant throughout the entire Twilight series, and Meyer undoubtedly wore out her thesaurus in an effort to scurry up all the synonyms available to describe his burning golden eyes, crooked smile, and dazzling beauty. The casting of a relative newcomer (at the time) Robert Pattinson was based on more than just his striking looks, but that aspect was important to be sure. Whether or not he lived up to absolutely every reader’s standards, he was certainly good-looking enough (albeit a little too old for the role). His wardrobe throughout the series — um, what was with that sweatshirt in Eclipse? — was a different story, however. He also had the Cullens’ shared sullen complexion, deep eye shadows, and auburn bouffant to match the role…in the first installment, at least. But he still should’ve been dressed to the nines, much younger, and thinner than the on-screen variety.
Bella’s take: The last was lanky, less bulky, with untidy, bronze-colored hair. He was more boyish than the others…his face was absurdly handsome…he looked like he’d just finished shooting a commercial for hair gel. His dazzling face was friendly, open, a slight smile on his flawless lips. But his eyes were careful…Today, his eyes were a completely different color: a strange ocher, darker than butterscotch, but with the same golden tone. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 6/10 — To be fair, it was a pretty improbable feat that the filmmakers would ever live up to the character’s fantastic beauty described in the story because, ya know, it was a pretty lofty set of descriptions. But the Robsession that followed Pattinson’s turn in the role proved he certainly wasn’t anything to shake a stick at.
Unlike most of the Saga’s characters, Jacob Black went through a stunning bodily transformation throughout the Twilight Saga, rising from a likable kid to a chiseled man-child with russet skin (and fur, when in wolf form) that towered over Bella. Taylor Lautner certainly accelerated in musculature to match that growth spurt on the horizontal plane, but he never quite had the domineering posture of his literary counterpart.
Bella’s take: He looked fourteen, maybe fifteen, and had long, glossy black hair pulled back with a rubber band at the nape of his neck. His skin was beautiful, silky and russet-colored; his eyes were dark, set deep above the high planes of his cheekbones. He still had just a hint of childish roundness left around his chin. Altogether, a very pretty face…He flashed a brilliant smile. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 7/10 — Height notwithstanding, he had the flashy grin and abtacular physique to match the book. Even the big wig was a necessary evil.
Who wouldn’t want sprightly Alice Cullen in their corner? Bella’s time-telling BFF was jovial and quick on her feet, and, as portrayed by Ashley Greene, had the same keen eye for fashion as so lovingly described in the books. The hair, height, and age, however, threw a lot of fans for a loop because she hardly donned the character’s signature pixie ‘do, could barely pass for 17, and certainly wasn’t as waifish and wee as readers might have pictured.
Bella’s take: Alice—her short, inky hair in a halo of spiky disarray around her exquisite, elfin face—was suddenly standing behind his shoulder. Her slight frame was willowy, graceful even in absolute stillness.— Twilight
Forks High grade: 7/10 — While her attitude and activities were precise, there were quite a few superficial differences.
Charlie Swan wasn’t quite as likable on the page as Billy Burke made him on-screen. The cinematic ‘stache wasn’t exactly called for in the writings, but it somehow matched the character to a tee even still. Meanwhile, his kind brown eyes and everydayman exterior were exactly what the story ordered. If only he’d had the curly hair, it’d have been perfect.
Bella’s take: He smiled back, his brown eyes crinkling around the edges. When Charlie smiled, it was easier to see why he and my mother had jumped too quickly into an early marriage. Most of the young romantic he’d been in those days had faded before I’d known him, as the curly brown hair — the same color, if not the same texture, as mine — had dwindled, slowly revealing more and more of the shiny skin of his forehead. But when he smiled I could see a little of the man who had run away with Renée when she was just two years older than I was now. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 8/10 — Many Rainier beers for this one.
The good doctor-slash-vampire patriarch Carlisle Cullen was pretty much all wrong. Peter Facinelli did a decent job imbuing all the requisite calm and compassion of his personality, of course, but he was much, much older than the character’s described age. In the books, he could barely pass for being in his 20s, but Facinelli was 35 when he first tackled the role. (Meyer originally wanted then-20-something Henry Cavill for the part.)
Bella’s take: He was young, he was blond…and he was handsomer than any movie star I’d ever seen. He was pale, though, and tired-looking, with circles under his eyes. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 5/10 — The age factor was as hard to ignore as the mixed-Brit accent Facinelli used in the role.
Warm, lovely vamp mom Esme was the low-key MVP of the Cullen family in the books and movies. Elizabeth Reaser, who portrayed the character, fit the bill of the round, small, honey-haired mom we came to know and love so well in writing. If only her hair didn’t darken in later films, but alas.
Bella’s take: She had the same pale, beautiful features as the rest of them. Something about her heart-shaped face, her billows of soft, caramel-colored hair, reminded me of the ingénues of the silent-movie era. She was small, slender, yet less angular, more rounded than the others. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 9/10 — Not only did she look the part in the first installment, with those timeless hot roller waves, but she was just as huggable in the movie, too. As the films progressed, however, the soft, round lines that made her a match for the books started to disappear, and her hair became a far cry from the tawny tresses she was supposed to have.
The second-most difficult-to-display character of the Saga (behind the ultra-swoony Edward, of course) was Rosalie Hale, the runway-ready vixen whose bark was way worse than her bite. As Bella saw her, she was extraordinarily gorgeous and intimidating, and while Nikki Reed certainly carried the confidence and luscious blonde locks to suit the part, there were still many gripes among readers over the casting choice, which would probably have been the case no matter who was matched with the role.
Bella’s take: The tall one was statuesque. She had a beautiful figure, the kind you saw on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the kind that made every girl around her take a hit on her self-esteem just by being in the same room. Her hair was golden, gently waving to the middle of her back. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 7/10 — Reed was rather convincing as the sour stunner, especially once we got the wedding dress flashback in Eclipse. Yow! But was she supermodel gorgeous?
This one was a big batch of nope from the start. Meyer herself received some flak from fans for Renesmee, and not just because of the odd nomenclature chosen for the half-human, half-vampire lovechild of Bella and Edward. She was said to have had a full set of teeth in infancy and an even weirder skin refraction effect in sunlight—rather than the signature Cullen sparkles, she had more of a rainbow glisten. Plus, her rapid growth process made it fully inevitable that some major CGI work would have to go into turning Mackenzie Foy into the quickly aging hybrid. When her face was transposed with a baby’s, it was even more bizarre than expected.
Bella’s take: [Her] round head was covered in a thick layer of matted, bloody curls. Her irises were a familiar—but astonishing—chocolate brown. Under the blood, her skin looked pale, a creamy ivory. All besides her cheeks, which flamed with color. Her tiny face was so absolutely perfect that it stunned me. She was even more beautiful than her father. Unbelievable. Impossible…The impossible face suddenly smiled—a wide, deliberate smile. Behind the shell-pink lips was a full complement of snowy milk teeth. — Breaking Dawn
Forks High grade: 4/10 — Let’s face it, this one was hard to pull off. In child form, Foy was a convincing blend of Stewart and Pattinson, but in baby form, some of the effects were unsettling to look at. Good thing her baby phase was mostly glossed over in the final film.
There were two versions of Victoria, the nomad woman scorned, in the Twilight series films, played by Rachelle Lefevre and then Bryce Dallas Howard, and they were both mostly close to the origin. Her bright red blood-drinker eyes might not have been quite so menacingly busy in either form, but her hair was certainly fiery enough to fit the bill, and her default to a crouch was consistent as well. However, she was hardly the crazy catlike lady she was written to be.
Bella’s take: The woman was wilder, her eyes shifting restlessly between the men facing her, and the loose grouping around me, her chaotic hair quivering in the slight breeze. Her posture was distinctly feline. — Twilight
Forks High grade: 6/10 — Both versions lived up to her reputation as the sly, redheaded killer in the books, but the animalistic element of her appearance was lacking.
Michael Sheen has said before that even his Twihard daughter had some trouble picturing him in the role of Aro because, even though he was described as having hair, he still somehow resonated as a bald vampire in the mind’s eye for many fans. Comparing his creation to the books, though, it was pretty staggeringly accurate.
Bella’s take: I couldn’t decide if his face was beautiful or not. I suppose the features were perfect. But he was as different from the vampires beside him as they were from me. His skin was translucently white, like onionskin, and it looked just as delicate—it stood in shocking contrast to the long black hair that framed his face. I felt a strange, horrifying urge to touch his cheek, to see if it was softer than Edward’s or Alice’s, or if it was powdery, like chalk. His eyes were red, the same as the others around him, but the color was clouded, milky; I wondered if his vision was affected by the haze. — New Moon
Forks High grade: 8/10 — What’s missing? Not much. Although many fans thought he should have had a less prominent hairline and a little more age on-screen.
Love it or leave it, Jamie Campbell Bower’s white wig was technically accurate to portray Caius in New Moon. When filmmakers switched to a more strawberry blonde option for Breaking Dawn, it may have looked more natural, but it didn’t match quite as well with the book description. Bower also didn’t appear to be as aged and decrepit as his literary other.
Bella’s take: The other’s face was sour under the snowy hair…a shock of snow-white hair—the same shade as his face—that brushed against his shoulders. Their faces had identical, paper-thin skin. — New Moon
Forks High grade: 7/10 — For New Moon, the look was as on-point as it could be, but Breaking Dawn’s hair and pallor switcheroo knocks his rating down a healthy chunk because it was not even close.
If there’s one character who looked almost nothing like the book’s description, it was Jane, as portrayed by Dakota Fanning. She wasn’t nearly as androgynous or tiny as written, and her blonde locks weren’t anything like the story version. She was supposed to be easily confused with her terror twin Alec (played by Cameron Bright), which was not the case at all.
Bella’s take: At first I thought it was a young boy. The newcomer was as tiny as Alice, with lank, pale brown hair trimmed short. The body under the cloak—which was darker, almost black—was slim and androgynous. But the face was too pretty for a boy. The wide-eyed, full-lipped face would make a Botticelli angel look like a gargoyle. Even allowing for the dull crimson irises. Her size was so insignificant that the reaction to her appearance confused me. — New Moon
Forks High grade: 4/10 — The grin was right, but that’s about it, and what was with the spoken “pain” line while she delivered her mind attack?
The Cullens’ even more northern cousins, the Alaskan coven from Denali, were lead by Tanya, a vampire whose strawberry blonde-locked beauty was unmatched by most. The vegetarian vampire was considered major competition for Bella because she’d once fancied Edward for a potential mate and, if he’d returned the interest, she would have made a fine visual match with his breathtaking looks. Myanna Buring’s hair in Breaking Dawn was a little less reddish-blonde than one might’ve imagined, but she was otherwise a worthy pick for the jealousy-inducing part.
Bella’s take: I realized I was holding my breath as the vampire in front—Tanya, I assumed from the strawberry tint in her blond curls—reached out to embrace Edward…Tanya was every bit as lovely as my worst nightmares had predicted. She eyed me with a look that was much more speculative than it was resigned, and then reached out to take my hand. — Breaking Dawn
Forks High grade: 7/10 — Drop dead gorgeous in both forms, but perhaps a little less competitive and domineering in the movies than the books.