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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 30, 2009 at 11:14 AM

The re-casting woes: Rachelle Lefevre and “The Twilight Saga”

In movieland, actors drop in and out of roles all the time, due to scheduling conflicts (often code for “I got offered something in a better movie”), disagreements about money, personal issues or any number of reasons. But it’s rare for an up-and-coming performer to drop out of a recurring role in a wildly popular franchise, and even rarer for that performer to get into a war of words with the studio about it. So this week’s drama involving Rachelle Lefevre is worth a little examination.
Lefevre, for the uninitiated, is the blue-eyed redhead who played the rather nasty vampire Victoria in “Twilight,” and will portray the character in the already-completed second film, “New Moon.” Summit Entertainment, the franchise’s studio announced this week that Bryce Dallas Howard (a fellow blue-eyed redhead) would take over the role for “Eclipse,” which begins shooting next month in Vancouver, and that Lefevre was stepping down due to, aha, “scheduling conflicts.” Lefevre fired back with a press release that said she was “stunned” and “hurt deeply” by the decision, and that Summit was inflexible in refusing to work with what she said was only a ten-day schedule overlap (she had accepted a role in the indie movie “Barney’s Version”). At which point Summit issued its own statement basically saying, “liar liar” — describing her version of events as “simply untrue” and saying that Lefevre waited until the last possible moment to inform the “Twilight” team of her schedule.
At this point, we can certainly assume that Lefevre won’t be having friendly happy-hour drinks with the Summit folks any time soon. But how important do you think it is that franchises maintain their original casts? I remember much talk about re-casting Tobey Maguire in “Spider-Man”; would the films have been such a hit without him? If Richard Harris had lived, would we think of the character of Dumbledore differently than we do now? Once an actor’s face is in our heads, is it impossible to get it out? And, is Lefevre making a mistake by being so public with her discontent — or will all this publicity serve her career far better than an admittedly small “Twilight” role might?

Rachelle Lefevre tracking in “Twilight,” with Cam Gigandet and Edi Gathegi (photo credit: Peter Sorel, courtesy of Summit Entertainment)

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