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The Real Reason The Twilight Saga Replaced Rachelle Lefevre With Bryce Dallas Howard

You may not have even noticed, but one of the biggest villains of the "Twilight Saga" got replaced partway through the franchise.

When the "Twilight" series kicked off in 2008 with the first film, led by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson (as human Bella Swan and teenage vampire Edward Cullen, respectively), Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre originated the role of the villainous Victoria Sutherland , who spends most of the first two movies hunting Bella. Though the powerful Cullen family is able to protect Bella, Victoria is always laying in wait. After her lover, James (Cam Gigandet), is killed by the Cullens, she seeks revenge against his murderer, Edward, and she goes after him in the second film, "New Moon."

However, if you were paying attention, you may have noticed that by the time the franchise's third movie, "Eclipse," arrived in 2010, Victoria was played by an entirely different actress. Here's why Bryce Dallas Howard ultimately replaced Rachelle Lefevre in the Twilight Saga, and the drama behind the decision.

How Rachelle Lefevre felt about her dismissal from the Twilight Saga

Apparently, Lefevre — who was told that her firing was due to a scheduling conflict — was pretty shocked about her dismissal from the "Twilight Saga" and the other film that interfered.

As Lefevre explained to Entertainment Weekly in 2009, "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' [a 2010 comedy-drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti] 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 ten day overlap."

Unfortunately, Summit disagreed with Lefevre's take. As Lefevre continued, "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."

Summit Entertainment's response tells a different story

Ultimately, Summit responded to Lefevre's comments, and they certainly had a different take on the issue, saying that Lefevre's role in 'Barney's Version' was a huge conflict.

In a statement also provided to Entertainment Weekly, Summit strongly pushed back against Lefevre's claims, saying that the studio "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.'" However, the studio continued, "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."

Summit then clarified, "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."

Finally, Summit's spokesperson summed up their stance on the matter with one blunt closing line: "Ms. Lefevre's commitment to the other project — which she chose to withhold from Summit until the last possible moment — makes her unfortunately unavailable to perform the role of Victoria in 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.'"

One producer thought Bryce Dallas Howard would bring a 'new dimension' to the role

It's a classic case of "he said/she said" between Summit Entertainment and Lefevre. But the one person who came out on top of all this was undoubtedly Bryce Dallas Howard. She had plenty of experience acting prior to her casting with an abundance of roles in the likes of "Spider-Man 3," "Lady in the Water," and "The Village." But being cast in another massive franchise like "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" raised her profile even more.

Summit Entertainment was confident in the casting change-up. When The Guardian first reported on the casting switch, production executive Erik Feig stated, "We are incredibly happy that Bryce has agreed to come into the franchise. Rachelle brought Victoria to great screen life and Bryce will bring a new dimension to the character. The franchise is lucky to have such a talented actress as Bryce coming in to fill the role."

Victoria was quickly dispatched in "Eclipse," so she didn't show up for the final installments of the "Twilight" franchise, but Howard certainly did as much as she could with the role she was given.

What Lefevre and Howard have been doing since Twilight

We may never fully understand the truth behind Lefevre's departure from "Twilight," but luckily, the actress has worked steadily since her dismissal from the blockbuster franchise. In 2011, Lefevre headlined the ABC show "Off the Map," and though it only lasted for 13 episodes, it kicked off her television career. Later on, Lefevre would go on to star in shows like "A Gifted Man" and the popular three-season Stephen King adaptation "Under the Dome," among others. As for her big-screen career, Lefevre has appeared in films that include "White House Down," "Homefront," and "Hollow in the Land."

Meanwhile, Howard — who, yes, is the daughter of acclaimed director Ron Howard — did not reprise her role as Victoria in the final two films of the "Twilight Saga," but went on to appear in buzzworthy television shows like "Black Mirror" and blockbuster films like "The Help" and the "Jurassic World" series, culminating in the 2022 film "Jurassic World: Dominion." She's also directed episodes of Disney+'s popular and acclaimed flagship series "The Mandalorian," which scored an Emmy nod for Outstanding Drama. She's stayed within the "Star Wars" universe and directed Episode 5 of "The Book of Boba Fett."

Clearly, both actresses have landed on their feet, but it's a shame that Lefevre felt so blindsided by her sudden exit from the "Twilight Saga" when all is said and done. All five of the "Twilight" films are available for rental or purchase on major streaming platforms now.