In a Monday interview with The Daily Beast, Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke alleged that author Stephenie Meyer opposed casting actors of color to play the Cullens, because the book described the main vampire family as having "pale glistening skin."
When you consider the fact that author Jenny Han had to fight to cast an Asian actress as Lara Jean Covey in 2018's Netflix movie To All the Boys I've Loved Before, you can see that, in the last decade (after the Twilight phenomenon), it seems that society hasn't progressed much when it comes to the racial dynamics of page-to-screen adaptations. Bustle reached out to Meyer's publisher, Little Brown, Young Readers, for comment from the author, but had not heard back as of publication of this article.
Hardwicke's allegations about the Cullens casting came during a discussion on Meyer's involvement with the film. From The Daily Beast:
"'She saw our casting choices, she was involved a bit, but she was mostly busy as a bee at the time on her own stuff, and then she also came out to the set maybe two times. So I didn’t have that much interaction with her,' Hardwicke adds. In her limited time with the author, however, the director expressed 'that I wanted a lot more of the cast to be diverse.'"
According to Hardwicke, Meyer didn't warm to the idea of having a racially diverse cast of vampires. "She just could not accept the Cullens to be more diverse," Hardwicke said, "because she had really seen them in her mind, she knew who each character was representing in a way, a personal friend or a relative or something."
The Twilight director reportedly managed to convince Meyer to cast some actors of color, but not as the Cullens. From The Daily Beast:
"Meyer came around to the idea of Kenyan American actor Edi Gathegi playing Laurent, 'one of the scary antagonistic vampires,' Hardwicke recalls, laughing. 'The only reason that came through was he was described as having olive skin. And I said, there are black olives out there! Then she was open to the students in [Bella’s] peer group being other ethnicities, so we got Christian Serratos and Justin Chon, so we were able to open it up a little bit.'"
Serratos and Chon portrayed Angela and Eric, respectively.
For those of you who think it's wrong to say that page-to-screen adaptations are still affected by racial bias in casting, it happens more often than you realize. White actress Jessie Cave was recast to play Lavender Brown, who had been portrayed previously by black actresses, in a speaking role in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which came out in 2009. Just three years later, a huge controversy resulted when Amandla Stenberg was cast as Rue in The Hunger Games. There are countless other examples of this phenomenon, leading right up to the opposition to the casting of an as-yet unnamed actress of color to play Ciri in Netflix's adapation of The Witcher.
Unfortunately, the lack of diversity in films remains a huge issue. Responding to Hardwicke's revelation of a Twilight casting conflict in an article for The Mary Sue, Princess Weekes wrote: "I will say that — as someone who was already side-eyeing the Twilight Kool-Aid by the time the movie came out, seeing that Laurent and the other supporting characters who Bella dumped on were able to be race-bent — Meyer being so adamant about protecting the whiteness of the Cullens is neither disappointing nor surprising, but just sigh-worthy."