Like the late John Hughes, who discovered the teenage actors who became the Brat Pack, Hardwicke has created many of this generation’s tween idols. Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen), Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown), Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner (Twilight) all got their big breaks in a Hardwicke film. She dishes about them like an older sister; how Hirsch was too lazy to do sit-ups and drew abs on his stomach with mascara or why Pattinson had to pluck his eyebrows. “They were a bit bushy,” she says. “We needed to see some eyes!”
For Twilight, Hardwicke had trouble finding an actor otherworldly enough to play vampire Edward Cullen. Then she got a call about a guy in London. “I looked at a couple pictures and was like, ‘I’m not sure,’?” Hardwicke says. “He had been fired from his last job, he was unemployed, he was in debt.” Pattinson flew to Los Angeles on his own dime to read with Stewart. “I have footage of their first meeting at my dining-room table,” Hardwicke says. “Kristen was like, ‘It’s got to be Rob!’ She felt connected to him from the first moment. “That electricity, or love at first sight, or whatever it is.” “You’ve got to realize that Kristen is 17 years old,” she told him. “She’s underage. You’ve got to focus, dude, or you’re going to be arrested. I made him swear on a stack of Bibles.” Hardwicke gave him the part, but he had to make a promise.
When Hardwicke auditioned Evan Rachel Wood for Thirteen, she had her get into her bed with Nikki Reed. That’s also where Pattinson kissed Stewart for the first time in his Twilight screen test. “That bed made Pattinson who he is right now,” says Reed. Asked about her lair, Hardwicke laughs. “MTV came and did an episode in my house filming the bed. It’s legendary,” she says, flashing a wide—dare we say wolfish—grin.
Read the rest of the interview at Newsweek