When Twilight author Stephenie Meyer first envisioned her YA vamp romance series becoming a film saga, she had only one person in mind for the lead character: Emily Browning.
However, the Australian actor, who broke out in The Uninvited and has more recently appeared alongside Tom Hardy in Legend, wasn’t interested, declining a chance to even audition for the part of Bella.
And now in an interview with The Telegraph, the 28-year-old has revealed exactly why the books didn’t “appeal” to her, calling them “emotionally abusive”.
“That was one of those internet things,” she told the newspaper. “I guess in one interview the author of the book mentioned my name in relation to that character, and people on the internet grabbed that and sort of ran with it.
“And yes, I was asked to – I wasn’t offered the part, which is what a lot of people have reported – but I was asked to audition for it. And it just wasn’t for me. I’d never heard of it at that point, but then I read the book and I just… No.”
Drawn upon exactly what it was that she didn’t like in the books, Browning criticised the brooding male lead Edward Cullen: “I don’t want to say anything bad about it, but in my mind, the boy character – what’s his name?” [Edward] “The boy vampire seemed to be kind of emotionally abusive. That relationship just didn’t appeal to me, really.”
She did, however, have kinder words for Kristen Stewart, who of course eventually took the part of Bella: “I think she’s amazing, and I think she’s been so unfairly pigeonholed in people’s minds because of those films.”
Read more: 50 books that were banned
Browning, who admits she still hasn’t seen any of the Twilight films, had previously told The Huffington Post that if she had taken the role, the sheer amount of Twihards may have caused her to stop acting altogether: “I think I would have quit. I don’t think I would have been able to handle it.”
“Can you imagine having people taking your picture all day? It would be be awful,” she said. “Just like the last two days, [doing press and] having people waiting outside the hotel and stuff for us, it just makes me panic. I can’t imagine that being your everyday life.”
As for her thoughts on the potentially toxic nature of the stories, Browning isn’t the first to question the “emotionally abusive” elements between Edward and Bella, with one website even going so far as to see how their behaviour fared against the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s list of red flags. Worryingly, it passed the test.
Then again, perhaps we should have known the series wasn’t all it was cracked up to be when Robert Pattinson came out with this golden musing:
"I could never legitimise why a 108-year-old guy would still want to be in high school.”