For all its flaws — Bella’s unhealthy obsession with her controlling boyfriend, for one — “Twilight” and its sequels had quite the cultural impact, which we shall revisit below. You’d better hold on tight, spider monkeys!
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s stardom
Before “Twilight,” Stewart would probably have been recognized as the kid to be caught in “Catch That Kid” or Jodie Foster’s diabetic daughter in “Panic Room.” Pattinson had appeared in another franchise a few years earlier when he played Cedric Diggory in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which he told the Evening Standard led to “bags of letters from angry fans telling me that I can’t possibly play Edward because I’m Diggory.”
That all changed in November 2008, a pivotal month for American history. Barack Obama became the first black man elected president, and the “Twilight” leads became KStew and RPatz. The couple’s every move was tracked for years, culminating in the now-infamous 2012 cheating scandal. Neither actor liked the attention, for obvious reasons.
But with the heyday of “Twilight” behind them, Stewart and Pattinson have blossomed into proper indie stars. Stewart has been lauded for her performances in films such as “Personal Shopper,” “Still Alice” and “Cloud of Sils Maria,” the last of which landed her a César Award, the French equivalent of an Oscar. Pattinson also starred in a few successful projects, such as “The Lost City of Z,” but earned the most praise from critics (and Pete Davidson) for his transformative role in last year’s “Good Time.”
Anna Kendrick’s humble beginning
Fans of the movie musical “Camp” will tell you that Kendrick got her on-screen start in 2003, playing the dangerously ambitious Fritzi Wagner. But she rose to prominence — before officially breaking through with 2009′s “Up in the Air” — as Bella’s friend Jessica, who is as bubbly as Bella is sullen. The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr singled Kendrick out as the strongest performer among Bella’s “nicely unkempt” friends.
In her memoir “Scrappy Little Nobody,” released two years ago, Kendrick looked back at her Twilight years. She wrote that she got to experience “all the fun with none of the consequences,” probably referring to Pattinson, Stewart and co-star Taylor Lautner’s overwhelming level of fame.
Ridiculously quotable dialogue
To truly appreciate the following gems — all selected from “Twilight” — you might want to say them. Out loud.
Bella, to Edward: “You’re impossibly fast. And strong. Your skin is pale white and ice-cold. Your eyes change color, and sometimes you speak like, like you’re from a different time. You never eat or drink anything. You don’t go into sunlight. How old are you?”
“How long have you been 17?”
Edward, to Bella: “My family, we’re different from others of our kind. We only drink animal blood, but it’s your scent. It’s like a drug to me. It’s like you’re my own personal brand of heroin.”
Bella, to Edward: “Are you going to tell me how you stopped the van?”
“Yeah, um, I had an adrenaline rush. It’s very common. You can Google it.”
Edward, while he sparkles in the sun, to Bella: “Beautiful? This is the skin of a killer, Bella. I’m a killer.”
Bella, while she points at a wall decoration, to Edward: “Graduation caps?”
“Yeah, private joke. We matriculate a lot.”
Something to talk about at lunch
The Twilight saga proved divisive at times, especially when “New Moon” came around. With Edward gone from Forks, Wash., — he needs to keep Bella safe, okay?! — there isn’t much left for a heartbroken Bella to do except mope. Luckily, she has Jacob Black (Lautner), a family friend who discovers he is a werewolf, to keep her company. “Eclipse” only exacerbates the love triangle.
Teenagers across the country honed their argumentative skills by fighting for either Team Edward or Team Jacob. Who needs to write about school uniforms when you can just write a five-paragraph persuasive essay about Bella’s love life?
The name Renesmee
Here’s something I’ve never quite understood: If you’re writing fiction, why stick entirely to common character names?
And so before we get back to “Twilight,” I would like to take a moment and recognize “Big Little Lies,” the book and the HBO series, for having Renata Klein (Laura Dern) name her daughter something as ridiculous as Amabella. The starkness of the name, which both Renata and a quick Google search will tell you is French, appearing in a community of Eds and Janes makes it all the more interesting. “Who bit Anna?” simply doesn’t have the same ring to it as the show’s unofficial slogan, “Who bit Amabella?” (We’ll get to Ziggy another time.)
Speaking of biting, Meyer also had the right idea while writing “Breaking Dawn.” Bella and Edward name their vampire-human hybrid baby Renesmee (pronounced “ren-EZ-may”), which is odd but honors their mothers, Renée and Esme.
Vampires everywhere, all the time
Watched “Twilight” too many times? How about “True Blood”? “The Vampire Diaries”? “The Originals”?
While we are in no way crediting the series with introducing vampires to Hollywood — Dracula and Buffy would scoff! — it’s hard to deny the impact its popularity had on teen-oriented programming. Bloodsuckers popped up and thrived all over, including in the genuinely bad “Twilight” parody called “Vampires Suck.”
Other supernatural beings everywhere, all the time
No need to stop at vampires. Variety noted in 2013 that “Warm Bodies,” which is likely remembered as “that Nicholas Hoult zombie movie,” tried to do for “flesh-eaters what ‘The Twilight Saga’ did for vampires.” The Hollywood Reporter referred to “The Mortal Instruments,” which also was based on a supernatural book series, as a “desperate ‘Twilight’ wannabe” that same year.
Other wannabes include “Beautiful Creatures,” yet another YA adaptation; “The Host,” yet another Stephenie Meyer adaptation; “I Am Number Four,” that movie starring Alex Pettyfer, whom you probably forgot about; and “Red Riding Hood,” which was actually directed by Catherine Hardwicke, same as “Twilight.”
Fodder for fan fiction
The Fifty Shades franchise is carried by pretty good actors forced to say very bad lines, so it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that its source material, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” began as “Twilight” fan fiction. Forbes reported last year that the premise of E.L. James’s erotic fan fiction, called “Master of the Universe” and posted on Fanfiction.net in 2009, was as follows: “Bella Swan is drafted in to interview the reclusive enigmatic Edward Cullen, multimillionaire CEO of his company. It’s an encounter that will change her life irrevocably, leading her to the dark realms of desire.”
James removed all references to Edward and Bella to publish her book and, according to Forbes, became “the most commercially successful fanfiction author of all time.” Wowza.