JUST TWO YEARS AGO, Kristen Stewart was quietly building a résumé with roles in obscure movies like The Cake Eaters. Taylor Lautner was best known as Sharkboy. Kellan Lutz‘s biggest gig was in an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue. And a fella by the name of Robert had yet to unleash the power of his hair on the universe.
That was then. Now? Twilight‘s Big Three have become international superstars, and the sheer force of the phenomenon has catapulted nearly everyone else associated with the Twilight franchise into an awe-inspiring new realm. “They were virtually unknown actors when they stepped into Twilight,” says Gregg Kilday, film editor at The Hollywood Reporter, of the cast. “Now they’re hot.”
The Twilight touch not only transformed the actors into one-name celebrities (Hi, RPattz and KStew!), they’re now bankable stars. Next up, Pattinson will act opposite Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants, Stewart has been rumored to replace Angelina Jolie in the action movie Wanted 2, and Taylor’s getting the superhero treatment in the upcoming Stretch Armstrong. Not that they’re moving beyond Twilight without reservation. Since New Moon, Stewart gingerly returned to her indie roots with two anti-Bella roles (she portrayed a stripper and rocker Joan Jett). “I thought everyone was waiting, itching to say that I should just go back to Twilight. And no one said that,” she told Flaunt magazine. “If they did say those bad things, then I might as well just stop now.”
Memo to Stewart and the rest of Team Twilight: Keep going! Now more than ever, this pack of young stars is “set up to have careers,” says Kilday. Still, Lautner knows it has a bit more to do with Stephenie Meyer’s hit series than his muscled torso. “It’s Twilight. It’s not me personally,” he’s conceded. “It just blew us into this whole other world.”