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Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Rachelle Lefevre in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"

by Brandy McDonnell Published: July 29, 2009

Bryce Dallas Howard (Associated Press photo)

Rachel Lefevre (AP photo)

In a shocker for “Twilight” fans, Summit Entertainment has announced that Bryce Dallas Howard (“Terminator Salvation,” “Spider-Man 3,” “The Village”) will replace Rachelle Lefevre as the vengeful vampire Victoria in “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the third film of the popular franchise.

In a news release, Summit attributes the switch to a scheduling conflict with “another commitment” Lefevre has made.

Shooting on “Eclipse” begins in Vancouver on Aug. 17 with director David Slade. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lefevre has taken a role in indie drama “Barney’s Version,” which also starts filming Aug. 17.

Lefevre, 30, played Victoria in “Twilight” and the upcoming sequel “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.” The mega-popular “Twilight” franchise has been her highest profile acting gig to date. But “Barney’s Version” boasts an excellent cast – Dustin Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Minnie Driver, among others – working from a novel by acclaimed Canadian writer and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Mordecai Richler.

Whatever her reason for departing, Lefevre leaves the “Twilight” franchise just when her villainous character gets a bigger, nastier part in “Eclipse.” In Stephenie Meyer’s third “Twilight” book, Victoria seeks to avenge the death of her mate James (Cam Gigandet) by killing heroine Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).

Based on the Internet buzz, many “Twilight” fans are surprised and upset about the casting change. Lefevre was in San Diego, Calif., last week to promote “New Moon” at Comic-Con, though she didn’t sit in on the film’s official panel. (If “New Moon” is anything like the book, her part in the second film is probably pretty small.) She and her co-stars didn’t mention anything at the huge pop culture convention about her skipping out on “Eclipse”; in fact, according to some Web reports, she said she was looking forward to her fight scenes in the third film.

That has many fans speculating that Lefevre isn’t leaving the franchise because of scheduling problems and wondering if Summit may have forced her out in favor of Dallas Howard.

I’m not sure what happened in this situation but noticed something interesting on Summit’s Web site: Lefevre’s name wasn’t mentioned in the studio’s July 16 release announcing the casting of Xavier Samuel as Riley, Victoria’s vampire sidekick in “Eclipse.”

Here’s the first two paragraphs from that release:

Google might want to brace for a search onslaught: An unknown Australian actor named Xavier Samuel has landed the first new role in “Eclipse,” the third “Twilight” pic.

Summit has hired the actor to play the role of a “newborn vampire” named Riley, a good-looking college student who joins the plot of villain Victoria to murder protagonist Bella (Kristen Stewart). Riley is corrupted by Victoria, for whom he has an inexplicable weakness.

Notice that Stewart, who isn’t going anywhere, is listed as the actress playing Bella, but Victoria doesn’t have anyone after her name. Hmm. This reminds me of similar “New Moon” news releases that went out without Taylor Lautner’s name after Jacob, the first sign of the fight Lautner had to put up to keep the role as Bella’s werewolf BFF.

Dallas Howard, 28, the daughter of Oklahoma native and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, has previous experience taking over a role in a film franchise. In “Terminator Salvation,” she played Kate Connor, the part Claire Danes originated in “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”

While most people, myself included, tend to have a negative knee-jerk response to recasting in a franchise, sometimes these change-ups work out. Maggie Gyllenhaal taking the role of Rachel Dawes in “The Dark Knight’ from Katie Holmes, who played the part in “Batman Begins,” was a good move. And though I liked Terrence Howard in “Iron Man,” I’m eager to see Don Cheadle play Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes in the upcoming sequel.

“Eclipse” will be released in theaters June 30, 2010, and I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the Dallas Howard fares as the bloodthirsty Victoria.

“New Moon” opens Nov. 20.

After the break, read the news release from Summit Entertainment announcing the cast change.

From Summit-Ent.com:

Summit Entertainment announced today that Bryce Dallas Howard will take over the role of “Victoria” in the studio’s upcoming production of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE. Actress, Rachelle Lefevre, who portrayed the character in TWILIGHT as well as the upcoming release of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON, will not continue in the role due to scheduling conflicts with another commitment the actor has made. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE will start filming in Vancouver this coming August.

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE, the third film in the studio’s TWILIGHT film franchise based on Stephenie Meyer’s blockbuster book series, will be directed by David Slade from a screenplay written by Melissa Rosenberg.

 The film will be released theatrically in North America on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.

“We are incredibly happy that Bryce has agreed to come into the franchise,” said Erik Feig, Summit’s President of Worldwide Production and Acquisitions. “Rachelle brought “Victoria” to great screen life and Bryce will bring a new dimension to the character. The franchise is lucky to have such a talented actress as Bryce coming in to fill the role.”

Howard most recently starred in TERMINATOR SALVATION as Kate Connor and has been seen in SPIDER-MAN 3, LADY IN THE WATER, and THE VILLAGE. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her leading performance as an actress in the HBO film AS YOU LIKE IT.

 In THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob-knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella is confronted with the most important decision of her life.

Howard is represented by ICM and Management 360.

-BAM


by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more...
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