Twilight

Photo: Summit Entertainment

The first Twilight movie released in theaters on Nov. 21, 2008, helping to launch the great American vampire obsession, along with HBO’s True Blood and The CW’s Vampire Diaries, followed by a steady stream of other blood-thirsty heartthrobs that are still going strong 10 years later.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Twilight phenomenon, Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Cullen), Edi Gathegi (Laurent), and Catherine Hardwicke (director of the first film) got together at New York Comic Con to look back on the experience and share some behind the scenes secrets with fans.

Kristen Stewart was cast before anyone else, and the seed was planted in Catherine Hardwicke’s mind when she saw a scene of Kristen acting in another famous film with Emile Hirsch. “I saw the way Kristen was looking at Emile in Into The Wild with this look of longing, and I wanted that for Bella.”

Of course, now when audiences think of Bella’s counterpart, they picture Rob Pattinson as Edward Cullen, but that was not the first choice for lead vampire. Stephanie Meyer, who wrote the books on which the movie franchise is based, originally had Henry Cavill (Superman) in mind for the blood-thirsty heartthrob. But what it came down to was age. “It had to look like they were in high school,” said Hardwicke, “and Henry looked too old.”

The audition process was “like The Bachelor,” said Hardwicke. “Every two hours, Kristen had to kiss a different guy, and at the end, Kristen said it had to be Rob.”

While Kristen and Rob weren’t there in person for the reunion, both of them made brief appearances on a video screen. Kristen pre-recorded a video message to the fans saying, “I feel like we all kind of grew up together,” and Rob called in via Skype to tell the fans how much he appreciated them, although technical difficulties kept breaking up his message.

Kellan Lutz said that he loves looking back on the franchise, especially the first film. “We all had an innocence, a purity to ourselves.”

2008 was also a time before the social media explosion of present day, but the film still managed to “capture so many people before social media and connect them across the world,” Jackson Rathbone said. “The amount of people I’ve met who have been like, ‘Oh because of this series and fandom I was able to meet my best friend, even though we lived in different countries.’ I’ve heard stories from mothers and daughters who said they really connected over these books and films.”

The film will return to the big screen this month for anniversary screenings on Oct. 21 and Oct. 23 in more than 450 movie theaters, with a feature from Catherine Hardwicke and Jackson Rathbone and an exclusive sneak peak of the new special feature Twilight Tour…10 Years Later from the upcoming Twilight 4K Ultra HD release.