And so they face the final curtain. This week "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2," the fifth film in the franchise based on Stephenie Meyer's best-selling young-adult vampire novels, will hit theaters (read our review here). And while Lionsgate and Summit are hoping to extend the life of their cash cow, for the moment this movie marks the end of the franchise and the story of star-crossed lovers Edward Cullen and Bella Swann.
Which means that the young actors, who've been able to rely on a steady paycheck from the films over the last five years, now need to start looking elsewhere for gainful employment. The series has certainly been a phenomenon, but as everyone from Mark Hamill to Sean Astin have proven, being in a hit franchise isn't necessarily a guarantee that you'll continue to be a movie star after the series comes to an end.
So with that in mind, which of the fresh-faced stars who broke out thanks to the series (excluding older stalwarts like Billy Burke, Elizabeth Reaser and Michael Sheen, who already had and will continue to have busy careers) look set to grace our screens for years to come, and which will merely sit twiddling their thumbs until the reunion articles and 'Where Are They Now?" pieces? You can read our verdicts below.
Before "Twilight": Prior to playing Bella, Stewart had almost ten years of credits as a child and teen actress. Stewart first made an impression in 'Panic Room," as Jodie Foster's daughter, and quickly became a go-to for adolescent roles, popping up in genre fare like "Catch That Kid," "Zathura" and "The Messengers" while also impressing with more serious turns in "Fierce People" and, in particular, Sean Penn's "Into The Wild," where she just lit up the screen.
Chances Of Success After "Twilight": Pretty strong. She's spent much of the time between "Twilight" flicks in the indie world, with some impressive turns in "Adventureland," "The Runaways" and "Welcome To The Rileys," and has a supporting role in "On The Road," which hits theaters next month. But she also cemented her blockbuster cred with this summer's "Snow White and the Huntsman." The storm over her dalliance with the director of that film has appeared to blow over ("Breaking Dawn Pt. 2" is tracking to be the biggest of the series, suggesting that fans haven't abandoned her), and she's got further smart choices on the way: she signed on to Scott Cooper's "Lie Down In Darkness," and the Ben Affleck-starring con man comedy "Focus" (which should let her show a lighter side, something that's probably important at this point, after a half-decade of mopey 'ol Bella). She's in it for the long haul, and with "Twilight" behind her, she should be able to reclaim the promise that marked her to begin with.
Before "Twilight": R-Patz had relatively few credits before he was R-Patz — he was cut out of Mira Nair's "Vanity Fair," but bounced back with a major role as the ill-fated Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." A couple of small British TV roles and indies, "How To Be" and "Little Ashes," followed, most of which only really found audiences once he'd found success with the vampire franchise.
Chances Of Success After "Twilight": Strong creatively, but the financial success outside of "Twilight" has yet to come. The actor has found a huge female fanbase as a result of playing ageless vamp Edward Cullen, which helped Pattinson vehicles "Remember Me" and "Water For Elephants" find moderate success. Still, the Twihards mostly won't turn up for films outside the romantic weepie wheelhouse — "Bel Ami" took a dreadful $120,000 earlier this year, and "Cosmopolis" didn't do much better, with a mere $750,000. Still, to his credit, those films are indicative of his desire to work with interesting filmmakers, and a willingness to stretch himself, and that's something that looks to continue. On the way, he has the apocalyptic thriller "The Rover," from "Animal Kingdom" director David Michod, "Man On Wire" helmer James Marsh's "Hold On To Me" with Carey Mulligan, a reunion with Cronenberg on "Maps To The Stars," and he's lined up to play T.E. Lawrence for Werner Herzog in period adventure "Queen Of The Desert," alongside Naomi Watts and Jude Law. They're all far from the obvious picks for a heartthrob, and even if the performances haven't necessarily wowed, we're sure he'll only continue to improve. But will his built-in audience stick around? A smart move might be to take something action/thriller-y targeted at the mainstream, to try and win a male following. Perhaps something like "American Assassin," which Chris Hemsworth just vacated.
Before "Twilight": A selection of cartoon voiceover roles, and fresh-faced turns in kids' flicks like "Cheaper By The Dozen 2" and, most notably, the title role in Robert Rodriguez's "The Adventures Of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3D." He was Sharkboy, rather than Lavagirl, obviously.
Chances Of Success After "Twilight:" Could go either way, to be honest. When Lautner bulked up speedily for his return appearance in "New Moon," studio executives and casting directors started to anoint him the next big action hero, with the actor being attached to whole strings of projects. And while "Valentine's Day," in which he had a small cameo, was a decent hit, his first full-on starring role in the spy flick "Abduction" was entirely insipid, and the movie tanked at the box office. Most of his potential projects, like toy adaptation "Stretch Armstrong," a Michael Bay-produced actioner, a "David & Goliath" movie with Dwayne Johnson, and young adult picture "Incarceron," quietly went away. Instead, Lautner has a role in "Grown Ups 2," and parkour actioner "Tracers" in the works. Even by the standards of the franchise, Lautner's given pretty wooden performances, so it's hard to see him taking a Pattinson-like career path, but having said that, he is developing a project with Gus Van Sant, which he would also produce, based on a New Yorker article. Given the director's work with non-actors on films like "Elephant," it could be a canny move to work with Van Sant. Still, Lautner can find solace in the career of Channing Tatum. Often dismissed as a wooden meathead, Tatum's career has soared in the last year thanks to smart choices with good filmmakers, turning "Magic Mike" and "21 Jump Street" into massive hits. Maybe the two should meet up and swap tips.
Before "Twilight": Very little. Greene had cropped up in small TV roles on things like "Punk'd," "Crossing Jordan" and "Shark," but mostly in tiny walk-on roles, and her film roles were even less notable, the biggest being "McDonald's customer" in the forgotten Michael Douglas vehicle "King Of California."
Chances Of Success After "Twilight": Patchy. Greene's been fairly busy in between "Twilight" entries, mostly in the indie world. But neither "Shrink," "Skateland" or "Butter" ever really took off, and while her performances were generally deemed to be competent, no one was exactly raving about them either. This year has seen her in more studio fare, but again, there were few fans of either the Miley Cyrus vehicle "LOL" or the long-delayed ghost tale "The Apparition," both films essentially disappearing at the box office. Like Lautner, some of the projects she was attached to lead — indie "The Boom Boom Room" with Christopher Walken, and the Dickens reboot "Olivia Twisted" — never came together, and she's started to drift into TV. She had a small arc on the short-lived "Pan Am," and starred with Anthony LaPaglia and Emilie de Ravin on primetime soap pilot "Americana," which ultimately wasn't picked up by ABC. She is leading the intriguing "CBGB," with Alan Rickman, Mickey Sumner and Malin Akerman, but if that doesn't take off, her future may lie on the small screen, at least for the moment.
Before "Twilight": The amazingly-named Kellan Lutz, who plays Emmett, another of the Cullen clan, was one of the more successful of the "Twilight" cast before the films got going, at least in terms of his credits. The actor had cropped up in things like "CSI," "90210" and "Six Feet Under," and had a number of teen-based movie credits in films such as "Prom Night," "Stick It" and "Accepted." And shortly before the first movie hit, he was in a minor but significant role in David Simon's HBO miniseries "Generation Kill," which at least suggests he might be a little more than a pretty face.
Chances Of Success After "Twilight": If he lowers his expectations a little, he might be OK. Lutz recently invited mockery by saying in an interview "“I want to act for the rest of my life. I’ll win an Oscar one day, but I’m in no rush to get there. I don’t care if that takes me 50 years, and I’m old. I just love what I do.” Still, he's done alright outside the "Twilight" franchise so far, with action-heavy parts in "Immortals" and the DTV "Arena," leading Dermot Mulroney's rom-com "Love Wedding Marriage," and appearing in the "Nightmare On Elm Street" remake. He's even well-known enough to have played himself the other week on "30 Rock" (who could forget that name?). We're not sure how well his upcoming projects (dodgy-looking satire "Syrup," drug-dealing drama "Kid Cannabis," Indonesian actioner "Java Heat" with Mickey Rourke, and that dreadful-looking mo-cap "Tarzan" movie) bode for his career, but if he forgets about that Oscar and is happy headlining straight-to-VOD actioners, he could be set for a long and busy career.
Before "Twilight": Reed kicked off her career with something that few of her castmates can compete with: genuine bona fide acclaim. When she was only 14, Reed teamed up with family friend Catherine Hardwicke to co-write a screenplay called "Thirteen," about the troubled life of a girl in her early teens, based on Reed's own experiences. She ended up co-starring in the film (with Evan Rachel Wood), which became a sensation at Sundance, and won Holly Hunter a supporting actress Oscar nomination. As a result, Reed became a fairly in-demand actress, reuniting with Hardwicke on "Lords of Dogtown," recurring on "The O.C." and turning up in other indies like "American Gun" and "Mini's First Time." Things quieted down for a while, until Hardwicke got the gig to direct the first "Twilight," and cast Reed as Edward's adopted sister Rosalie.
Chances Of Success After "Twilight": Decent. Not much of her work while the franchise was in progress is worth mentioning, as most of her roles were in Lifetime-movie-sounding titles like "Familiar Strangers," "Awaken The Night," "Privileged" and "Chain Letter," with her most recent role being the straight-to-video Bruce Willis/Forest Whitaker picture "Catch .44." And some of the stuff that's on the way sounds like it's cut from the same cloth, including a reunion with Whitaker, along with Ray Liotta, in the thriller "Pawn," and something called "Snap," which is, believe it or not, "a psychological thriller set in the world of underground dubstep." Starring Jason Priestley. Amazing. Despite that, she also has movies on the way that people might actually see. She'll star in the heist picture "Empire State," with Dwayne Johnson and Liam Hemsworth, and perhaps even more crucially, she's one of the leads of "In Your Eyes," a little indie supernatural romance co-starring Zoe Kazan that happens to be written by a little-known guy called Joss Whedon. If she can find more projects more like the latter two, she might end up sticking around. After all, her 'Thirteen" performance showed she's got real talent.
Before "Twilight": The 28-year-old Rathbone kicked off his career as a presenter on the Disney Channel before moving into teen roles on shows like "The O.C." and the short-lived "Beautiful People" that led him to be cast as adopted Cullen child Jasper in the "Twilight" series.
Chances Of Success After "Twilight": Pretty slim, at least as an actor. Rathbone's part in the series has never exactly given him a real showcase, and his one big role outside of the franchise, in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender," was something of a washout. He's had some appearances on TV and in barely-seen indies, but not much of note. And his list of upcoming credits include destined-for-DTV titles like "Cowgirls 'n Angels," "Rodeo Drive Diva" and something called "DaZe: Vol. Too – NonSeNse," which might be the single worst title in cinema history. Perhaps his greatest hope is legal drama "Live at the Foxes Den," which has Elliot Gould among the cast, but we wouldn't hold our breath for that one. Still, Rathbone has a side-career as musician in the band 100 Monkeys, so he may just be happy doing that. And we suppose that TV might come calling for him at some stage.
Before "Twilight": A Tony nominee by the age of 13 for her role in the Broadway revival of "High Society," Kendrick appeared in the indie musical "Camp" as her screen debut at 18, and four years later, made a real impression in the Sundance favorite "Rocket Science." After a detour via failed Hugh Jackman pilot "Viva Laughlin," she bagged the part of Bella's best friend Jessica in the first "Twilight" movie.
Chances Of Success After "Twilight": In case you haven't noticed, Kendrick (who actually bowed out of the series with the last film, "Breaking Dawn Pt. 1") is the most successful graduate of the franchise, and has been since before even the second movie was released. The actress gave one of the few performances in the series that had a pulse, and just over a year after the release of the first movie, was an Oscar nominee for her great performance in Jason Reitman's "Up In The Air." And she hasn't really looked back since. First she cropped up in "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World," then she gave a terrific supporting turn in "50/50" last year, and she's had a pretty impressive 2012. She showed a new side to her talents in cop drama "End Of Watch," has a brief role in the ensemble of Robert Redford's "The Company You Keep," contributed a strong vocal turn in "ParaNorman," and led sleeper hit musical comedy "Pitch Perfect," the success of which seems to have put her on the brink of being a bona fide A-lister. Her dance card for 2013 is pretty diverse, with apocalyptic comedy "Rapturepalooza," Joe Swanberg's "Drinking Buddies," and twentysomething angst-com "Get A Job" all lined up, but further success awaits with the music world. She's headlining the stage adaptation "The Next Five Years," and recently participated in a table read for Rob Marshall's "Into The Woods." The world is her oyster, and her presence in "Twilight" is basically already forgotten.