Actor Robert Pattinson arrives at the Los Angeles Premiere "Twilight" at the Mann Village Theater on November 17, 2008
Robert Pattinson attends the L.A. premiere of “Twilight” in November 2008. PHOTO: JON KOPALOFF/FILMMAGIC

In a new interview with Josh Horowitz for the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the director Catherine Hardwicke reflected on making the 2008 movie on its 15th anniversary. She recalled how she had to work hard to sell Pattinson, 37, to the studio as the romantic lead.

Though she said there was “pretty much no contest” between the actor and his counterparts because of his instant chemistry with Kristen Stewart, who had been cast as Bella Swan, a “makeover” was necessary for Pattinson.

“When he came over to my house he had black bangs — hair dyed black — kinda out of shape because he’s hanging out at the pub all the time,” Hardwicke, now 68, recalled of her first impression of the star. 

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan in ‘Twilight’. IMPRINT ENTERTAINMENT/MAVERICK FILMS/SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT/ / ALBUM / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

She sent footage from his chemistry read with Stewart, 33, to the studio, and after Pattinson went to meet the team at Summit, she said they called her and expressed concern at her choice. 

“They called me back and go, ‘Do you think you can make this guy look good?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I do. Did you see his cheekbones? Here’s a photograph. We’re doing a makeover on the hair — everything, we’re doing everything. Makeover, he’s gonna start working out, and he’s gonna be gorgeous.’ But they didn’t believe it at first,” she recalled. “I mean, he walked over there I think with a stained shirt.”

The makeover involved his “hairstyle, the eyebrows, even the teeth,” Hardwicke added. “He started working out and worked with a trainer. He put a lot of effort in; you know, beautiful effort into it.”

The Edward Cullen hairstyle was a particular source of conflict, the director said. She said she loved boys with long hair and had a vision of the vampire with long locks, but Pattinson was vehemently against it. 

“We did hair extensions on him,” she revealed of an early move to create Edward’s look. “He hated them. He’s like, ‘No! No! Do not torture me!’ ”

The team was then “playing around [and] came up with this great hairstyle” that Pattinson ended up keeping throughout the four films. “Hairdressers told me right and left that kids would walk into their salon, ‘I need that hairstyle,’ ” Hardwicke remembered.

Actress Kristen Stewart , actor Robert Pattinson, director Catherine Hardwicke attends the 'Twilight' Premiere during the 3rd Rome International Film Festival held at the Auditorium Parco della Musica on October 30, 2008
Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and director Catherine Hardwicke attend the premiere of ‘Twilight’ at the Rome International Film Festival in Oct. 2008. VITTORIO ZUNINO CELOTTO/GETTY

When it came to casting Edward, Pattinson was a clear choice for the director, but that was mainly because of his instant chemistry with Stewart. Hardwicke said she had her “eyes set” on the actress “very early on.” 

“As soon as I saw Into the Wild, I’m like, ‘I think she’s it,’ ” she said. “I was laser-focused, like, I want her.”

Once she met Stewart, her decision was solidified. “I thought, ‘She’s got it.’ The no-bulls—, she’s never gonna over-act, she’s got that angst. She had everything.”

As for her and her costar’s dynamic together, Hardwicke said it was clear from the beginning that they were meant to be Bella and Edward.

“Right when Rob came in there was pretty much no contest because the two of them felt that connection so strong,” she said of their chemistry read, which included the scene where they officially meet in biology class. “I don’t think she felt it so strong with the others but you know it totally makes sense because they’re both, like, so indie — indie music, indie authors, writers, films. I mean, they had all that stuff together.”