Emily Browning is a talented, 20-year-old actress from Australia whose mix of youthful innocence and tough-as-nails determination has served her well in films like "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" and horror mindbender "The Uninvited," which is new to DVD this week. Take a look at her IMDb page, however, and you can't help but notice that her most talked-about film is one she isn't in: "Twilight."
"It's really strange," the actress laughed when we caught up with her Tuesday. "It's bizarre."
Under the message-board heading "Steph Meyer wanted Emily to play Bella in Twilight, but Em turned it down," a battle rages between Twilighters who think Browning snubbed their beloved author and non-fans who say the actress was wise in doing so. "Emily is too good for 'Twilight,' and I'm glad she realized that," says Spidersilkx9. " 'Twilight' would have rocketed her to mega-fame!" argues Carma.
Browning is eager to finally tell her side of the "Twilight" tale. "Maybe I should set it straight a little bit, because there are so many rumors flying around," she said. "People are coming up to me and saying, 'Oh, my God. You turned ['Twilight'] down?' and all this horrible stuff!
"What actually happened is that I was asked to audition — not take the part, but to just audition — shortly after 'The Uninvited' had finished filming," the actress said. "And I'm not the type of person who can just work back-to-back. So I was just exhausted, and I was like, 'I'm sorry, but I just can't sign on to a trilogy right now.' "
How did Browning's name even come up for the audition? Well, that dates back to a series of posts on "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer's blog — yup, the same one in which Meyer said she wanted Henry Cavill to play Edward Cullen. Posted before the casting process began for the massively successful film, the author wrote: "My favorite choice is Emily Browning, of 'Lemony Snicket's' fame. ... Just look at those lips! Love her!"
"I found out later, and obviously, that's extremely flattering," Browning said of Meyer's praise. "But before it was even confirmed that the film was being made, a few people came up to me and said, 'Oh, you're playing Bella in the "Twilight" movie!' And I was like, 'I don't even know what that is!' "
If you've seen "Uninvited," you know that Browning's starring role as tortured teen Anna Rydell is both mentally and physically demanding. "It's not that they asked [me to take the 'Twilight' part], but I couldn't even audition. I was too tired," she remembered of that time. "So, really, it's just a matter of me being lazy."
Memories of that exhaustion, she explained, are what frees Emily from all the "what if?" questions some actors might have after missing a superstar-making role. "To be honest, if I had gone on to do the film straight after 'The Uninvited,' I would not have been a good Bella," Browning reasoned. "I was exhausted, and I needed to come home and hang out with my family for a little bit. And I'm hoping people realize that now. I haven't actually seen the film, but I'm sure Kristen [Stewart] did a billion times better job than I would've done."
In the time since, however, Browning has finally begun catching up with the "Twilight" phenomenon and counts herself among the millions of Meyer fans. "Now I've read the first book. And, of course, you read it and go, 'Well, that would've been kinda cool!' " she admitted. "But it's too late. I can't wish that I did it or anything."
Finishing the thought, she added: "It's very strange to be connected to something you never even worked in. That's very odd."
Check out everything we've got on "The Twilight Saga's New Moon."
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