DALLAS — Although there was a lot of fun to be had at TwiCon over the weekend, there was an elephant in the room few celebrities would address. While Twilighters took sides and spoke passionately about the recent replacement of Rachelle Lefevre as evil vampire Victoria for the third installment of the "Twilight" series, some of the saga's stars refused to answer questions on the controversial matter — for understandable reasons.

A pair of high-profile stars who began the mega-franchise with Lefevre, however, did agree to speak with us on the record. And they were eager to say that they've spent the last few days sharing one key emotion with their fans: sadness.

"Who?" said Peter Facinelli, trying to force a grin when we brought up the headline-garnering story.

"I can say that I'm saddened that the dates didn't work out," the affable actor explained, referring to both Lefevre's and Summit's claims that a 10-day shooting overlap with another film was the reason she will be replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard in "Eclipse."

Asked if he had been keeping up on the news, Jackson Rathbone replied, "I have, I have," getting serious as he spoke about the subject. "You know, Rachelle's a dear friend, and I'll miss her terribly."

The uncommonly public dispute has put the stars in an uncomfortable position, as they have to balance their words carefully about having a friend and co-worker fired while at the same time not badmouthing their boss.

"I really can't say anything on the business side," said Rathbone, who spent the weekend signing autographs, performing with his band 100 Monkeys, and even participating in a "Coffee With Jackson Rathbone" brunch. "Rachelle is an amazing actress and an amazing woman."

If there is a silver lining to the cloud, however, it's that the new Victoria is an award-caliber actress of the highest order. "I'm excited to work with her," Facinelli said of Howard. "But again, I'm deeply saddened that Rachelle is not going to be in 'Eclipse.' "

"I love [Lefevre] like a sister; it deeply saddens me," he added. "But you know, the show must go on. We're going to embrace Bryce Dallas Howard — and I hope that the fans do, too."

"I would love to work with Rachelle again," reasoned Rathbone. "I'm really sad that I'm not going to get to work with her on the final film of the franchise we started together."

Check out everything we've got on "New Moon" and "Eclipse."

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