Can these actors move on from ‘Twilight’ in 2012?

Ah, a new year—and so many new movies to look forward to over the coming months! Sifting through some of the new trailers to hit the web this week, I noticed a new trailer available for the upcoming drama ‘Bel Ami’, starring Robert Pattinson (aka Edward Cullen). Pattinson will probably always be best known as the brooding vampire hero from the ‘Twilight’ franchise, so a period drama about love, sex, and betrayal seems like an exciting new turn for him. But it made me wonder: is 2012 the year the young stars of ‘Twilight’ finally move on in their careers? Or are they destined to be forever known as Edward, Bella, and Jacob?

While Kristen Stewart may be best known as Bella Swan, she actually has a long and somewhat successful film career dating back to her early childhood. Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, however, have been trying over the past few years to transition from the teen heartthrob drama into more adult movie roles. With the ‘Twilight’ franchise wrapping up at the end of the year, it’s time for all three actors to start seriously considering their post-vampire career moves—which leads us back to ‘Bel Ami’.

Pattinson is getting quite the buzz for his turn alongside established actresses Christina Ricci, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Uma Thurman, playing a young solider who woos his way through a line of wealthy Parisian women. The film is based off of the Guy de Maupassant novel, but it isn’t the first adaptation of the famous French story: the novel has been adapted for TV and the theatre over half a dozen times throughout the past century.

For those would-be Mrs. Cullens who bemoaned the PG-13 love scenes in ‘Breaking Dawn’, there’s good news: ‘Bel Ami’ is rated R for both strong sexuality and nudity, so we’ll likely see a much steamier Pattinson on the screen this time around. It looks like Pattinson is making a strong play for a more mature film career with a piece that is a) a period drama, b) based on a literary work, and c) rated R. The drama opens in March, so we don’t have too much longer to wait before we get to see Rob’s, er, acting chops.

After ‘Bel Ami’, Rob can be seen in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel ‘Cosmopolis‘. Cronenberg has taken a lot of heat for casting Pattinson in the story of a multimillionaire driving around Manhattan, but Pattinson’s costars seem to have good things to say about him. In any case, no firm release date has been set for the film, though it is supposed to hit theatres sometime in 2012.

Pattinson’s onscreen/off-screen love Kristen Stewart isn’t sitting idly by either: she also has two new films coming out this year, including the hotly anticipated ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ in March. This warrior-princess retelling of the classic fable co-stars Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, and it’s shaping up to be one of the must-see fantasy films of the year.

And once that wraps up, she’s also moving on to a period piece/literary adaptation: the Beat Generation flick ‘On the Road’, based on the novel by Jack Kerouac. Stewart will be playing as part of an accomplished ensemble cast, including Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Steve Buscemi, and Elisabeth Moss. If ever there was a film to establish Stewart as an actress with depth and range—two things she’s been criticized for lacking during her ‘Twilight’ years—this could be it, if moviegoers can get past their collective loathing for the adaptation, which some seem to feel is misguided.

Finally, there’s Taylor Lautner. While he had some minor movie and TV roles before ‘Twilight’, it was beefing up to play the perpetually shirtless shape-shifter Jacob Black that propelled him into the spotlight. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been as successful as his costars at snagging new projects; his thriller ‘Abduction’ bombed in 2011, and other than the final chapter of ‘Twilight’, he currently has no new projects lined up for 2012. He does, however, have a role in the upcoming fantasy ‘Incarceron’, which is scheduled to open in 2013. Based on Catherine Fisher’s young adult novel, the movie follows a boy named Finn (Lautner) who is imprisoned in a magical and mechanical prison. With that movie, it looks like he’ll be continuing on the teen fantasy circuit for a while at least.

Of course, for those fans who aren’t quite ready to move on from Forks, Washington, there’s a fifth and final chapter left in Edward and Bella’s star-crossed romance. ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2′ will open in theatres this November, and of course you can come back here for updates on the film as the release date gets closer.

Martha Hokenson
If I'm not watching a good movie, it's probably because I'm writing about one. I keep adding new titles to my 'must see' movie list and I hope to watch them all before DVDs become obsolete.

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