Twilight fans were scandalized on Tuesday night by the news that Summit Entertainment had replaced Rachelle Lefevre with Bryce Dallas Howard as evil vampire Victoria in the series' third movie, Eclipse, purportedly over a scheduling conflict ("RRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" exclaimed one). Also shocked, apparently: Rachelle Lefevre! The actress, whose character was to have a larger role in the film, released a statement last night in which she, too, expressed surprise over Summit ousting her for a ten-day commitment to Dustin Hoffman's Barney's Version, which she says would've had minimal overlap with Eclipse's shooting schedule.
"I was stunned by Summit's decision to recast the role of Victoria for Eclipse. I was fully committed to the Twilight saga, and to the portrayal of Victoria. I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules.
"My commitment to Barney's Version is only 10 days. Summit picked up my option for Eclipse. Although the production schedule for Eclipse is over three months long, Summit said they had a conflict during those 10 days and would not accommodate me. Given the length of filming for Eclipse, never did I fathom I would lose the role over a 10-day overlap. I was happy with my contract with Summit and was fully prepared to continue to honor it. Summit chose simply to recast the part.
"I am greatly saddened that I will not get to complete my portrayal of Victoria for the Twilight audience. This is a story, a theatrical journey and a character that I truly love and about which I am very passionate. I will be forever grateful to the fan support and loyalty I've received since being cast for this role, and I am hurt deeply by Summit's surprising decision to move on without me. I wish the cast and crew of Eclipse only the very best."
To which Summit pleasantly responded:
“It was not until July 20th that Summit was first informed of Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to Barney’s Version, a commitment we have since been advised she accepted in early June. Summit had acted in good faith that she would be available to fulfill her obligations both in terms of rehearsals and shooting availability for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. We feel that her choice to withhold her scheduling conflict information from us can be viewed as a lack of cooperative spirit which affected the entire production.
"Ms. Lefevre took a role in the other film that places her in Europe during the required rehearsal time, and at least ten days of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse's principal photography. This period is essential for both rehearsal time with the cast, and for filming at key locations that are only available during the initial part of production.
“The fact remains that Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to the other project — which she chose to withhold from Summit until the last possible moment — makes her unfortunately unavailable to perform the role of Victoria in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."
So why was she really replaced? A source tells E!'s Marc Malkin that Lefevre would've been contractually entitled to a large pay increase for the third movie, and her recasting was likely a cost-cutting measure. Also, claims the source, Leferve's shooting schedule for Eclipse was only changed to conflict with Barney's Version after she signed up for the indie drama, meaning there's a chance she could argue for her full Eclipse paycheck. "Summit could have made it work," says the source. "But they saw that they could save a lot of money by recasting her. This could get really messy." Yes, we can certainly see how this might get messy!