Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner get serious about their careers with new film roles

By Nicole Sperling
Updated March 05, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST

In the next few weeks Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson will both light up the big screen — without a single supernatural being in sight. Pattinson will play the rebellious son in Remember Me (opening March 12), while Stewart takes on teenage rocker Joan Jett in The Runaways (out March 19). Neither film is expected to earn the astronomical grosses associated with the Twilight series, but Hollywood will be closely watching the box office receipts as indicators of the actors’ staying power.

The one Twilight star Hollywood is already betting big on: Taylor Lautner, the 18-year-old boy with the abs of steel who has sold every studio in town on his charm and good looks. In the last few months Lautner ratcheted up his quote to $7.5 million, landed the lead in the Hasbro toy – turned – action flick Stretch Armstrong, and made the spec script Abduction a red-hot property. ”There is a big contingent that believes Taylor is the next Leonardo DiCaprio,” says one Hollywood producer. Adds Universal Pictures co-chair Donna Langley, ”Taylor is very mature for his age. He’s looking at the careers of Matt Damon and Tom Cruise and pulling from them.”

Pattinson, meanwhile, is taking a different path, seemingly eager to prove he’s more than a teen idol. ”He’s made it clear that he’s not willing to do the franchise popcorn movie,” says one producer. That’s risky, of course. Neither Pattinson nor Hollywood knows whether Twihards will turn out for his performances as a mere mortal. Despite a Facebook movement urging fans to support Remember Me‘s opening weekend, tracking on the film remains weak. Regardless, he’s certainly landing juicy roles. The 23-year-old recently signed on to star opposite Reese Witherspoon in Fox 2000’s adaptation of Water for Elephants, a film the studio is hoping to get into production before Pattinson takes off for Breaking Dawn. And while his choices couldn’t seem more different from Lautner’s, Pattinson too has drawn comparisons to that standard-bearer of successful career transitions, Leonardo DiCaprio. Says Elizabeth Gabler, president of Fox 2000, ”One would hope that he could become what DiCaprio was after Romeo + Juliet: this complex, incredibly handsome romantic lead who was very serious about his work.”

Also serious is Stewart: An indie staple long before Twilight, she’ll be seen in four films this year, including The Yellow Handkerchief (see our review here) — but Eclipse is the only one financed by a major studio. That doesn’t mean Stewart, 19, is turning her back on Hollywood fare. She’s game to take on another blockbuster…as long as she’s not playing second fiddle to a male star. ”She’s being extremely selective,” says one insider. ”She’s interested in starring in a big studio movie or she’d do a really cool indie if it’s something she hasn’t done before.” One possibility is the much-sought-after lead in the Stateside adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. While it’s still early days for that film, if it were up to her New Moon director, Chris Weitz, he would cast her in everything. ”She’s a thoroughbred as far as actors go. To me, she can do no wrong.”