There is nothing director Catherine Hardwicke likes more than casting new talent. The woman responsible for propelling Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s careers into the stratosphere has now cast two unknowns in her upcoming project for Warner Bros., Red Riding Hood starring Amanda Seyfried. Shiloh Fernandez (pictured, top) will play Peter, the edgy bad boy from the wrong side of town who attracts Seyfried’s character, and Max Irons (pictured, bottom) will play Henry, the refined son of the wealthy blacksmithing family who is engaged to marry Seyfried. The final decision to cast the two teenagers competing for Seyfried’s affection came after Hardwicke held a two-day “smack-down” where she brought eight young actors to a Hollywood sound stage and had them compete for the part. “It was wild,” says the director, reminiscing about the 21 hours of tape she culled from the intense two-day try-out. “We had eight guys all competing with each other for two parts. They all read with Amanda and they also had to do fight scenes with each other. It was kinda good to get their aggression out.”

In the end, Fernandez—who was also one of the four finalists to play Edward Cullen in Twilight—won the part of the rebellious woodcutter due to his intensity and good looks. He even won over Seyfried who, according to Hardwicke, had met Fernandez before and wasn’t a big fan. “Maybe they had a dinner that didn’t go so well or whatever. All I know is she wasn’t really that fond of him.” That all changed once the two got in front of the camera. “After a couple of readings she started seeing his intensity and depth and they really clicked,” says Hardwicke.

As for Irons—who happens to be the son of Jeremy Irons—Catherine loved his classical British training which fit the more refined, mysterious role of Henry perfectly. “I don’t want to say too much about Max’s character. He’s one of the surprises in the movie. He’s not what you think he is on a surface.”

Red Riding Hood centers on a medieval town that’s been terrorized by a werewolf for generations. Seyfried’s character Valerie is at the center of a love triangle and is a free spirit who often runs counter to her fearful family and town. She’s very close with her grandmother, who Harwicke is hoping will be played by the singular Julie Christie. Hardwicke confirms that they are in negotiations with the actress, but a deal could still fall apart. “We are trying to entice her to play the sexy, bohemian grandmother. She lives outside the walled town in a cool tree house. She’s no old granny with an old nightcap. She’s a hot, interesting grandmother.” Hardwicke, along with her producers at Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, are also hoping to attract Gary Oldman to the role of the wolf hunter. Hardwicke met with the legendary actor and was struck by how many ideas he had for the role. “He transforms himself in every movie he does so I can’t wait to see what he’d do with this role.”

This will be the first time Hardwicke takes on a true thriller, one that will likely be rated PG-13 when finished next spring. “A lot of people thought Thirteen was a kind of a horror movie, if you are a parent,” jokes Hardwicke about her 2003 drama on teenage drug-abuse. “There’s a different kind of fear we hope to deliver here.” Hardwicke will begin shooting Red Riding Hood in Vancouver at the end of July.