As we get older, we all hopefully gain a perspective about ourselves and the world around us. We might come to see our lives as part of something much bigger than ourselves. Problems that once seemed insurmountable might become the punchlines in our favorite stories. And the dudes who once seemed like the hottest stars of the movies we watched? They might suddenly seem utterly forgettable in the presence of Lee Pace.
I’m talking, of course, about the show-stopping finale of the Twilight saga, Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part Two. The movie that dropped a closing combat scene so absurd that Marvel could never dream of replicating it. The surreal cinematic masterpiece that gave us that very weird laugh from Michael Sheen. The cultural milestone that, somehow, turns 15 years old today.
If I’ve gained any perspective in this life, it’s the ability to say this: Once Lee Pace sauntered on screen in Twilight: Breaking Dawn - Part Two, we no longer lived in a world where the question was, “Team Edward” or Team Jacob”? Once Lee Pace arrives, we should all be screaming, “Team Garrett!”
Critics might not have had many positive things to say about the Twilight films over the years, but Pace did manage to glamour a few in Breaking Dawn - Part Two. Film critic Betsy Sharkey had the right idea when she asked, in her Los Angeles Times review at the time, “Why, oh, why didn’t they introduce him sooner?”
But how does one describe Pace’s character, Garrett? Physically, he looks like all the Twilight vampires—that is to say, like a yassified Sims 2 creation. He dresses somewhere between Hot Topic and Affliction Clothing, and he has the hair of a mid-2000’s J-pop star. His eyes are red, his cheekbones are high, and his grin always twitches with mischief. (Edward and Jacob who?!)
Sure, Lee Pace was mostly a space-filler in Breaking Dawn—as in, he didn’t even get a last name or a special power. But his character Garrett’s lack of significant ability might’ve been what made him smolder so much next to his less relatable, ultra-gifted friends. His one talent is combat training, which we all know is one of the sexiest talents an on-screen character can possess. Plus, Pace was clearly having fun with the part—an enthusiastic patriot who loves to brag about having fought in basically every war (starting with the Revolutionary War) for the past couple centuries.
Part of Garrett’s appeal might be based in what he’s up to when we meet him: He’s a nomad (hot) who comes running when the Cullens ask friends to come help them stand up to the old, powerful vampire coven, Volturi. Upon arrival, he meets Kate (Casey LaBow), a member of the Denali coven who’s also come to fight the Volturi. This would soon become a ’ship that would not sink.
While Garrett might not have a power, Kate’s blessed with the gift of electric shock. Vampire cinema has no shortage of lusty scenes, but few walk the tightrope between sultry and silly quite like Lee Pace getting a jolt from his soon-t0-be lady love that brings him to his knees. And then there’s that line: “If we live through this, I’ll follow you anywhere, woman.” Swoon.
Pace’s Twilight stint also appears to have kicked off his two-year reign as genre king. For his next role, he played Elvenking Thranduil in The Hobbit—and after that, he played the Kree warlord Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy. (He’d later reprise the role in Captain Marvel.) Not bad for a guy who began his genre career as a vampire with no special powers besides uncanny sexiness.
Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner were perfectly acceptable crushes for the teenage set, but Lee Pace was for a more mature audience. He was there for the scruff lovers, the Twi-Moms, the Aragorn girls—those of us who like our movie crushes to come with a little texture, rather than the unblemished smoothness of youth. And you know what? He feasted.