We’ve all watched Renesmee Cullen grow up on screen. Through the final two parts of the Twilight saga, this half vampire half mortal aged all the way from birth to becoming a teenager. Naturally, the actress who played her grew up, too — seemingly just as quick as her famous character.
After appearing in both Breaking Dawn films, Mackenzie Foy’s career skyrocketed. Beyond the blockbuster franchise, die hard Twi-hards didn’t have to wait long to see Mackenzie Foy in many other big movies. And when more casual fans see Foy on the street, they find themselves doing a double take. "Sometimes I’ll get, ‘You look like the girl who was in Twilight, is that you’?" Foy explained to USA Today. Yep, she’s really Renesmee.
The popular saga was what truly propelled the young star into, well, superstardom — all before she turned 10 years old. "Doing Twilight, because it was my first movie, has pretty much prepared me for everything else that I’ve done," Foy told Good Morning America.
Although she will always be remembered as Renesmee, a character from one of the most popular movie franchises of all time, Foy has no ego about it. "I do not consider myself famous at all," she admitted to Refinery29, adding, "I’m just Mackenzie." But to those who have only watched her on the big screen, Foy’s transformation has been stunning. Here’s a look at how she went from budding star to bombshell.
Modeling was Mackenzie Foy’s gateway to acting
Mackenzie Foy joined the entertainment industry pretty early in her life. "I started working when I was 3," she explained to Refinery29, but it wasn’t on the big screen just yet. Foy landed her first role as a model in 2003, posing in subsequent photoshoots for Guess, Ralph Lauren, Gap, and Garnet Hill.
While she was busy being seen in print and TV ads everywhere, she eventually was bitten by a vampire — er, we mean, the entertainment bug. However, even at an early age, Foy knew she wanted to eventually find herself in the film business. "I want to be a movie director when I grew up," she revealed during a photo shoot for Gap when she was only 9 years old.
Foy has never known anything else other than the spotlight. Though she grew up with no other family members in the film industry, she was lucky enough to grow up in Los Angeles and was a local to the show business that surrounded her (via Breakfast Television Toronto). She also had some pretty supportive parents cheering on this aspiring child star. They were the ones who were constantly telling her, "Just work hard, and if you do that, you can achieve your goals," she explained to The Young Folks.
Little did she know, her big break in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 would soon be coming.
Mackenzie Foy started out with small roles on TV
Shortly after becoming a model as only a small child, Mackenzie Foy started appearing in ads on the small screen, booking roles in commercials for big name companies, including Barbie, Pantene, Burger King, and Ross (shown above). From appearing in print to making her way on to the big screen, it seemed like an easy — and obvious — transition. Yet, during her endeavor to become a director, Foy’s time on TV made her have a huge realization. "I was eight years old when I knew I wanted to be an actress," she told IndieWire. Lucky for her, some of the commercials she appeared in required her act out scenes.
From there, Foy officially joined the entertainment industry in 2009 as an extra on scripted television shows. She had small appearances in three pretty popular ones at the time, ‘Til Death, Hawaii Five-0, and Flashforward. Though she only appeared in a single episode for each series, she was clearly on her way to stardom. The opportunities were coming quickly after her, too. It only took three television episodes before casting directors came calling for this aspiring actress. "And then the movies happened," she told IndieWire.
Renesmee changed everything for Mackenzie Foy
Many young movie stars don’t get their first film in a major franchise, but Mackenzie Foy sure did. At only 9 years old, she was cast as Renesmee Cullen in the Twilight saga. Crazy enough, she had no idea how major the series was to Twi-hards at the time. "Looking back at it, it is really just … I see that I was really, really lucky to be a part of something like that," Foy told Hollywood Life.
The young actor starred alongside some major names. From teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner to Kristen Stewart to Robert Pattinson, it was an incredible experience for someone just starting out in the business. Foy told USA Today she "lost five baby teeth" over the course of filming, and she even started up something special for her older castmates. "I decided I should start a swear jar," she explained to E! News. Foy raised "quite a bit of money," but said she donated all of it to "St. Judes."
While Foy learned her fair share of bad words from the Breaking Dawn films — in fact, her mother wouldn’t even let her watch most of the movie when she was a kid – she gained a lot more from it than just that. "What I learned on that set has really helped me in the rest of my career," she told Refinery29, and her career was only catapulted from there.
Mackenzie Foy went from fantasy to horror films
Landing the role as Renesmee in the Twilight saga seemed to prepare Mackenzie Foy for the horror that was to come — and no, we don’t mean Twilight ruined her career, as some of the franchise’s stars have claimed. The year Breaking Dawn – Part 2 hit theaters, Foy landed in her next big project — and it was a pretty scary one. She appeared in two episodes of R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour in 2012, acting alongside strange spirits and spooky dolls.
Funny enough, behind-the-scenes of the supernatural vampire saga, Foy had a lot of experience with strange dolls. Since Renesmee ages so quickly throughout Breaking Dawn, Foy’s face had to be placed via CGI on various people and objects — from real and fake babies to even adult women — throughout the film. That was the production team’s creative solution after the first incarnation of baby Renesmee — what TIME called a "terrifying animatronic baby" — freaked out the cast and crew so bad they decided to scrap it altogether. "I think one of the infants was a robot," Foy told Young Hollywood. Hey, at least this on wasn’t haunted.
Since she was used to starring in supernatural stories on the big screen, it only made sense that she followed The Haunting Hour with The Conjuring in 2013. There, she was able to act alongside other stars her age for the very first time, including Joey King, with whom she quickly became close friends.
You’ve probably heard a lot of Mackenzie Foy’s work, too
At a time when Mackenzie Foy was beginning to get her voice in the film business, she began to pursue a voiceover career, too. She lent her acting chops to animated movies, including the award-winning The Little Prince and the classic story The Boxcar Children. While recording the latter, she even got to star alongside her good friend Joey King once again.
At this point, Foy had her fair share of acting experience, but that’s not to say that jumping into the world of animation was an easy transition for the young star. Though she was used to acting in front of a green screen — something Foy had to do often while filming the Twilight saga — walking into a room and not having a set built around you wasn’t easy at first for Foy. However, just like any other incredibly talented actress, she found a way to make it work. "I’ll do all of the motions and gestures that I can — trying to be as quiet as I can — as I would do in live action," she explained to Movieguide. "And just trying to imagine what it would look like."
Do not mess with Mackenzie Foy
As Mackenzie Foy’s dream of starring in major motion pictures was coming true, there was still something else she was pretty passionate about off-screen. "When I’m not working or doing school, I’m at taekwondo," she revealed to The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon, who unfortunately got a taste of her skills during the above demonstration. It’s not just a hobby for her, either. Behind-the-scenes, Foy has worked her way up to becoming a second degree black belt.
Initially, martial arts was a way for Foy to bond with her brother when she was only 8 years old. "It was just something my brother and I started doing, and we both really liked it and kind of just stuck with it," she explained on The Kelly Clarkson Show, and it’s a good thing she did. As an emerging actress, her career was still ever-evolving, and taekwondo was about to help her broaden the types of the roles she was getting.
Mackenzie Foy truly became a star in Interstellar
Mackenzie Foy’s career took another star turn when she landed a role in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar in 2014. Amazingly, Foy admitted to HeyUGuys, "I never read the script." Instead, she wanted to be surprised every day when she arrived on set, and also when she saw the final cut play out on screen. Many more surprises came for the young movie star, too.
Her role as Murph in the sci-fi screenplay led her to receiving her first major award — the Saturn Award for best performance by a young actor. She was also nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award and a Teen Choice Award, solidifying not only this young star fanbase, but also that of her peers and colleagues.
Although Foy probably got a lot of her Twi-hard fans to theaters to see Interstellar, that was where the similarities between the films ended. "It was definitely a lot different than Twilight," Foy admitted to BlackTree TV. Though a lot of the film took place in outer space, many of the sets were very real — like the dust storm that she and Matthew McConaughey weathered — unlike the green screens that were used during many scenes of Breaking Dawn. "Not having to pretend was definitely very interesting," she said, adding, "I don’t even know if I’ll be able to do that again." However, her next major movie role would allow her to do even more.
The blockbusters just kept coming for Mackenzie Foy
When Mackenzie Foy turned 17 years old, she achieved something that many girls can only dream of: becoming a Disney princess. She was cast as Clara in the retelling of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in 2018. As if working on a Disney movie wasn’t magical enough, Foy also got a Barbie doll created after her character. Obviously, it looked a lot like her. "I had Barbie dolls when I was little, so it’s kind of crazy," she admitted to Extra.
Foy’s character, however, wasn’t like any other princess turned kids’ toy. Foy was required to do all sorts of stunts and fight scenes while playing Clara. That’s when her favorite pastime, taekwondo, truly came in handy. "They were like, ‘Hey, you do martial arts. Do you want to kick somebody?’ And I was like, ‘Yes!’" she told The IMDb Show. "I’m glad I had that training to kind of help me out in doing those stunts, so that I could do them properly and thoroughly enjoy them," she also told CineMovie.
For a few months, Foy even spent time training with stunt horses in order to perfect her most intense scenes, which was something that would also come in handy quickly hereafter.
Mackenzie Foy helped to re-envision a classic
Having experience riding horses really helped Mackenzie Foy out when it came to being cast in her second Disney movie, 2020’s Black Beauty. The studio seemed to have planned it all perfectly, too. To prep for production, she only had to train for two weeks. "I’d worked with horses before," she explained to The Hollywood Reporter, adding, "I learned how to ride on my previous film." Because of that, the young actress once again did all of her own stunts. She even got her own horse to ride at home when they wrapped (via Home & Family).
Foy was pretty familiar with the classic story, too, so she knew exactly what to do when filming began. "I love Black Beauty," she told Celeb Secrets. "It was one of those books when I was kid that I just read so much that it literally fell apart." Obviously, anyone who’s read Black Beauty knows that the main character in the book is male, however, in Disney’s re-telling of the tale, the story was modernized with a young woman as that character, hence, Foy’s role.
The horse who played Beauty wasn’t the only beautiful thing about being in the movie. Shooting in South Africa was something completely new for Foy. "It’s stunning," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "It’s one of the most amazing places that I’ve ever been, and I definitely have to go back one day."