Growing up in Ukiah, Shiloh Fernandez — Amanda Seyfried’s brooding love interest in the new thriller “Red Riding Hood” opening Friday — rarely made it to The City. But he can’t forget the time he and his best friend tried to impress their girlfriends with a trip two hours down U.S. Highway 101.
“We took them to a musical — I don’t remember the name — and we planned a picnic,” said Fernandez, 26. “It ended up raining all over us. On the way home, our tire blew, and we had to pull over and wait for hours in a church parking lot.
“She didn’t dump me that day. She waited until I moved to Los Angeles.”
Not that he has any regrets. It was in L.A. where Fernandez, who has no formal training and admits he’s sometimes bashful around other actors during rehearsals, earned his first big break, playing a troubled small-town Texas rink manager in the 2010 Sundance hit “Skateland.”
Before that, he was one of the finalists for the role of Edward Cullen in “Twilight.” Fernandez lost the part to Robert Pattinson, but took his defeat as a challenge — and director Catherine Hardwicke took note.
“He has a dark, sexy, masculine vibe,” said Hardwicke, 55, who ultimately cast him not as the pale, bloodthirsty Cullen, but as Peter, the poor woodcutter who wins Red Riding Hood’s heart in her new film. “I kept following his career, and he followed me around until I put him in a movie.”
Fernandez doesn’t pretend that missing out on “Twilight” saved him from the daily torture of tabloid covers, paparazzi and obsessive fans. Still, he can’t imagine what life would be like now had things turned out differently in 2008, when he first auditioned for Hardwicke in her Venice Beach garage.
“I wrote her a letter during the ‘Twilight’ process to explain why I identified with that character, because of things that were happening in my life at the time,” he said. “She sent me a very nice Christmas card back, saying she was sure we’d get to do something together at some point.
“I don’t know how many times you actually get that second chance, but I think I’m better-suited now to play Peter than I was to play Edward. I wasn’t good enough then. I didn’t have the experience. Since then, I’ve matured, and I’ve been able to do that without that intense pressure, which Robert has handled so well. So when ‘Red Riding Hood’ came along, I was ready.”
IF YOU GO
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie
Written by David Leslie Johnson
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Running time 1 hour 38 minutes