Everyone is talking today about American Sniper, the surprise box-office smash with the incredibly fake-looking animatronic baby. The screenwriter has blamed a no-show newborn for the appearance of Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller’s plastic bundle of joy, but American Sniper producers should have heeded the warning of another movie that narrowly avoided the same mistake. In Twilight: Breaking Dawn — Part 2, the 2012 film that concluded the Twilight franchise, audiences were introduced to the supernaturally gifted baby of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson). Originally, Renesmee was going to be performed by an animatronic baby, which the cast and crew dubbed “Chuckesmee” for her resemblance to the grotesque living doll in Child’s Play. Director Bill Condon wisely eliminated the robotic child from the final film, but she lives on in a behind-the-scenes DVD extra, above.
"Chuckesmee was a giant misfire on all fronts,” Condon told EW in 2013. “Truly, it was one of the most grotesque things I’ve ever seen. It was a horror show! There was one shot where I call, ‘Cut!’ and suddenly she turns her head and mechanically stares right into the camera. It was incredibly disturbing.”
In the end, baby Renesmee was created using CGI, the results of which you can see below. It’s possible for a movie to use animatronic babies well; Children of Men, for example, had an amazing one. But if filmmakers need a cautionary tale — and yes, Clint Eastwood, we’re talking to you — all they need to do is look into Chuckesmee’s cold, lifeless eyes.