As the Twilight cast heads to Vancouver this week to begin rehearsals for the film's sequel, New Moon, Nikki Reed says she's relieved to have pal Taylor Lautner in the cast.
"I'm so proud of him," she tells PEOPLE. "He didn't have the part."
Lautner, who portrayed Jacob in Twilight, had to audition to keep his role in New Moon because the character undergoes a drastic physical transformation and becomes a hulking werewolf.
"Everybody knew he was going to have to fight for this," says Reed, 20, who plays vampire Rosalie Hale. "He was at the gym twice or three times a day. He was on a nutrition and workout regime for the last year not knowing if he would be in this film."
"We were all on edge," Reed says about waiting to hear if Lautner had been cast again as Jacob. "It got closer and closer, and it was
heartbreaking. Kristen [Stewart] and I were in Africa when we got the call saying he got the part. She's so stoked."
Preparing to begin filming with director Chris Weitz at the end of March shortly following the March 21 release of the Twilight DVD, Reed says she's glad it wasn't her that had to audition again.
"I don't know if I would have had the confidence to do that, and be told 'no' if it didn't work out. He just went in there and said, 'I'm going to do the best that I can.' And it paid off. I'm so happy for him."