Actress Kristen Stewart, 18, first appeared on the big screen playing Jodie Foster’s daughter, in Panic Room. Last year she starred in the critically acclaimed film, Into the Wild, directed by Sean Penn. Kristen is a big fan of the Twilight novels.
What attracted you to the role of Bella?
My favourite thing about Bella is that she is supposed to fill this role of the damsel in distress, but in an odd way she sort of holds the power in the relationship. She is very sure of herself and is not afraid of the situation which is so much bigger than her. Bella and Edward have like a funny dynamic. He’s a vampire and he would suck the last bit of blood out of her, yet she’s completely fascinated by him.
Can you understand why teenagers fall in love with this book?
Yeah it’s definitely easy to become obsessed with it, because it has a very push and pull build. It’s really easy to get into it and not be able to put it down.
Did you feel that you had boundaries with your character as she was adapted from a book?
We definitely have a very particular responsibility. It’s a funny thing. Usually you have so much freedom on a film when it comes to developing your character, working with the director and the script, but in this case she was very set already. We just knew what it was in the beginning; you just can’t stray from that. We had a very particular story to tell. There was no room for interpretation which was fine.
Did you ever get scared while filming?
No, there were a hundred people standing around! (Laughs) It’s high stakes and to stay in such a charged energy all day is exhausting. Acting scared is very tiring! The first scene we did was the last scene of the movie. It’s like the climax of the scene. It happens in a ballet studio. And that was the first week right off the bat. So many things happened with my character. The whole arc basically comes down in that one moment and I’m trying to psyche myself up before the first take – and I’m supposed to walk into the room and start this crazy fight scene and I almost passed out! It can be quite draining.
Are you like Bella in anyway?
Bella is a very relatable character. I think that’s why girls have taken to the book so much. You read it and you put yourself in her shoes. Bella is a vessel. For Bella, I feel like everybody just puts themselves in that situation. She’s a very normal girl. I feel like I’m a fairly normal girl. She’s going through everything a 17 year old girl goes through which I am figuring out too.
What makes the story so intriguing?
Well Bella is definitely self sufficient. She’s very much on her own and on her own path and very pragmatic about how she considers life. That’s what makes the story so great, because when this happens – it’s like an impossible thing that takes over and she lets it happen. There is no choice for her. That’s an interesting change for her. She takes things for what they are. Bella doesn’t over consider things and let them intimidate her. Edward is tortured and thinks that his is wrong and he’s going to hurt her and this is something that you should run away from. And she’s like: ‘You can’t live life like that.’
Why are vampires so sexy?
I think it’s because they are classically meant to draw you in to the point where they have you in a complete submitting state so they can then kill you! So that’s sexy a little bit – to give yourself to something – to completely let something take over you. It’s like the forbidden fruit. It’s something you can’t have so you just want more.
Were you drawn to a particular scene that you looked forward to shooting when you read the book?
Yeah, one thing about this movie is that there are very iconic moments. If you read the book, there are moments in the film that are bigger in your mind. The reveal of what Edward is. Everything in this movie is a fight – like a fight to find out who he is. A fight to have him acknowledge it and to sustain that. I think when he reveals who exactly he is, he shows Bella his true colours so to speak. He shines and glistens in the sunlight. There’s a moment when he turns and shows her and he is ashamed. She’s looking at him thinking that this is the most unspeakable, beautiful thing in her life and he’s just ashamed of it.
Is it an instant attraction between Bella and Edward?
It’s not like they get to know each other and they think – h e is really cool and she is really great and they have so much in common. It is an instant chemical reaction. Like she walks in the classroom and he smells her for the first time. And can’t take it. He’s like crushing the table. Most girls would want to crawl under the table and die and she’s sort of like – she has to know what it is. It’s this chemical thing that is going on. It doesn’t exist in the real world.
Is it very romantic?
Yeah classically speaking. We were playing around with vampire mythology and how vampires effect people and their powers, you find yourself arguing about the little details – like at three o’clock in the morning! The touch thing – like what it feels like to touch a vampire, like all of that it doesn’t exist so it was hard to make sure we did all of our homework and have it be consistent.
Actor, Robert Pattinson is best known for playing Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies. The 22 year old London native admits he wasn’t familiar with the Twilight books, but fast developed an appetite for the good versus evil vampire world after reading the script.
Was it difficult to master an American accent for the part?
Not really to be honest. All of my favourite actors are American and I grew up watching American movies. It’s weird I used to do a New Jersey accent in every audition in America, because I liked it. It’s completely bizarre and everybody would ask: ‘Where are you from?’ And I would say: “Oh, I’m from London!’
Has being British given you something extra to play a vampire?
I don’t know if being British helps! (Laughs) It’s weird because there were a lot of British people up for this part. The author’s choice was an English guy which was really strange. She wanted all English guys to play Americans. I think there is something about this myth in America of British people being classy.
Were there many people up for this role?
Apparently yes. I know they were casting for ages and I was one of the last people they saw.
Was there something that you did to convince them you were the one?
I don’t know. I just went in and I had a connection with Kristen. I think it was because I so expected it to be different to how it turned out and expected the girl who played Bella to be so different to Kristen, that I was so genuinely shocked when she did her performance. I just thought it was going to be a real damsel in distress actress. And I couldn’t pretend to be the Prince Charming to some dippy girl! Not that that is how the book is. But I thought that was how the film would turn out. And of course Kristen is tough, smart and a good actress, and so it completely changed my opinion and so I ended up playing him as a kind of a wreck. That was how that happened.
What makes Edward different from the conventional vampire?
He doesn’t have fangs. He doesn’t die in the sunlight, but he does have pale skin. I dyed my hair a bronze colour. He’s completely reluctant. Most vampires don’t want to be vampires because there’s a moral issue involved and Edward has that belief. He doesn’t kill people anymore. But at the same time, he doesn’t really know if it’s right not to kill. And he can fit in with normal society.
Did you have to go to a dark place to play the role of a vampire?
Sort of. The way I wanted to play him was more of powerlessness, like he’s a kind of helpless character. He was unconscious when he was made into a vampire. He didn’t have a choice. He woke up three days later and he has to kill people and he doesn’t know why. He finds out that he’s never going to age and he’s going to live forever, and he’s like this Superman guy but he never asked for it. But before that night he was this normal seventeen year old and now he has to go off and kill a bunch of people and it’s all his surrogate father figure’s fault – he’s like an eternal adolescent. He’s very frustrated.
In the book, Edward is depicted as gorgeous, do you see that in yourself?
Not really! (Laughs) I put off doing the audition for months because of that. I read the book and I thought, well, there is no point in going in. I thought that the w hole point of the part was just to be a purely physical performance. Like a modelling job. And I thought, I’m not going to go to the gym for one thing and so I’m already ruled out because he’s meant to have this amazing body too.
Did you go to the gym for the movie?
I did do it for the movie in the end. I did it for a different reason. I didn’t just want to have a six pack. I wanted to have no fat at all.
Did you get to do your own stunts?
I tried to. Some of them were pretty extreme and also my stunt double looks exactly like me. The scariest one was when I run and I put my hand out to stop this car which is racing towards me. I had practiced it a bunch of times but the car is like coming at 30 miles per hour. And I was sick on the day of shooting. I had taken antibiotics and I was really dozy and the car went off its tracks. So there I am, holding Kristen’s stunt double and my timing was off because I wasn’t feeling too good and the car like hit me in the face. Then I dropped her and I couldn’t stop laughing.
I didn’t have any injuries but Kristen’s double could barely walk for a like a month. I felt so bad!!
You have a couple of songs in this film right?
Yes, I did them before the movie. But it’s amazing how they fit. Like I would never have said, I really want to get my songs in the movie. I thought it was kind of funny. There’s a song which two friends of mine wrote in about three minutes and I sang it in my old apartment. I kind of made it into a song and now it’s in this big movie. I thought it was kind of amusing. I had to sing it to the video of my face (laughs). It was the most bizarre experience, but I think it really helps the scene. It makes the scene better.
Cam Gigandet shot to overnight stardom playing bad boy Kevin Volchok on the TV series The O.C. The 26 year old actor has appeared in a number of films including Never Back Down alongside Djimon Hounsou, and he has just finished shooting Pandorum with Dennis Quaid. He says after reading the novel, he was soon hooked on the Twilight underworld.
Did you enjoy playing the baddie?
Of course , I loved it! I’ve always kind of loved it I guess. I’ve always felt that I’ve had more freedom when I’ve played the bad guys. It comes naturally and I feel like I can take more risks. I may not look bad, but then you know looks can be deceiving! (Laughs)
So it comes naturally then?
I know! (Laughs) I think actors as they are coming up in their career, they all try to find something that gets them to that next level and hopefully this will do that for me. Once I’m comfortable with that I can branch out and take other types of risks.
How did you find this character?
For James, I tried to bring a heart to the character because you never want a bad guy to be one dimensional. So, I think finding justifications that aren’t just ‘I hate this person,’ or ‘I want to hurt this person,’ it was something deeper and it was something that was in volving his heart was kind of like the thing that I tried to get as far as I could with. Bringing the heart to it kind of opens up some odd doors and some creepy things when I would look at Kristen’s character or Rob’s character. It doesn’t come from a place of hate. It comes from something else – whether its love or fear, it added a whole new level to it which was kind of fun to play around with.
What’s the best thing about playing a vampire?
What I had the most fun with was living in that skin. Once I had the entire wardrobe on and the contacts in my eyes, you have like this sense of power that you can walk around with. It’s not really you, but then it’s you. It’s like you have this weird confidence that’s deeper than driving around in a cool car.
Can you talk about the physical transformation of your character?
The contacts were quite odd. I had to wear black with tints of red contacts which gave me tunnel vision. I didn’t wear any fangs. They are very human. They have a lot of human qualities. Pale skin. It was different for the good vampires and the bad vampires, because they looked even more normal. We didn’t wear shoes. We went barefoot everywhere. We were like the rock stars of the vampire world.
Did you have any expectations when you signed on to make Twilight?
I had no idea. I still don’t. I said yes, because I love the studio and I loved the book, and I had never done anything where it goes from book to a movie. Although I think it is nearly impossible to do any book justice while shooting a movie. I think you can get close. I thought this script, was as close as it was going to get. I still think it has the essence of what the book has.
Did you have to audition for this role?
I auditioned for this role but then they gave me the role of Emmett and I said yes to that. And then a week went by and I asked for another shot at playing James and so they did, and they gave me that role. It was nerve-racking. I was at a wardrobe fitting for Emmett and I saw Catherine (director) and she noticed something before I said anything. I told her: “Please give me another shot. I don’t want to be difficult.” But they did, but it was nerve-racking to have to fight for something in this career.
Could your character James take on Dracula?
Yes. I think so. James is ruthless. What’s been fun about him is that he doesn’t care. He’s not fearless, but death is part of the draw for him, even his own. He feeds off of it. It’s almost sexual in a weird way. It’s like the forbidden fruit!! James views Bella as that forbidden thing he can’t quite understand or grasp that makes it a bigger attraction. I think Bella with Edward is the same thing.