LOS ANGELES — It’s Twilight’s last gleaming, but what a way to glow.
Stephenie Meyer’s controversial final novel in the incredibly popular series gets a loyal Bill Condon-directed movie sendoff with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part I. It opens to a great deal of anticipation Nov. 18, with Part 2 following next November.
It is Part 1 that contains the edginess, however, as all Twihards know: Robert Pattinson’s vampire Edward marries Kristen Stewart’s Bella, then, in rapid succession, they have a honeymoon, a near-death birthing experience, and a baby infatuated with Taylor Lautner’s Jacob.
Pattinson, Stewart, Lautner, Condon and Meyer gathered recently at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel to discuss the latest effort.
There’s no doubt the movie will continue the box-office momentum of the previous three movies, Twilight, Eclipse and New Moon, which earned a worldwide total of $1.8 billion US.
Yet all agreed Breaking Dawn was the most difficult to transform onto the big screen while avoiding an R-rating. Even the author admits the book has some strange moments.
“I’m not going to say Breaking Dawn doesn’t get weird; it does,” said Meyer, who has kept a low profile since the first Twilight hit theatres in 2008.
So, not only did the Oscar-winning filmmaker Condon — his adapted screenplay for Gods and Monsters won an Oscar — have to familiarize himself with the Twilight world, he had to stay true to the fan base while maintaining the novel’s integrity.
“We sat down with Bill (Condon) and just dove right into it,” recalled Lautner of their two-week pre-filming preparation. “He (Condon) was absolutely amazing, and always talking to us all the time.
“I trusted him completely. It was really special, and now seeing the movie, I’m really happy, because Jacob starts here and he ends here. It’s just very exciting to see him in a completely different light than before.”
Jacob continues to be obsessed with Bella, just as he had been since the first Twilight.
“Most of the time, I could relate, but there are moments (in Breaking Dawn) where I’m like, ‘Dude, you’ve got to get over it,’” said a smiling Lautner. “Bella’s married now. She’s on her honeymoon. It’s about time to move on.’”
For all the collaboration between director and actors, Pattinson was still unsure they could pull off the more challenging scenes — one, in particular.
“I couldn’t really believe that it was actually really written down, and we were going to do it,” said Pattinson of the birthing sequence. “It was terrifying, going into it, but it ended up being one of the most incredible scenes to do in this movie.”
Condon thought so, too, but avoided the jarring portions by filming it from Bella’s perspective, which heightened the tension without getting specific.
“The key to doing it is tell it from Bella’s point of view,” Condon said. “We are only going to see what she is going to see.”
The wedding sequence is intended to be more playful. Still, Stewart said she got caught up in over-thinking the scene.
What I kept telling myself was, ‘Stop, stop, stop,” said Stewart of filming the wedding. “Just do it. Actually have this experience, because you’re just about to ruin it.’ I needed to just put the dress on, and stand there, and walk, and see him (Edward) and everyone.”
One face in the wedding crowd happens to be the very shy Twilight author Meyer, who was persuaded to do a cameo. In fact, she was on set, off camera, for most of the Breaking Dawn filming.
She didn’t travel to Brazil, where the honeymoon was filmed, but she did make it to most of the North American shoot: five months in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for interiors, and two months in the Vancouver area for the exteriors.
Most of Part 1 was also filmed out of sequence, which meant Stewart had the difficult task of being Bella in various stages of her life, one wildly different from the other
“Basically, being able to play a vampire, a human, a woman who’s pregnant, a woman who is about to get married, literally, sometimes within the same day, or sometimes within the same week, actually helped me,” said Stewart. “Everything felt more important to me and more relevant to me.”
Meanwhile, the end of an incredibly popular film series hasn’t quite hit the three headliners, nor the author who created the characters.
“It’s hard to sum up something that doesn’t feel finished yet,” said Meyer, referring to Part 2, which arrives in theatres next November.
As it is, there are rumours Meyer might write a post-Breaking Dawn novel, or release the unpublished Midnight Sun book, which is a version of the first Twilight narrative told through the eyes of Edward.
“I’ve thought about it,” said Meyer of writing another Twilight book. “People ask all the time. There are pieces in my computer. Who knows? Sometimes you want to get into a new world. But the (Twilight) characters are always going to be alive for me