Pattinson, Stewart & Lautner :: saying goodbye to ’Twilight’

by Fred Topel

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday November 15, 2011

"Twilight" has been such a phenomenon that it takes more than one movie to bring it to an end. Taking a cue from the two-part "Harry Potter" finale, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" is only half of the final story. Unlike Potter, though, "Twilight" fans are going have to wait until this time next year for the second part to be released.

For the last two films, Bill Condon (who brought "Dreamgirls" to the screen six years ago), was brought in to direct, while screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg returned to adapt the last part Stephenie Meyer's popular vampire series. (Rosenberg wrote the scripts to "Twilight," "New Moon" and "Eclipse," the first three films in the five-film series.)

In the hugely anticipated first part to "Breaking Dawn" (out on Friday), vampire Edward Cullen marries his high school sweetheart, Bella Swan. As they consummate their marriage, Bella's vampire pregnancy gets complicated.

Bella’s pregnancy

The series made a star out of Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward Cullen to swooning teenagers’ (and some grown-ups’) satisfaction. He recalled shooting the film’s final scene, which he feels encapsulated his experience of making the series.

"The last scene with everyone was kind of horrible because it was freezing cold and was after two weeks of night shoots. It was five in the morning; it was freezing cold, pouring rain. I think everyone just scattered after the scene. At least it was kind of symbolic of how all the movies were shot, just freezing cold and pouring rain all the time."

Readers of the books already know what the key scenes in the movie are. Bella and Edward’s wedding is one, obviously. Bella giving birth to Edward’s baby is another. The development of a vampire fetus nearly kills Bella, and the birth scene had to be as violent as described by author Stephenie Meyer, but as allowed in a PG-13 film.

"I knew it was crazy... I couldn’t believe it was actually written down and we were going to do it," Pattinson recalled about the scene. "It was just incredible. Because of the violence, it gave us a lot of freedom... Having every character so desperate, it became something very, very different. Especially for Edward who’s always held back, who’s a pacifist. He’s very objective and logical about everything. But to do this thing where I’m suddenly stuck between an emaciated dummy’s legs, chewing through a placenta, getting cream cheese all over my face, and then pulling out a three-week-old baby with a wig on -- it’s like something out of a Bunuel movie."

About the wedding

The wedding - the other key scene - takes place on the fabulous Cullen estate in an elaborate ceremony of which Twi-hards have dreamed. The scene made Pattinson think about the roles the bride and groom play in real-life ceremonies.

"It does seem like a bit of a hassle," Pattinson joked. "The groom’s role in a wedding is basically just as a prop. Even playing the part, you kind of realize it’s a clear indication of whose day it is when you’re standing at one end of the aisle and the entire congregation is looking at the girl. You’re in the same suit as every other guy just kind of waiting and she’s in a princess dress walking down (the aisle). Any guy who tries to get involved in organizing a wedding, or has an opinion of what the wedding should be, is kind of ridiculous. It’s really whatever your wife decides to do. (But) I really don’t mind. I just don’t want to have to wear a silly outfit. That’s the thing you have to think about."

Recently the stars of the "Twilight" movies had a real-life milestone. No, nobody’s married yet, but the three lead actors got to put their hands and feet in cement at Grauman’s Chinese theater on November 3.

"It’s kind of incredible," Pattinson said. "I was kind of embarrassed when I did it because I stood on my own handprints. [Mine is] the one handprint that is messed up, but it’s incredible. It represents something amazing. I think it’s totally ridiculous. I don’t even know how to feel about it. It’s just kind of mind-blowing."

Stewart’s journey

As Bella, Kristen Stewart concludes her journey as Edward’s lover. It’s a role that’s epic in scope, and also one that challenged her as an actor because the final films were out of sequence. She often had to balance scenes from Part 1 and Part 2 in the same day. As it turns out, it was a juxtaposition that actually informs her performance.

"Being able to play a vampire, a human, a woman who’s pregnant, a woman’s who about to get married, literally sometimes within the same day or sometimes within the same week - who knows - actually helped me," Stewart said. "Everything felt more important to me and more relevant to me. Everything felt very close. So, I think if we did it more systematically (i.e. chronologically) it just wouldn’t have been the same. Everything was happening all at once and it was so sort of overwhelming that it was good. It gives you that energy everyday."

Bella’s pregnancy causes her to shrivel away as the vampire baby consumes more than the human can replenish. But the task of creating a gaunt Bella wasn’t left to Stewart, rather to post-production visual effects artists.

"[It’s] digital totally," she said. "I didn’t have time [to lose weight.] To do that we would’ve had to shut down production for a couple of months while I lost the weight or gained it back, whichever we did first. It does make you feel a little bit like, ’Oh, I hope you guys do a good job,’ because I can’t do that part. It can ruin you, if you look ridiculous. Obviously I don’t. So, those guys are amazing at what they do."

On the days she filmed the wedding sequence, Stewart felt so distracted she had to force herself to appreciate the moment.

"I had a million different things going through my head. What I kept telling myself was, ’Stop, stop, stop. Just do it. Actually have this experience because you’re just about to ruin it,’" Stewart remembered. "I think that I was so in the right place that all I needed to do was just put the dress on and go and stand there and walk and see him and everyone. I know the story so well. But I kept telling myself to find myself in this moment and appreciate it or else I’d look back and go, ’God. Why didn’t I just take that ride and just do it?’... I tried the best that I could."

Lautner :: Jacob becomes a man

Before "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" hits theaters a year from now, we’ll get to see Stewart as Snow White in "Snow White and the Huntsman" next summer. Critics may be quick to compare the classic literary figure with Bella, but Stewart only sees one similarity.

"The one thing that sticks out in my mind is that they really are both, in different ways, matriarchs -- very strong matriarchs that need to find that position," Stewart said. "You see the whole process, but they’re so different. (But) I didn’t grow up on fairy tales. I know everyone says that the reason that this thing is so cool is that we’ve all grown up with these stories and it’s a retelling. I’m like, ’Nah, not really. I didn’t.’ I also didn’t grow up with ’Twilight.’"

The major battle in "Twilight" is between Team Edward (the vampires) and Team Jacob (the werewolves). Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner in his break-out role, is Bella’s childhood friend, a Native American who falls in love with her. His romantic interests are spurned by Bella; still he plays a key role in "Breaking Dawn."

"I was really excited about this one because Jacob becomes a man and has to make a lot of decisions," Lautner said. "He’s being torn between his two families so it was really tough. It was by far the most challenging one for me. But I didn’t know what to think going into it. As soon as the three of us sat down with Bill [Condon], we just dove right into it. We talked about the characters. I really can say that I couldn’t have done it without Bill’s help. He was absolutely amazing and talking to us all the time. I trusted him completely. It was really special though. I’ve now seen the movie and I’m really happy. Jacob starts here and he ends here. It’s just very exciting to see him in a completely different light than ever before."

’X’ marks the spot

Werewolves choose only one mate, and they "imprint" on them to create a permanent link. Readers of "Breaking Dawn" know that the key dramatic moment for Jacob is when he imprints on Bella’s daughter, Renesmee, forever linking him to her family.

"That was tough because what is imprinting?" Lautner said. "What do you look like when you imprint? Those were all the questions going through my head. Luckily we had [author] Stephenie [Meyer] on set the entire time, and trust me, I asked her a million times, ’Okay, explain me one more time what imprinting is on something. And, did you ever envision what Jacob looked like? What is he doing when he’s imprinting?’"

Despite this preparation, Lautner had to do the scene pretty much on his own, leaving much of the scene to be completed with effects in post-production.

"It was very, very confusing... They put an X on a wall and said, ’This is Renesmee. You’re going to walk in the room. You’re going to look at the X and you’re going to imprint.’ And I’m like, ’Are you kidding me?’ It was tough. It really was. But now, after seeing the final version, I’m really happy with it. It’s emotional. They did a really good job with bringing back cool flashbacks and tying in a voiceover. It really is a very special moment, but on the day it was a leap of faith."

Fans of the "Twilight" series have gotten use to seeing the hunky Lautner without his shirt on, and this first half is no exception: Werewolves run hot, so Jacob and the wolf pack often disrobe for comfort. They’re also shirtless after transforming back from wolf form. But now that he has wrapped the final film, Lautner is looking forward to wearing more costumes in his future projects.

"[I won’t miss] not wearing clothes and the climate of where we filmed," Lautner said. "Those two together don’t go very well. I love Vancouver but we always have to film when it was cold and rainy and gross; when the sun came out, we had to stop filming."

Not ungrateful

Yet Lautner doesn’t want to sound ungrateful about his "Twilight" experience. "Honestly, I can’t even think of complaints because of everything it’s given me. I’m just crazy thankful for what this has given us and all the opportunities it’s given us as actors."

When the second half of the tale is finally told, Jacob will still be the one pushed aside. It could be a bittersweet ending for Team Jacob, but Lautner keeps it in perspective.

"I go back and forth with Jacob’s persistence," Lautner said. "Most of the time, I can understand it because there’ve been things in my life that I have wanted so much." If he had given up, he says "I wouldn’t be sitting here today. It requires a lot of hard work and a lot of persistence. If you believe in something, if you love something, you gotta go for it no matter what. Most of the time I could relate, but there are moments where I’m just like, ’Dude, you’ve got to get over it. She’s married now. This is her honeymoon. It’s about time to move on.’ So yeah, there are a few of those moments."

The very last scene Lautner filmed helped give him closure on the "Twilight" phenomenon. Jacob dances with Bella at her wedding and gets a little angry about her honeymoon plans with Edward. Still trying to protect Bella, Edward must step in to send Jacob on his way.

"I knew filming the last scene was going to be tough, but it was more emotional for all of us than we expected," Lautner said. "It didn’t help that my very last scene was with Kristen. It was with Rob as well, but he comes in at the end and breaks it up. It’s really the last dance between Bella and Jacob towards the end of the wedding. It’s Jacob saying goodbye to Bella. She’s off to her honeymoon and he’s realizing that it’s over. Everything I’ve been working for is over and it’s really time for him to move on and realize that. It’s an emotional scene.

"We’re saying goodbye to each other pretty much and that was the very last scene we filmed together, so it didn’t help the situation. I remember when we finished Kristen and I looked at each other and I don’t think we really had anything to say because the emotion from the scene was overwhelming us and then the emotion of the situation on top of that. It was tough but it was a very special moment and now when I watch that scene I have a lot of great memories."

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" opens Friday.

Comments on Facebook