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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

I’m awesome. I wrote a book. It’s got little to do with movies. Download and read “Thank You, Goodnight” right HERE for free.

Does anyone have any idea how much people are willing to do anything to get close to those involved in TWILIGHT?

Stores have been shut down, cops have been called in, teenage girls are crying at the mere mention of Robert Pattinson’s name, crowds have not packed and swelled malls to the kind of degree not seen since the last Menudo tour circa 1985 and some of those involved could not be more laid back and chill about it all.

Edi Gathegi who plays Laurent, Rachelle Lefevre who plays Victoria and Taylor Lautner who plays Jacob Black could not have been more removed or reflective on the entire experience. They look at it with a bit of comedy, genuine amazement and are sanguine about how they feel towards any subsequent sequels.

When I met them at the Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona the film was about 2 weeks away from dropping, they were slated for an appearance at the local Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall where 750 teenagers paid $30 a pop for a t-shirt and a ticket that would allow them to get close enough for a photo and autograph. And I understand that. I won’t make fun of these people, although it’s awfully tempting when you see some of the nutters in line, but the real sports are the actors who put on a smiley face and braved the insanity.

Note bene: This interview was conducted before me even seeing a frame of film or even reading a page of Arizona native Meyer’s book. So, keep your snarky comments to yourself. We join this interview with Rachelle and I talking, oddly enough, about how I once came from Chicago…

RACHELLE LEFEVRE: You are? I’m a Bears fan.

CHRISTOPHER STIPP: Nice. Cubs fan?

LEFEVRE: No. Not a baseball person.

CS: Then I’m done with you for the rest of the interview.

LEFEVRE: Hey, I’m from Montreal, OK and I was an Expo’s fan until the 1994 strike ruined us on our way to win a World Series and we’ve never recovered and then we lost our team because Jeffrey Loria, who’s an American, bought up the team and sold it off for parts like it was art. So I do not watch baseball anymore. I am scared for life.

EDI GATHEGI: That was the Expo’s?

LEFEVRE: Yea. Hard to respect the team that played the second half of their last season in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

CS: Regarding the film I know Pattinson is making an appearance in Chicago tonight, actually, and there are cops are being brought in to get ready

LEFEVRE: They canceled the event in San Francisco.

CS: I heard that. Did you guys know going in what you were getting yourselves into?

TAYLOR LAUTNER: No, not really. The first time we realized the potential of this thing I think was ComiCon and our first night in Seattle was a pretty big taste of ComiCon again. I definitely was not expecting anything near what it was and they were just great. The fans are very supportive and we are very lucky to have them.

GATHEGI: They are about as enthusiastic as you can get right up to the brink before they start breaking each others noses.

LAUTNER: Exactly.

(Laughs)

GATHEGI: I think I lost a little bit of hearing though all that stuff.

CS: I was actually there at ComiCon during all that. I only had a baseline understanding of the book series because Stephenie Miller is from here. I knew she was a local author but I had no idea that young girls, young people, really have attached themselves to this book series. As you guys were doing the film, what did you come to understand why young people are so connected to the story?

GATHEGI: I think there are a lot of questions that come up when you are in high school and are a young adult. There’s a lot of teen angst, forbidden love, like the whole Romeo and Juliet story, she can’t really be with him because they are different species but they’ve fallen in love with each other and what do…does she want to turn, live the rest of her life as a vampire… and I think Stephenie does a wonderful job painting these characters in such a truthful and honest way.

She does.

She sets up our world as we know it. It’s our world and then she starts to justify or asks all the questions of how vampires could possibly exist in our world the way we would naturally. And then she has an answer for each question and you think, oh my god, this is a world that could possibly exist.

LEFEVRE: Totally plausible.

GATHEGI: Totally plausible. And I think people are rooting for their relationship as they read and it’s just so interesting and intense, it’s engaging and a pretty easy read so people fly though the book and attach themselves pretty quickly.

CS: A lot has been made of vampires lately. True Blood on HBO has gone gangbusters. People love a good vampire story. Why? I think was fascinated just as a boy growing up with vampires in general, but it seems to be when you do the property right as in True Blood right now, TWILIGHT, from what everyone is saying…If you look at it from the right way it could just be huge. Why do people gravitate to vampires the way they do?

LEFEVRE: We’ve been talking amongst ourselves about this too and there is certainly something that there are certain genre’s that just appeal to us for certain reasons at certain times and so vampires have always been around, they just keep coming in an out of fashion.

But we are fascinated by one monster group at a time it seems in the zeitgeist. The thing that strikes me now about the vampire methodology, like True Blood and in Stephenie’s books, the genre, the methodology is being turned on it’s head. From what I’ve seen of True Blood it seems that Alan Ball is using it. It’s almost politically subversive. He’s using it to make arguments about the nature of humanity in a really interesting way about the nature of prejudice and it’s like he’s posited them as this minority group facing human challenges, which I find really interesting and the thing I find that I love about what Stephenie does is that it’s such an incredible metaphor for particularly at a young age but also like the Romeo and Juliet thing, for something that stands between two people being together.

Whether that’s species in this case, or a class system, or whether it’s different religions, there a million reasons still today why we can’t all just be one group and so it highlights our differences in an extraordinary way. So, I think that’s one of the fascinations in society right now, why vampires are big. It allows us to ask those questions in a way that’s harmless because we are not asking about ourselves, we are asking about a hypothetical world. Sorry, I just rambled.

(Laughs)

CS: You’re right. I think we’re done here.

GATHEGI: [Pointing at Taylor] He’s got nothing to contribute on the subject because he will be a werewolf.

LEFEVRE: Why do we love werewolves so much?

LAUTNER: Because they’re hot.

(Laughs)

GATHEGI: Literally. 180 degrees.

CS: Well, to that point, Taylor and Edi, what did you bring to your own parts? You are asked to play a werewolf and vampire, respectively, and you are asked to step into these roles acting in disguise. You are essentially playing a werewolf and vampire for a vast majority of your screen time without ever brandishing scary teeth, hair all over your body…

GATHEGI: Stephenie does a lot of the work for us with the rules of her methodology – there are no fangs, there are no garlic, no crosses. We go out in the daytime, but just can’t be seen in the direct sun or our skin will glitter. It doesn’t hurt us. It’s not like we have to be in a coffin during the day so a lot of the work is done for us and for me I just thought what would it be like to not ever sleep? What would it be like if I didn’t have to breathe? Like those simple things we do without thinking.

A vampire has to consciously think to blink. Because humans blink naturally. Vampires don’t have to. So to appear human, vampires have to think about those things. So for me it was the stiller I could be, the more undead I would be. So it was an exercise in the economy in movement. I almost needed to do less. But it was serious concentration. Then on top of that not to play vampire, I play this character, this being that was once human and what were his interests when he was human and what are they now that he turned? I thought it would be interesting if he was a contemporary of some great figure in the 1700’s when he was turned and I picked St. George, this Renaissance man. He was a fencer, a very regal character and I thought what if they were friends so that gave him his gate so then I just added vampire on top of that.

LAUTNER: It’s hard because I haven’t been transformed into a werewolf yet. I transform in the middle of the second book in the series. So, basically all I had to do is pretend which isn’t hard to have a huge crush on Kristin Stewart.

(Laughs)

That’s pretty much all I had to do because Jacob and Bella used to be very good friends when they were young and it’s the first time they’ve seen in other in quite a while when she moves back to Forks. He instantly has huge crush on her and cannot leave her alone, so that’s basically all I had to bring to life for Twilight.

CS: The production itself, they say it wasn’t intentionally done to have a woman director, a woman writer, but in the notes I’ve been reading, it kind of was. Was it irrelevant by the time you guys were producing it or, for lack of a better term, did it feel like it had a woman’s touch?

LAUTNER: I think for Katherine it doesn’t have to do anything whatsoever. Katherine has just shown in her past, with 13 and Lords of Dogtown and now this she is a professional at relating to the young. She has so much energy she is infectious. She brings the best out of us. She has such a creative imagination and that’s what Twilight needs is to take this book that is in words and bring it to life visually for the fans so they can see on the big screen what been on their minds the whole time they’ve been reading the story. I just think Katherine was the best choice we could have chosen do direct it.

LEFEVRE: And her history is a production designer and so she does have exactly that. She does have an appreciation for the visual. And this was a world that was so specific on the page and needed to be brought to life exactly as it was written and needed somebody who could read the book and the script and have that intense visual. I don’t know. Maybe a female made a difference there – maybe having a female imagination helped in the visualizing.

GATHEGI: We have good imaginations too.

LEFEVRE: You do??? Someone told me you think also. Is that true?

(Laughs)

CS: Everyone says you can get though this in a week but one page in her book and one page in a script, you have X number of pages have to cut. As well, some people got on this film without seeing a script, they just latched on to it. Can you tell me a little bit about A) Did you see the script before you came on and then B) What was important to Stephenie in your characters that she wanted to be sure she got in within the running time of the movie?

GATHEGI: I’ll try to go fast. I did not see a script when I auditioned. I just saw the sides – which is a scene that my character was in and I was not into it because I could tell it was an other worldly project and that was not my thing.

I’m really not a vampire fan.

When I met Katherine and had a great audition with Katherine I wanted to work with her and when I found out they wanted me to play the part then I picked up the books and I went, now this is not your traditional vampire story. She’s turned it upside down. This is an amazing story. It’s a romance set in the world of vampires. I absolutely want to be a part of this. I’m in love with this. What was the second part of the question?

CS: What she wanted to retain?

GATHEGI: And like you said, it was a 500 page book condensed into a two hour movie so I think for our characters, the nomads, we are the antagonists. There is no movie without conflict and I think that we’re not introduced in the book until page 300’s so in the movie for dramatic purposes I think it was important that they showed we exist before we exist in the books so the impending doom is there kind of a parallel story with the love story so you know there are some things about to go down.

LEFEVRE: I think it’s exactly the story of the book just condensed. Whatever is different is only different for the purposes of time. For the purposes of condensing the story. There is nothing that I can think of that is really far away from what Stephenie wrote. It’s all Stephenie’s stuff. And if it is contorted in any way in order to make it fit into a two hour movie, it’s still Stephenie’s world and still things she wrote, they are just condensed or rearranged slightly.

GATHEGI: And I’ll add to that condensed or rearranged slightly – if anything is different it’s movie making. It’s not a perfect science. There are certain things like locations and budgetary things and the sun is shining so you literally have to move the location, so maybe differences in that way but other than that, the attempt and the success of the attempt is very good.

CS: {To Taylor] Did you read the script?

LAUTNER: No, I didn’t. Just the sides. What I actually did, Jacob’s character basically just gets introduced in Twilight and develops later in the series but what they did for my audition process is take just in quotes from the second and third books and made it into sides and it was very interesting for me and I knew immediately, I love intimate relationships between boy and girl, I’ve always been a romance fan so I loved the sides, loved the writing, hadn’t read the books yet and as soon as I got cast in the film, that is when I read the books and the script.

CS: And now looking at this not just as a book, or a movie, you are looking at two or three, are you comfortable to signing your self on this trilogy? Any reservations about going on to do more?

LEFEVRE: I had no reservations before I signed on. I read the first book right before my audition and read the other two before I was cast and I read the script before I agreed to do it but having read all three books and knowing that someone had chosen Katherine, it could have gone one of two ways. They could have gotten a director who was an action person for all the action sequences and the chase stuff, and they could have gone with somebody who was really great with that and had experience doing that and then just allowed them to do the romance story. But they didn’t. They went the other way. They knew that Katherine would be able to pull off the action stuff and gave her an amazing - Andy who was our stunt coordinator and second unit director was an incredible – so they made a great team in the two of them so they let Katherine really do what she does best is really have organic behavior and an intense story from young actors. So knowing they had made that choice, I trusted Summit implicitly with the series so for that reason there were no hesitations for me. The story was great and they picked Katherine.

GATHEGI: And I can speak for them we would all love to do the subsequent films if there are any but there aren’t any right now. We’re going to see what happens in a week and a half.

LEFEVRE: And we’re always the last to know anyway. The actors. Last on the phone chain.

CS: The Internet seems to always know first.

(Laughs)

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