Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is just days away from its release. The first part of the final chapter focuses on the long-awaited marriage of Bella and Edward, and the birth of their hybrid vampire/human child. Part 2 - due out next year - will introduce dozens of new vampires to the franchise, so we thought we would spend some time with a few familiar vampires: Elizabeth Reaser (Esme), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper), Peter Facinelli (Carlisle), and Nikki Reed (Rosalie).
What have you learned from your characters?
Peter Facinelli: I learned that I prefer not to be a blonde.
Elizabeth Reaser: I've learned patience. Esme is always looking for a way to love someone and to be kind. That doesn't come naturally to me all the time. So it was good practice.
Nikki Reed: I've learned that it's okay if the world doesn't like you. Sometimes playing a character that is not the most likable can be challenging because a lot of times people think you are a reflection of who you play. I've learned to really stand by the character I play, but also find a healthy balance and separate myself and defend our differences.
When filming came to an end, was it nice to be liberated from the appearance demands of your role?
PF: I spent so much time trying to stay out of the sun because the more color you had, the more makeup you had to wear; more coats of paint on your face. I remember going to my daughter's soccer game, I looked like the Unibomber. The sun would come out and I would find myself slinking into the shade. It was nice, I went to the Maldives this summer and didn't have to worry about that. I just baked in the sun.
How does it feel, saying goodbye to these characters?
Jackson Rathbone: It was definitely nice to hang up the white makeup and the wigs and the contacts. That was always cumbersome in the mornings. It's nice because we have the premiere coming up, then we have part two next year, so it still feels very much alive.
PF: It doesn't really feel like it's over to me; it feels like a part of it is over. The filming process is over. But we have one more year until the last part comes out, so I think next year it will feel more complete. Even though we are done filming, we will see each other during press next year. We still have another year together.
NR: Everyone always asks us what the last day of filming was like and I wish that I was creative enough to make up a really dramatic tale, but it wasn't. It was dramatic because it was freezing and it was 6:00am and we just wanted to get inside. But there wasn't a river of tears because we all know we're going to see each other. Maybe in like three or four years... if I don't have a job... maybe next year I'll be sad.
PF: Also, some of us still had other filming to do. First unit wrapped, then I still had several weeks of second unit stuff with Elizabeth. I think my last day with Elizabeth was like two weeks after everyone else wrapped. I do remember, on that day, hugging you forever.
ER: Yeah, I remember that. I think I may have been yelling a little.
Jackson, you were really cutting a rug at the wedding.
JR: A little jitterbug, a little swing dancing. When I was doing musical theater as a little kid, I definitely did a lot of swing dancing. I was really into that musical genre. We actually did some choreography. They had a different dance style for us, and I was talking to our choreographer and suggested we do this little old-school flip. We were nervous about it because Ashley was in heels. It was fun though.
Elizabeth, can you talk about Jacob finally becoming a little more friendly to your side?
ER: I think he begins to understand the nature of our family. He begins to see us for who we really are, not, in a way, the color of our skin. There is a scene with Peter and I and he says, "I really get it now. You guys are family." He sees that he has, in a way, become a part of our family. We care about him. And I think Esme is kind of hard to resist. She's just so good and loving and wants to take care of everybody - though Leah is resistant.
What is your most memorable fan encounter?
ER: I had one recently where a fan yelled at me. Like, angrily. I was kind of fascinated by it actually.
PF: I've had a few fans who asked me to sign their arm or leg and then got it tattooed, which scares me. It puts a lot of pressure on me because if I end up not acting anymore, then they have this really bad tattoo on their arm.
NR: One time I had a girl as me to marry her, which I thought was kind of awesome. But she was not 18 yet, and for some reason, that was my first question. She looked really young, so when she asked the question, I said, "Are you 18?" She said, "No, but my mom said it's okay when I am."
And you can't pull a Prince and change your name.
PF: No I can't do that, either. "The Artist Formerly Known as Peter Facinelli" wouldn't fit on her arm.
JR: The fans, over the years, have been utterly amazing and so supportive. We wouldn't be where we are right now if it wasn't for their loyal devotion to these films. There has definitely been some craziness. But there are some that are so sweet and adoring. When people start yelling at you and chasing after you, I think your natural instinct is to run in the other direction.
All of you have had tremendous transitions in your life from working on Twilight. What have you taken from the experience?
NR: I've learned one very important thing from observing the whole situation: fame does not mean success. It's great being part of something so well-known, but we all have to do good work after this. Now that it is coming to an end, it is about what choices we make with our lives. I've always done this thing where I put my life before my work. It's not a lack of ambition, it's just a desire to live my life and know that I'm only going to be 19 once; I'll only be 20 once... I moved away a lot in between films: I lived in Greece, I lived in Russia for a bit. I wanted to do all the things my brother - who is just a year older than me - got to do just because he was a normal kid. I guess I have learned to just have faith in the work and hope that after this, people will have a little bit of respect and still desire to see me act.
JR: It's been an incredible learning experience. I think one of the most fascinating things that I learned from this series was working with so many different, diverse directors. People whose works I've seen and respected over the years. I formed my own production company about a year and a half ago, and being able to learn from the amazing producers and directors - all of whom have different styles - has been important. It has given me a chance to learn from the best in the business. This time we had Bill Condon, and he has such an amazing aesthetic. The nightmare wedding sequence just blew me away. The blood and the roses... it was so well done. It's one thing when you read it in the book; you always visualize things differently. The way he brought it to life was so phenomenal.
Nikki, you worked with Taylor Lautner a lot more in this movie than in previous ones. Can you talk a little bit about that?
NR: I just saw the movie last night and I was a little disappointed because my favorite scene between Taylor and I actually didn't make it in. We shot this scene where I go to serve him food and I bend the bowl into a dog bowl and write "Fido" on it and he hits me on the head with it. It's very dramatic, and I thought it was a great representation of who Rosalie is. Working with Taylor is really a joy. He's very honest. His eyes are very honest. He's very good at committing to the decisions he makes throughout the film. It was nice to actually interact with other actors this time. Taylor is wonderful - and he's great with his shirt on, too.
As kind of the "mom and dad" on set, how do you feel Kristen and Rob have handled all the media and fan frenzy? Have they changed because of it?
PF: I've been impressed. Everyone handles it differently. People have asked me if I have ever given them advice about it, but I haven't because everyone has to handle it their own way. I don't feel like they've changed who they are; they just have more people surrounding them. They have more of an entourage and more security. As individuals I don't think they've changed, which has been nice to see.
ER: I would agree. I think they have had unusual challenges. I think it is really exciting that they have gotten to play these roles and carried us along with them. It has been an amazing experience.
How did Bill differ as a director from others who helmed earlier installments?
JR: Everyone has a different energy, and as the director, that energy trickles down through the rest of the crew and cast. Bill had this really calm demeanor. He knew what was going on; he was open to being asked questions and always had an answer. At the same time, he was always open to new ideas.
PF: I always say that Bill puts the "gentle" in "gentleman." He's a very gentle director and very classy. He's very caring. You could tell that he cared about what you were going through as an actor, what your thought process was like, and he wanted to hear it. It wasn't just about setting up camera, it was about the emotional journey that the characters were going through.
Did you guys get any "souvenirs" from set?
PF: I tried to take Carlisle's ring in the second or third movie. I told them it wouldn't come off my finger. I went home with it but they tracked me down and said they needed the ring back. I think they wanted it back so they could take a mold and sell it to all the fans because they started selling the Carlisle rings. Then on the fourth one I just asked if I could have one, so I have one of the original Carlisle rings.
NR: I'm a huge rule-follower, so I was always afraid if I took anything, they would track me down and I'd get in trouble. In the first movie, in the baseball scene, I had these really cool sneakers, and Christian actually stole them for me. She came over to my house and told me they had two of them and I could have one. I never ended up wearing them - they have mud on them so they just sit in my closet.
Do you take any notice of critics reactions to the films, or is it just the fan reactions you are most concerned with?
ER: I am definitely curious to see how they are received. I think the fan response with this type of movie is the overwhelming priority for us. For me, I hope we have given them the story they see in their minds after all these years.
JR: I think the harshest critics are the fans. They have lived with these books, and have the visions of the movies already in their heads. If most of the fans like them, then I think we've done our job.