The Cullen Family - a clan of vampires
Continuing in the saga as The Cullen Family are Ashley Greene as Alice, Peter Facinelli as Carlisle, Nikki Reed as Rosalie, Jackson Rathbone as Jasper, Kellan Lutz as Emmett, and Elizabeth Reaser as Esme.
"The Cullens have pretty much decided to accept Bella, but Bella's really put them in a position of jeopardy. There's an entire clan of vampires coming to Forks and they're going to have to defend her and themselves," says Godfrey.
Both the Cullens and the werewolves find common ground in protecting Bella and the human population of Forks and La Push. "In New Moon, the werewolf genes get activated because vampires are in town. Our cast is expanding because we have some new additional werewolf friends that come into Eclipse. But, the werewolves and the vampires are like oil and water… they just don't mix. We have to actually ask the werewolves for help, which they are more than happy to do because they like killing vampires. But, it's a tricky situation because we're asking them to kill these vampires, but can you guys leave us alone?" explains Facinelli.
Alice Cullen, whose gift drives key parts of the story in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, is hamstrung in this story. "Alice is quite frustrated in Eclipse," reveals Greene.
"Because the werewolves have come more and more into the picture, her ability to see the future is now hampered when they are around. Plus, Victoria has wised up and is manipulating the loopholes in my vision. We know that Bella's in danger, but we can't quite figure out if it's from Victoria or the Volturi or some new army of newborn vampires.
So, a good bit of the movie is Alice and the rest of the Cullen family just trying to figure out who the heck is coming after Bella."
"We know that the Volturi want Bella to be turned into a vampire like right now," adds Facinelli. "On top of that we have a truce with the werewolves, which the Volturi wouldn't be happy about at all. So, Eclipse has a lot of complicated things going on."
Jasper's past becomes key to solving the present situation. "We learn that Jasper has always been a soldier, even before he became a vampire," states Godfrey.
"In the 1800's, he became part of a newborn army himself, so he's able to tell the Cullens what's coming. Newborns are stronger, faster, and they operate purely on instinct. Vampires are at their strongest in the first couple of months of their transformation."
Rathbone says, "Jasper is actually a Texan, which is something we share in common. Jasper became a vampire back in the Civil War era, when he was actually the youngest major in the Texas Cavalry. He was seduced and turned when he came across three beautiful ladies. Their leader, Maria used him to lead newborns soldiers during the southern vampire wars, that were over land and basically looked at the humans as cattle."
"When I was reading the book Eclipse, I was really taken with Jasper's story," says director David Slade. "It gives us tremendous insight into Stephenie's universe.
Historically in the 1700's and 1800's, it would be very commonplace for vampires to turn people into vampires to make an army to take over their territory. Then the Volturi began to stop it. So, there hasn't been a vampire army for as long as anyone can remember, but suddenly there is one. Someone has created a vampire army, we don't know who and we don't know why. But it's not a good thing. The only clan, anywhere near the area that they're doing all of their mischief, are the Cullen's. So they're naturally going to come to clash."
"Since Jasper has a long history with how newborn armies operate, he has been enlisted to teach fighting methods," explains Rathbone.
"Out of all of us, Jasper knows the danger that these newborns present, how strong they are, how bloodthirsty they are, how they're trained, and how they think," adds Greene. "He really teaches us their mentality and how to use our skills and our brains to get around them being much, much stronger than us."
"Usually Carlisle and Edward take the lead because Edward's a big know-it-all reading everybody's minds, and Carlisle has always been the father figure," explains Meyer. "But Jasper understands how to fight this battle and he's in a position where he knows the most, so it was fun having him have a chance to take the lead. I loved writing the fight sequences. In my imagination, it's just this blur of movement and I describe it like a dance."
"Sitting down with Jackson Rathbone to talk was such an epiphany because he knew Jasper inside out," states Slade. "Jackson is so in tune with his character and this is the first time he's actually able to express it. When I saw the other two films, I wondered why he held himself that way. It's because that's the way a soldier holds himself. He's very interested in that part of history. Jackson knew all about the Texas Cavalry and we would talk a lot about how the cavalry would stand, and how they would address the lady with the hat off and how you would hold your hat. It was great because he was really into that period and had done his research. He gets to use his natural southern accent, because he speaks a lot more in this one. Plus, he looks great as a cowboy on a horse. Jackson actually is a great horse rider. He was a natural - he rode and it was fantastic. I think Jackson really shines in this film."
"I grew up riding so it was fun to be able to get back on a horse. It was really nice to put my riding boots to test," laughs Rathbone. "It's also nice to finally be able to delve into Jasper's back story and what really makes him tick, and really to explain a lot of the nuances I've tried to put into my performance over the course of the movies. Hopefully in this film, it expresses why Jasper is usually the one at the back of the room keeping quiet. Jasper has a definitely dark and checkered past that haunts him everyday."
"Eclipse was a great chance for me to finally get to tell about some of the other members of the Cullen's clan," states Meyer. "We've known that Jasper's this serious tortured person, who has a hard time being around Bella, but we don't know why and where he came from. I was really excited to get to talk about his violent and brutal history. His life was always about war and blood. He became very depressed, which led him to look for a more peaceful world, but he is never entirely comfortable in that peaceful world because he's spent hundreds of years in the other one."
"Eclipse is about revenge and love really," adds Rathbone. "Both can bring grief. Revenge isn't something that is sweet - revenge is dirty and it leaves you feeling empty and hollow inside. Love, when your love is unrequited, can do the same thing to you."
The audience also learns the story of how Alice and Jasper meet. "After getting away from Maria and wandering, Jasper goes to this diner and there's really not a rhyme or reason for it," explains Greene. "Alice is sitting there waiting for him because she can see the future. She's this spunky little fire cracker going 'hmm, you kept me waiting too long' and he's this Southern gentleman who tips his hat and says, 'I'm sorry, ma'am.' It's really cute and she drags him off to be part of the Cullen family - this nurturing, loving family - and it's just what he needs because he's been lost and heartbroken."
Godfrey adds, "He realizes there's a different way to live. Alice ultimately convinces him to live the way the Cullens live - no human blood."
"Alice and Jasper just work so well together and balance each other out. I think she needs him. He can manipulate emotions, so he teaches her a different part of being a vampire. They're really adorable" enthuses Greene.
When training for the pending battle with the newborn vampires, Jasper encourages each Cullen to build on their different fighting styles that reflect their personalities. "Carlisle and Esme are very team based," explains Lutz. "Alice is quick--she can jump, she's just very pixie like, and is hard to catch. Edward is just a stud in a fight. He doesn't have to do much, because he knows when the punches are coming.
He knows seconds before, so he's just very quick. Jasper just has the knowledge, he knows how to take down a brute like me. He knows he can't throw me, so he uses my weight and my ability against me. Rosalie's dirty - if she was a human in a bar fight, she'd break a glass bottle and use it. She uses fighting techniques like throwing dirt and breaking a tree and using it as a bat. She gets the job done."
Like Jasper, the audience learns more about Rosalie's past in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. "We've always felt Rosalie was a bit of a stick in the mud about Bella, but ultimately we discover what her reasoning is behind that, and of course it is more human that you'd imagine," says Godfrey. "Why she is so resentful of Bella's desire to become a vampire she attributes to her own history, she connects that with how much she lost by becoming a vampire."
"Rosalie's back story really tells us why she is the angry character that she is,"
agrees Rosenberg. "She had an incredibly violent, really horrific, brutal death. What the assault and murder of her character took from her was a really promising life and particularly her ability to live a full human existence of growing old with someone and most importantly for her, having a family."
"For Bella, Rosalie's story brings to the forefront the issue of family and children.
This is one of the things she'll be giving up," adds Rosenberg. "This was stolen from Rosalie, but Bella's making a choice to voluntarily give it up. That's Rosalie's issue with Bella. She thinks Bella's making a wrong choice and envies her that choice. Rosalie's story really is important to Bella's ability to make a mature choice."
"Rosalie values her human life because it was taken from her," comments Meyer.
"Alice doesn't remember and Esme hated her human life, but Rosalie wanted it back. Rosalie sees Bella, whose life is fine and she has her family and she wants to give that up, so Rosalie is just infuriated with Bella. When Rosalie finally tells Bella her story, it's a warning - you don't yet realize what you might miss. Underneath it all, Rosalie wants Bella to make the right choice, even though Bella's a very different person and she's happy with her choice eventually. But Rosalie just thinks it's too much to give up and she's trying to give Bella the chance that she wasn't given."
Reed adds "She's resentful because she always wanted to be a mother. She loves the idea of a very conventional, old-fashioned lifestyle - she wants to be a wife, take care of her husband, and watch their kids run around. That's her ideal life. So to be stuck in this shell forever is miserable for her."
Like Rathbone, the third film pays off for Reed. "It's really difficult to be a part of something that's so big, and to know that you're just a little tiny part of it. You're so eager to be able to explain why you act the way you do to an entire world of people that are so fascinated with these films. Stephenie wrote an amazing series and there are 800 or 900 pages to be able to explain each character. But when you're making the film, it must revolve around this intense love story between these two people. Everything else is condensed, so there isn't a lot of time to explain why certain people act the way they do. So, I know that Jackson and I both have been really looking forward to making this film."
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse also reveals some insight as to why Rosalie and Emmett make a good couple. "It's simple," explains Reed. "He needs mothering. I think that's their dynamic - Emmett brings out a playful side of her, a warmth in her that's only shared amongst themselves. She looks at him like he's a child. He needs her and she wants to be needed. Rosalie wants to take care of someone, because she didn't get to have children."
"Emmett is my inner child. I'm very blessed to play this role because Emmett is just a happy-go-lucky kid at heart. He's fortunate to be alive in vampiric form, and with his strength elevated to the 10th degree, he has no worries in life. He enjoys roughhousing and getting in a good tousle with a bear here or there. He just enjoys life to the fullest with Rosalie by his side. He views Rosalie as his wife, his love, and his angel, because she saved him. He really owes his life to her," laughs Lutz.
The actors participated in fight training 6 days a week. "As much as I'm an athletic guy and love doing extreme sports, I've never been so sore. My minor muscles that hold the major muscles have never been so sore before. It just blows my mind," laughs Lutz. "I took up yoga so I could stretch out. I get to fight or go to the gym every day, and I get to eat tons of food. And I love eating and I love working out, so I've really been looking forward to this one. We have a great stunt crew who teach us fighting techniques. I've been boxing for a long time and I've done some Jujitsu, so it's great to assimilate that, because a lot of the other actors are new to fight training. It's fun challenging myself with some of the stuntmen."
"Eclipse was one of my favorite movies to shoot because we got paid to exercise.
I'd work out literally three times a day. We would do fight training, then go to the gym, and then at night, I would do yoga. I would drag Kellan with me, which he is still upset about I think, because it eats into his macho image," laughs Facinelli. "But he has so much more inner peace now. So, it was just fun to be able to like eat right and get in shape and then to be able to use everything that you're learning in the film."
"I've never had personal training for a movie before, so it's been a very physical shoot with intense preparation and I've loved it," adds Reaser. "In fight training they teach us how to look like we're beating each other up. It's actually a lot of work. Even to pretend like you're hitting someone, or someone's hitting you, is a scary thing. It's been an interesting ride."
Reaser enjoyed the physical and the emotional work, and how the two intertwined. "I love working with David Slade because he had great thoughts about Esme. He was just interested in her as a mother, as someone who loves deeply. That's what I brought to the table when we first met. For Esme, it's all about love and what that makes her do. David's whole thing was that she's really strong and sort of this bad-ass. I love that he saw her as a mother and as a woman and as a leader of her family," says Reaser.
"The battle's been very fun for Esme and for myself," adds Reaser. "It's fun to sit around and be loving and nice all the time. But, it's more fun to go out and kick ass and run around. Also, when you love that passionately, you will fight that passionately for the people that you love. Anyone who has a mother knows how crazy a mother can be if anything threatens her children or her family. So Esme is pretty fierce in this movie.
I've been totally inspired by my mother, because to this day, if anyone says one bad thing about me, she will just take them down. It's hard getting into the makeup and all that, but you feel powerful. Especially when you put the contacts in your eyes."
"Also David Slade was really interested in the Carlisle-Esme relationship," continues Reaser. "He's really passionate about these characters in a real way, as these real people that he cares and wants to know about. Peter and I haven't had a whole lot of opportunities to delve into the relationship and tell the story of Esme and Carlisle.
David really stressed was how connected they are and that they're so in love. The idea of that kind of love is just really beautiful. Actually, that's what I really love about vampires in general… when they love, they love forever. Even Victoria - she loved James so deeply that she is completely devastated, and that's what's driving her. I love that they love… they are hardcore. When they do something, they do it fully. And so I love that about Carlisle and Esme."
"I love David. He's very smart, he just reeks intelligence," Facinelli adds. If you have a question, David has great answers. He always pushes you as an actor. In rehearsals, he said let's continue digging through these characters, going deeper, always trying to bring more to the screen. We would comb through the scenes and he'd constantly be posing questions, making you think, so I enjoyed the process with David."
Reed adds, "David has a very specific vision, which is nice. All three directors have been wonderful, but they've brought something very different to the table.
Catherine has a youthfulness about her, Chris is very composed, and David is very in touch with this material. But David seems to have an emotional investment in this film, and also with the actors. He loves to spend time with the actors. He's willing to work six, seven days a week just so that he can make sure we can all be on the same page, which is appreciated, because there are so many of us. We all have a different opinions and it's easy to get lost, especially in group scenes. We need specific direction and that's something David has to offer. Some of us really like to be directed, and I'm one of those actors, and he loves to direct."
"David's great - he's a mixture of both Catherine and Chris in a way," adds Lutz.
"Catherine was just full of energy, which David definitely had a lot of energy. He knows what he wants and he envisions a lot for the scenes. Chris is very chill, mellow, easy working with him, and David is just that same way. He has great experience with handling movies where there's so much to grasp. Eclipse is not just an action movie, not just a romantic movie, not just a scary vampire flick - there's so many key points in this movie that he is watching over."
Slade found the individual rehearsal time with actor of paramount importance.
"We're talking about lots and lots of characters in Eclipse and there's a certain degree of inheritance, history that is honored. A lot of actors means a lot of rehearsal and individual attention," explains Slade. "As a director, I try and see every actor individually.
In the early stages of pre-production, I would meet each actor on a regular basis and talk about each scene. For example, Peter Facinelli could tell me about how important the scarves are to his character and why. I want to be fully aware of whatever the little detail is that each actor brings."
"Essentially I block each scene out with each actor separately, so when we come together as an ensemble, it makes it much fresher because everybody has a different point of view and the truth of the scene will just arise," adds Slade. "I think it would be a folly to treat the Cullen's as one thing - they're all individual characters. So, I spoke with each one about their characters, their interactions with other characters, what they like, and what they disliked about them."
In addition to their delight in working with Slade, the Cullen actors were also thrilled to together once again. "It's been fun coming back to Vancouver and seeing all my pals," adds Reaser. "Every time we come back it all - the makeup, the hair, the understanding of our characters - it all just gets better."
"With each one of these films, we just pick up where we left off," agrees Facinelli.
"The whole cast is so much like a family, so it's like seeing a really good friend that you haven't seen in a while. It's like no time has passed whatsoever."
Reed adds, "It's like a vacation in a sense, we get to step out of our real lives and come up here. There are times when we're working nonstop and it's really intense and we're all really exhausted, but then there are times where it's a bit lighter and we get to hang out and spend time together."
Besides the director and each other, the actors share another source of inspiration - the fans. "I go on the internet sometimes and see the things that the fans write about my character. I'm amazed at some of the insight that they have about Esme.
They've been helping me in a way. That's what's crazy about this - I've never done a movie where I go online and see what some girl in Kansas has to say about my character, and I find it helpful," laughs Reaser.