Victoria - the villainess hell-bent on revenge
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse finds Victoria - the villainess of all three films - still hell-bent on revenging her lover James, who met his demise at the hands of Edward and the rest of the Cullens in Twilight. This time around Bryce Dallas Howard plays Victoria, while newcomers - Xavier Samuel as Riley and Jodelle Ferland as Bree - portray pawns in her scheme.
"We had scheduling difficulties with Rachelle Lefevre and we were three weeks from shooting and we needed someone who could capture that same intensity and had a great villainous streak to her," explains Godfrey. "Bryce was somebody early on, even in Twilight, that had been discussed as a possible Victoria, so she was our first call.
Fortunately, she was available and excited to do it. She's an incredible presence to have around and such a joy to work with. She attacks everything with full intensity. It's not an easy thing to step into this group of people who have already made two movies together, to come into it new and just say 'look this isn't about me, this is about The Twilight Saga and I just want to do the best that I can to fulfill everyone's expectations for who Victoria is.' She won all of us over immediately and she's been great in the role."
"I obsessed over all of the books and I just have an enormous amount of reverence for what Stephenie created," admits Howard. "I feel like everyone here is of such a singular vision for what's possible with these films and how to reach the audiences in the most authentic way. I completely understand the fascination because it's really enthralling and exciting and very romantic… very, very romantic."
"So, starting out as a fan and then now being a part of it, I feel just a huge responsibility to do my best," states Howard. "Also because this character was created by Rachelle. She's beautiful and powerful and just did such an exquisite job, so I also want to really honor the very strong impact that she made with audiences through this character. I just feel a responsibility to that."
"Victoria is an amazing escape artist, can't be caught, always appearing out of nowhere and always disappearing into nowhere," describes Slade. "But, she is also a vocal manipulator and quiet seductress. As a man, if that was me, I'd really fall for that… I really would."
"Something for me that was really interesting is that in the third book, it's the first time that you hear Victoria speak," reveals Howard. "Obviously in the films that's not the case. But I just remember in reading Eclipse, Bella has imagined this character that's really intense and the first time Victoria opens her mouth, the book describes that she speaks like a little girl. I became fascinated by that - what does that sound like, what can that sound like in a way that's not going to seem ridiculous for people who perhaps haven't read the book, and yet still pay homage to the book. She's very seductive and she's very intense, but in her manipulation you can hear that she's also like this little girl, and it's terrifying. I think that's scarier than anything because there's something a little unhinged about her, and when you hear her speak you can really tell that there's something not totally right with the way that she is."
One her first night shooting, Howard discussed the character's voice with author Stephenie Meyer. "Bryce is great. She said 'I want to do something with the voice' and I said 'that's wonderful.' I think that's great. She worked it into the scene, and you could just see that this is Victoria. She is not a predator so much, she's not the aggressor so much… she's the master manipulator. She does it by being a little helpless. It's just amazing watching her. It's really cool and Bryce really brings that side of the character and the way that she's so dangerous. Victoria's not the best fighter in the world, but she's really good at running away, but other than that she's not very dangerous, except that she's able to confuse people and get them to do what she wants."
"In the past, Victoria's been really tough and I think in this film, it was important for that toughness to appear at the end, when there's a showdown, when there's a battle, when there's someone to be torn to pieces," comments Slade. "I think it was all the more power to Bryce's performance, for her to make the decision to make the character softer in voice and softer in performance."
Slade adds, "Obviously Bryce is wonderful to work with - really open in terms of her ability to try absolutely anything, including some big, bloody stunts. But, this softness was quite a bold decision to make, but I think it was a good one, because it also allowed her to be strong and tough. It allowed her to become that tough snarling Victoria from previous films, at the moment when it's time to do battle."
"She's a really vengeful character," comments Howard. "She wants to make them suffer, specifically Edward, by killing Bella. She's a really powerful vampire and her greatest skill is the ability to evade and therefore the Cullens can't capture her.
Revenge is a wonderful emotion to play, because I think that the most difficult thing for a human being to do is to accept and to forgive. Playing a villain has been extraordinary… very freeing, very freeing. It's instinctual, because many vampires are just listening to their instincts. I think in the human world, everyone gets so caught up with morality and what's right and what's wrong. That's why the Cullen clan is so fascinating for the Volturi, and even for Victoria, because they're not listening to their instincts. They're still caught up in this human notion that there's right and wrong.
Simply put, for Victoria there's blood lust and she eats human beings, and the Cullens destroyed her love and now she's going to destroy theirs."
"Victoria is a proper vampire. She's not doing this whole vegetarian business. Victoria looks at being a vampire as a blessing, where the Cullens look at it like being a curse," adds Howard. "I think that has everything to do with the way that they were as human beings. When Victoria became a vampire she became connected to this strength… she stepped into her power. Maybe she was somebody that was an outsider or was victimized or had evil tendencies, but wasn't able to act upon them. Then when she became a vampire, all of that emerged. That's an exciting thing to fantasize about."
Riley - ringleader of the reckless newborn vampires
Australian actor Xavier Samuel makes his American film debut as Riley.
"We just received his audition in the mail and Gillian Bohrer from Summit was the first one to email me saying 'Have you seen this guy's audition? He's great.' He's a fantastic young actor. We brought him over for an on-camera audition and he felt like the right sensitivity and intensity for Riley," remembers Godfrey. "Riley as a human was a nice guy, but Riley as a newborn has to be a leader. He is the main soldier, but underneath that he's still very vulnerable, because he loves her and he doesn't realize that he's just a pawn."
Slade adds, "Xavier's not a an actor that people will know, but he's going to be.
He's an excellent actor. In his audition, he just reached so many people and he just really stood out."
"Xavier is so great," agrees Meyer. "He was one of those auditions where it just blew everything out of the park, I mean he just GOT it. Every word that he said, it made sense."
"Riley is a character who doesn't have a huge page count in the book, but from a cinematic point of view, is someone we needed to develop a little bit more," comments Slade.
"Adding more Riley came about because there was a lot of confusion as to what was going on off screen," explains Meyer. "To me it was really obvious, but when I'm confronted with eight people in a room saying they don't really understand, then I had to lay it all out. I had some stuff written up for Riley, so we went through that and everybody we all got on the same page. To keep the audience from going through the same thing, we're knew we needed to show a little bit of what's going on with him. We need to see Riley and what he's up to, so we understand that back-story. We needed to have a visual representation of his story. So, we have more Riley."
"He is a cool character. He's a little scary but misguided," describes Meyer. "He's interesting, there's a lot going on with him. He turns into a dark person, but he didn't start out that way, and he is very much punished for his decisions."
"He's led to believe that the Cullens need to be stopped, because they pose a threat to their safety and their livelihood," says Samuel.
His biggest task is being the ringleader of the reckless newborn vampires.
"Newborns are the strongest and most volatile in their first year of life, and make for very good, strong, disposable soldiers," says Rosenberg.
Samuel adds, "It's difficult because they're so erratic, so thirsty, and so distracted that they're hard to keep under control. So Riley's certainly got his hands full in that department."
"It's challenging because you don't want to resort to the clichés and stereotypes in terms of the way that you portray a vampire," admits Samuel. "I think the trick is trying to retain some sort of humanity. It's a lot of fun. I get to throw people off burning cars and smashing into walls, so I'm having a good time. Everyone hates you if you're the villain, but no, I'm relishing it."
"We did a lot of rehearsal time, on working out emotional circles and where rage and fear and fury and love all intertwine to try and make a little emotional path through for Xavier," adds Slade. "Stephenie Meyer has back-stories for almost all of the characters, she tracks this entire universe in her mind. So, part of it was working Melissa and firing tons of questions at Stephenie, as to how we would shape the arc of this character, who we needed to see become a vampire, rise to command an army, and to be deceived and played with."
Unlike Howard, Samuel was not always a fan. "I was one of the uninitiated really. I didn't know much about it, but I had a lot of friends who go crazy for Twilight.
One of them fainted when they found out that I got cast as Riley," laughs Samuel. "So I went out and bought the books and madly started reading them. They're really addictive. So, I'm now well rehearsed in the world of Twilight."
He adds, "Twilight is such an enthralling fantasy and I think people really identify with the notion of the outsider, as well as the whole vampire thing. It's got all the right ingredients like love, danger, lust, and revenge. It all makes for a really intoxicating thing to watch, so I can understand why it's so popular."
The Newborn army
Filmmakers cast a young Canadian actress as a hapless member of the newborn army. "Jodelle Ferland, who's been in a ton of movies already at the age of 15, is shockingly good as Bree, which is one of Stephenie's favorite characters," says Godfrey.
"Poor Jodelle," sighs Meyer. "She gets the vulnerability of this person who's waking up in a new life and who's confused and suspicious, but doesn't know what to do except follow what she's been told. I think Jodelle brings a lot of that."
"Bree is part of the Newborn army. Even though she's on the bad side, she doesn't really want to be bad," Ferland explains. "She's doesn't want to be a monster, but she's forced to be. She's just going along with it, so that she's safe."
The Cullens try to offer the young girl asylum during the final battle, but the Volturi have another idea. "Bree does not want to be evil, she wants to be good. They tell her that there's another way and that she just has to learn to control her instincts.
She's willing, even though it's really difficult for her. She doesn't know the rules, so she can't follow them. It's not her fault, but she gets punished anyway. The Volturi are scary because they don't really think about fairness. They don't care that Bree doesn't know the rules. "
Ferland was thrilled to be part of the phenomenon. "I love the books. They're awesome! I went absolutely crazy when I found out I got the role. After the callback, it was like a month later that I found out that I got the role. I was so thrilled. I couldn't believe it. It seemed too good to be true, except I wasn't allowed to tell anybody," laughs Ferland.
To prepare for Ferland's role as a budding vampire in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, author Stephenie Meyer allowed the young actress to read a draft of her short story written from Bree's perspective, that provides additional character details not included in the novel Eclipse. Meyer also invited screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, director David Slade, as well as actors Bryce Dallas Howard "Victoria" and Xavier Samuel "Riley" to read the manuscript so all parties involved would have a strong foundation for their characters before the cameras started rolling. "I was pleased that this side of the story would make it into the film," Meyers says.
Slade adds, "I thoroughly enjoyed the story and it gave us great insight and inspired location choices and the tailoring of scenes. I think fans are going to love the fascinating details involved in the loves, fears and actions of an emerging vampire."
"I'm as surprised as anyone about this novella," adds Meyer. "When I began working on it in 2005, it was simply an exercise to help me examine the other side of Eclipse, which I was editing at the time. I thought it might end up as a short story that I could include on my website. Then, when work started on The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide, I thought the Guide would be a good fit for my Bree story. However, the story grew longer than I anticipated, until it was too long to fit into the Guide."
The novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella will be available June 5, 2010, in advance of the theatrical release of the film The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on June 30, 2010.
The Volturi - a venerable coven of vampires
Returning as members of the legendary Volturi - a venerable coven of vampires who weigh and impose the laws of the vampire world - are Dakota Fanning as Jane, a high ranking and powerful Volturi, and Cameron Bright as Alec, her brother; as well as Volturi enforcers Charlie Bewley as Demetri and Daniel Cudmore as Felix. The foursome is sent to the Pacific Northwest to investigate the killings in Seattle. While in the area, they also check on the status of Bella's immortality, of great interest to their leader Aro, as well as Marcus and Caius, who all remain in Italy.
"The Volturi are, for lack of a better word, the mafia of the vampire world. They keep the peace and order of the vampire world. They set up boundaries and rules and if you don't abide strictly by these boundaries and rules then they will kill you," explains Facinelli. "But, those boundaries and rules aren't always as clear as you'd like them to be for good vampires like us. There's a lot going on in the battle scene in Eclipse because The Cullens have to get rid of the bad newborn vampires, but we also have to
do that before the Volturi arrive. Then when they do arrive it just adds even more complications, because we're not quite sure if they wanted us to get killed by these bad vampires. We 're not quite sure whose side the Volturi are on."
At the end of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Aro decreed that Bella must be turned. "We're trying to figure out the best way to take care of a little problem that's going down in Seattle, and also to check up on Bella and see if she is still a human," explains Fanning. "I think that the prospect of getting to destroy Bella is pretty exciting to Jane. I think she's anxious and excited to see if she'll be able to get inside her head once she's a vampire."
Jane has the ability to inflict pain with her mind. "My character is always dark and brooding," explains Fanning. "I feel like she's always scheming something in her head. I think its fun getting to be evil and getting to play a character that doesn't really care about being evil, that's just the way she is. It's so different from who I am and it's especially fun to get to be a vampire and wear the red contact lenses and have these cool costumes."
All the actors playing vampire characters needed 1.5 to 2.5 hours each day in makeup and wear hand painted contact lenses to achieve the distinct look of a vampire.
"You can't see out the periphery, but you look really cool!" says Fanning.
Cameron Bright, who plays Fanning's twin, wanted to have some fun off-screen with the contacts. "The one thing I really want to do is walk down Main Street with these puppies in," laughs Bright. "I'll take my sunglasses off randomly and see what people think. It's funny because I walk outside of my hotel and there are eight photographers following me around… I'll walk straight up to them and talk to them. I've been acting for ten years and nothing like this has ever happened. I'm loving it… it's a big honor to be a
part of this."
Bright's character is a Volturi guard. "I fall underneath the henchman class, and I have the ability to cut off senses. I'm also the runner… I go around and do stuff for the higher ups. We are coming to assess a problem of some rogue vampires getting up to some mischief. Due to the fact that we know that his decisions are being watched by Alice, Aro has left Jane in charge. We are sent out and have to make our own decisions."
English actor Charlie Bewley returns as a Volturi enforcer. "Demetri is this very elegant stereotypical Italian and the protector of the Volturi. He's fairly unprecedented in the underworld… he is an expert tracker, which means he hones in on the tone of your voice. Unless you kill him, you'll never get away from him. The Volturi pretty much have a license to do whatever we want to do and in that respect, coupled with the fact that we are unparalleled creatures, there's a certain arrogance that comes with that, and that's fun to play."
"Eclipse differs from the first two movies cause it's more action-packed and it's also a horror movie really," adds Bewley. "The big battle has the newborns with their insatiable thirst for blood, coupled with the fact that they are very, very strong, because they have their own human blood still running through their veins. On the flip side, they're naïve and untrained."
Daniel Cudmore, who plays Felix, agrees. "The fact is the newborns are uncontrollable, unpredictable, and starting to do things that are making humans take notice. They're just getting too close to getting caught and revealing the secret that we're not allowed to reveal. Humans knowing about vampires - it's just something that we can't allow. My character Felix and Demetri really just want to come and get rid of
the problem and get back home."
"Felix is brutally powerful - he's able to just tear apart other vampires very, very easily," comments Cudmore. "The Volturi are very regal, but at the same time very animalistic. It's cool to go to a very animal side of you, when it's always been taught to be repressed."
The Volturi actors were thrilled to be back in action and working with a new director. "I couldn't ask for better people to get to work with again," comments Fanning.
"Plus, it's been really great working with David. He is a really amazing director, and I was really exciting to get to work with him. It's weird, playing the same character with a different director. But, it's been really a good transition and he's really wonderful and really talented. I think it does keep it fresh, because it almost feels like I'm on a different movie, but not quite. It brings a new vibe to the set and to the story, which is really interesting."
"I met David actually on the set of New Moon and the guy's hilarious. Clearly in his own world, doing his own thing, which I have massive amounts of respect for, and he's clearly a very gifted, genius director," comments Bewley. "He knows what he wants, has a very specific vision, and judging by his last films, he makes fantastic films that have a very specific stylized way about them. Working with him personally, he's a very affable chap and doesn't hold back."
Cudmore adds, "David's got a dark sense of humor, which I like. He's really thorough and he's got that grand scheme. You can see ideas unfolding in his head.
He's always working, always moving. Having someone new come in now, it's just a whole new onslaught of energy towards this new project. It gives each movie a different twist. Eclipse has a lot of action and cool stories intertwining - you've got a newborn clan coming, you've got the vampires working with the werewolves, and it all comes to a head in this awesome action scene, which I'm really excited to see."