Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in
Breaking Dawn Part 2, that releases on Friday
The novels and the films constitute nothing short of a global phenomenon. In the four years since Twilight first opened in theatres, the subsequent novels have each been a number one bestseller and each successive film has opened to a blockbuster reception in the US and abroad. The four films to date have amassed over $1 billion (domestic) at the box office, and tickets sales worldwide have surpassed $2.5 billion. Over 30 million DVD/Blu-ray units have been sold in the US alone. The Twitter handle for the film saga@Twilight is the first-ever movie account to have reached one million followers.
Producer Wyck Godfrey, who has worked on all the films in the saga, summarises, “The first film is about new love, the second about loss, the third about choice, the fourth about the challenges of marriage and family, and this last film is about protecting that family.”
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 sees the three main characters — Bella played by Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson’s Edward and Jacob played by Taylor Lautner — coming to grips with the reality of Bella finally becoming a vampire and subsequently explodes with action as they are forced to fight for the ones they love.
“This movie opens at the exact moment that the last one ends,” explains Oscar-winning director Bill Condon, who shot the film concurrently with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. “I decided to open with a full-on main title sequence, which is scored to an overture of musical themes from each of the other movies. Each of the composers is represented and it gets you right back into the mood of the first Twilight movie. All huge landscapes... but it intercuts from that to what’s happening inside Bella while the venom is going through her body... and then she opens her eyes. The frame is starry and abstract until she adjusts to a new way of seeing. Whoosh, it just comes into focus and there’s Edward.”
Condon adds, “The break between the two movies lets you get used to the idea of Bella as a vampire. Bella starts this whole new life — it’s a different movie, she’s a vampire now. At this point in the series, her dad Charlie is basically the only human left. Everyone is a magical creature now. Part 2 is a really different experience and that excited me
it really was the chance to make two very different movies from the same novel.”
“We start with Bella’s awakening as a vampire,” reiterates Godfrey. “Everything we’ve shown and described in the past films about newborn vampires is now being experienced by Bella the character that we’ve been following over four movies. Edward still loves her, their daughter Renesmee’s alive, but immediately Bella has this unquenched thirst. So they go on her first hunt.”
Author and producer Stephenie Meyer adds, “Bella now senses with amazing clarity that everything’s changed for her. Suddenly, everything physical becomes very easy for her — almost like a superpower. Yet all of sudden, she has to balance all that with incredible thirst. But, she knew it was coming. She is the first vampire in the history of my mythology that has chosen to be a vegetarian vampire before transformation. So unlike everyone else before her, she goes into it committed not to kill anybody. She knew the thirst was going to be awful and she braced for it, so she doesn’t have the same issues that a lot of them do. Bella has that will and preparation and it makes her able to handle herself as a newborn.”
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson with Mackenzie Foy in Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 focused on Bella and Edward creating a family of their own, and this film is about keeping that family safe. “We spin the first act with the newness of Bella as a vampire, and seeing her daughter for the first time. This family — Bella, Edward and Renesmee — has a home and are enjoying this new life together,” says Godfrey. “The danger comes when Renesmee is mistaken as an immortal child, which is verboten by the Volturi. So, the major threat of Breaking Dawn Part 2 is when the Volturi hear that Renesmee is an immortal child and that’s a no-no. The Volturi is now gathering forces to rid themselves of the Cullen clan once and for all.”
A FOR ADULTHOOD
Kristen, Robert and Taylor return to their iconic starring roles to bring Bella, Edward and Jacob firmly into adulthood. Young actress Mackenzie Foy was just 10 years old when she filmed her role as Renesmee, who magically changes all of their lives.
“When people finally see both parts, they’ll be amazed at what an achievement Kristen Stewart’s performance is,” says Condon. “Where she starts as Bella and where she ends up is really something to watch.”
Robert Pattinson says the new film explores the vampire world beyond the romance of Bella and Edward, “The story spans the globe and encompasses many different characters, showing the variety of powers and abilities vampires can have. But the film is also about the fulfilment of Bella’s character; seeing her as a vampire is going to be a powerful moment.”
Stewart enjoyed the increased physical nature of the role, “It’s been really awesome to conceptually play the strongest person in the room,” laughs Stewart. “That had an effect on how I stand next to these big... huge guys, who are clearly stronger than me. I got to do wire work and kick people. It feels good to get physical.”
Stewart was only 17 years old when she was cast in Twilight to bring to life the awkward, shy, and clumsy Bella. “I started this whole thing when I was really young and in the first movie, I am so human, full of idiosyncrasies with clear insecurities. I stutter a lot in Twilight, which is something that I liked. It was really good for the series because when Bella becomes a vampire in the final film, I am completely still and in control. I approach movements and talk in a scene differently because Bella’s mind now works fast.”
The audience’s first view of vampire Bella is memorable with her perfect pale skin, crimson-red eyes and striking blue dress.
The most passionate scene of Part 2 has a decidedly different tone from the most intimate in Part 1 because both participants are now immortal. “Bill completely understood the two different scenes,” states Meyer. “The first one had newness, discovery and a lack of certainty. The second one has total confidence.”
Meyer was pleased with what all the cast and filmmakers accomplished over the course of four years and five films. “I’m excited because Kristen did great with this human Bella, who was stumbling through life. She brought to it this awkwardness, and now in the last film, it’s gone. She is now so self-possessed.”
“She literally tosses me around the whole yard, which was pretty fun to film,” admits Lautner. “Bella has lost it completely and Jacob really can’t do anything about it and he’s not going to fight back. He understands, so he’s going to take it on. It’s really intense, but it’s also pretty comedic because you got Bella flinging Jacob, screaming at him, and getting in his face.”
Jacob spends most of the movie within the sight of Renesmee, her protector. “What isn’t special about Renesmee? To the best of their knowledge at that point, she is one of a kind — an odd mix of human and vampire, which is quite lovely” describes Meyer. Like her mother and father, Renesmee is gifted. “She does have a special ability she can communicate through touch. No one can ignore what she has to say because everyone knows what she’s thinking, which is kind of the reverse of Edward’s ability to read almost every mind,” she adds.
“She is the biggest challenge on this project,” says Condon. “Not only from a technical point of view, but I think Renesmee was probably the character that the fans were most intrigued by in this movie. With Twilight, you’re always dealing with such an intense fan base, and you’re in touch with some of them and aware of what they’re most interested in. They were generous in accepting the fact that we had to make this big shift in terms of how quickly the character ages.”
“When we started casting, it was clear that this role demanded some performance ability,” adds Meyer. “In the first round, Mackenzie Foy tried out and from that first moment I thought, ‘Please let Bill like her, she’s so perfect’. Then Bill was having the same thought, ‘Please let Stephenie like her, she’s wonderful and can act’. Finding a child who could pull off saying goodbye to her mother, thinking her whole family’s going to die, was a really big deal. That’s a lot to ask of a 10-year-old.”
The role would be Foy’s first time on a movie set. Filmmakers used a series of stand-ins of various sizes and ages and executed a sophisticated face replacement that utilised Mackenzie’s acting on the bodies of other younger actresses. “Mackenzie’s been so great in her performance in the scenes where she’s playing her size that we want to try to use that performance as much as possible when she’s playing younger versions of herself,” says Godfrey.
“Mackenzie did her facial performance in what looks like a big scary dentist chair,” explains Condon. “She plays every moment in the same angles that we shot and then we took her face and brought it down to the appropriate age, and then merged it with whatever girl had been on the set. It was an intense visual effect process.”