After four highly profitable films, the Twilight franchise comes to an end with its fifth entry, Breaking Dawn - Part 2. This film will see the conclusion to the story of vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and his new vampire bride Bella (Kristen Stewart), as they try to protect their new child Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) from evil folk. In the film, actors Charlie Bewley and Daniel Cudmore play two members of a villainous vampire posse named the Volturi, which also includes actors Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning. The two have been featured in previous films New Moon, Eclipse, and in the previous Breaking Dawn - Part 1. Bewley had a supporting part in Like Crazy, and will be seen in 2013 in the viking epic Hammer of the Gods; Cudmore previously played Colossus in X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand.
While they were in the midst of a national publicity tour, I was able to interview the two supporting actors. Intrigued by the immensity of such a lucrative franchise, I took this as an opportunity to discuss their experience with the blockbuster films and their changing directors, their thoughts on protecting set privacy when it comes to the creative process, and more.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opens nationwide on November 16.
Considering their hype and anticipation, these movies can transcend existence as ticket fare, with their release to the public becoming events for many moviegoers. As many fans will be in theaters watching the work that you and others have done, where will you be and what will you be doing on opening day?
Charlie Bewley: I've got a race in Sacramento the next day, it's called the Spartan Beast 21K trail run, with obstacles and stuff. I will probably just be in Sacramento getting my game face on. I love to get primal.
Daniel Cudmore: I think it would be different with your movie if you were the lead. With these, we're supporting, so we let it ride out and do its thing. I think I am in Macon, GA doing an event for that.
In your experience with this franchise, you have worked with many different directors - Chris Weitz for 'New Moon,' David Slade for 'Eclipse,' and now Bill Condon for both 'Breaking Dawn' films. Do you find that these filmmakers offer different directions when behind the camera, or do they try to have some sort of consistency in their ideas?
Cudmore: Every director works a different way. Every person reads the book a different way, and sees it a different way. That's the beauty of what someone has done with these, by hiring someone new for each one, it becomes their little baby for "x" amount of time. They see it a different way as opposed to one director. Each director has their own way of working. That was the fun for me, to work with such great directors.
What do you feel is different about the way Condon directs?
Bewley: He is from a musical background. It was interesting that he hadn't done action before. Taking on the enormity of the amount of action that goes on in this movie, considering that he hadn't filmed a fight scene ever, then asked to not direct but to piece together the confrontation scenes, is I'm sure something that he was nervous about. But I can vouch that he has done a fantastic job on the movie. What I gather from Bill is that he is ... you don't notice the direction. You don't think, "Great direction." Therefore, you're invested in the movie, and not taken away from it by some kind of flashy photography or whatever. I guess some directors fall into that, and that is their style. But Bill is very tight, and very story-driven. The first movie he really gave everything air, and in the second movie he has got so much stuff he has got to fit in, and he does it wonderfully. It is a riveting watch, man. People are going to watch it time and time again for sure.
Cudmore: He is about the story. He lets you have the opportunity to try things, and work together and be much more collaborative. He's one of the nicest directors that I've come across. You feel like he generally cares, no matter how large or small your role is.
I felt that 'Breaking Dawn - Part 1' was a return to the horror of such a franchise, especially with Bella's scenes of labor, which were nearly experimental in presentation, and made for the most intense sequences of any of the 'Twilight' movies. The film in general had some surprisingly freaky sequences, and felt like a mark of Condon trying to do something more with the horror elements in the story. What do you think about that?
Bewley: I thought that David Slade actually brought a certain thriller element to Eclipse that was necessary, the threat of those newborns, I think he captured brilliantly. There was also a lot of conversation about how they would deal with those adult topics, given the film rating. Obviously within the confines of that certification, and he does with the recent movie, there are certain topics, you realize you're not dealing with a teeny indie movie anymore. He approaches things with a delicacy, but not holding back to an experience where you don't feel what it is like. The fans of this franchise, they want to feel like they're going through this experience, and that's what has sold these movies and books. And I think Bill has done a great job of treading that fine line.
Given your presence in a franchise that is so based on fan reactions, do you read much of the fan responses or message boards, or do you try to keep separate from that?
Bewley: I've got Twitter, but that's it.
Cudmore: I don't pay attention to Twilight message boards, but I am on Twitter. If you sit there and fester over certain people's ideas, you are going to go crazy. Just don't pay attention to it, and keep doing what you're doing. As long as you're still getting hired, you're good to go.
Is that the same mentality on set, where you have to be isolated? Or is everyone conscious of what fans will think of the representations? Does Melissa Rosenberg's script become the new text?
Cudmore: It's a professional atmosphere, right? We're all here to do a job, and I don't think the way people may feel about things is going to affect the day-to-day, at least on my level. I don't know about the upper levels, who have more weight to what they do.
Especially with the instant spreading on the internet, there is a difficulty in controlling the acquisition of set photos, to maintain a film set's privacy ...
Bewley: It just upsets me that that's the fuel behind a lot of publicity these days. It's not the narrative that's driving the art, it's the controversies surrounding the integrity of those who come together to make this. Artists are inherently flawed people. There are no perfect people, are there. To have people's artistic integrity brought into question because of something they have chosen to do in their private lives, has nothing to do with what we're doing here. You alienate the actors. Actors and filmmakers in general want to be open with you, and share. That's what being an artist is all about, having ideas and sharing them with the world. But when their privacy is invaded, they will cease to be open, and it will just push the great people away. And who are we making this for by the end of the day? We're making it for the masses.
What about in regards to protecting the secrecy involving set design, costumes, etc?
Cudmore: I think that's hard on production. Especially if you've got wardrobe, the set designer, the writer, the director, everyone that has got a very large amount of creativity invested in a project, they don't want it released before its due time. It has got to be extremely hard where you're pouring all of this creativity and all this work into something that you really want to be mastered and acceptable to release. That's got to drive you nuts. I can understand from a marketing standpoint that it drums up hype, but that's the tough world we are in now, where I feel in some ways people aren't taking chances on films so much as they are trying to invest money in a film with a formula that they kind of know or think is going to work, by tensing the waters by releasing sort of things. They have an idea financially of where it is going to go. That is disappointing sometimes whether it is purposeful, but if it is purposeful it is tough.
Bewley: Why aren't people satisfied enough with the raw experience of the surprise element? It's like people don't want to be shocked anymore. They want to piece it all together before it has happened. I think speculation, with set design and plots, I think speculation serves society nothing. It's just bullshit, it's rumor. There is no substance to it, until something has actually happened. What this is, is actually happening on the 16th. Until then, it seems counterintuitive.
Cudmore: I want to go to a movie and have no idea of what's happening. I think that's the beauty of this industry, that you go into a movie and lose yourself to a story, and you have no idea what is going to happen next, or you're constantly surprised or thrown. That's the beauty of this medium. And if you're going into it with all of these ideas, it's like watching a movie with your friend who keeps telling you what happens next. That's the last thing I want to do. I want that person to shut the hell up, so I can enjoy my version of what this is.
Bewley: It's interesting that speculation is actually banned in Italy. It's called slander. Amanda Knox? The girl who is charged with murder? She actually made up a story with the bartender that she was with that night, she made it up to give a false alibi, and she ended up going to jail for that, and not the murder. She got acquitted of the murder, but went to jail for three years for slandering the bartender. If that was brought into our industry, everyone would be thrown in the slammer.
Quick Questions with Charlie Bewley and Daniel Cudmore
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Bewley: Benedict's Florentine with salmon. It was forty bucks. Cudmore: I didn't have breakfast until 8. I had almonds. Egg, sausage, potatoes.
Favorite fruit? Bewley: Blueberries. Cudmore: That's a tough one, they're all so good. Raspberries. I like apples, even though my wife will laugh at my comment. I always eat apples, but then I just leave them in the fridge. She thinks I buy them just to piss her off. I like having fruits that I have never had before. Bewley: One fruit, Dan. Cudmore: Berries.
If you could be somebody for 24 hours and then go back to being yourself who would you be? Bewley: Jesus. From his deathday to his re-birthday. I want to know what happened between then. Cudmore: Felix Baumgartner. Right at the moment he got up there, jumped off, and then partied for a month afterward.
Favorite summer movie or blockbuster? Bewley: The Matrix. Cudmore: Dumb and Dumber. One of my all-time favorites. That or Spaceballs.
Favorite finale, in a movie or franchise? Bewley: I thought the ending to Fight Club was brilliant. Cudmore: What really got me was The Sixth Sense. Blew me away!
Age of first kiss? Bewley: I think I was 14. Cudmore: I don't remember. 11?