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Under the Influence
Entertainment Weekly Exclusive
by Sara Vilkomerson
There’s only so much you can do to guard secrets on a set. When Breaking Dawn began shooting
last November, the filmmakers hired additional security and barred press from the set – all to
keep audiences in a state of glorious suspense. But still, things happen.
In March, grainy images – showing what appeared to be some of the more anticipated moments
from the film, including Bella and Edward in bed – leaked onto the internet, prompting director
Bill Condon and author Stephenie Meyer to request that fans avert their eyes.
“It’s hard not to feel that it was malicious in some way,” says Condon (Gods and Monsters). “It
seemed like the very things we were most eager to keep a lid on were the ones that got
“It was gutting,” adds Kristen Stewart, 21, who plays Bella. S he figured the culprits had hacked
into daily footage from the set, so she started leaving pointed messages at the end of her takes:
“I’d be like, ‘Hey, go for it! Just steal it!’ They knew every moment that was important to
people, and that’s really what was so annoying.”
You can’t blame the cast and crew for getting especially riled up. Breaking Dawn is the
conclusion of Meyer’s Twilight Saga. It wades into darker and murkier than the previous three
installments, and its 754 pages are, to say the least, rather eventful.
Possibly inspired by that other frenzy-inducing franchise Harry Potter, Summit Entertainment
decided to split Breaking Dawn into two movies, scheduled for release November 18, 2011 and
November 2012, in order to properly pace the action – and, no doubt, to prolong the inevitable
Shooting Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2 simultaneously involved filming round the clock for nearly
six months at locations as far-flung as Baton Rouge, Vancouver, Rio de Janeiro, and the US
Virgin Islands. As Robert Pattinson, ho plays Edward, puts it, “I feel like we’ve been doing it
my whole life.”
The fact that the novel is so troubling and gothic – the saga’s finale is divisive even among
Twihards – could only have added to the strangeness of the enterprise. “When I read the book I
asked myself, ‘How is this going to be a movie?’” says Taylor Lautner, 19, who plays Jacob.
“Everyone said it felt totally different than anything we’ve done before,” says Stewart. “Just the
fact that I’m sitting there pregnant – it’s like, wow, are we really doing a Twilight movie?!”
Pattinson agrees, fumbling for words to describe the plot. “It’s very, very, very strange,” says
the actor, 24. “There’s just...it goes...there’s definitely, um, some interesting and weird stuff
If you’re reading this story and you’ve never read Breaking Dawn, consider yourself spoiler-
alerted. (Also: It’s kinda weird that you’re reading this story.)
The rest of you know full well that it is in this installment that Bella and Edward marry and –
finally ripping the bodice off their passionate but chaste relationship – consummate their love
amid flying feathers.
The act is not without consequence. Bella becomes pregnant…with a half-vampire baby that
grows inside her at an alarming rate, putting our heroine’s life at grave risk, even as she endures
a shockingly gruesome and violent labor.
To prevent death from having the final word, Edward, with the support of this pale posse, must
turn Bella into a vampire. And that’s just what happens in Part 1.
“It is very much a departure,” screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg says of the novel. “The first three
books are about the love triangle, and coming of age in terms of relationships and romance.
Breaking Dawn is really an adult story. I think the audience hopefully had grown up with the
books and will appreciate it.”
If they haven’t matured with the books, they’re about to grow up fast. “We shot everything –
whether it’s the lovemaking or the childbirth – as potent and powerful as it can be,” says
director Condon, who knew he was working within the constraints of PG-13.
“It will be interesting to see whether there will be people who think it too disturbing for this
universe.” For her part, Stewart wishes the movie could have been even truer to the graphic
nature of the book.
“In some ways it was disappointing not to be able to really go there,” she says. Asked if she ever
imagine what an R-rated version of the film might look like, Stewart laughs and says, “We
imagined it every single day.”
To be clear, it’s not the honeymoon scene that Stewart wishes were more graphic (“It feels like a
real love scene, not necessarily vampire-y, which is good”) but the brutal birth of the baby,
“It’s funny because when [the PG-13 issue] comes up, everybody thinks it’s all about the sex,”
she says. “The birth is really effective, and I’ve heard it really hits you in the face. But what it
could have been? It could have been shocking and grotesque, because that’s how it was written
in the book.”
She sighs: “I would have loved to have been puking up blood.”
Bella’s pregnancy is controversial for other, trickier reasons as well. Some readers have balked
at what they interpreted to be a pro-life message in Meyer’s novel, since Bella refuses to
consider aborting her baby, even when she learns it could kill her. It was something the cast and
crew had to come to terms with.
Says Condon, “Melissa and I were superaware of staying away form anything that could be read
as some kind of allegory or message, which I think we were able to do.”
Adds Rosenberg, “It was an issue because I’m very prochoice. But the truth is, Twilight is not
the arena to be having the abortion debate. My approach to it is that having a child is a choice.
More than a political issue, it’s about Bella’s reasoning and articulating that was the challenge.”
Stewart, who has become a devoted caretaker of the Bella character over the years, says she’s in
full agreement with her fictional counterpoint: “I’m so on Bella’s side. The idea of destroying
something they made together that could never happen again...It has nothing to do with the pro-
life thing. I just love the idea of her fighting. She’s been willing to die for so much, but now you
actually see her, well, literally die for it.”
The actress insists Bella’s dilemma felt utterly real to her. “This really could happen to anyone
my age. I mean, maybe not the whole vampire thing, but everything else. It didn’t feel like,
‘Oh, how could you have possibly played this? It’s so beyond your years!’ It’s like, ‘Not really,
In other modern fairy tales, lovers might prove their mettle by chasing their intended though
heavy rain or airport security, but Bella doesn’t have it so easy. Death as the ultimate sacrifice
has always loomed darkly over The Twilight Saga.
After so many scenes of terror and blood, the wedding sequence came as a relief to more than
one member of the Breaking Dawn team. It was scheduled near the end of production and
brought the cast together one final time. “I never would have thought I’d be affected in this
way, but it was one of the coolest things that I’ve done,” says Stewart.
“There was a certain point when I walked on set, and I saw everyone from the entire cast sitting
there in the pews, about to do their bit. And it was just so perfect for me in that moment. It was
so emotional in such a real way. I literally felt like thanking them for coming.”
For Lautner, Jacob and Bella’s bittersweet dance during the reception appears to have been as
poignant as...a wedding. “It didn’t help that the scene itself was so emotional,” he says. “I
knew it was going to be tough on the last day – and it was tough.”
Pattinson has a slightly less sentimental memory of the wedding sequence, which was shot in
Vancouver. “It was quite nice seeing all the vampires get together,” he says. “And it was a
beautiful setting, but it was incredibly freezing cold.”
He preferred filming the honeymoon, particularly the pickup shots over Easter weekend in St.
Thomas. “It was amazing finishing out in the Caribbean. It was like, why couldn’t we have
been shooting in the Caribbean the whole time? I would have done another five!”
Now that Breaking Dawn has wrapped, the cast members can go their separate ways – until the
press tour rears its head, anyway. The stars have clearly become close over the years, and not
just Stewart and Pattinson.
(They’ve actually never confirmed their relationship, but after those photos of them at the Water
for Elephants premiere, they probably don’t need to.)
Pattinson, in a lovely bit of understatement, says this about his costars: “Having to spend so
much time with people...it’s just nice when you like them. There is a real bond. I think also
there’s something humbling about wearing the makeup and contacts.” He laughs.
“Except Taylor – he doesn’t have to do a thing. He’s managed [to do] no work on this last one.
He’s always a wolf!” Pattinson laughs again, anticipating Breaking Dawn Part 2. “But he has to
fall in love with a baby...Oh, God, I can’t wait to see how that goes.”
When Lautner is told of Pattinson’s ribbing, he says, “Oh my gosh. That sounds like him.
Everybody is always complaining to me that I don’t have to wear the contacts, I don’t have to
wear the white makeup or wear wigs and all that stuff. And I’m like, ‘I’m the one in the freezing
rain and cold not wearing a shirt! I paid my dues in New Moon and Eclipse.’”
And as for falling for – or imprinting on – Renesmee? “There were many times I walked up to
Stephenie [Meyer] and asked her, ‘What exactly is imprinting?’” says Lautner. “It’s still a very
confusing thing for me, so don’t ask.”
“It’s been quite a ride,” he continues, on a more serious note. “It seems like just yesterday I was
showing up to the set of Twilight and meeting the cast, and now here I am, years later, done
filming. It’s really the weirdest feeling.”
The actors have already started testing the post-Twilight waters: Pattinson is now starring
opposite Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants; Lautner will headline the thriller Abduction
this fall; and Stewart says she’s “almost positive” she’ll play the fairest of them all in Universal’s
Snow White and the Huntsman.
Director Condon says he’s among the many looking forward to seeing where the actors’ careers
will take them. “Rob was the biggest surprise to me – just getting to know him,” he says, noting
that out of the three, Pattinson is the least like the character he plays. “You spend time with him
and you think, ‘God, I hope you get to play this incredibly smart, funny guy that you are.’
“Taylor is just a complete natural, a born entertainer. And Kristen,” he laughs, “she’s just
hugely talented. I heard this great story about her that I think sums it up.
“She was pitched a female role in a comic-book superhero movie that’s about to get started – I
won’t say which one – and she was like, ‘Well, screw that. I shouldn’t be the superhero’s
girlfriend, I should be the superhero.’ I think she’s one of those people who will not fit into
some kind of niche, but mold a career around who she is.”
The actress, who started playing the part of Bella at 17 and celebrated her 21st birthday at the
Breaking Dawn wrap party, agrees her real life has mingled with Bella’s. “In the oddest ways, so
many parallels can be drawn between my life and this series. Birthdays coincide, graduation,
everything,” she says.
She’s happy Breaking Dawn is over, she adds, but mostly because she knows they’ve done it
right. “I really am so satisfied with the entire experience this time around,” she says. “I really
feel like we went through something, and it was captured. Who knows how it will turn out, but
that’s how it felt. We ended on such a high note, and that was the whole point of this one – to
reach a state of exuberance.”
Goodness, such positivity!
“I know, man, right?” Stewart laughs. “I’m so happy to be saying this to you, you have no idea.