”Dude,” says Kristen Stewart. ”There was something so sensory about it.” An hour ago Stewart, Taylor Lautner, and Robert Pattinson — otherwise known as the stars of The Twilight Saga — had their hand- and footprints immortalized in cement outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Still giddy, palms stained a faint gray, the 21-year-old actress waxes poetic to her costars for a moment about how it felt when, right after leaving her prints for posterity, she impulsively grabbed Lautner’s and Pattinson’s hands. ”The concrete was so gritty and I didn’t even look, I just found your hands and it really felt like something,” she says. The dudes she’s speaking to, being dudes, promptly burst into laughter. Stewart glares at them with mock rage: ”You know what? F— you both right now in the face for laughing at me.”
Pattinson, 25, smiles and teases her for how poised she was during the ceremony. ”I noticed how slick you were earlier,” he says. ”Everyone’s always like, ‘Kristen Stewart is so awkward.’ And you’re, like, Little Miss Slick nowadays.”
It’s not just Stewart who has grown up. Breaking Dawn — Part 1 (rated PG-13, in theaters Nov. 18) is the penultimate chapter based on Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling series — and it delves into some startling stuff. (Yes, yes: spoiler alert.) In the film, which was directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls), fans will see their chaste heroes, Bella and Edward, marry(!) and finally have sex(!!), which leads to Bella’s life-threatening pregnancy with a half-vampire fetus and a gory birth scene that you’ll just have to see to believe. Now that production on both movies (Part 2 will be in theaters November 2012) has wrapped, the actors have each officially begun their post-Twilight careers. Lautner, 19, starred in the thriller Abduction earlier this fall; Pattinson recently wrapped David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis; and Stewart is on a short break from filming next summer’s Snow White and the Huntsman, costarring Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth. The trio — relentless in their affectionate teasing — talked to EW over coffee and pastries in Los Angeles.
What has Bill Condon brought to the franchise as a director?
Kristen Stewart I think you could feel his heart. Genuinely. It’s so easy to be influenced by cynicism, to take out a lot of the stuff that’s sentimental. Lines have been cut before — I’ve definitely had that experience on Twilight sets and said, ”Oh, but that was so sweet.” Bill didn’t do that. He kept it all in. He really got the f—ing love story. I think that we lost that for a while, and now it really feels real again.
You’ve seen the finished movie now. Are you disappointed about anything that got trimmed?
Taylor Lautner The birth scene, for sure.
Robert Pattinson Yes, the birth scene — and the sex scene.
Stewart Both. I wanted more from both of those.
Pattinson Also, we’ve seen versions of those scenes that are way more —
I’m assuming the PG-13 rating was an issue.
Pattinson It just limits things, like camera angles. Also there were these parts in the birth scene where Bella was in pain —
Stewart That’s what I’m really disappointed about — and I’ve talked about it with Bill. It was more sympathetic or something when I played the scene with less energy, and it made it easier for him to tell the story. But in the book, Bella is screaming, ”NOOOOO!” [Stewart stands and demonstrates.] And I did it like that — crazy and Exorcist-like. I was going for this weird mix of turning into the most feral mother you can imagine and also fighting for my own life. I mean, I was a nutcase. I was an absolute nutcase.
Pattinson Everyone was just s—ting themselves before we did [the birth scene] because it was such a big deal. But I think all three of us felt like it was a great day. To do a take that’s five or six minutes long and feel like you’ve hit every beat…
Lautner I do still love the birth scene. I know it’s frustrating that some things aren’t in there.
Stewart Yeah, I still love it too.
Did you get to see any of the love-scene footage before it was sanitized?
Pattinson There’s a version where it was really intense.
Stewart In the book, you don’t see the actual sex, but they talk about it afterwards and it’s intense as hell. [Shooting the scene] wasn’t a full experience because it was so fragmented. We did little individual shots of his face, my face, his hands. Cinematically, cut all together, it’s awesome. I really like it, but we didn’t really do that scene.
Pattinson And when we did they kept telling us to stop. [Laughs]
Stewart I know! Bill kept going, “Stop thrusting” [Laughs]…. I mean, I didn’t want to actually have sex with him on set but…
Pattinson Why not? [Laughs] You can see my butt crack — why does butt crack not make it an R? You see my butt crack the whole time.
Stewart No, you don’t. They darkened it or something.
Lautner They shortened it, or I think they erased the crack.
Pattinson It was really Kristen’s fault it was going R-rated. [To Stewart] Your fancy moves — no one’s seen moves like that in a PG-13 movie! [Laughs] The thing about ratings is, it’s about noises.
Stewart Like if his thrust coincided with my ohhhh — that’s not okay.
Pattinson If a sex scene is rated R, the first thing you do is take out the sounds and put music over it. Same thing if there’s a horror scene; you take out the screams.
Lautner Or in an action scene, if you’re punching someone in the face you take out the sound effect of the fist making contact.
Stewart I punched Chris Hemsworth in the face last week [while shooting Snow White and the Huntsman]. Gave him a black eye.
Lautner What? For real? Were you supposed to?
Stewart I was supposed to miss him.
Have you ever given anyone a black eye before?
Stewart No. And I have to say for anyone who’s ever been in that situation where, as a girl, you think it’s not going to do anything — it f—ing does something.
Lautner [Laughs] Wow.
Stewart Yup! He was standing over me, like, Huntsman-ing out, and I just went boom. I spun him around. I punched him right out of his close-up! And then I started crying. I felt horrible.
Lautner Are you kidding me? I know you feel horrible in the moment, but afterwards did you feel kind of good?
Stewart It felt good in the way, like, I know this [gestures to her fist] works now. I can punch Chris Hemsworth. I can spin that man around! And I didn’t do it as hard as I could. [Pattinson and Lautner laugh.]
Lautner I did the same thing on Abduction.
Stewart You hit someone?
Lautner Yeah. He went out, though. [To Pattinson] It was actually the guy that played your father in Water for Elephants.
Pattinson Oh my God!
Stewart You knocked him unconscious?
Lautner Yes! And he’s huge. It was just for a split second. It was one of those last-minute things where the stunt guy came up and says, ”Taylor, you need to extend more — and Ilia [Volok], you need to stick your chin out more.” The very next take I hit him right in the chin, and he went down to the ground. He came to right away, but he had this chunk of flesh, like, coming out of his mouth. I did feel miserable. But then afterwards is when I felt like, ”Whoa!”
Rob, how about you? Have you ever knocked anyone out on film?
Pattinson I think I punched someone in the face in Remember Me. There was this bit where I was on the floor hitting someone repeatedly, and I kept being like, [whispers] ”Sorry, sorry.” But he didn’t seem to feel it at all. [Laughter]
Rob, the last time we talked you called Edward a ”pussy” — in part because he carries a bucket around for Bella to vomit in when she’s pregnant and sick. I thought you were just being metaphorical. Then I saw the movie, and you actually do hold a bucket for Bella when she’s sick.
Stewart And that’s not pussy behavior, in my opinion.
Pattinson That wasn’t the pussy part of it. The pussy part of it was the other stuff. The pussy part…
Lautner Just say it! [Laughs]
Stewart Dude! No more! Do not say ”pussy part” again. This is very typical of a conversation we would have on the set.
Pattinson [Making fun of himself] ”I don’t understand, Bill! What is this? I’m going to leave the set if you make me do this pussy part behavior…”
Stewart The thing is, we’re joking now. This is all in jest. But on set this always went on! [Gestures to Pattinson] I could kill him sometimes. [Looks affectionately at Pattinson, who just finished eating a piece of pastry] You’ve got s— all over your face. You look like a fool.
So now that you’ve moved on to different projects, does it feel like starting at a new school?
Stewart It’s like that all the time. That’s what being in this business feels like.
Lautner That’s the normal thing. Twilight is the unnormal.
Pattinson Also, because of the Twilight fame, you arrive on a set with a certain familiarity anyway. People will treat you differently.
Stewart [Sighs] Yeah, it’s weird. It’s the strangest part of being ”famous” because you don’t get to give first impressions anymore. Everyone already has an impression of you before you meet them.
Pattinson So you feel like you’re already defending yourself. Also you need to become fast friends with people on a movie, especially the cast, and if you can’t go out with people or socialize with them in a real way…
Stewart It’s harmful.
Taylor, was that true for you on Abduction?
Lautner Yeah, it was similar. You do want to start completely clean.
Would any of you ever do TV?
Pattinson I would, yeah. I’ve never been as invested as I was with The Wire. I’ve never met anyone from The Wire and I think if I ever saw anyone — Michael K. Williams or David Simon — I would literally cry. I would play every part in The Wire if they ever did another series.
Stewart I wouldn’t want to. When I start production on a film — and I know I’ve used this metaphor a million times — but it’s like I’m a shook-up can of Coke. All I want is to be done, as much as I love the process.
Does producing or directing interest you?
Stewart Right now on Snow White, I’m having the most fulfilling experience as an actor. I’m close with the director [Rupert Sanders], have his ear, and it’s to his credit that I feel this way because I’m getting my first taste of really collaborating. Usually as an actor you put your hands up and go, ”That’s not my thing.” And I love acting. Honestly, I love looking at the call sheet where it says my character’s name above my name — that’s what I’m here for. But it’s also so cool to be on their level, to give an opinion and be taken seriously.
So what do you want to do next?
Stewart I want to go home. I can’t wait to not be working and go home and gain some interests. [Laughs] I want to see what I’m into. I want to figure out what I want. I can’t answer this question right now, but I can’t wait to be able to.
Taylor, there have been reports that you and Gus Van Sant are teaming for a movie based on an article in The New Yorker that you acquired.
Lautner It’s extremely premature. I love Gus and have always been a huge fan of his. I never thought I’d have an opportunity to work with him, so…we’ll see.
So what are we allowed to know?
Lautner That I’m a huge Gus Van Sant fan. [Laughs]
Pattinson But now I want to know what it is.
It certainly would be an unexpected move after Abduction.
Lautner I never want to do the same thing. I want to do something different. And whatever I end up doing next, I’ll want to do something different after that.
Is it hard when your other films, like Abduction or Water for Elephants, don’t perform at the box office like a Twilight movie?
Stewart You can’t ever compare.
Lautner You just have to tell yourself this is otherworldly. You’ve got to know that going in.
Pattinson There are two ways to go about it…. I mean, there’s no way to have your movies be massively successful and get 100 percent of the critical praise every single time.
Pattinson It’s impossible. If you’re trying to sell a movie or a project to a studio and you imply for one second that you’re an artist, you’re out the door.
There are actors who seem to be able to do both indie films and big studio films.
Pattinson But how many people are there, really, who can do that?
Stewart Dude! So you don’t think they exist? There are phenomenal actors that do big commercial movies and small ones. Catherine Keener! Julianne Moore! There are lots.
Pattinson Look at you, just waiting to contradict me.
Stewart It’s just that this is what I want to be. So if you say it doesn’t exist, that’s big for me! Like, that’s all I aspire to and you are saying it doesn’t exist. You don’t have to choose one road or another.
There are definitely actors who can do both.
Stewart Right? [She grins, putting a hand on both Pattinson’s and Lautner’s knees.] C’mon, guys! Let’s see if we can do this.