How to explain The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2? Let’s hear Robert Pattinson give it a shot. The actor, 26, says this final installment of the franchise — rated PG-13 and in theaters Nov. 16 — is ”stranger than all the other films put together.” He pauses. He sighs. He stammers (charmingly, British-ly) before arriving at a surprisingly simple resting place: ”Vampires are weird.” And getting weirder all the time. Pattinson’s larger point is that while the previous Twilight movies have always kept one foot in reality (girl-meets-vampire reality, anyway), Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, the fourth and last book of the Twilight series, is a 754-page tonal departure, so packed with plot twists and new characters that Summit Entertainment split it into two films. Part 1 covered a lot of ground in the lives of Bella (Kristen Stewart), Edward (Pattinson), and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) last November: There was the long-awaited wedding of Bella and Edward and an even more anticipated, feather-flying marital consummation, which resulted in a halfling fetus growing inside Bella and a mind-bogglingly bloody delivery for our heroine, culminating in her death. But considering the film ended with Bella coming back to sorta life by opening her glowing, telltale-red vampiric eyes, fans knew things were just getting started. What you will see in these pages is an exclusive first look at Bella and Edward’s daughter, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy, 11), the halfling child over whom all manner of hell will break loose.
”Let me tell you, this movie is so weird,” confirms Stewart, 22, clearly intending this as a compliment. ”It. Is. Bizarre.” Bill Condon, who directed both installments of Breaking Dawn from scripts by Melissa Rosenberg, says he’d always been excited by how different the two movies would be. ”I always thought of Part 1 as having two distinct halves: the romantic and the horror,” he says. ”But this one is epic. This is a whole different thing.”
Let’s begin with one of the more obvious differences between Breaking Dawn — Part 2 and all that came before. (Yes, yes: spoiler alert.) Bella has now left the mortal world behind and joined the sparkly-skinned Cullen clan both physically and spiritually. Says Lautner, 20, ”That’s kind of the huge thing that fans are waiting for — to see the clumsy teenage Bella that Kristen did so well suddenly become this super-sexy vampire who’s athletic and graceful. She took it very seriously and pulls it off.” Condon agrees: ”I don’t think you can grasp how major an achievement it is till you see it. Her transformation from high school girl to fierce warrior is amazing. She’s a different species now.” Stewart says that years of watching her castmates helped inform how she played Vampire Bella. ”I know every single version of vampire, and I took a little bit from everyone,” she says with a laugh. ”But I wanted her to be the best one.”
Not that it didn’t take some adjusting. ”Kristen complained about 500 times more than I have,” says Pattinson of the uncomfortable red contact lenses that the actors playing vampires must wear. ”She condensed four years of complaining into a few months.” (Stewart, long used to Pattinson’s teasing ways, sighs in response to this and reminds EW that she’s been wearing brown contact lenses over her green eyes since the series began.) Performing in high heels during action-heavy scenes did not come easily — Stewart jokes that the kind of preternatural grace Bella possesses as a vampire ”does not actually exist” in the actress playing her — but she did manage to locate her inner bloodsucker while shooting a scene in which Bella hunts a mountain lion. ”I leaped through the air and tackled a crazy huge tube of foam shaped like a mountain lion,” she says. ”I ripped that mother to the ground! For the first time I was like, ‘Wow, I’m, like, really playing a vampire now.”’
One source of Bella’s newfound ferocity is her daughter. Renesmee, the half-human, half-vampire baby maturing at an unnatural rate, lies at the heart of the drama in Part 2. The vampire ruling class known as the Volturi mistakenly believe that Renesmee is a human youngster turned into a vampire, which is a serious no-no in Meyer’s bloodsucker world, so they intend to snuff out the Cullens as punishment. (The girl has some decidedly vamp qualities but is also very much human, heartbeat and all.) Condon spotted Foy early in the audition process. ”It’s a hugely important part,” he says. ”There were a lot of kids. But this was kind of obvious. It was one of those rare times when you see something — like with an apartment or house — and it feels good and you just need to take it. I felt that way, like, ‘Oh, this is good.”’ Foy seems remarkably unfazed by the time spent with her überfamous costars. ”They are super-nice,” she says.
Condon says it went well beyond superficialities. ”They were amazing with her,” he says. ”It really brought something paternal out in Rob, and Kristen was especially protective. I’d have to interrupt them when they were in deep conversation to get going with a scene.” It helped that Stewart began her own acting career as a child, in movies such as The Safety of Objects and Panic Room. ”I loved chatting with Mackenzie,” she says. ”I’m always curious about what’s going on in the minds of kids on set. She’s really close to the age I was when I started.”
Pattinson points out that having an impressionable youth on the set curbed certain cast members’ predilection for raucousness. ”We’re all around the same age and we’re really not polite to each other anymore. You’d have to tone it down when Mackenzie was around,” he says. Or at least attempt to. ”She had a little swear jar, and I think she made 850 bucks or something.” (Stewart, known to work blue in casual speech, laughs when asked if she managed to respect the swear jar: ”Uh, yeah, no.”)
Playing a mother to an 11-year-old actress, Stewart says, might have been difficult in a more traditional context, but this being the Twili-verse, it was easier to wrap her head around mothering a child who in real life is only a decade or so younger: ”[My relationship with Renesmee] is so completely rooted in this world, and I could relate to it because I very much believe it.” Bella and Renesmee’s bond is a particularly special one, complete with supernatural methods of communication. ”It’s a really cool relationship. I hope it comes across,” Stewart says. And having an actress like Foy, who (rather spookily) resembles both her and Pattinson, didn’t hurt either. ”Even our hands look similar,” Stewart says. ”It was kind of strange. But it’s funny how it actually helps. It’s like, ‘Oh, hey, you look like me, kid! Come on!”’
Renesmee, of course, has a supernatural link to a certain older man as well. Jacob, who’s spent most of the series in unrequited love with Bella, has imprinted on the infant Renesmee — ”imprinting” being the process by which his tribe of werewolves suddenly discover who their soul mates are. In the past, Lautner has said he found the metaphysical mechanics of it all a bit confusing. But talking to Stephenie Meyer and diving back into the book got him more comfortable with the notion of being in love with a child. ”Everyone likes to tease me about it,” he says. ”Everyone thinks it’s so funny, and I laugh along with them, but it’s important for me to keep in my mind that it’s as simple as a lifelong bond. It’s not nearly as creepy as everybody likes to joke.” That ”everybody” includes Pattinson, needless to say. ”Oh, I can’t wait till he has to do live TV,” Pattinson says of Lautner with a gleeful cackle. ”Did you ask him if his taste in women has changed? The first scene I saw them together, I literally could not stop laughing. I wouldn’t have been able to do it.” Lautner remains resolute: ”I think people will be very happy with the whole imprinting situation.”
Joking aside, imprinting provides an elegant solution to the love triangle that’s fueled years of Team Edward/Team Jacob rivalries. Once Jacob’s heart is promised to Renesmee, the three principal characters find themselves on the same side against a common enemy. It offered Lautner an opportunity to act beyond the part of despondent suitor. ”For me Part 2 is so great because it’s a completely different side of Jacob that we’ve never seen before,” he says. ”He’s always had one goal: to be with Bella. In this one, he’s happy! He’s much more relaxed and comedic. The trio was so tense and the triangle is still here, but it’s a completely different relationship between them.”
Breaking Dawn — Part 2‘s conclusion revolves around a confrontation on a field between a multitude of Volturi and the Cullen clan, who have rallied friends from all over the globe for backup. Translation: An awful lot of new vampire characters were on set, along with tons of extras.
For Condon, it was a challenge logistically — and not just because it took about an hour to get everyone through the lunch line. ”The first part of Breaking Dawn was all about these crucial moments: wedding, pregnancy, birth, and death. There was a clear path. Here we introduce 23 new vampires and have hundreds of extra Volturi, so it was just about making sure that we had the same kind of clarity.” The director had never filmed an epic battle scene before, but his résumé (which includes Dreamgirls) wound up serving him well. ”Ultimately you treat it like a musical,” he says. ”It’s all about a rhythm.”
Maybe, but filming the climax was still a nightmare, according to his cast. ”Everyone started to go absolutely insane,” says Stewart with a laugh. ”It moves so quickly in the movie, but it took so long to film. There was so much dialogue and so much to shoot and so many people and so many story lines.” Much of the action took place in a warehouse, and shooting this particular sequence dragged out over a couple of months, including additional reshoots for a few of the principals. ”Oh, gosh, we spent my life on that field with the fake snow and the greenscreen,” says Stewart. ”[The fake snow] gets under your contacts and into your lungs. It’s horrible s—. It’s the end of our movie, and it’s a big deal to really bring it to the high point it deserves. But yeah, it was a mind-losing experience.”
Team Twilight says that the resulting scenes were worth the effort, and we’ll take them at their word. They also say there’s some kind of visual valentine to fans in the closing moments. Pattinson, who’s seen a rough cut of the film, found himself surprisingly moved. ”The end is so sweet. There’s this nice finality to it,” he says. ”Everyone who was watching started crying. It does a serious justice to the series.”
Stewart emphatically agrees. ”Bill decided to do this really f—ing amazing thing at the very end,” she says. ”The fans are going to go nuts.” No doubt. On Nov. 16, pandemonium comes to a theater near you.
Who’s That Girl
Name Mackenzie Foy
Hometown Los Angeles
Fist Job Modeling for Ralph Lauren at the age of 3. She’s since worked steadily — modeling, appearing in commercials, and acting on TV shows such as ‘Til Death, Hawaii Five-0, and FlashForward.
Babe in the Woods Just because Foy has a major role in Breaking Dawn — Part 2 doesn’t mean she’s allowed to watch all the Twilight movies. ”I’ve seen the first one and the second one, but I’m not allowed to watch the third one.” She does, however, think she will be able to see at least some of her scenes in Part 2.
Twi-ing New Things During shooting, Foy picked up some skills from her famous costars. Lautner taught her how to throw a football, and Stewart gave her tips on summoning tears: ”She said to think of something sad for a very long time.”
Summer Break The actress, who is homeschooled, just completed fifth grade. She says without hesitation that she’d like to act for the rest of her life — as well as direct. In the near future? ”Nothing. I’m going to swim and eat Popsicles.”