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With a little more than four months left before The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 hits theaters on Nov. 16, off-screen drama between the franchise's leads has ratcheted up anticipation for the concluding chapter of Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster series. In the fourth film, newlywed Bella (Kristen Stewart) is finally a vampire and can spend eternity in love with her husband Edward (Robert Pattinson). But this is is the Twili-verse, and there is no time for warm-and-fuzzies. Indeed, Pattinson calls Part 2 ''stranger than all the other films put together.''
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Part 2 ventures even further from reality, with just about everyone in the film either a vampire or a member of the wolf pack headed up by Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Most central among the new characters is Bella and Edward's rapidly growing daughter, Renesmee (played by 11-year-old newcomer Mackenzie Foy). After an unfortunate miscommunication, the ruling vampire class known as the Volturi mistakenly believe that Renesmee was born human and then turned. (Vampire babies are a violation of vampire law, the punishment being death for both the child and the makers.) Of course, Renesmee is half human, growing toward adulthood at a preternatural rate. So the Cullens assemble an international vampire alliance to testify that Renesmee grows and ages (which director Bill Condon portrayed thanks to technology used in 2008 Oscar winner The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).
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Meanwhile, Jacob, who has spent so much of the series pining for Bella, finds true love after ''imprinting'' on Renesmee, which takes the form of fierce, big brother-like protectiveness when she is still a child. Though Lautner acknowledges the connection might be perceived as strange, he says, ''I respect how passionate and persistent Jacob is about what he loves and what he wants. He's not going to let anything stop him from that. That's the thing that's stuck with me.''
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Even devoted readers of Meyer's books are in for a pretty big shock in the final third of the film, when the plot strays from the last novel in a sequence dreamed up by Meyer and longtime screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg one night over dinner. ''When I first read the script, I got to that part and was like, 'What?'?'' Pattinson says. ''And then I had to go back a page.'' Still, even those averse to change will be more than satisfied, and probably thrilled, by how the series ends. The actors certainly are. Says Pattinson, ''It does it a serious justice.''
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Meyer admits that shifting her focus away from a story that's been central to her life for nearly 10 years years will be an adjustment. ''I've been holding off the sadness, but it's starting to get to me,'' she says. ''I miss everyone — Kristen, Taylor, and Rob. I'm used to seeing them every day.'' Of course, it helps that her connection to cinematic storytelling won't be severed any time soon. She is already at work on two more film adaptations — her own 2008 novel The Host (in theaters March 29, 2013) and Lois Duncan's 1974 young-adult classic Down a Dark Hall.
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For more on Breaking Dawn—Part 2 and all the movies we can't wait to see this fall, pick up this issue of Entertainment Weekly on newsstands or subscribe now.