CCI: Stephenie Meyer, <i>Twilight</i> Cast Talk <i>Breaking Dawn – Part 2</i>

Hall H was home to myriad squeals of delight Thursday when the cast and author of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 descended upon Comic-Con International in San Diego. In fact, the hordes of Twihards warmed themselves up long before they entered the room to witness footage from the final film installment of The Twilight Saga – screams and chants could be heard throughout the line that stretched around the convention center.

However, the panel began on a somber note, with Comic-Con’s David Glanzer addressing the tragic accident on Tuesday that left Twilight fan Gisela Gagliardi dead after being struck by a car while crossing the street on the way to “Camp Twilight,” the tent-and-sleeping-bag city that formed outside the convention center in anticipation of the panel. The energy in the filled-to-capacity room shifted when moderator Eric Moro entered and ushered stars Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black), Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) and Mackenzie Foy (Renesmee) onto the stage to the chorus of eardrum-piercing screams and raucous applause. Twilight author Stephenie Meyer followed, marking her first Comic-Con appearance since 2008.

Meyer wasted no time, telling the crowd that Breaking Dawn – Part 2 director Bill Condon couldn’t make it, as he’s in London scoring the film, and then segueing into a recorded video message from Condon. “Everyone knows that the phenomenon of Twilight really exploded here,” the director said. “And so we thought, it’s been a long time since Breaking Dawn – Part 1, so why not just pick up from there?”

The throngs were beside themselves when Condon revealed they’d be seeing the first seven minutes of Breaking Dawn – Part 2. The lights dimmed to applause and exclamations of glee as the clip began precisely where Breaking Dawn – Part 1 ended, with a tight shot of freshly turned Bella’s red eyes. We’re treated to her acclamation to vampire vision: quick point-of-view shots that zoom into details in the rug or on the wall, before falling on Edward watching her in the doorway. As they embrace, he whispers, “So beautiful” and then hugs him so hard with her newfound strength that he comically crumbles in her embrace and chokes, “It’s your turn not to break me.”

Bella inquires about their daughter Renesmee, and Edward assures her she’s safe, but that Bella must eat something before she can see her. This is where things take a campy turn (although it’s hard to tell if the action is tongue in cheek or deadly serious, thanks to the temp score thrumming beneath; knowing how Condon treated Breaking Dawn – Part 1, I’m hopeful it’s the former). The two race through the woods as the camera sweeps overhead, pausing in slow motion at times to return to Bella’s POV of noticing the details of everything around her – flowers blooming, animals grazing. She crouches predatorily before a deer, Edward at her side coaching her – but is derailed by the scent of a human climbing on a nearby cliff. When the hiker skins his knee and draws blood, Bella loses control and pursues him, Edward flailing in tow as she scales waterfalls and jumps from massive heights.

This is where things get truly bananas: Bella manages to curtail her thirst for human blood, leaps from the top of a mountain and sets her sights back on a deer – but a mountain lion beats her to the punch. So what does she do? Tackles the mountain lion, wrestles it into submission, latches onto its neck and feeds. The Hall H crowd appropriately lost its remaining semblance of calm – it’s hard to imagine the remainder of the film contains a money shot that’ll trump this one.

Once she’s satiated, Edward and Bella return to the house, where Jacob meets them. Of Bella’s transformation from human to vampire, he chuckles, “I didn’t expect you to be so human … except for the creepy eyes.” Jacob reiterates that Bella should keep her distance from her half-human daughter until she’s eaten more, and she responds, “Since when do you care about Renesmee?” This is followed by a hilarious look shared between Jacob and Edward – we all know the uncomfortable truth of what Bella doesn’t: that Jacob has imprinted on her infant daughter. The audience roared with laughter, and the clip ended with Edward saying, “Come meet your daughter …”

Meyer exclaimed, “I wish Bill Condon could have heard you guys. He would’ve just loved your response! The rest of the movie is more of this.”

When asked how it feels to play Bella as a vampire, Stewart admitted, “It felt so good to break her in – like see how fast the car goes. I had a lot of time to look at everyone else’s versions of the vampires that live in this world. … I love her. I think that she’s the coolest one.”

Pattinson divulged that he’ll spend the film, “constantly being surprised by Bella,” and Lautner said we’ll see a “less dramatic … more happy” version of Jacob. Foy told the crowd she had a blast on set with the cast “playing hand games” and talking, and Stewart interjected, “She’s way cooler than us.”

A second clip saw Bella being coached by the Cullens on the art of acting human, to prepare for her first post-transformation meeting with her father (who’s to be kept in the dark about his daughter’s vampire state). It’s a funny scene – Bella being given brown contacts to hide her red eyes, told to sit, flying into the chair at warp speed. She attempts to slouch with human posture and is told to, “Blink at least three times a minute.”

Once the lights were raised, Moro introduced the rest of the cast: Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme Cullen), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen) and, making his first Comic-Con appearance, Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Hale).

The cast waxed nostalgic about their favorite memories from the four films, referring to themselves as a family and thanking fans for the success of the series. Reed got choked up while attempting to speak, admitting, “I’m really sensitive right now because this is coming to an end.”

About 50 people queued up for a chance to ask the cast a question, and the first girl in line requested Pattinson’s nameplate (he acquiesced). Reed and Lautner discussed a deleted scene they’d love for people to see, involving a dog bowl (perhaps something to look forward to on the Breaking Dawn – Part 2 Blu-Ray release?) Giggling, Reed accused, “You hit me in the head with a bowl!” and Lautner countered, “I had to chuck the bowl at her all night long! I hit the cameraman in the groin once!” Reed faux-whined, “You got food in my hair!”

Pattinson elicited the biggest reaction when asked by a fan what advice the Edward of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 would give the Edward of Twilight. “Keep it in your pants,” he deadpanned – to roaring laughter.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 hits theaters on Nov. 16.

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