Here I am at The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn presentation in Hall H at Comic-Con International. This is my first time at the convention, so I figured the best way to approach reporting on this panel would be a firsthand, in-the-moment response. I'm at the back of the room, so good seats can be left free for actual fans. This has the added benefit of being removed from the center of the shrieking Twihards.
First up is director Bill Condon, who says the second half of Breaking Dawn is basically a horror movie. Stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner come to the stage next. Wow, what a response these kids get. Shrieks, shouts, cheers, offers of things I probably shouldn't repeat on the Internet ... it's all being thrown their way.
Stewart is talking about the much-anticipated "wedding scene," and the months of preparation she committed to it. Major security precautions were in place for keeping the dress under wraps, "Secret Service-style," as Stewart puts it. She was locked in a room for the entire day until the shoot began.
Poor moderator. He's trying to ask Pattinson a question, but he can't say the word "Robert" without the crowd erupting into a burst of high-pitched cheering. Par for the course for a Twilight panel, I suppose.
Pattinson's talking about how amazing it was to be shooting in Brazil, although the tail end of it was beset by rainstorms and high winds. He compared that part of the trip to taking a holiday in London. Funny. True, too.
Condon's introducing a couple of clips. We're deep into the movie with this first scene, which doesn't appear in the book. Bella's about to deliver her baby, but she needs blood if she's going to survive. Jacob seems upset when Esme says Bella is part of the family now. He compares it to his own family, and makes the ominous statement, "I know what I have to do."
We're now in the woods, where Jacob is waiting for someone, something -- his brother werewolves, apparently. He's been ostracized for joining with the "parasites." Leah and Seth, too. He wants those two to be taken back, but Jacob won't come back until he's finished dealing with this. He's volunteering to destroy Bella's baby. "They trust me," he argues. Yikes.
Now Lautner's talking about his character's newfound freedom in Breaking Dawn. The character is pretty much as he's been throughout the series early on in the movie. However, that all changes when his "heart gets crushed." He's forced to mature, stand apart from his pack if need be. Lautner was "super-excited" about Jacob's journey in the movie.
Condon's introducing a first glimpse of Bella and Edward on their honeymoon. The crowd erupts, naturally.
It's nighttime and our happy couple seems to be just arriving to its hotel room. Nice place, lots of windows and plant life, candles, all that stuff. And heeeey now, there's the marital bed. Bella's pretty stoked to see it. Quiet chat near the bed, Edward suggests going for a swim. "I could use a few human minutes," Bella says.
Jeez, we see Edward walking out onto the beach. A shot of him from the rear. The crowd is going NUTS. He's not even shirtless!
Now we're in a musical montage. Bella's making herself all pretty, Brushing teeth, brushing hair, shaving ... gawking at negligee? She seems nervous. I guess that's how it goes when you're about to give up your humanity for all eternity.
Now we're on the beach and Bella's towel drops to the sand. Rob's shirtless in the water, too far away to really make out the fine details. Doesn't matter, though, as the crowd still loses it. Alas that’s all; the clip's over.
Here comes a fan with a very loaded question: Which did Pattinson enjoy playing more, Harry Potter's Cedric or Twilight's Edward? Diplomatic reply: He was so young when he played Cedric, so it was different. Then a joke: "Edward. Obviously!"
This is pointless, trying to capture answers for each of these questions. Let's switch gears and consider the experience. This could be because I'm sitting so far back, but the crowd isn't nearly as loud as I'd been led to believe it would be. For all of the lining up well in advance that happened, there are a shocking number of empty seats at the back of the space.
The fans are lined up on the floor asking questions, one after the other. There are big screens all around the room showing what's happening on stage -- this is a large space -- and the camera perspective flips over to focus on the fan asking the question whenever it's time for another one. The fans don't seem very nervous to be talking to their heroes. They're cracking jokes, offering CDs, in one case making suggestive/lewd comments.
Oh, lord, here's a poor young girl being sent to the mic to ask a question for her mom. She's reading off of a card and doesn't seem all that excited to be here. Not cool, Twi-mom. SDCC is all about embracing your inner nerd, no one would have judged you for stepping up.
In addressing questions about the movie's scenes, we keep coming back to the birthing scene, in which Bella and Edward's half-human/half-vampire spawn enters the world violently, with lots of blood and mama-tearing. No surprises -- fans say it's a raw scene in the book, and many wonder how it's going to take shape in the movie.
A fan's asking about music in the movie. Condon says "we're just figuring it out now." He won't reveal any, but he says there are about 15 tracks in all. That's it, no more scoop. Now Lautner's talking about a scene where Pattinson punches him after he imprints on Edward and Bella's newborn daughter.
Uh-oh, here come some surprise guests! Time for some Twilight B-listers! Here's Julia Jones, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed and Ashley Greene.
But wait! Now there's an adorable little girl asking a question. This one's coming verbatim: "Did you like having the baby with Bella?" Pattinson's reply: "For some reason, the look on your face, it looks like you're asking something else ..." Then serious again, he's talking about how much he enjoyed acting with a baby, and how the presence of one in a scene serves to "make everything more human" because it's impossible to look "hard" when you have one in your arms.
There have been a few questions now to the actors about whether they preferred a certain previous or upcoming role to their Twilight part. Every time it's asked, some awkward silence always follows. I get the feeling this trio would so much like to say, "GOD I CAN'T WAIT TO BE DONE WITH THIS CIRCUS," but of course, they can't. More power to them, too, for handling themselves so professionally.
The moderator has thrown a group question to the B-listers. I wonder if the fans feel cheated by this. Let's face it: It's really the three stars these kids are here for, and it's from them they want to hear chatter .
Beyond that, there's really not much "news" to report. The fan questions have all turned in directions that you'd probably expect, and the answers have been appropriately honest – oh, snap! Stewart just said "dammit" and freaked out when she realized how many kids are in the audience. Don't worry, Kristen. Your co-star Peter Facinelli said much worse at last year's MTV Movie Awards, and multiple times.
Back to the other point: The questions and answers haven't necessarily been informative, but the whole panel gives fans an opportunity to interface with these mega-stars on a personal, if somewhat distanced, perspective. The audience was absolutely respectful (aside from the occasional lewd shout directed at the male actors), hanging on tightly to every word the stars uttered.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 opens on Nov. 18.