With the first part of Breaking Dawn arriving in theaters on Nov. 18, The Twilight Saga is again a big deal at Comic-Con International in San Diego, with devotees of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling vampire-romance novels looking forward to seeing the series’ final chapter play out on the big screen.
Stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, along with director Bill Condon, settled in to face the media and talk about the movie Friday before the Summit Entertainment presentation in Hall H. The foursome looked relaxed and rested as they stepped onto the stage in the small hotel conference room, even as scores of flashing cameras tried to capture their every move.
At a convention like this one that’s already brimming over with geeks of all stripes, it's truly wild to see a series like Twilight demand attention from one and all. The fans are loud and proud, the haters hate passionately and the press simply reacts to it all, following the biggest story.
After spending four years in Meyer's world, the three stars are completely immersed and hanging on for a big finale in these final two movies. Condon is new to the series with Breaking Dawn, an outsider who's walking in at the tail end. He's a houseguest, and he has the advantage of being able to stand apart and observe just how much this series has become a part of their lives.
"I think what amazes me is that there's no bigger fan of Twilight than Kristen," he said. "[She's] approaching it as an actress ... but also she's always like, 'I know what it felt like when I read this the first time.'"
Stewart agreed, in her typically shy, stumbling and slightly awkward manner. "With everything that I do, it's hard for me to take myself out of it," she said. "So I'd been building up to these moments for four years -- I was 17 when I started the first movie."
"This one is really loaded with those cathartic, impactful, huge life moments, and they're not all completely fantasy. They're really very rooted in a reality that I could completely see myself in, [along with] anyone who reads the book," she continued, describing how her familiarity with the text allowed her to relate with Bella Swan on a human level.
"Shooting the scenes I kind of have to let myself realize that these moments will find themselves naturally, and I can't let the book punch me in the face every morning to wake me up," she added.
"You have to let the moments happen, and I just sort of went for it,” Stewart said. “I do feel like it's very, very close to the book and a really sincere telling of the story but at the same time we sort of added these bits. There are surprises that surprise me too, in the more iconic bits, like in the wedding, at the honeymoon."
The wedding scene was a particularly difficult one for the crew, and especially for Stewart. "It was like Secret Service-style insane," she said of the measures the production took to protect the secrecy of certain elements, such as her wedding dress.
"The crew was completely inconvenienced and just grumbling around the set,” she said.
"No cell phone, no e-mail, all of that," Lautner chimed in, with Stewart adding, "I was like, 'You don't understand what this means to us! Thank you so much! If this dress gets on the Internet I'll die!"
Lautner had his own worries about a later scene in which he imprints on Bella and Edward's newborn baby. In the book, Lautner's Jacob character – spoiler alert! -- takes it upon himself to kill the child, but he stops short at the last moment because he "imprints" on her, essentially falling in love with the woman she'll one day become. Or, if you want to be really literal about it, he falls in love with an infant. Hence Lautner's concern.
"I was pretty nervous about imprinting," he said. "I was given an 'X' on a wall. And I had to walk in the room on the verge of killing this baby, and then stop, twist and imprint, whatever that means."
"It was challenging," Lautner continued. "I spent a lot of time talking to Bill and to Stephenie. 'Okay, what exactly does imprinting mean?' It was tough, and I sure hope that it comes across all right."
Condon said the series holds an appeal for him because he tends to hook into stories about outsiders and those who desperately want something but can't necessarily have it. "All of these characters are," he said. "Jacob is yearning all the time, and both of those other two are finding a way to live the lives they were meant to."
Condon was also drawn to Twilight because of the vampires. The director has roots with the mythical creatures that extend all the way back to his childhood love for the Dark Shadows television series.
"I was a kid and I would run home to see that show," he said, smiling. "Obviously it was all kinds of fantasy creatures, but mostly vampires and Barnabus Collins. There was something -- God, I don't know. I think it was growing up in a very intense Catholic household that makes it a little twisted. I think it was that. Whenever new vampires come around I've always been interested, as I was with Twilight."