Though production has wrapped on the two-part finale of the supernatural love triangle known as “The Twilight Saga” it doesn’t feel quite over yet for the trio of stars who play Edward, Bella and Jacob.
“Until the last one is released, I don’t really feel like I’ve finalized anything,” says Robert Pattinson, who plays the sparkling vampire hunk Edward in the popular franchise, based on the best-selling Stephenie Meyer books.
“Because the press tour has become so huge, it really feels like part of the process of making the movies,” he adds.
The same goes for Taylor Lautner, who plays Edward’s rival, Jacob, and Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella, the human object of their affections.
Earlier in the day, the trio were forever immortalized in front of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, putting their hands and feet in cement for posterity. (Traces of cement are still visible on their hands during separate interviews.)
“I was kind of embarrassed when I did it, because I messed it up and I stood on my own handprints,” Pattinson recalls.
The whole “Twilight” phenomenon has been a dream come true for the British actor, who was ready to quit acting before landing the vampire role in 2007.
“I didn’t even know I was going to continue acting before this happened,” he says.
He recalls his first visit to Hollywood at 17 walking down from his hotel to Hollywood Boulevard and looking at the stars’ hand and footprints, never imagining he would one day join their ranks.
“That was totally unfathomable,” he says. “It wasn’t even in the realm of anything. I don’t know how to feel about it now. It’s mind blowing.”
In “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” the fourth installment of the “Twilight” franchise, Edward and Bella finally get hitched, go on a honeymoon and she gets pregnant. With Edward being a vampire, the union is a little more complicated than most marriages. At his virgin bride’s request, he has to fight the urge to turn her into a vampire. And their little half-human, half-vampire fetus creates some life-threatening issues for Mom, who is determined to go through with the pregnancy, even if it kills her.
Meanwhile, Jacob’s none too happy that the girl of his dreams has married another man, but his wolf pack brothers are even more distressed about the unholy union and plot to attack Edward’s vampire family, the Cullens — ending a long-standing truce — as soon as he makes Bella immortal. Things get even more complicated when Jacob discovers his true soul mate in Bella’s baby through a ritual called imprinting.
The two-part finale, based on Meyer’s 768-page tome, is directed by Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) and adapted for the screen by Melissa Rosenberg (who also adapted the three previous “Twilight” novels into screenplays).
Soccer mom-turned-world-famous author Meyer is a producer this time around and was on the set every day, which was handy for both the filmmakers and the actors.
“I was asking her all the time ‘please explain to me what imprinting is,’ ” recalls Lautner, the swarthy werewolf. “After seeing the final version, I’m really happy with it. It’s emotional. It really is a very special moment but on the day (of filming the scene), it was a leap of faith.”
Director Condon (who won an Oscar for his 1998 “Gods and Monsters” screenplay), the fourth filmmaker to take over the franchise, says he not only was pleased to have the “Twilight” author on set but also found the actors a font of information about their characters.
“We spent two weeks just sitting in a room and talking through the script,” he recalls. “At a certain point, the actor begins to embody the role better than you ever will. And certainly that was true here.”
Pattinson, for example, gave him the idea for including a flashback scene in which his character goes on a killing spree, which was alluded to in earlier “Twilight” films but never depicted.
“He said one of the things he had been playing throughout those first three movies was a man filled with more than regret, almost self-loathing, because of that episode where he had broken away from the Cullen family and decided to explore what it would be like to kill human beings,” the director says. “So I worked with Melissa to put that in the beginning of the movie so you sort of understand where Edward was coming from.”
Part 1 and Part 2 of “Breaking Dawn” were shot simultaneously and overlapped in the production schedule. Indeed, the last scene shot was the wedding reception, which appears in Part 1.
“I put my script together and it was 220 pages,” recalls the director.
While shooting out of sequence is the norm on most film sets, it could get a little tricky with a character that is pregnant for only part of one movie.
“The practicality of moviemaking meant poor Kristen had to make shifts from being pregnant to not being pregnant sometimes on the same day,” he recalls.
The actress didn’t mind, though.
“Everything felt more important and more relevant,” she says. “It was so overwhelming, it was good. It gives you that energy every day.”
One of the bigger challenges for the 21-year-old was the wedding scene, in which she walks up the aisle in a stunning white gown.
“I had a million things going though my head,” she recalls. “I kept telling myself, ‘stop, stop thinking, just do it. Actually have this experience.’ ”
Pattinson, 25, says he was terrified of the prospect of doing the birth scene because his character’s involvement is quite graphic and disturbing in the book, and he knew it could be difficult to depict in a PG-13 rated film.
The actor teases that there is “definitely an NC-17 rated version of a few scenes in this movie,” which likely will never see the light of day.
Another scene from “Part 1″ turned out to be the trio’s last one together. It’s a moment where Jacob and Bella are saying goodbye in the woods, and Edward shows up.
“It was freezing cold and it was at 5 a.m.,” Pattinson recalls. “Everyone just kind of scampered off afterwards.”
The big joke
Condon remembers it a little differently.
“On the last take — high shot — everyone runs off and it is just (Stewart) and (Pattinson),” he says. “I call ‘cut,’ and Kristen takes a beat and starts running in that wedding dress into the forest calling, ‘Jacob, come back. Come back. I made a mistake.’ ”
Look for that outtake on the DVD.
All three young actors, who have achieved incredible fame through their involvement in the “Twilight” films, are carefully contemplating their future.
“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2″ is due in theaters next November. Condon says it will pick up exactly where “Part 1″ ends.