To kick start Twilight week here on Movies.ie, we talk villains and vampires with Twilight” bad guy Cam Gigandet.
In many ways – “Twilight” is your typical Shakespearian love story. There’s a boy, a gal, rival families and yes, plenty of love and despair. Except in this tale, the star-crossed lovers are a human girl named Bella and her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (there’ll be no everlasting rest for this Romeo!). But Edward isn’t like other vamps – he and his family are what you might describe as “vegan”, steering clear of the human jugular in favour of a more atypical lifestyle. It’s not all play sailing for the young lovers – aside from those obvious inter-species issues – the pair must also content with trackers Laurent and James, the Cullens’ mortal vampire enemies, who have come to town looking for Bella…
Playing the role of lead tracker and all round bad-guy James is 26 year old actor Cam Gigandet. Having previously starred in both “The O.C.” and the more recent hit “Never Back Down”, Gigandet is no stranger to those bad guy roles but as Movies.ie found, Cam was anything but when we met the actor to discuss the massively successful franchise…
Q: Had you heard of the books before auditioning?
A: I’d actually read “Twilight” while filming “Never Back Down”. My girlfriend gave me her copy and kept saying, “You just have to read it”. It wouldn’t be the usual genre I’d read but I found it so engaging. There was just an air of mystery that surrounded these vampires. Meyer had me hooked! It was about six months after I heard from the studio. It was the same people that produced “Never Back Down” so it seemed kind of… serendipitous!
Q: You were originally cast as Edward’s brother Emmett Cullen but eventually landed the part of James – why were you so eager for another bad guy role?
A: Well from the first time I read the book, I knew I wanted to be James. There was just something about him that I associated with. There is more freedom and fun to be had playing the bad guy – they can get away with so much. Plus – with James – I liked the idea of playing on his immortality – how it can have both a good and bad thing.
Q: The bad side of immortality?
Well I certainly wouldn’t want to live forever! If everyone you loved was dying around you, you’d become so jaded and cynical. You’d have no desire or drive in you. If I had to though, I’d want to be the age I am now; still ignorant enough to most problems but I know enough to get by (laughs).
Q: With vampire stories so popular these days – the Anne Rice series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood etc – what is it that you think sets “Twilight” apart?
A: I think it’s the reliability. People can understand and associate with a story about love and adversity; they get caught up in drama. The love that Bella and Edward share – that’s something we all strive for in our lives. I think that my own character, James, he has such a strong reaction to them because he doesn’t know that kind of love. He doesn’t know if he’s capable of it; he’s both jealous and fascinated by it. I think that’s something that people hold close to their hearts. Also, in terms of the story, these vampires don’t obey the traditional stereotypes that have become so much a part of modern lore – it’s fresh and original.
Q: Catherine Hardwicke, who many people will remember for her controversial film “Thirteen”, directed “Twilight”. What was she like to work with?
Tough but she always brought a lot of energy to filming. She would never let you away with anything – even on those long days with mud and rain – she’d push you. That’s the thing about Catherine; she has such drive that it really becomes infectious.
Q: Was it a difficult shoot?
Well they filmed for around ten weeks but I actually only worked for the first three. That of course meant that most of my work had to be packed into a relatively short time and the role was very physical, so it was stressful but, as I said, Catherine’s passion for the project, really got me through.
Q: Tell us about some of those more physical scenes you were involved in?
A: Well playing a vampire, we obviously have super strength and speed. That meant a lot of wire work because if a vampire throws a punch, it’s going to pack a wallop. I remember one of the very first days was the biggest fight sequence – the ballet scene. We had to do that very early on because of scheduling conflicts so it was intimidating. I’d never down wire work before so it was a case of being thrown in the deep end. Working on “Never Back Down”, which was another physically demanding role, was in many ways great prep work for this but with “Twilight”, everything had to be taken to that next level.
Q: You’re in another supernatural film – “The Unborn”- from “Dark Knight” scribe David Goyer – can you tell us a little about that movie?
A: It stars me, Odette Yustman and Gary Oldman and I get to play a good guy! I can’t go into too much detail yet but the basic storyline is a spirit is taking over people’s bodies to get to Odette’s character. There is one scene, at the beginning when the spirit is weak, it takes control of a child’s body – let me tell you, that was some creepy stuff.
Q: And you’ve also been working on a sci-fi picture?
A: Yeah “Pandorum” – we’ve been shooting over in Berlin, which is actually my first time in Europe. It’s set in a space ship, you’re not exactly sure when, but the crew wake up from status with no idea of their mission or who they are. I’m playing one of the crew members. It’s going to be a good one – but it’s very dark – the stakes were definitely raised with it. All my scenes are with Dennis Quaid and to be in proximity with such a well established actor, it was very humbling. The two of us are pretty much stuck in this one room trying to figure out where Ben Foster’s character needs to go to save the day.
Q: Finally, aside from “Twilight”, what would you say is your all time favourite Vampire story?
A: As obvious as it might be to say, I think I’d go with Dracula – yes, a cliché but that’s just another word for classic!
“Twilight” is in Irish cinemas from Friday, December 19th.