Our final meetings with the TWILIGHT cast, first up Nikki Reed
Whether or not you like your vampires sparkly or your werewolves shirtless will go some way to determining if you think November’s release of Breaking Dawn Part II, the final chapter of the Twilight Saga, is entirely unmissable or completely unavoidable. That said, after four books, five movies and $2.5b at the global box office, it simply cannot be denied that the Twilight Saga has become a cultural phenomenon since Bella, Edward and friends hit silver screens in 2008. To celebrate the film’s release, Movies.ie caught up with star Nikki Reed, best known as vampire sister Rosalie, but also as the actress who came of age by writing and appearing in the controversial drama 13 when she was only 14 years old herself.
Catching up with the recent bride at a Dublin hotel, the first thing Movies.ie wanted to know, now that all the dust has settled, is Nikki Reed Team Edward or Team Jacob?
(Nikki Reed): Em… you know, I’m actually just Team Everybody! I think the whole team thing is kind of ridiculous… I’m just, like… I’m Team Everybody!
(Movies.ie): That’s a very diplomatic answer.
(NR): Diplomatic, sure, but honestly diplomatic!
(Movies.ie): And now that the whole series has come to an end, how do you feel? Happy, sad? Relieved?
(NR): I feel a couple of different things. I think I definitely feel more sad than I expected to feel… I didn’t think I was go to be happy when it was over, but I certainly thought, well we’ve been preparing for this for a long time, and we shot the last movie, like, a year and a half ago or more, so I just felt like I was prepared for the closure. But now that we’re actually approaching the end it’s kind of making me feel really sad. And it’s strange to not be going back to my character and not be making another movie. And to not have more of these experiences… of course I’ll have other films and other premieres, but with Twilight, it’s different. These premieres have, like, thousands of people lining the streets. And at [San Diego’s annual] Comic Con, they’re sleeping outside to get in! We really do a lot of fan interaction, and to not have that interaction anymore… I dunno, it’s like I feel sad about it.
(Movies.ie): Your character, Rosalie, is one of the supporting parts that really develops over the series, going from hostile to heroine over the course of five movies. What was her defining moment for you?
(NR): Defining moment… I don’t really know. The books are so much different from the scripts for the supporting cast. I suppose it would be Breaking Dawn Part 1. I remember reading the last book and feeling like, ‘Wow, Rosalie finally gets to be on the side that the audience is rooting for instead of against’, which for Rosalie is a big deal. I mean, as fun as it is playing a character that everybody hates, and as much as I love the challenge, it’s also… you know… a hard thing to commit to.
(Movies.ie): How so?
(NR): At a certain point you just wanna go, like, (joking) ‘Okay people, stop! Stop hating me, and stop being so judgemental of not only her, but me!’ You know, it’s like sometimes you just wanna play the sweet loving Alice Cullen, the bubbly one.
(Movies.ie): Still, if not the bubbly one, at least you got to be the babe. Rosalie is considered a vamp in every sense of the word, this gorgeously beautiful woman that is considered by Bella as the epitome of beauty. Will you miss the glamour of the role?
(NR): I’ve never felt that way, it is not a glamorous process stepping into these characters! I don’t mean to make it sound horrible, because by no means is it horrible, and I love my job and I love playing that character. But to wear a wig for 12 hours a day, and yellow plastic suction-cup contacts in your eyes, spray-painted with white make-up with painted-on contouring to make it look like you still have a face… none of that feels like a glamorous photoshoot! You mostly feel like, ‘Oh God, I’m supposed to be playing this really beautiful woman and I just feel like a disaster!’ So I’m really not going to miss the actual physical aesthetic stuff, but I do miss my character.
(Movies.ie): While reading the movie’s production notes, I was really struck by the scale of the movie. At one point, your director Bill Condon describes how you shot an epic battle scene, the movie’s climax, right at the beginning of the shoot, only to then film different parts of the two movies simultaneously. What was it like as an actor to be diving in and out of timelines?
(NR): Really confusing. It was really confusing. Our script was 220 pages, because it was two movies in one. One minute we were shooting Scene 4 Page 2, and the next Scene 25 Page 3 on the same day. I was switching costumes and going like, ‘What are we, in 4 or 25 right now?! What am I doing?!’ It was tough. One of the hardest things for me as an actor, something that I really rely on from a director, is to keep things building up to a climax. You want there to be a nice arc, and I found it really challenging to not go full force in more scenes and strike the balance. Shooting the two movies, a lot of the stuff, especially with the supporting cast, gets cut, but you have to remember, that we still film it, we’re still there all day everyday with everybody else. And still trying to keep track of where we’re at. So to film them both at the same time, I felt all over the place.
(Movies.ie): Speaking of battle scenes, Breaking Dawn is the most action packed of the series. Did you enjoy filming the action sequences? Are you an action-packed woman?
(NR): I feel like I am, but I don’t look as elegant doing the moves as I always feel in my head. I go full force, I’m really active. I love, like, boxing and rock climbing, and all that stuff. And when you shoot these scenes, you say to yourself, (roaring) ‘Yeah! I should give it my all!’ And then you realise that on film, it’s not about power and speed, it’s about grace. And I don’t have much of that!
(Movies.ie): I also read about a day on set when the cast of vampires and werewolves took part in a dance off. Did you join in?
(NR): I think everybody was a part of this, yeah, the whole cast. It was fun, it was just a goofy thing. One of our new cast members, her name was Toni (Trucks, who plays the vampire nomad Mary) is a choreographer. We thought it would be fun to gather everybody and just organise rehearsals and put everybody together to learn this dance. I think it was really nice for us to have that kind of moment to break and be funny for a second.
(Movies.ie): You made your film debut at the age of 14 in a film that you co-wrote, 13. What was it like growing up as an actress in front of the public?
(NR): It’s a cliché, but it’s weird to grow up in front of the public. By no means do I think I’m as well known or recognisable as, let’s say, the Olsen Twins, who definitely grew up in the spot light. But I still grew up and had moments where part of my process of maturing was there for other people to witness and judge. And we all make mistakes or do things we feel we should have done differently, it’s just most people don’t do that with quite so many witnesses. I’ve never done anything horrible, but no one’s perfect, so it was always weird being criticised. No matter what, if you’re in the public eye, people will find something wrong with you.
(Movies.ie): And how do you feel now that you’ve essentially become an adult over the course of the Twilight movies?
(NR): It was hard, but now I feel like I’ve made some really great decisions, that have sort of made me who I am. And now I’m married, and I have, for what I can, a normal and uneventful life. And I’m happy with that. I feel like I have grown, but to be part of these movies, especially from 19 to… I’ll be 25 in July when all the press completely dies down, it’ll have been five and a half years. I always look at the Harry Potter kids and I think, ‘Wow, they really grew up in front of the world, and then I go, “Wow, 19 to 25 is a long period of time!”‘ I’m still figuring out who I am and what I want my voice is going to be, and how I want my friends and my family to view me, and what I’m interested in. I have an older brother, who’s just a year older than me, so we were almost twins, and I think in a lot of ways he envied what I was doing. But in a lot of ways I envied him and what he was doing, like travelling the world and going to school and studying, you know, art in Italy. I was, like, ‘God, that’s the life I want right now!” To have that life not as an option was really hard for me. But we’re all navigating and figuring it out, and I feel in a really good place, at least for now.
(Movies.ie): It certainly seems to be working out, especially given the recent announcement that a song (All I’ve Ever Needed), that you and your husband Paul McDonald wrote and performed has made it onto the movie’s soundtrack. A soundtrack that includes Passion Pit, Green Day and local star James Vincent McMorrow. How does it feel to be included?
(NR): Beyond thrilled! Despite what everybody will think, which is fine that they’ll think that, I know everybody’s gonna think ‘Oh, because she’s in the movie she just handed a song to them and they were like, “Sure, we’ll toss it in.”‘ That was so not the case and I cannot stress that enough. We fought so hard, we wrote the song for that movie over a year ago and turned it in asking just for a chance. And it was not until three weeks ago that they finally said we’re putting it in the movie. We’ve been on pins and needles for eight or nine months now, just waiting to hear something.
(Movies.ie): Do you know what scene in the movie it’s going to be in?
(NR): I do, but I can’t say. I LOVE where it’s at, it’s like the best thing ever for me. You know, writing is something I take pride in, not because I think I’m any good, but because it makes me feel good.
(Movies.ie): So is writing, be it screen or song, the direction you’d like to move your career in?
(NR): I would love to. There’s a lot of work I’d like to do with the writer side of myself. I’ve always been drawn to it. As a child, the only reason I got to go to good schools was because I got in through my writing. We lived in really bad neighbourhoods for schools, and I got into great programmes because of my writing. So clearly, from the time I was a child, it was always something I loved and how I express myself. For example, to a small degree, I have a blog that I write on. It’s not even necessarily good, but it makes me feel so happy. So learning how to write music was the next logical chapter, especially being with Paul. To write together, to collaborate on that process has brought me so much happiness. And also with the fans. This was my way of connecting with these films. We wrote the song for this movie, when you hear the lyrics, it’ll make total sense, but it is my way of saying, ‘Hey, I’m giving back to you guys too. I love these movies and these characters as much as you do.’
(Movies.ie): Nikki, just before we finish, one last question. Now that the Twilight Saga has come to its conclusion, you must be looking for acting projects. Were your agent to come to you tomorrow and offer you the lead role of 50 Shades of Grey, would you take it?
(NR): (Laughing) I don’t know the answer to that because I haven’t read the book. It would make a huge difference towards a definitive answer. Listen, if they called and said, ‘You’ve been offered the role,’ I’d probable say, “Oh my God, fantastic! Can you send me the book?!’
Words – James Dempsey
TWILIGHT BREAKING DAWN PART 2 hits Irish cinemas this week