Eclipse is the third movie in the Twilight Saga, we met up with actor Billy Burke who has played Charlie Swan in all three movies to date.
Movies.ie : First of all, with a name like Burke, do you have any Irish heritage?
Billy Burke: Well my Burke is actually derived from Burkovich, which is Yugoslavian.
Your Irish fans are going to be so disappointed!
BB: I know! Although my mother still claims to be, at least, half Irish. So that’ll make them happy! [laughs]
Eclipse is the third film in the Twilight Saga. Did you read the books before you did the films?
BB: I have not cracked any of the books! I’m not a big fan of reading in general, which is really sad, because in this business you have to read so many scripts and that’s enough reading for me! In terms of the books, I go by the script, I go by what’s there. We can’t make the book, we’re making the movie. So that’s where I get my information from.
Were you aware of the books popularity?
BB: I wasn’t aware until I got the first script and I had to meet Catherine [Hardwicke], the director and she asked me to go home and Google Twilight and I realised there was an entire culture out there. So I had a pretty good indication, based on the script, that the movie would have an audience. I don’t think anybody really had an idea that it would fuse itself into popular culture in the way it has.
Were you prepared for the madness and fame that the films brought?
BB: I don’t know how one would be prepared! You don’t necessarily prepare yourself for that. I have been in this industry for 17 years now and I have done a lot of movies and a lot of television and for me, the nice part about this is, not only do I get to do the work that I love to do, but in this case people are watching it, and they care! That’s not always the case when you are doing some of the movies that I have done! [laughs] In terms of preparedness, no I don’t think I was ever prepared, but I am enjoying it, it’s nice.
Is the knowledge that this would be a film that people would watch, what made you want to do the series?
BB: I actually really liked the script. When I read the script for the first time I really liked that character, I identified with his, sort of, quiet disconnection from not only his daughter, but people in general. I thought that would be a fun thing to try to tap into and bring to life. So it was the script itself and the character that turned me on to it. I can’t pick and choose projects based on how successful they are going to be, you are just setting yourself up for failure. So I actually did choose it because I dug it and I wanted to play the guy.
You are also a musician, were you ever tempted to perform a song for a Twilight Saga film like Robert Pattinson did?
BB: I am actually going in to record my first record when I get back to America. It’s a record probably 15 years in the making. If I find anything that I think is appropriate, sure, I’ll submit it for the soundtrack. I don’t think my stuff is necessarily a good fit [laughs], but you never know!
It was leaked that Peter Murphy from Bauhaus is doing a cameo in Eclipse. Were you excited to get to work with him?
BB: I think I am responsible for leaking that actually! [laughs] I did an interview with MTV a little while back and I said something about it. I was a huge Bauhaus fan when I was a kid actually. I didn’t know that they had hired him for that cameo, and I was in the hotel in Vancouver and I saw his name on the call sheet and I was saying to myself ‘They can’t have actually got the real Peter Murphy’ and sure enough, they did. So I called the office and I said ‘Call him. Tell him I want to take him out to dinner’. We went out to dinner, we had a great time, he is an amazing guy – he couldn’t have been more friendly and more open to talking about everything under the sun. We’re kind of penpals now! We write emails back and forth! [laughs] For me, being a huge fan as a kid, it was pretty cool. I am really excited to see his scene in the film, he’s got one scene that the people in the know will recognise [laughs]
What do you think is difference about The Twilight Saga that has made it so successful?
BB: I think that, at it’s core, it’s a love story and it’s a classic horror and it’s essentially a love that can never be. You take those ingredients and you throw in the world of vampires which has always been intriguing to kids… I think it’s one of those perfect storm situations.
What kind of an impact has being in The Twilight Saga had on your career?
BB: It’s definitely beginning to open up different doors that had not been open in the past. More and more this industry has become influenced by fame and notoriety and people knowing, you know, who that is that they are seeing. So in terms of me getting the gigs that I want to get, yeah it has opened up a few more doors for that and, in terms of fans, it’s just nice having people recognise what you do. I can’t imagine what Pattinson has to deal with, especially at his age. I think he has done, and will continue to do a great job with it but that part, that’s not what I got into this business for, but if it opens up doors for me to be able to do what I want to do, get the gigs that I want to do and play the characters that I want to play, I’m all in!
What do you think you will remember of the whole experience in five years time?
BB: Remembering? I don’t remember what happened yesterday! [laughs] but I would hope that as time goes on, the movies hold up and they continue to have an audience, like the Potter films have had and so many of these other timely movies. I have a daughter now, who is 17 months old and I would hope that by the time she gets old enough to see the movies that they will still hold up. That would be my hope.