In Part One of our New Moon set report, RT was among the first reporters to see the Volturi vampires who will be introduced in this November’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon. We brought you a detailed description of the Volturi’s underground chambers, told you what Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen look like in character as Jane and Aro, respectively, and described screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg’s positive reaction to watching Bella meet the Volturi for the first time.
Today, we’re thrilled to launch our ongoing “New Moon Mondays” with Part Two of our New Moon set report! Read on for the details (including our on-set observations of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, director Chris Weitz, and our chat with Jacob Black himself, Taylor Lautner) and check back every week for new Twilight columns, news, and interviews!
When Rotten Tomatoes arrived on the set of The Twilight Saga: New Moon for a second day of observation on the Volturi stage, filming was already underway on a pivotal scene. We’d been promised we’d see wire work, so I immediately guessed that a fight scene was on the docket. Would we see Edward (Robert Pattinson) thrown about by the hulking Volturi guard, Felix? After all, actor Daniel Cudmore (X-Men 3’s Colossus) had been spotted on set the previous day, leafing through magazines between scenes.
Perhaps an Edward-Felix fight had been filmed, but it was not while we were on set. In the middle of the Volturi chamber, the scenario was similar to the previous day: Bella (Kristen Stewart), Edward (Pattinson), and Alice (Ashley Greene) stood facing off against their Volturi hosts, Aro (Michael Sheen), Jane (Dakota Fanning), and Alec (Cameron Bright). In the scene, Edward rushes forward to stop Aro from “testing” vampire powers on Bella, only to suffer the crippling pain of Jane’s power. It was a tough scene; the set was eerily quiet, save for the sound of Pattinson’s body hitting the ground with every take.
While the first Twilight film used plenty of wire work to achieve the look of vampires running/climbing with effortless ease (an effect criticized for a lack of weightiness and realism), wires here were being used in quite a different way. Stunt coordinator JJ Makaro, who paused for a moment to chat, said that the crew was making deliberate pains to make New Moon‘s action look more realistic.
“We have wire work, but we’re really trying to not do a lot of it,” he explained. “We don’t want to get into the Hong Kong – floaty stuff that you see all the time, vampires hanging in the air and all of that. It’s a tough call, because wires are wires, and the inherent problem with them is exactly that. They get floaty on you. So we’re having a heck of a time trying to find the balance that gives us enough to make it supernatural without it being over the top.”
Pattinson wore a dark burgundy hooded robe, his chest exposed. And yes, it was impeccably hairless and like alabaster, just as Meyer wrote it. Girls will swoon. Greene stood next to him, wearing a white and gray striped robe and red gloves. Stewart stood between them in black jeans, a short sleeved shirt, and sneakers.
As Pattinson rushed forward, wires attached to his clothing were rigged to jerk him back the moment that Jane’s attack — an invisible psychosomatic blast of pain — hit him. He grimaced in pain as the camera closed in, neck muscles straining with effort. Finally, he fell to his knees before collapsing on the ground with a loud thud.
Behind the stage, Meyer and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg sat together, nodding in agreement. It looked good on the monitors.
One problem: the wires were tugging Pattinson’s robe too much, and would be visible in the film. The crew reset and shot it again. Thud. We began to appreciate Pattinson’s commitment.
Next: We get kicked off the set, Stewart turns it on for the cameras, and Pattinson plays up the pain
The crew immediately moved on to rehearsals for the next shot, in which Bella was to plead for Jane to stop attacking Edward. As she does, Alice runs to Edward’s side to check on him. Here, things got interesting.
While she stayed quiet during rehearsals (some might even interpret her readings as sounding bored, a fact that elicited giggles from those offstage), Stewart really turned it on for the cameras. After giving almost sarcastically flat readings beforehand, she unleashed a fiery stream of emotion once they were rolling:
“Stop it! Please, stop hurting him! Try it on me!”
During this particular shot, for an unknown reason, an assistant director approached us. “All guests clear the set,” he shouted, directing his command to our press group. We cleared the set. What exactly happened in those ten minutes, only Weitz’s cast and crew know, but soon enough we were back inside, and the same scene was still being filmed.
Stewart was mesmerizing in take after take. The repetition of it was fascinating to listen to; the 19-year-old actress seemed to open a vein with every take, then fall silent. Or she’d ask Weitz for direction, or cut herself short with an expletive or burst of laughter. The tension of the scene always brightened once Weitz called “Cut!” — a Volturi actor would give Pattinson a hand up, or Stewart might wander off, snapping out of the moment. (After one take, Pattinson turned to Greene and playfully asked, “Does it look like I’m in pain?”)
Watching the monitors revealed even deeper layers in Stewart’s performance. Stewart, who by now has nearly 20 film credits under her belt, is a uniquely emotional performer; anguish is practically written on her face. Maverick or no during rehearsals, Stewart packs an almost unrivaled intensity into her acting. Yet in interviews, she and her Twilight cast mates are hounded by gossipy questions; why not ask her about her actual craft? We would have, given the chance. Sadly, Stewart and Pattinson were unavailable for interviews, and we had to make do with watching them from (not so) afar.
However, we did get to speak directly with one of New Moon‘s wolfalicious lead actors…
Next: Taylor Lautner talks Jacob Black, pumping iron, and why he would choose to have one of Edward’s powers.
While Stewart and Pattinson were filming their heavy scenes deep within the Volturi headquarters, we caught up with co-star Taylor Lautner. In an act of grace, he had come to set on his day off just to speak with us! Dressed casually and wearing a pair of Reebok Reverse Jams (this cast loves their sneakers), Lautner began describing the physical work-out regimen he had to adopt in order to keep the part of Quileute teen, Jacob Black.
“Well, I had to put on some weight,” Lautner explained with a laugh. “While filming Twilight, I knew that Jacob’s character transforms, not only emotionally and mentally, but also physically. So immediately, the day after filming Twilight, I hit the gym, and started eating a lot — good food — trying to pack on pounds. And here I am, thirty pounds heavier!”
Lautner understood that Jacob’s transformation in New Moon doesn’t just occur while he’s “phased” into a wolf, but is also reflected in the way he carries himself. Look for a much more confident Jacob Black with a stronger, bigger physical presence.
“The biggest thing with Jacob’s physicality is, pre-transformation he’s described as clumsy,” Lautner said. “He trips over his own feet; he’s a little kid. Then, as soon as he transforms, he all of a sudden becomes very agile. So… all of my movements together, even as simple as walking, had to have more of a presence.”
Asked how much of New Moon he spends shirtless, Lautner played coy. “I’d say the same as the books. I’m not going to give you a specific percent, but the great things about this series and the movies is, we stay true to the books. So if you read the books, you know what the movie’s going to look like.”
Then again, he did admit to having had his body scanned for CGI purposes, although as the films progress, Lautner plans on growing physically to reflect Jacob’s continual growth in the books. “I’m going to shoot for another ten [pounds]. We’ll see what I can do, but I’ll be working hard.”
Team Jacob fans should also get used to seeing Lautner without Jacob’s trademark long hair from the first film. “The long hair is definitely a wig,” he said with a laugh. “I just wrapped the wig a couple of days ago; that was amazing. The whole crew gave applause. I was so happy. They’re like, ‘So, do you want to keep it?’ I said, ‘If you give it to me, I will probably burn it.'”
The success of the first Twilight film came as much as a surprise to Lautner and his cast mates as it did to the general public. This time around, they have a slightly different attitude. “For the first film, we really had no idea we were making a big film, we just knew that we were all in love with the series and wanted to make a great movie,” Lautner said. “But we didn’t know that all the people were going to fall in love with the movie and it was going to be as big as it was. Now, we’re coming into New Moon, you know, with a little bit more pressure, but we’re trying to push that behind us and not think about that, and stay focused on what we need to do.”
Twilight‘s cast got along great with director Catherine Hardwicke, but Lautner is quick to praise his new director, Chris Weitz. “What I love about Chris is, the set is very calm and we’re just having a lot of fun making the movie,” he explained. “And then you sit back and you look at the results that are happening, and it looks amazing so far. I’m so excited to see it. You’re like, ‘How are we having such an easygoing, relaxed time making this movie, and it’s turning out the way it is?’ At the same time, the conversations with Catherine, she just related to us so well. So does Chris. They’re both talented directors, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to work with both of them.”
Pre-production is already underway for the third Twilight film, Eclipse. Director David Slade visited the New Moon set in Vancouver to meet with Weitz, which is when Lautner accidentally got introduced to his future director. He explained:
“I was in the middle of a stunt rehearsal and he showed up with Wyck [Godfrey], one of our producers, and Wyck was like, ‘Hey, this is David.’ And at that point he wasn’t signed on to the film and I had no idea who he was. Then all of a sudden he started putting up these ‘camera hands’ in my face; ‘I think this would be a good angle right here.’ And I’m just sitting there going, ‘What is he doing?’ Then finally, as he’s doing it, Wyck says, ‘I probably should tell you who this is. This is David Slade. He’s probably going to be doing Eclipse.'”
Lautner mulled over what power he would take for Jacob in addition to his power to transform into a wolf. His answer was appropriately conflicted, but ultimately the right one for any Bella-Jacob hopeful.
“I want to steal one of Edward’s powers,” he mused. “But then I’d feel like I’m betraying Jacob if I said that… well, I’d like to read Bella’s [mind].”
As we wrapped up, someone remarked to Lautner that plenty of fans are eagerly anticipating the scene of Jacob and Bella’s first kiss.
“Yes. So am I.”
Follow all things Twilight and New Moon at Jen’s Twilight Corner, and visit our Comic-Con 2009 Headquarters for juicy news from this week’s Comic-Con International!
Read Part One of our New Moon set report here.
Read our extensive interview with director Chris Weitz here.
More New Moon set coverage from our friends around the web:
To read HitFix’s account of the New Moon set visit, click here and here.
To read Fandango’s account of the New Moon set visit, click here.
To check out MSN’s Twilight Fan’s account of the visit, click here.
To see Hollywood.com’s account of the visit, click here.