Vampires and Volturi


Vampires and Volturi

In a brief but pivotal appearance, the vampiric Cullen family hosts a birthday party for Bella where a paper cut sets off a dangerous chain reaction, prompting Edward to end the romance. Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz and Jackson Rathbone all return as the Cullen family.

“We’ve turned into a real family,” says Reed. “We are all so passionate about this and my castmates are such smart, interesting people. It’s great to work with them again and we are so fortunate that we get to carry these characters through multiple films. We are all such fans of the books, it’s been extremely gratifying to bring something to life that we love so much.”

Alice Cullen, played by Greene, comes into her own in this chapter of the story. Her visions of the future lead directly to Bella’s desperate attempts to rescue Edward from his misguided attempt to kill himself.

“Bella is essentially Alice’s best friend,” says Greene. “She wants what is best for Bella. To Alice, the most logical thing is for Bella to become a vampire and stay with the Cullens. She’s respectful of Edward’s desire to let Bella remain a human for as long as possible, but Alice has seen a different kind of future.”

Two elements of Alice particularly delighted Greene—her penchants for beautiful clothes and fast cars. “I got to wear the best costumes,” she says. “Tish Monaghan, the costume designer, found these great jackets—a white silk trench coat, a striped Michael Kors jacket—and paired them with black tights and flat ballet shoes and long red gloves. They were great and so Alice-quirky. I also got to drive this amazing yellow Porsche through these windy streets in Italy. I only had one driving lesson the day before we were supposed to film it. I have to say, I almost nicked a couple buildings!”

The Twilight Saga: New Moon marks the first appearance of the Volturi, the closest the vampire world has to royalty and a major force in the future of the saga. Centuries old and unimaginably powerful, they serve as lawmakers and enforcers for the community. The leader of the group is Aro, played by Michael Sheen. Sheen is no stranger to this world, having played a werewolf enslaved by the vampires in the Underworld series. But Sheen says there was another on the set who embodied both vampire and werewolf.

“Chris Weitz looks like a cross between a vampire and a werewolf to me,” says the actor. ‘He’s got the chiseled look of a vampire, and yet he is buff like a werewolf, so he was like a great mythological creature going around the set. “

Sheen developed a distinct vocalization for Aro, higher pitched and more precise than his normal speaking voice. Weitz notes that his intonation perhaps arose from their early talks about the character. “Essentially, the character is 2,000 years old,” says Weitz. “English is not his first language, so he might speak it in a calculated way. He is incredibly gracious and endearing, but also extraordinarily dangerous.”

In fact, Sheen says, he unconsciously channeled the scary, psychedelic, music-hating, color-sapping Blue Meanies of Yellow Submarine fame when voicing Aro. “There was a moment where I suddenly thought, ‘Oh, I sound a little bit like the Blue Meanies,’” he says. “I found them really disturbing when I was a kid, so I thought that was a good thing.”

While all the Volturi are formidable, perhaps the most fearsome is Jane, a sweet-faced, innocent-looking vampire who can—and does—inflict pain merely by willing it. She is played by Dakota Fanning.

“I’ve never really gotten to play a bad guy before, but in this one, I play a bad girl —or vampire—and it was really fun,” Fanning says. “Plus, I was a really big fan of the books, I read all four of them in about a week, so it was thrilling to be asked to be a part of the film.”

Part of that fun came from the physical transformation. “I got to wear red contact lenses, which were cool and changed the whole look of everything, literally,” she says. “And the white make-up—I thought I was pale before, but now I realize, by comparison to a vampire, I’m actually quite tan.”

Kristen Stewart, who had met Fanning before her involvement with the film, says, “Dakota is straight-up scary and mean as Jane. She’s one of the most impressive people and actors I’ve ever met. She’s really got a presence that you just don’t mess with. And you wouldn’t expect that, because she’s a little girl. She’s one of the best young actresses around, and I’m excited that I got to work with her.”

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