In just a few hours, the final "Twilight" movie will hit theaters. With an impressively speedy five movies in four years, audiences have seen teen Bella (Kristen Stewart) fall for a mysterious new classmate, Edward (Robert Pattinson), stop him from committing suicide, fight off an army of newborn vampires led by the evil Victoria, get married, have a baby, and transform into a vampire herself.
And now, 'Breaking Dawn 2' will see Bella and Edward assemble an army of vampires from around the world to fight off elders the Volturi, who are out to kill their child Renesmee. We saw the film earlier this week at the Rome Film Festival — you can read our verdict here — but with the release fast approaching, it seems like a good time to let the cast and crew speak for themselves, so below, you'll find ten highlights from the press tour, with director Bill Condon, stars Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, and others letting slip some behind-the-scenes tidbits from the press conference, and elsewhere. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2" hits theaters on Friday.
1. "Breaking Dawn Pt. 2" sees a new kind of love story for the series
With Edward and Bella having tied the knot in the first part of 'Breaking Dawn,' one would assume that the central love triangle, with werewolf Jacob as the third point, would have run its course by now. Bill Condon says that the final film sees the romantic side of things move its emphasis off that, and onto the very different kind of love that comes with starting a family. "The triangle is over," he told a collection of "Twilight" fansites. "So it doesn’t have that, but the thing that has replaced it is, obviously their love for each other, but [also] their love for Renesmee. So that she becomes the focus, of all the strongest emotional moments in the movie. And then, I think again I think it was something that started in the first movie, but there is a sense of, these are grownups now. So it is, they are married and they take time out to express their feelings for each other, but it is not in that same kind of yearning way, that teenage yearning way. It’s very mature. I think people will be surprised by that."
2. It's a delicate thing, playing a werewolf who falls in love with a baby
Even those who mock the franchise have been looking forward to the final installment of the series, if only because of one of Meyer's more out-there story conceits — the way that Jacob "imprints" on young Renesmee, finding his soulmate. It's undoubtedly a difficult thing to portray, something that Taylor Lautner acknowledged at the press conference ."It’s a fine line and I was worried about it," he said. "We were very lucky to have Stephenie Meyer, the author, on set with us for these last two movies, and I definitely had quite a few conversations with her. There was nobody better to ask about it than her, and she basically told me, 'Stop over-complicating it. Think here and now. That’s all you really have to focus on. It’s simple.' She said that it’s a lifelong bond between two people, and that’s it. At this point, it’s more of a brother-sister protective thing. That’s really all it is. I couldn’t allow myself to think ahead and go beyond that, so that’s the zone I had to stay in. Bill, our director, did a tremendous job with it because it is delicate. I think the fans are going to be happy with it."
3. Mackenzie Foy plays Renesmee at several ages through performance capture
One of the biggest challenges of making the new film was to find a way of depicting Renesmee, Edward and Bella's fast-aging daughter, as Stephenie Meyer related at the press conference. "We looked at younger actresses, but you needed this person who could have meaningful conversations with her parents and who we would believe in these really hard scenes. It didn’t take them too long to convince me that they would just age her up faster." Ultimately, the answer came partly with actress Mackenzie Foy, and partly by enlisting the effects specialists behind "The Social Network" to allow the actress to play Renesmee even as a baby through performance capture. "Because Renesmee is supernaturally wise, in some ways, having an actress who’s nine playing all of the articulations of Renesmee, from looking six months old until 10, was great because we could do performance capture with her and de-age her onto the proper scale that we needed to. But, it was challenging. It was one of the most challenging aspects of this movie."
4. Bill Condon originally thought the film could be in 3D, and is preparing a long supercut of the two films together
"Twilight" stands as one of the rare modern day franchises that have never gone the 3D route, but Condon confirmed in an interview with "Twilight" fansites that he though of dimensionalizing 'Breaking Dawn' to begin with. "When I first got involved, I thought this movie should be in 3d. Because we are crossing over into Bella. We always heard what they do when they hunt and what they do when they come home and what it’s like to see at night, to be able to see so clearly, but we never experienced it. Now we get to." Ultimately, he decided it was "probably a mistake."
The release of 'Breaking Dawn Pt. 2' won't mark the end of Condon's involvement with the franchise, even though he's going to be shooting a Julian Assange film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and James McAvoy soon. The director confirmed that he's planning to cut the two films together into a single, extra-long 'Breaking Dawn' movie. "Ultimately they are going to be one movie," the director told the fansites. "And that’s going to be an interesting thing, I haven’t even actually looked at it that way yet. In fact, we’re just starting to put that together." Whether it sees theatrical release or is only on home video isn't yet clear, but we're sure fans will be delighted.
5. Bill Condon has never been afraid of elements of camp or melodrama
Condon's background — including Oscar wins and nominations for penning "Gods & Monsters" and "Chicago" — is slightly different from the franchise's previous directors, and he's been careful about not making his two films take themselves too seriously. "There's a clip in the first movie of 'Bride of Frankenstein,' " he tells Crave, "one of my favorite movies and maybe my favorite horror movie. I think that’s a terrifying movie but it also has a sense of humor. It has a wit about it and it did feel to me, in this movie, whether we accomplished this or not, an ideal version. It’s embodied by what Michael Sheen does on the field when he meets Renesmee. He lets out this cackle. That’s my favorite moment in the movie. It’s funny but it’s creepy. I don’t think Twilight should be approached like Batman. Because it is an invented kind of world, especially this one, I think it’s got to be done with a sense of enjoyment to it I guess more than anything. So I never thought of anything as making fun of it, but kind of reveling in the melodrama of it. It’s a melodrama. It’s a romantic melodrama. It’s not the kind of movies that get made much anymore but it was an honored style in classical traditional Hollywood filmmaking. So maybe the fact of that, plus not shying away from it in any way in the design and the way the music works, the sort of full on emotional feeling that maybe people sort of connect that to camp in some ways."
6. Robert Pattinson always felt frustration with playing Edward.
More than any other cast member, Robert Pattinson has been a little ambivalent about the franchise from the start, particularly given his increasing reputation as a serious actor. And the star admitted at the press conference that he'd had his difficulties with playing Edward over the last five years, in part because of the weight of expectations on his shoulder. "I still had the same frustration with trying to play it, the entire way through, right up until the last shot. It’s a strange part because, on one hand, a lot of the audience projects their idea of Edward onto him. It doesn’t matter what he is. They want him to be a certain way, " he explained. "And then, my instincts to try to play it were to try to find the fallibility in him and the weaknesses. You’re trying to play both these things at the same time and it becomes very strange. You’re trying to play someone who’s seen by a lot of people as this perfect thing, but what is that? That doesn’t mean anything. So, you’re trying to play an archetype on one hand and a character on the other, so I felt insanely frustrated, right up until the last shot, and then it ended. "
7. Michael Sheen's daughter didn't approve of him being cast as arch-villain Aro
One of the more entertaining elements of the films so far has been the great Michael Sheen, who plays Aro, the head of the Volturi. Twihards and non-Twihards alike welcomed the idea when he appeared in "New Moon," but there was one person who raised their objection — Sheen's own daughter. The Welsh actor explained at the press conference: "When I first told her that I was going to be playing Aro, she said, 'But, Aro’s bald. Completely bald.' And I said, 'Oh, I see.' Everyone gets their own idea of a character. I thought she was going to be really excited, when I said that I was going to be [Aro], but in fact, she was really annoyed. It was her thing. She was eight, at the time, and if someone had come along when you were eight years old and said, 'I’m going to take this thing that is really special to you and that you think is yours, and it’s going to be mine,' you would be upset, too. I slightly underestimated the effect on her. But, she got very excited. For the really big fans of the books, nothing can be what you imagine in your head. So, even though I wasn’t a bald Aro, hopefully, she still liked it."
8. Bill Condon spent a whole day blocking the final action sequence
The "Twilight" films so far haven't exactly been stacked with action, but the climax of 'Breaking Dawn Pt. 2,' things go out with a bang, with a a huge snowbound battle where the Cullens and their allies square off against the Volturi. It's a scene that's so complex that Bill Condon had to spend a whole day on set without shooting any film just to work it out. "The big scene at the end which basically has over 100 vampires when you count the ones on the Volturi side," the director told Crave, "I did something that was kind of unusual on a movie set which is that we didn’t shoot one day. When we started that sequence, we just had all the actors come in, no makeup, start in the morning and rehearse it like a play, starting with them moving forward." It's also an unusual kind of scene, he adds, because it's all done with bare hands. "Tell me a battle that doesn’t have weapons. There are very few battles that don’t have horses and flags. There’s a very unique set of challenges here because vampires, you can’t puncture their skin. You can’t kill them. The only thing you can do is rip their heads off, so that became its own thing to figure out. How do you do that 20 times across the scene?"
9. The cast amused themselves by choreographing a dance routine during them filming of the long battle sequence
That big action scene was shot over a period of weeks, on a green-screen stage, and it wasn't exactly what Michael Sheen was expecting, as he told the press conference. "When we were doing the costume design, I’ve learned from experience that, if you’re going to be somewhere cold and doing a lot of night shoots, you should have a warm costume. I made sure that my costume was layers and layers with a cloak and really heavy things," he said. "Then, of course, I turned up on day one, and we were in a studio. It was all CG with green screen. I was boiling, for weeks and weeks and weeks."
Like all action filmmaking, it was slow going, but as Sheen says, the cast had a little fun with it. "Towards the last day of the battle scene – and I think it might exist on the DVD – there was this huge dance that happened, where the Cullens had choreographed a dance. So, as they said, 'Action!,' they suddenly went into this choreographed dance routine to 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).' It was fantastic! That broke the boredom, for once."
10. Bill Condon sees the film as a fairy tale, and the final scene reflects that
There's been some intrigue about the final scene of the film, which has been rumored for some time to depart from the books. Condon isn't giving anything away, but says that the scene ultimately reflects his vision of the story as, essentially, a fairy tale, telling Crave: "I don’t want to talk about what it is specifically, but I thought it was important to acknowledge the fact that this is a fairy tale and it came from something that first entered the world on the page, through books. It was a book that mattered to so many people and it’s a specific type of writing, young adult fiction and that’s what’s sort of been brought to life. So I won’t say how but it’s sort of bringing it back to the source."