After four years, four movies and more than 100 million book copies sold, the pale and sexy vampire phenomenon called “Twilight” comes to an end this week with the release of the franchise’s fifth and final film installment, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.”
For the uninitiated (perhaps you are a vampire yourself), “Twilight” is the story of a teenage girl name Bella Swan (played on film by Kristen Stewart), who moves to the sleepy town of Forks, Washington, where she falls in love with a 104-year-old teen vampire named Edward Cullen (portrayed by Robert Pattinson). The colorful cast includes Edward’s romantic rival, a Native American teen werewolf named Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), as well as the rest of the human-friendly (“vegetarian”) Cullen clan.
Alice Cullen, Edward’s adopted vampire sister, is perhaps the most popular of the Cullen siblings, and has struck a chord with “Twilight” fans for her upbeat personality, fashion sense, gentle nature and unflinching acceptance of Bella. On screen, 25-year-old actress Ashley Greene (“Butter,” “The Apparition”) has brought Alice’s popularity to soaring new heights, while also making her own indelible name in Hollywood.
In “Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” Alice and her vampire husband Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) set out on a quest to recruit blood-suckers from around the world to fight the ruling vampire coven called the Volturi, which has mistakenly marked Alice’s half-vampire niece Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy) for death. Oh, and Bella is now a vampire, too.
In celebration of the “Twilight” swan song, I caught up with Greene to talk about “Breaking Dawn,” saying goodbye to Alice, the film set “swear jar,” and life after playing the dead.
David Onda: So, this is the end! You finally made it to the finale of this whole saga. It must be very bittersweet for you.
Ashley Greene: Um, it definitely is. I think that’s an appropriate word because it’s exciting to kind of move forward and take hold of the opportunity that “Twilight’s” afforded us, but it’s also kind of sad. I worked with and became close with these characters and the people who are portraying them and it’s kind of, I think, a safety net that we had, and it’s going to be kind of strange not going back to set with these people that I’ve become so familiar with.
Onda: Who was the hardest person to say goodbye to?
Greene: Kellan [Lutz] and I were really the closest, and he and I have been really good friends before “Twilight” even happened – we have the same agent. And so I continue to stay close to him and in touch with him. Because [the cast members] have become so close, I think everyone kind of knows and makes the effort to see each other and invites people to barbecues and whatnot. I think it was harder, probably, saying goodbye to Alice Cullen. That was probably the hardest, because that’s the only person that I’m not gonna see again.
Onda: How has your portrayal of Alice changed over the course of these five movies?
Greene: I kind of started with this foundation, and tried to do all the research I could do for Alice, and then every time a [new] director would come in, they have their own artistic take on things and add in new elements. And a lot of times they would ask, “What did you love that you portrayed, and what do you wish that you could show?” So I felt, with each installment, I got the opportunity to add on something. I think she was very – you know, really sweet, [laughs] a little odd in the first installment. And then, throughout the course, you get to see a little more of her vampiric side, because I think she’s this vampire with a heart of gold and so that was kind of fun – to show her be a little tough and a little fierce, and to show that she has a little bit of a sassy side when she’s dealing with the wolves or with Jacob. So I feel like I got to really round her out quite nicely.
Onda: You’ve really humanized the Alice character in a way that’s made her just as popular with fans as Bella, Edward and Jacob.
Greene: I was really, really, really nervous when I got this role because I did feel it was important to make Alice just as lovable as I read her being on paper and, kind of, full of vitality. In my head she is just this light and breath of fresh air in very dramatic settings – because I feel like we’re always extremely dramatic in this film. I wanted people to be able to relate to her.
Onda: Did Kristen come to you for advice on how to act vamp-like, or like has she been around it enough that she gets the idea?
Greene: [laughs] Yeah, I feel like she probably could do it in her sleep, because she was always surrounded by a vampire. She had more vampire interaction, for sure, than human interaction. I think she was kind of amped to finally get to play a vampire, so she was good to go.
Onda: How was it having Mackenzie on the set? The films haven’t had many kids in them, but she must have been so excited.
Greene: She was, but she is one of those children who – I have to hand it to her mother, her parents, who have done such a wonderful job with her. She’s really a fantastic actress and she’s very professional, but she is still a kid and that’s really nice to see, whenever there is a balance and they’re able to have fun and play on set, but still go home and hang out with friends her age. I was really impressed with her. I think the biggest change for us is that we had a “swear jar.” And she was rich – she made more money than us. We are so used to not having kids around that we had to really make an effort to try and edit our language.
Onda: You’re very close with your mom and often mention her in interviews. How has she dealt with your fame?
Greene: I think she gets weirded out, sometimes, by people knowing so much about me or people always asking questions. She’s really great with me and for me, because I think she makes an effort to make sure there is some normalcy in my life, and her and my dad don’t really treat me any differently. Except, I think, it’s more about me growing up and becoming an adult that I have this new best-friend type of relationship with my mom. But as far as the fame goes, they make sure they keep me grounded, for sure. They make me wash dishes still.
Onda: What surprised you the most about the level of fame this massive franchise has given you?
Greene: I think the rapid rate at which people started caring and paying attention, because it’s just something that I don’t think you can really prepare for – there’s no textbook on it. Just the amount of interest that people have in me and Alice and the “Twilight” series and the rest of my cast. I feel like there is never enough, and it’s interesting to me because I don’t think I’m that interesting. I can definitely bring something to the table, but it’s just always incredible our fans are so dedicated and interested in what we are doing.
Onda: Which “Part 2” scene will have “Twilight” fans frothing at the mouth?
Greene: There’s a pretty epic battle. It’s really involved and it took us a few weeks to film it, because there was so many of us and it was such a large, massive war. I think they’re really gonna love that. I feel like we’ve been working up to this the whole series and there was a bit of confrontation, but you never really got to see all the vampires go full force.
Onda: And Alice sees some action?
Greene: Yeah, definitely. She disappears for a little bit to go gather some people to help the cause, but when she comes back she is definitely very present and, yeah, I had a lot of fun doing that.
Onda: With the “Twilight Saga” coming to an end, have you imagined how Alice’s story continues beyond the books and films?
Greene: I feel like, after Renesmee, she would want to go get her own baby – her and Jasper. And I definitely think that she would be constantly with Renesmee, and taking her out shopping and dressing her up and that whole thing. But I think, maybe, it would give her the itch to wanna find a baby.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.