After getting an up close view of the sets for "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" on day one, this writer's second day on the sequel's set didn't seem much different at first.
As we made our way into the soundstage, the film's principals were once again seen on the video monitors acting out more scenes from the initial Volturi meeting. And like a proud mother watching her children, series author Stephenie Meyer was front and center taking in every moment.
Some quick book backstory for those who haven't read up on this yet -- the Volturi are ancient vampires who form the most powerful coven (organization) in the "Twilight" world. They are lead by Aro (Michael Sheen) and include Jane (Dakota Fanning), Alec (Cameron Bright) and Caius (Jamie Campbell Bower) among their sinister flock. They would like the Cullens, including our hero Edward (Robert Pattinson), to join them, but instead have become embroiled in a dramatic rift between Edward and Bella (Kristen Stewart) in the new movie. They enter the story at the end of the "New Moon" and will be key players in the third picture, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" and beyond. Oh, and did we mention they really want Bella to turn into a vampire?
The first shot we witness this morning finds Pattinson on camera in a long brown robe with tan accents on his sleeve. He races to the camera, looks up, braces in pain and then falls to the floor. The second take he has more agony in his voice as he falls and we can hear director Chris Weitz saying, "Much, much better." The third attempt finds the camera panning back to reveal Bell at his side before he lunges toward what must be one of the Volturi (Jane we later discover) and falling to the ground.
After a few minutes, they change the angle of the camera and we see Jane -- in the same scene -- inflicting pain on Edward. Yes, she's the cause and she does it with little gesturing and without speaking a word. A powerful vampire indeed.
The production has a lot to get through today, so the shot then changes to a close up on Bella who is being held by Alec stopping her from racing to Edward's side.
"Please stop," Stewart says, "Don't hurt him."
At first, during rehearsal as the camera operator sets up the shot, Stewart says the lines comically with deadpan effect causing some snickers from the crew. But when the take is ready for real, she says it with the expected dramatic resolve. The coverage also expands to find Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) being allowed to race to Edward's side. She gesture's that he's "OK."
While Weitz talks to the actors on the set about the next shot, we take time to talk to newcomer Chrisopher Heyerdahl who plays Marcus, a member of the Volturi. The role is a huge break for the struggling British actor, but he seemed to be playing it cool. Intriguingly, he also revealed a flashback scene had been shot, including his character, Aro and Dr. Carlisle Cullen ("Nurse Jackie's" Peter Facinelli) that set up the "truce" between the two parties way back in the 18th Century. To the other writers on the visit, this seemed to be a scene they didn't expect would make the movie and were pretty psyched about it being included.
Then something rather odd happened. This journalist has been to more than 30 movie sets and had never experienced what occurred next. A man who I can only assume was the Assistant Director came out from the closed 360 Volturi hall and announced, "All guests clear the set." And that didn't mean Ms. Meyer, her companions or the Summit executives in front of the monitors, that meant us -- the press. So, without complaint we walked off the soundstage to be followed by an overly genial Wyck Godfrey, the film's producer we'd spoken with the day before, who, paraphrasing, remarked, "Sometimes things like that happen on a movie set."
Uh, sure they do. Not with press around.
This writer won't speculate on what caused our removal, but it certainly was odd. And yet while we were outside we had a chance to talk to the blunt Mr. Bower, who many will recognize from his role as the lovelorn Anthony in "Sweeney Todd." Bower, who also has the luck of appearing as Gellert Grindelwald in the two part"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," smoked a cigarette and was as jovial an interview subject as could be.
"As in the book, the Volturi play a small, but necessary part in this film," Bower told us. "They come much more into play in the fourth film. I’m playing Caius very angry and agitated with the world, I suppose. Just glaring looks. You’ll see as much as you read in the books."
Casius, much to Bower's chagrin, also doesn't have a power which accounts for some of his frustration. To find out more of Bower's thoughts on joining the "Twilight" franchise, click here to read a more indepth interview from our visit.
Happily though, our whole crew was soon allowed back on the set where we returned to our positions to watch more shooting. At this point -- and with her crew and some of the publicists out of the way, Meyer made a point of coming over to talk to us. We couldn't interview her formally (her handlers are actually smart to limit her press breaks), but she couldn't not say hello to us. She'd also admitted she visited all or our sites except for HitFix, but hopefully that has changed in the weeks since. (Are you there Stephenie? Have you gotten your fix?). We also discovered these was one of her few visits to the filming of "New Moon" and she had not been there for all of the production. Meyer also said she was very happy with Weitz's direction and was blown away by the Volutri hall set that was being used the days we were there.
Back on camera, Stewart/Bella is once again the center of attention. With Pattinson still on the ground in "pain" as Edward, she receipts her lines, "Stop! Stop! Try it on me! Just don't hurt him!"
There is a pause and then smiling she goes, "[expletive]. I just lost myself a little bit."
The crew's laughter showed little tension on the stage considering what had happened less than an hour before. However, Stewart finally gets it to Weitz's satisfaction a few takes later and they move on to the next shot.
Showing acting isn't always a glamorous life, our next take finds Pattinson once again on the ground (where's been on and off for at least two hours) writhing in pain as Alice looks up and says, "He's O.K." take after take. Eventually, Edward's pain is accurately captured and Pattinson is allowed to walk back to his trailer with his bare chest visible for all the ladies in my party to swoon over.
With Edward gone, the crew continues filming reaction shots. This time? A close up on Jane who stares ominously where Edward is supposed to be. Notably, Fanning looks almost unrecognizable in her Volturi outfit. She's stunningly beautiful looking more and more like a ready to graduate senior in high school rather than the sophomore she really is. Notably though, at least on the days we were on set, Jane says nothing. And sadly, Fanning did not speak to us during our time there.
And as we soon discovered, any hope of talking to Pattinson was a pointless exercise. We didn't expect Stewart to say hello, but we held out hope that Edward would take a few minutes to answer questions. Ironically, there was no outlet amongst our group that would have treaded the celebrity-gossip ground he no doubt feared discussing, but, hey, it happens.
Before we left, however, we did get a chance to talk to Cameron Bright, who plays Jane's twin brother Alec. Bright, a striking looking British Columbian teenager, has made a name for himself with impressive performances in films such as "Birth," "Running Scared," X-Men: The Last Stand" and "Ultraviolet." He admits he'd never read the books, but made sure he watched the first film before arriving on set.
"A lot of people were saying like, it was half and half. All the guys were saying it was bad, and all the girls were saying it was good," Bright reveals. "I actually liked it, I didn’t mind it at all."
Having only begun shooting a few days before, Bright honestly couldn't answer a lot of our questions, but was looking forward to using Alec's special power to cut off people's senses -- an ability arguably more deadline than his sister's inclination to inflict pain. Bright admits it's a little "weird."
"I say, 'Ha! You’re blind!' all of a sudden," Bright says. "It's definitely a cool power. Especially Jane’s, right? She just kind of makes people feel pain all of a sudden? All I know is one of my friends is like, 'You’re of the strongest, and you’re one of the meanest.' I’m fine with that! Everybody likes the guy to hate!"
Bright will soon learn even the villains have fans among the "Twilight" faithful and he's in for a publicity roller coast ride he'll never forget. You can read more of our converstation with Bright here.
And with that, our time on the Vancouver set of "New Moon" was over. Will we get the opportunity to watch production of "Eclipse" this fall? Unclear, but after what we viewed for "New Moon," this writer is definitely game.
What did you think of the two set visit reports? Share your thoughts below.
If you missed our Day One "New Moon" set visit report, click here.
To read Rotten Tomatoes story of the 'New Moon' set visit, click here.
To read Fandango's account of the "New Moon" set visit, click here.
Check out an exclusive chat with Cameron Bright (Alec) on MSN here.
Read an exclusive interview with "New Moon" director Chris Weitz here.
Read an interview with Taylor Lautner from the set of "New Moon" here.
Read an exclusive interview with "Twilight Saga" producer Wyck Godfrey where discusses "New Moon," "Eclipse," and yes, "Breaking Dawn" here.
Check out an exclusive chat with Rachelle Lefevre where she talks about weeks of stuntwork and watching Kristen Stewart in a dangerous water stunt here.