The movie version of the Twilight saga comes to an end tomorrow — with quite possibly the biggest vampire smackdown ever committed to film. We sat down with Jackson Rathbone, who plays Jasper, for an exclusive interview. Rathbone told us about the massive battle scene — and why Twilight's vampires are sort of like the X-Men.
Rathbone also told us that Jasper spent the whole first Twilight movie wanting to kill Bella. Spoilers ahead...
Top image via TheBreakingDawnMovie.org.
When we sat down with Rathbone, he seemed pretty jazzed about all the fight scenes in the new movie. As the movie begins, Jasper is at peace for the first time since he gave up drinking human blood, not too long ago. But Jasper's peace is shattered when the Volturi and their allies attack. And Jasper's never one to back away from a fight. According to Rathbone, there's a nice little moment early in the film, which comes back in a surprising way towards the end and shows just how far Jasper and Alice are willing to go to protect their family.
And thanks to this influx of new vampires, we get to see lots and lots of vampire fighting styles, and different superpowers, says Rathbone. These new vampires "come from many different walks of life, and some of them have lived through every single war or battle there ever was," says Rathbone. "They have all these different sensibilities and fighting styles, but with the vampire strength comes a different element," including various different powers.
"We get something like 30 new vampires and their special powers," says Rathbone. "I was always an X-Men fanatic," and these different vampire abilities and fighting styles feel sort of similar. We ask Rathbone which X-Man he'd want to play, and he says, "If it wasn't done so well already, I'd say Nightcrawler. I have always loved that character since I was a little kid." But really, he'd love to play any of the X-Men.
Meanwhile, Rathbone tells us that during all the scenes when you're not watching Jasper in the first movie, he's asking why they don't just kill Bella, or turn her into a vampire already:
We talked a lot, on the first Twilight movie, about what was going on behind the scenes when Edward and Bella were first falling in love. And when Bella first came over, I loved playing Jasper then, because he was so awkward. He was [acting like] 'Who the hell is this human? And why is she in my house?'
We talked to Stephenie [Meyer] and Catherine [Hardwicke] a lot, and one of the things we talked about was, what were we saying to Edward when the scenes were not about us, when Bella was not there? And [it turned out we were saying] 'Just turn her already. Or just kill her.' And I think Jasper's idea was just, if he didn't have Alice, he would have just killed [Bella], and been done with it. And been like, 'You know what? Now she's not an issue. She's gone, out of the picture.' That was a lot of his mentality. [He could have] just had a nice little snack.
At the same time, in the new movie, Jasper is the most sympathetic to Bella now that she is a vampire — he's very attuned to the "newborn vampire" experience, because he used to command armies of newborns. And he's the most recent to come on board with the "vegetarian vampire" idea, and thus is very impressed with Bella's restraint in not killing people right and left.
So in the new film, the Volturi are pissed because they think the Cullens have turned a human child into a vampire — not realizing that Renesmee is actually a fast-growing half-human child. Why can't the Cullens just explain this to the Volturi right off the bat, and then the rest of the movie can be the Cullens and the Volturi playing Bridge together? I ask Rathbone.
According to Rathbone, the Cullens really just want to take Alice Cullen and make her part of their coven, because of Alice's special prophetic abilities. The Volturi "have a history of wiping out [other] covens for no reason, in order to gain a member for their special abilities." So the birth of Renesmee is just a pretext for the Volturi to attack and take what they want.
The Twilight films "have matured stylistically in a lot of ways," says Rathbone. This time around, director Bill Condon and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (Pan's Labyrinth) bring a lot of flair to the visual elements in the film — especially when it comes to showcasing what it's actually like to be a vampire, from the vampire's perspective. All along, Rathbone and the other actors have tried to use "mannerisms and detachment" to show that everything moves so quickly for them that the rest of the world feels slow. In this film, everything is bright and sharp, like vampire vision.
They filmed some scenes where the Cullens have to coach Bella on how to pretend to be human — and these include some funny sequences, poking fun at the human Bella's old mannerisms, like biting her lip and running her fingers through her hair. That stuff got cut from the theatrical release, but hopefully it'll be on the DVD.
In general, there's a lot less humor in this film than in the previous ones — screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who had worked on Dexter, did a lot to inject a "wonderful sense of ironic humor" into Meyer's story, especially in Eclipse, says Rathbone. Eclipse had a lot of "winking at the camera" — but Breaking Dawn Part 2 is pretty much all deadly serious, with only a few lighter moments.
And compared to other vampire sagas, Rathbone says Twilight tries hard to stay grounded with the fantasy elements — "we're not making Underworld. It's a little more dark," says Rathbone. "This is a little more centered around reality. What if vampires really existed in this world?" And because Breaking Dawn shows us more of the different vampires from all over the world, we get more of a sense of who these vampires really are, and see "more of the reality that Stephenie instilled in these mythical creatures."
So what does Rathbone say to people who hate Twilight, I ask. "At the end of the day, art is subjective," he responds. All you can really say objectively about a film is what sort of camera was used, and what dates filming took place on. "I know a lot of people who hated No Country for Old Men, which is one of my favorite movies of the past ten years," adds Rathbone. "At the end of the day, everybody has a right to their own opinion. We live in a country that has free speech... I would hope people don't enjoy the schadenfreude, [or] don't take pleasure in being a bully, but they have the complete right to say they don't like the series."
And some people just don't like vampire movies, adds Rathbone. "I love vampire movies," he says. "I love Underworld. I love Dracula 2000 — Judas was Dracula. I was like, 'That's genius! Judas is Dracula! He's been around since Jesus' time!' I love people who come up with a new angle on the vampire saga."