As most of you know, last week was the big press junket for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse here in Los Angeles. In case you missed our previous coverage, here’s video and complete transcripts of the Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and The Cullen (Peter Facinelli, Liz Reaser, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone and Ashley Greene) press conferences. While you may have thought we were done posting coverage, I’ve still got a few one on one video interviews left to post but I’m saving those till closer to release. Or maybe tomorrow…I’m still deciding when.
But until those interviews get online, I’ve got another press conference and this one is with Chaske Spencer, Alex Meraz and Julia Jones. In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Spencer and Meraz are part of the Wolf Pack and Jones plays Leah Clearwater. During the press conference they all talked about what it’s like getting involved in the franchise, how they got cast, what making the film was really like and so much more. Like we’ve done for the previous coverage, you can either watch the video of the press conference or read a transcript after the jump:
Question: Julia, how was it to join the Wolf Pack as the only female member?
Julia: You know, it happened really fast. All of a sudden, I was thrown into this group of boys and, for me personally, I was a tomboy growing up, so it felt really familiar. I have a younger brother, who’s about the same age as some of them, so there was something that resonated, initially. But, over the course of filming and some of the press that we’ve been doing, it’s like home. It just feels like family now, and it’s great.
Were you a fan of the first two Twilight films? Had you known about the role at all?
Julia: I have a lot of friends who are big fans. I had never read the books before, but I actually had a very good friend of mine tell me about this role of Leah Clearwater. She said, “They’re going to make a movie out of it, and it’s you. This is going to be your role.” That’s something you hear, and it just goes in one ear and out the other. Like, “That’s sweet. She wants the best for me,” or whatever. And then, when I got the call for the audition, all I heard was, “You have an audition on Monday for Leah Clearwater in Twilight,” and I had this visceral reaction. My heart started beating really fast and I had to breathe. It was very strange. And then, I went to work.
Are you a believer in the supernatural?
Julia: That’s a really good question. Yeah, I am. If I had to say yes or no, I’d say yes, for sure.
How was working with David Slade this time, compared to working with Chris Weitz last time?
Chaske: They’re both really good directors. With David, he was very precise in what he wanted. He knew exactly, and so did Chris. But, what I liked about David is that he was fast. It was quick. I like working with different directors. It keeps you on your toes. He was a sweet, charming man.
Alex: I enjoyed working with him for the fact that I experiment with doing short films and being a filmmaker and, seeing his process, I realized that he’s very much a filmmaker and not so much just a director. There were moments where he threatened to just actually get the camera himself and film it. He was so involved. He always had a camera wrapped around his neck and he was documenting the whole process. That was really exciting and inspiring to see. And, Chris Weitz was just incredible. He was such a gentleman. For me, entering this phenomenon that is Twilight, it was really great to have someone at the helm like that, to just guide us into it smoothly. Now that we’ve transitioned into another film, we know the gist. We know where to go with it. And, David was just a great person to take on the franchise.
What was the hardest scene for you to film?
Julia: The hardest scene for me to film was also the most fun for me. It was a scene, towards the end of the film, in the midst of the big battle, and it was raining and cold. There were so many characters in it, so it was pretty chaotic on set, and it all had to happen really, really fast. I think it was a scene that was originally scheduled to be completed in two days, and it wound up taking at least twice that time to finish. It was chaotic and physically demanding because you were freezing and wearing very little. It was also demanding, emotionally. That was the challenge, but after a certain point, you just enjoy yourself because really it doesn’t get better than that. You’re with a bunch of great people and in a gorgeous place, doing what you love.
Alex: I think the hardest scene is the scene she was talking about. We were running and it was raining and there was about a foot of water. My background is in dancing and I feel like I’m really good on my feet. I told the rest of the cast, “All right, you guys, it’s slippery out there. Don’t put the weight on your heel. Go on the balls of your feet. You’ll be able to dig into the floor better and you’ll get more traction.” So, we had to cut the corner and everyone else did it great. And then, of course, I slipped and fell. I had mud all over and there was water everywhere. And, the scene that they used, where we run up to Jacob, if you look at me, I’m in the back with a smirk on my face because they used that take, the moment after me slipping. I was trying not to laugh.
Julia: I just remember getting to our mark and being like, “Where’s Alex?” And then, Alex appeared and he was all muddy, and I heard David say, “That’s it! That’s perfect!”
Alex: It was real.
Chaske: I heard him! When we were running, and I heard him slip and fall, and I heard the f-bomb.
Do you feel the Twilight franchise has created more opportunities for Native American actors outside of the franchise?
Chaske: Yes, it has. What I like about it is that it has brought us to pop culture in a way that’s never been done before in film. We’ve been around for a while. I’ve been working for about 10 years, and Alex and Julia have also been around and working. What I like about it is that it’s finally brought us to a place where we’re not always playing with the leather and feather. That’s how we paid our dues. It’s up to the media as well to accept us as other than being just the mystical figures and speaking with accent all the time. I’ve done that so many times. The kids are more accepting of us than anything else. That’s what’s really cool.
Julia: What excites me is that we’re being put in front of children and people who are in the process of defining their ideas of what Native Americans are. I think that’s probably the most valuable aspect of the way that Native Americans are portrayed in this film. I still feel a lot of adults and the media are trying to figure it out. I’m not an actress yet. I’m a Native American actress. It’s not quite normalized to most people who grew up watching most Native movies, like Dances with Wolves, Geronimo and all of those.
Alex: And, the Twilight films are in a contemporary setting. We don’t have bows and arrows. We don’t even have clothes, though.
Julia: It’s a step in the right direction.
Have you heard from any of the tribes and, in particular, the one on which this was based?
Alex: The fascinating thing about portraying a tribe that actually does exist is that the stuff Stephenie had taken from the tribe, she mixed it in the realm of fantasy. But now, a lot of people are going to Washington State, to La Push, where the Quileute tribe actually do reside, and they’re learning more. They’re forced to ask questions and learn more about the culture. I think that it’s great that they’re getting a spotlight to introduce and tell the real creation story. That’s important. Fans are so into it that they want to learn where this germinated from and learn about the root of where the Wolf Pack comes from.
Chaske: All over Native country, we’re getting feedback and they’re saying, “It’s about time.” We’ve got mad support from our people on the reservations. It’s just opened up a whole different door to us. And, it’s also a little pressure because we have to be role models now. It’s something that scares me as well because that’s a big load to take on.
Julia: It is so gratifying to hear from people who look up to you and see you in these places that they never thought they could ever dream to be. It’s emotional. You really feel like you’re opening up people’s minds, who otherwise thought that they couldn’t dream big. That’s such a huge opportunity. It’s such a gift.
Chaske: Statistically, we’re not supposed to be here. We grew up on reservations and it’s a third-world country there. There is a lot of poverty, a lot of alcoholism and lot of drug addiction. So, we’re very fortunate to be here, and we know that. We’re very lucky and grateful.
Julia, can you talk about your role in Jonah Hex (in theaters on June 18th)? How was that to film?
Julia: That was also an incredible experience. My character’s name is Cassie. She’s Josh Brolin’s wife. She and our young son are killed, early on in the film, and that’s what motivates Jonah Hex. He gets very bitter and he goes around killing. He’s a bounty hunter. I was not there for very long, but that experience was so great because I was on set with Josh [Brolin], and with John Malkovich and Michael Fassbender, who is an incredible actor. And, the timing was awesome too because I had come off of Eclipse and then I had done a play. At the end of this experience, I was like, “This is what I want to do. This is exactly the kind of thing, these are the kind of people, this is the type of set and this is the feeling that I want to have.” So, I had that in my mind, at this point when, all of a sudden, opportunities started coming as a result of Eclipse. I just felt like I have an idea of where I want to go.
Is there any part of the creation of the Wolf Pack story that is featured in the movie that’s true?
Alex: It’s taken from an actual creation story, but it’s a bit turned around. The mythology of the creation story is that the descendants of the Quileute came from wolves, but they weren’t able to transform back. That’s the part that Stephenie took, but in her books, we can transform back and forth. She did a lot of research on it, even the name. I believe there is a certain creation story and mythology that, in La Push, the first Caucasian man that had ever been on the reservation had the last name of Swan. So, she used little things like that, which I find really interesting. She did her homework.
Can you talk about the love triangle with Sam, Leah and Emily, and how that affects their story in the film?
Chaske: What happened was that, when the vampires come back, Sam Uley becomes a werewolf. He didn’t know what was going on with him, and he didn’t know why this happening, so he went through it all by himself. He had no one there to guide him. And, what happened was that he was dating Leah, but there was this thing called imprinting, which is when you imprint on someone that is your soul mate, and it happened to be Emily, Leah’s cousin. As Sam was going through all these changes, there were other members of the tribe that were going through the same thing, so he helped guide them through it and pretty much is like a coach or a sponsor. That’s what he does with Jacob, in the books. And, when he was going through these changes, one of the things that happened was that he, unfortunately, mauls Emily. That’s why she has the scars on her face. So, you’ll see some of the love triangle in the movie, where Leah gives Sam some dirty looks, from time to time. It’s a wonderful story. I liked it. That’s really what attracted me to Sam. I like the fact that there’s this tragedy there. He didn’t want this, in the beginning. No one would ever want that, and he had no choice. That separates the wolves from the vampires as well. At that last minute, some of them have a choice. Sam didn’t have a choice.
So, Sam feels for Jacob’s predicament with Bella?
Chaske: Oh, yeah, he does. He has to. And, Jacob is actually the rightful Alpha male. He doesn’t want it, so he gave it to Sam. Sam is the unfortunate one who has to lead the pack.
Julia: It’s also interesting because one of the major aspects of the wolves is that we hear each other’s thoughts when we’re wolves. It’s almost like there’s this whole other world that’s going on. It’s in subtext, in the film. I don’t know how you could possibly portray people reading each other’s thoughts, but there are so many layers operating for all of us. Leah can hear Sam’s thoughts about her best friend, Emily, and she can hear his thoughts of pity toward her.
Chaske: In real life, that would suck.
How did it feel to join a franchise with such a big fan base?
Alex: It’s like jumping into a hot pan. You just know you’re going to get cooked and, hopefully, it’s cooked well. It’s definitely exciting. I felt a great deal of responsibility. I used to go around to reservations and teach health and wellness conferences, and art and dance, so I knew that I was going to be looked at as a role model, and that was scary to know. But, I just made sure first that I could represent myself in a good way. I tried to prepare for it as best as I could, and just made sure I read the books and did my homework. Luckily enough, I made some really great friends along the way, which helped to make me really comfortable with whatever came with it.
Julia: I was terrified. Sometimes, I still am. In the beginning, you’re a certain size in your life, and then, all of a sudden, you get much, much smaller and every other aspect is much bigger than you actually are. You have to just accept that and enjoy it because you’re a part of something that means something to so many people. We all are so committed to our characters and to telling these stories. I was so surprised at Taylor and Kristen’s grounded-ness. They were the first two people I met. We show up to work, we really care and we want to do the best we can. I feel like that bonds us and makes work fun, and there’s a lot of work. That also took away the fear.
Chaske: It’s easy to work with this cast. Some of them have been working for a while, and for some of them, it’s their big break, and they all know that. What I like about it is that everyone’s humble. Everyone really knows this is a gift. This is something that doesn’t come around too often. When I joined this franchise, I knew it was going to be big, but I didn’t expect this. No one really gives you a book on how to do this or how to operate at this level. There are ways to keep your life private. There are ways to conduct yourself and do good work. In the end, we’re just actors, but we’re very lucky actors. This is a great franchise and it’s going to be an amazing pop culture phenomenon, but eventually the next thing’s going to come along. We’re trying to get ahold of good opportunities. It’s a fun ride to be on. I have had some amazing opportunities and experiences.
Julia, you and BooBoo Stewart were the new additions to this seemingly tight-knit group of actors. Did the Wolf Pack have any hazing rituals that they put you through?
Julia: I would say that every five minutes someone was being hazed in the Wolf Pack, and it was me, half the time.
Alex: When someone gets cast in these select few roles, you know that they’ve gone through a lot because there are so many people who want to be in this franchise that instantly you’re really excited for them. When BooBoo and Julia got cast, and Xavier Samuel, you just knew that it was like American Idol. Thousands of people were going out for those roles. The first reaction is that you take your hat off and say, “Good job! Congratulations!,” and then, you get to know them more, but I don’t think it’s really hazing. Personally, I just tease people a lot. That’s the Paul thing.
Chaske: In New Moon, and we tease each other a lot to keep us humble. If the ego would get too big, we’d cut each other down.
Julia: I always had this feeling that was something in my hair. I always felt like things were touching me.
For Breaking Dawn, is there anything specific that you hope your character gets to do?
Chaske: I just hope there’s more Wolf Pack. They’ve been really good about keeping storylines. Stephenie is on set, too. The fans obviously really like the movies because they’re keeping a pretty straight line on it, and I think Breaking Dawn is going to be the same thing. They’re going to do justice by the fans.
What Native American legend would you love see made into a movie someday?
Chaske: I’ve always had a fascination with Crazy Horse. He’s from my tribe, the Sioux, and I’ve read so many books about him. That’s something I would really like to bring to the screen. I don’t want to be Crazy Horse, but I’d like to direct it. It’s just one of those stories that a lot of people don’t know about. He’s such a mystical figure, a warrior and a leader that he just fascinates me, as a character.
Julia: Has there been a movie made about Sacajawea? She’s been in a couple movies, but there hasn’t been one just about her.
Alex: Night at the Museum.
Julia: That doesn’t count! There aren’t very many notable Native American female figures, historically. There’s Pocahontas and Sacajawea. I’ve heard of stories of family members of mine that are interesting, but it’s not quite the same for the girls.