The Twilight Saga made its fourth appearance at Comic-Con two weeks ago. Now that all the frenzied mayhem is over, who among the newcomers stood out with fans? There is one name that seems to keep coming up, and that is Mackenzie Foy, the adorable pre-teen who will play Bella and Edward’s daughter in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. So what was it in a Hall H panel consisting of 10 other individuals that made her stand out?
One of the things about Foy is the fact that she does uncannily resemble both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. In a franchise that is very concerned with character appearance, this was one hurdle met. In an interview last year, director Bill Condon spoke about the resemblances and being overjoyed that Foy both looked the part and had the acting chops as well. “Mackenzie Foy was like; wow that’s it [with her audition]. She looks like their daughter and there’s just a quality she had, you know. I mean and it was such a relief because Renesmee was so tough to picture and imagine, you know? So I have to say she was just like, I think we’ve got it right there, and then I showed her to everybody else and everybody agreed.” Fans also echoed Condon’s sentiment. Every time Foy spoke there were audible, adoring sighs from the crowd.
Foy is by no means a complete newbie to the business, though she’s never before done something on the scale of The Twilight Saga. Of course, in fairness, neither have most of the actors in Hollywood. She’s done several modeling campaigns, and has racked up a number of guest-starring roles on TV in series like Hawaii 5-0. Both on-screen and off, she has an innocent and exuberant quality that fans are eating up.
Vale Gonzalez, who operates the website Twilight Poison, addressed MacKenzie’s appeal to fans, saying, “I found her smart and very professional for her age, but you can tell she's still a kid as she's still enjoying her childhood, as she should be. She knows how to talk to the press and what to do, she knows the technical aspects of her performance and the CGI terms, but you don't find her annoying in that weird 'Hollywood kid' kind of way, when you can tell they're so rehearsed or over prepared, or too mature for their age, and I loved that. You can tell she still plays with her friends and has a normal life.” Gonzalez, as well as several other Twilight website operators, had a chance to interview Foy after the panel. For a group that routinely encounters Twilight Saga actors, they were clearly gushing. They all came away obviously smitten.
Probably the turning point where Foy had the Hall H crowd eating out of her hands was the moment she described doing CGI work “riding Jacob wolf”. She lost two teeth in the process and then proudly stated that she now has “all my big girl teeth”. She was similarly endearing in the press conference that proceeded the Hall H panel talking about how she didn’t want to name who was the biggest contributor to her on-set swear jar because she didn’t want to get them in trouble with their mothers. She spontaneously high-fived Stephenie Meyer for not contributing to the fund. Her responses are so genuine and refreshingly unforced that audiences respond.
Kallie Matthews of Twilight Series Theories stated that she thinks it all bodes well for the movie itself. “I truly believe in MacKenzie's skill as an actress! If she can handle herself at an event like Comic-Con as well as she did we are in for an amazing performance on-screen!”
All of this isn’t to say that there's no room for criticism. Foy’s role is one that can be controversial. Many fans would have preferred that she be a toddler as is depicted in the books. No doubt the creative team decided to cast the part older and accelerate her aging process since getting a quality performance from a three-year-old is a crapshoot at best.
Aside from the age factor, Foy has a very tricky role to play in terms of the concept of imprinting that can easily turn people off—fans included. Amy Taylor of the His Golden Eyes website talked about both the age and imprinted debate. “I think the biggest challenges for selling Renesmee to the fans is that in the images we have seen she is much older than anyone imagined her to be by the end of the book," she said. "When it comes to imprinting, you either buy into the idea of it or you don't. If you accept it as described in the book, then Jacob is just a 'big brother' to Ness and it is a sweet relationship. If you are squirmish over the idea that there will be a romantic relationship there or that Jacob's thoughts or actions are inappropriate, then it is uncomfortable whether she's a toddler or a 10 year old, so why not keep her as a toddler and stay true to the novel?”
By the time the fall rolls around and Breaking Dawn publicity goes into full swing, we’ll likely be hearing more from Foy. She clearly passed the speaking-in-public test better than some actors who have been associated with Twilight Saga for years. Hopefully, she maintains the unique quality she has now, and doesn’t end up sounding canned.
So what did you think of MacKenzie Foy? Will she live up to Breaking Dawn Part 2 expectations?
Laura Byrne-Cristiano is a co-owner of The Twilight Lexicon, the longest continuously operating Twilight Saga fansite on the Web. You can read her Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn column here on Movies.com every other Thursday.