My name is Laura Byrne-Cristiano. My usual haunt is The Twilight Lexicon, the longest continuously operating Twilight Saga fansite on the web, where I am one of the co-owners. The Twilight Lexicon has everything from exclusive interviews with Stephenie Meyer and cast members, live coverage from the Creation Entertainment Official Twilight Conventions, to the latest in Twilight Saga movie news. Stephenie Meyer gave “The Lex” a shout out in the acknowledgements in the novel Eclipse calling us,”… the brightest star in the Twilight online universe.” Along with Lexicon founder Lori Joffs, I provided research and data for the initial draft of the Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide published by Little Brown. You can read my Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn column here on Movies.com every other Thursday beginning June 9th.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn just wrapped filming in late April. The film will be split into two parts with part 1 coming out on November 18, 2011 and part 2 slated for November 16, 2012. Filming of both parts took place concurrently in a wide array of locations from Brazil to Vancouver with a cast that more than tripled in size. Fortunately, from the fan standpoint, this sizable casting only reflects new additions to the Twilight Saga franchise. The main cast members that comprise the Cullen family, the wolf pack, and the Volturi coven will all return. This is a refreshing change for fans. Both the second and third movies in the franchise hit casting speed bumps that resulted in negative fan reaction. Taylor Lautner had to fight to maintain his role in The Twilight Saga: New Moon by bulking up physically, and by proving that he could pull off a scarier and more mature characterization than his previous good-guy, boy-next-door persona. Lautner luckily managed to win over the producers and was retained in the films. On the other hand, not everyone has been so lucky. In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse the pivotal role of Victoria was recast with Bryce Dallas Howard replacing Rachelle Lefevre after what amounted to a dispute over coordinating outside projects.
With The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part 1, fans of the Saga will finally get the payoff that many of them have been waiting for: the wedding and honeymoon of Edward and Bella, played by Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Director Bill Condon filmed the honeymoon sequences in Brazil. Just about the only scenes fans were able to observe were the ones shot on the streets of Rio and in the harbor area. Pattinson and Stewart as their characters were seeing kissing and cuddling take after take. As the debate among some fans as to the status of their off-screen relationship rages on, the one thing that has remained clear is that The Twilight Saga films’ success have largely rested on their onscreen chemistry.
No one knows exactly where the two films will be split, but common thought is that it will take place shortly after the infamous birth scene. This likely limits new cast members appearing in the first film to the members of the Denali coven. Coven leader Eleazar will be played by Christian Camargo, and Mia Maestro will play his wife, Carmen. The coven will be rounded out by the beautiful Denali sisters portrayed by Maggie Grace (Irina), Casey LaBow (Kate), and MyAnna Buring (Tanya). Photos released by Summit Entertainment show these new cast members dressed to the nines at Bella and Edward’s wedding .
Christian Camargo, Mia Maestro, and Maggie Grace are all fairly well-known to the Twilight audience from their previous work. Camargo is best remembered from his stint on Dexter in the role of Rudy Cooper, AKA the Ice Truck Killer. The role only lasted a season, but it was a stand-out one. Mia Maestro is unforgettable to fans of Alias where she played the half-sister of Jennifer Garner’s Sydney for two years. Arguably, the new cast member who is best known to Twilight audiences is Maggie Grace. She appeared in LOST as Shannon Rutherford on and off in various episodes during its extensive run. The one thing that these new Denali clan members have in common is that they all bring in significant fan followings of their own. This may spark the interest of their fans in the Twilight Saga for the first time.
Given the released photos from Summit Entertainment, there appears to be a significant variation from what fans are familiar with in the books with regards to Maggie Grace’s Irina character. In the novel Breaking Dawn, Irina does not appear at Bella and Edward’s wedding, apparently still holding a grudge over the death of her lover Laurent , played by Edi Gathegi. It will be interesting to see how this change is incorporated, and how it further affects Maggie Grace’s character in the second movie where the plot is driven by her character’s actions. In the released photo, Irina seems to be on perfectly friendly terms with the Cullens. She’s standing with her sisters, Kate and Tanya, greeting Esme Cullen who is played by Elizabeth Reaser. All of them are in wedding attire and seem to be having a great time. This is a total 180 from what fans would have expected. She’d be more likely to want to stab Esme with the nearest pine tree than be up for a nice chat.
The two relative unknowns to most fans are Casey LaBow and MyAnna Buring. Originally from Sweden, Buring currently makes her home in England. She has appeared mostly in UK television productions. Her character, Tanya, carries a bit of a torch for Pattinson’s Edward Cullen. Though the feelings are unrequited, her striking and statuesque blonde beauty is a source of insecurity for Stewart’s Bella Swan.
Casey LaBow hasn’t the vast number of TV and movies credits as her co-stars in the Denali coven. The first opportunity that many fans are going to have to become familiar with her work on any level is the just-released indie flick Skateland. Ironically, Skateland was filmed almost two years ago and is finally launching on the big screen, due in part to the Twilight Saga. One of Skateland’s headliners is Ashley Greene, who plays Alice Cullen. Greene’s popularity has soared since taking on the role of Alice. She has two big-budget films, Butter and Apparition , due to come out later this year. On top of that, she’s the face of Avon’s Mark line of cosmetics. It’s all quite a change from hostessing at a restaurant to make ends meet just over three years ago.
So looking at the casting of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, which “veteran” of the films are you most excited to see back. How about our Denali newbies -- what do you think they bring to the franchise? Do the filmmakers have something up their sleeve by having Irina at the wedding?
All this and more to be answered just 182 days from now when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part 1 finally arrives in theaters.