LOS ANGELES — In the past few years, some would-be fantasy franchises have soared higher than Harry Potter at a Quidditch game, while others (“Eragon” and “The Golden Compass,” for instance) have died as brutally as Gollum at Mount Doom. Now, two more actors have joined what is shaping up to be a beloved, bloodsucking blockbuster — with hopes that “Twilight” marks the start of a brand-new day.
“Rocket Science” actress Anna Kendrick and “Just Jordan” star Justin Chon are the latest additions to the soon-to-shoot vampire flick, joining Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison (a.k.a. Cedric Diggory in the “Potter” series). Based on the #1 best-selling series by Stephenie Meyer, the flick begins shooting in Washington at the end of this month with “Thirteen” filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke at the helm, and is intended to launch a series containing at least three films.
The 23-year-old Kendrick will be playing the pivotal role of Jessica Stanley, a classmate to Stewart’s main character, Bella. Jessica — best friend to the teen who opens the film by reuniting with her estranged father in Forks, Washington — is a chatterbox who helps Bella adjust to her new school, but eventually has a falling out with her over the affections of heartthrob Mike Newton. She makes appearances not only in “Twilight,” but also the sequels “New Moon” and “Eclipse.”
Chon, meanwhile, has been cast as Eric Yorkie, a key member of Bella’s high school posse. Described in the books as a 6-foot-3 student with greasy hair and a poor complexion, he is one of the first students to befriend Bella at her new school and eventually asks her to the dance. An admitted geek, he claims to have a girlfriend of his own, but is undoubtedly jealous when Bella falls hard for Edward Cullen (Pattison), a sexy student later revealed to be a 100-year-old vampire.
“A girl moves into a small town, and she’s different from everyone there,” Stewart told MTV News recently while preparing for the role of Bella. “People like her, oddly enough, and she has no idea why. Then she falls in love with a vampire. What I like about it is that the characters are really unique.”
First published in 2005, the novel “Twilight” has since been followed by “New Moon” in 2006 and “Eclipse” in 2007. Equal parts horror, romance and fantasy, series author Meyer announced this week that the fourth book, “Breaking Dawn,” will be released August 2. The fifth and most likely final book, titled “Midnight Sun,” is expected soon afterward and will serve as a companion piece to “Twilight,” as told by Edward rather than Bella.
“It’s a vampire movie. It’s a love story. It’s based on a book that’s really popular with young adults and high school kids, and it’s supposed to have a huge following,” Stewart said of the series, which has proved very popular on the MTV Movies Blog. “I don’t want to say it’s targeted towards kids, because really anybody could see it.
“I don’t want to make movies for kids, and I don’t want to make movies for adults either,” Stewart continued, adding that she hopes the vampire series will walk a fine line much like “Potter” or “Lord of the Rings” before it. “['Twilight'] deals with the universe, and what life is about. … You can make that cliché and bullsh– and make it with everything being on the surface, [or] in this case make it a pretty triumphant love story.”
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