PORTLAND, Oregon — Warm during the day, chilly at night, with an inviting moon and huge Douglas fir trees that wrap around you like a hug, the Beaver State is a beautiful place for a couple to visit in April — particularly if you're a head-over-heels high school student and a bloodthirsty, impossibly sexy, 100-year-old vampire."This is just one of a series of scenes when me and Bella are getting to know each other better," explained Robert Pattinson, the 21-year-old "Harry Potter" actor who might be on the verge of Daniel Radcliffe-like stardom himself thanks to "Twilight," a December 12 movie based on Stephenie Meyer's hugely successful book series. "It's when a lot of the secrets between us are being revealed. I'm not sure how much I'm supposed to say, but the key secret has been revealed, and I'm letting her in on more of my lifestyle, and the secrets of that."
Flashing a dazzling grin that already has fans e-mailing him marriage proposals, he added: "I have a lot of secrets to tell."
(What should "Twilight" fans be called? The verdict is in! Check out the MTV Movies Blog, where the film's stars reveal your winner.)
Soon enough, the secret might leak out to the rest of Hollywood that "Twilight" is quietly positioning itself to become the fantasy franchise that "The Golden Compass," "The Spiderwick Chronicles" and "Eragon" only dreamed of becoming. Soon enough, people might realize that the last "Twilight" book kicked the last "Harry Potter" out of its spot atop the best-seller list and that this movie could do it again when it arrives in theaters only two weeks after "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."
But on this day in Portland, the photogenic cast isn't thinking about such things — instead, Pattinson and co-star Kristen Stewart are lying side-by-side on the dewy grass, caressing each other's cheeks and attempting to create "Romeo and Juliet"-like intimacy despite a dozen crewmembers who bob and weave around them just barely out of frame.
"We sat around my dining-room table for, like, two entire nights with the script," explained the 18-year-old, who plays Bella in the film.
"Two nights?" Pattinson shot back. "It was more than two nights!"
"Well, it was actually all preproduction," Stewart said of their attempts to capture a romance seen by some as the iconic love story of their generation. "But there were two nights that we were actually, like, productive."
Known simply as "The Meadow Scene," this quiet moment is one of many referenced frequently on hundreds of fan sites. As if it were their own life stories, the Twilighters know every detail of how Bella moves to rainy Forks to live with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke); falls for handsome-but-mysterious Edward Cullen; then struggles with the big questions: Is there a downside to becoming immortal? Is every romance ultimately doomed to separation? Who would win in a fight between a vampire and a werewolf?
"Velcome to the Cullen world," grinned a pale, blond-haired Peter Facinelli (Carlisle Cullen) between takes, playing off the Dracula stereotypes they're working hard to rewrite. "I vant to bite your neck!"
"No fangs allowed," director/ mother hen Catherine Hardwicke said of these boundary-breaking bloodsuckers. "These are beautiful, super-sexy vampires, but they're strong enough and powerful enough that they can kill you anyway."
"I'm dressed in baseball gear because during a baseball game, the bad vampires show up and they threaten to kill Bella," Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale) said of "The Garage Scene," another iconic moment they're filming on this particular day. "So Edward is in a panic, and he feels powerless. He's extremely scared. We get back to the garage, and the entire family comes up with this plan to lead them in a different direction by wearing Bella's clothing and rubbing it up against trees, misleading the bad vampires."
On this mountainside property that can only be described as a mansion, the garage is housing three of the trademark vehicles mentioned throughout the novel. Parked nearby is Bella's orange-red Chevy truck. Hardwicke gathers her young, beautiful troops, shouts "action!" and watches movie magic unfold on a handheld monitor.
Jasper (Jackson Rathbone): "I've had to fight our kind before. We're hard to kill."
Edward: "But not impossible."
Emmett (Kellan Lutz): "We'll rip them apart with our hands, then burn the pieces!"
Carlisle: "I don't relish killing another creature. Even a sadistic one like James."
Rosalie: "He might get to one of us first."
Bella: "I can't let you guys do this! This is insane!"
Rosalie: "Too late."
Take after take concludes with the same sequence of events: Hardwicke steps in to give her thoughts, the young actors pair off (usually in the same groupings as their decades-long lovers in the film), and Stewart hops up on the workbench to have a moment alone. Since the scene ends with Bella in the backseat of Carlisle's Mercedes, being driven away from Edward, Stewart ends each shot with a tear so dependable you could set your watch to it.
No one bothers Stewart between takes as she comes back from whatever place she has to go to find her sorrow. On almost every occasion, it is Pattinson who will eventually walk over, give her shoulder a light rub, and bring her back for the next take. If chemistry is a concern to the "Twilight" fans, they can sleep well from here on out.
"I've revealed that I'm a vampire, essentially, and Bella knows and she still wants to be with me," Pattinson said of the common thread between the two scenes being shot on this, the 29th day out of 45 they'll be shooting. "I'm basically testing the waters of how far towards a normal human relationship Edward can have. ... I am seeing how much I can actually be physical with her, and how much I can say without scaring her off. Even though I've told her the basics, there's still a lot of stuff that I could say that could potentially ruin everything. [The meadow] is like a date scene."
For her part, Stewart prefers these days to such action-packed scenes as the baseball-field showdown that was recently filmed, which displays the other characters' superhuman speed, agility and propensity for violence. "In the big action sequences, it's a little scary because some people say, 'We're going to get done with the action sequences, and then we'll get to the acting scenes,' " revealed the "Into the Wild" actress who counts no less than Jodie Foster as one of her greatest fans. "And it's like, 'Well, that's just not how it works, man.' It's hard to keep what you're doing in the rest of the movie consistent. ... You can't lose what's going on with the characters. [Quiet scenes] are actually more difficult, because you have to strive to not let it go and not just focus on a wall that's being ripped out or something. In the more intimate scenes, you're given the time to get into it."
To help him "get into it," Pattinson tracked down Meyer during one of her set visits and got a rare peek at the closely guarded manuscript for "Midnight Sun," an upcoming novel that retells the "Twilight" story from Edward's point of view.
"I am definitely the only person apart from her and the editor who has read it," he said with pride. "Just me and Catherine [Hardwicke]. It is very top-secret. And it is like halfway, two-thirds finished. I read that right at the beginning [of filming]. I got a lot of stuff out of that."
Insisting that he's "not allowed to say anything" about the "Midnight" passages that even the 4,000-strong fan group "Twilight Moms" would likely give their firstborn child to read, Pattinson was willing to say this: "It's exactly the same events, but a couple of other things happen. You get the same gist, but it's funny how different things affect Edward in ways that you don't really expect if you have just read 'Twilight.'
"That is what I liked about [taking on] the job, because the guy doesn't really exist that much, so you can just create whatever you want," Pattinson said of a preproduction period that found him injecting his thoughts into the character. "Then, when I found out there was another book from Edward's perspective, [I read it and it turned out] we had the same perspective!"
If you aren't yet aware of the "Twilight" tale, you might want to prepare yourself for the next big thing. And if you think you know the story of Edward and Bella, well, you might want to get ready for something that feels as new as it does familiar.
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