PORTLAND, Oregon — As any true Twilighter knows, there are more characters in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novels than merely the human and the half-dead. Several of the major movers and shakers in Forks, Washington, drive distinctive vehicles, which not only play into key segments of the story line, but also provide insights into their personalities.
For those of you who have yet to be bitten by "Twilight" but are still anticipating the December 12 movie, think about what the Millennium Falcon means to Han Solo, or how Jake and Elwood relate to the Bluesmobile. Then get ready for MTV's first "Meet the Vehicle" installment of Twilight Tuesdays, as we give you an exclusive look under the hood of Dr. Carlisle Cullen's slick ride.
"Carlisle Cullen is about 348 years old, but he doesn't look a day over 200," laughed 34-year-old Peter Facinelli, who has previously starred on TV shows like "Fastlane" and such films as "The Scorpion King." "He's started this little coven, and tries to fit in with the humans instead of living the natural, vampire world of feeding on humans. He's kind of a vegetarian with his family, and they feed on animals."
In the novels, Carlisle is the father-figure of the Cullen clan, a fiercely handsome and charismatic man trying to live in peace alongside the humans of their overcast town. As the popular local doctor, he has brought healing to many of Forks' residents. In the novel, he rides around town in a black Mercedes S55 AMG — acquired, we assume, after several decades of putting pennies is his piggy bank.
"I haven't driven the vehicle yet, but I'm about to for the first time tonight," an excited Facinelli told us a few hours before climbing behind the wheel of the car.
When we were on set, it was actually Jackson Rathbone (who plays Jasper) who spent most of the time behind the wheel of the S55, which by most estimates goes for about $150,000. Moments after the story's intense baseball-field confrontation, the Cullens split up into various vehicles, and Jasper drives Bella (Kristen Stewart) to safety in Carlisle's car. For most of the film, however, Facinelli says he'll be behind the wheel.
"He's a classy guy," he grinned, discussing his character. "He's very refined, and he likes nice toys."
Carlisle is also blessed with the ability to not be tempted by human blood — unlike Edward (Robert Pattinson), who can be driven mad by the mere scent of someone like Bella. In an interesting parallel to his compassionate care-giving toward humans, Carlisle has bitten several people during what he saw as their time of need, including Edward (who was dying of influenza at the time), Esme (after a failed suicide attempt), Rosalie (raped and left for dead) and Emmett (who was mauled by a bear). Naturally, their loyalty to Carlisle is unbreakable.
"It's not like he's a bad guy at all," explained Facinelli, saying that he's enjoyed tearing down some of the vampire stereotypes accumulated in the decades before Stephenie Meyer found herself in front of a computer. "All the people he's ever turned into vampires have been either sick or dying. I kind of thought I was doing them a favor by giving them the gift of immortality."
In 225 days, Facinelli and friends will do a favor for Twilighters worldwide, unveiling their higher-than-highly anticipated feature film. In the meantime, all we can do is gawk at Carlisle's Mercedes, and wish time would move as fast as it can.
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