SANTA MONICA, California — How much do Twilighters love Michael Welch? So much that when MTV News missed the 20-year-old actor during our set visit, fans began online petitions for us to give him the proper Twilight Tuesday treatment. Spider monkeys, consider your wish granted.
We had always hoped to catch up with "Mike/Mike" (as he has called himself ever since landing the role of Bella Swan admirer Mike Newton), so we were thrilled when he showed up at our studio all by himself, eager to hang out and even pose with the "Twilight Dad" sign that a Twilight Mom made for yours truly. Once we got down to business, we dished about superfans, his audition for the role of Edward Cullen and what it's like to be the Shia LaBeouf of this winter's "Twilight" movie.Read what Welch thinks about one particularly enthusiastic online admirer in the MTV Movies blog.
MTV: Believe it or not, there might be somebody out there who still doesn't know what "Twilight" is. So if you could, explain Mike Newton.
Michael Welch: Mike Newton is a cool guy. He's a fun character. He is hopelessly obsessed with the new mysterious, interesting, beautiful girl in high school. He's got some contrasts [because] on the one hand he's this athlete, a basketball player, and on the other hand he's a geek and socially awkward. He's like how "Family Guy" describes Shia LaBeouf: When Peter was like, "Not quite the nerd, not quite the hunk — Shia LaBeouf!" That's how I feel about Mike.
MTV: So he's the Shia LaBeouf of Forks.
Welch: Sure. That's fair.
MTV: How did you get the gig?
Welch: Actually, I originally auditioned for the role of Edward. And as much as I appreciate my representatives thinking that I could pull off hauntingly beautiful — the most gorgeous creature you will ever see on the planet — it's not quite me. ... Then I auditioned for the role of Eric. ... I auditioned for pretty much every role before Mike. When we got to Mike, it really did seem to be the best fit. We went in and [director] Catherine [Hardwicke] held what's called a "mix and match" session, where she gets a bunch of actors, we all stand in the same room together and read together to see who has the best "chemistry," whatever that means.
MTV: Had you read Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" books?
Welch: I had not read the books; I was completely unaware of the franchise before auditioning, which is a good thing. If I had known exactly how big this project was, it would have put a lot of pressure on me. ... When I was told I got the job, I started looking into it, and the moment that it was mentioned that they were making the "Twilight" film, there were 50,000 posts on IMDb.com within 48 hours! That was my first taste of how big this could potentially be.
MTV: So you went out and bought the books then?
Welch: I've read the first book, but I haven't read the other books yet. There's a possibility that there's gonna be more movies, depending on if people show up and see this one, so I didn't want to get ahead of myself.
MTV: You've encountered some enthusiastic fanbases before, having worked on "Stargate SG-1," "Joan of Arcadia," "The X-Files" and "Star Trek: Insurrection." How do the Twilighters compare?
Welch: I actually think the Twilighters are very similar to "Stargate" fans, just a very fun group of people. They're very serious about these characters and about this story but still understand that it's a story, and you're supposed to have fun with it. [The Twilighters] are a great group of people. I've been having so much fun with them. I've been keeping in touch with the online community, doing various blogs and things. They're fun to play with.
MTV: But you've got to be careful too. At one point, you referred to "Twilight" as the "Hannah Montana of vampire books," and some fans took offense to that.
Welch: I did. In that first blog, I referred to it as the Hannah Montana of vampire books, which I meant in the best way possible, just in the sense that this thing is huge in the way that Hannah Montana is huge! I wasn't necessarily comparing the two. Actually, from what I understand, Hannah Montana was okay — it's "High School Musical" that they don't like. [Laughs.] You've gotta stay away from that; that's where they draw the line.
MTV: Maybe you could get Miley Cyrus a cameo in one of the later movies to make it up to everyone.
Welch: Sure. [Laughs.] Anything goes, man.
MTV: IMDb has a thing called "Starmeter" that ranks the career heat of every actor in Hollywood, from Johnny Depp to Tom Hanks. You're currently the 13th most popular actor in Hollywood?
Welch: Yeah, and I hit #6 at one point, which is ridiculous.
MTV: How do you feel when you walk into an audition and the casting director is thinking, "This guy's hotter than Will Smith!"
Welch: I will say that, at the time, eight of the top 10 were people from "Twilight." [Laughs.] So it's not me, it's this crazy thing that I'm a part of. I'm sure people within the industry, when they look at that, they notice that kind of thing.
Welch: That's my point. [Laughs.] God, this business is just so crazy. ... If I'm a part of something that makes me in-ish right now, that's great, man. Keep it coming.
Every Tuesday is "Twilight Tuesday" here at MTV News! Check back here each and every week for the hottest scoop on the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's beloved vampire series, and we'll still bring you breaking "Twilight" news throughout the rest of the week. And make sure you check out the MTV Movies Blog for our ongoing "Twilight" discussions each and every day.
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