Recently I was reminded by a former colleague of a meeting we took with a wannabe big time film studio a few years ago. I was overseeing MTV News’ movies coverage at the time, still green enough in the job that meetings like this made me nervous. The studio reps were excited and eager for their small but promising film. They brought production photos and early promotional art they were considering. We talked about the actors in their movie and they warned us they were quite raw when it came to dealing with the media and needed some seasoning. We laughed and went on with our day. Since that otherwise forgettable meeting I have interviewed Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart approximately 25 times. Each. I counted.
I’ve had an exceptionally unique vantage point on “The Twilight Saga.” In many ways, my time covering the cast and films has defined my tenure at MTV News and bolstered my career in countless ways (I’m now a full-time correspondent. Like one of the pretty people! Like Mario Lopez!).
My “Twilight” association has also frankly weighed on me at times, perhaps as it has for some of the actors. Will people think I’m a one trick pony? What happens AFTER “Twilight” ends?!? I’ve got range! Thankfully I’ve gotten the opportunity to stretch my muscles in a lot of areas outside of the vampire/werewolf world (shameless plug: Go to AfterHours.MTV.com!) but still, there’s only one “Twilight” and the fandom I’ve been witness to simply cannot be duplicated. No, seriously. Hunger Games. Star Wars. Batman. All huge. Twilight is and always will be on another level. Not bigger. Not better. There’s just more passion there. Twilight fans feel these characters in their bones. We saw that from the start.
A few months before that meeting with Summit Entertainment, one of our reporters, Larry Carroll, was covering the Sundance Film Festival. He asked Kristen Stewart, a talented actress best known for David Fincher’s “Panic Room” what she was shooting next. Neither Larry nor I were familiar with “Twilight” at that point, but we immediately took note of the staggering 25,000 comments the story received. We began to feed the beast, reaching out to the studio to debut photos of the actors, arranging for a visit to the set, and eventually creating something called “Twilight Tuesdays,” doling out weekly morsels to a fandom that seemed to be growing exponentially.
I look back at those early months covering the franchise with great nostalgia. It was truly exciting for our small group at MTV News. We felt like we’d discovered something the larger media world had somehow missed (credit where it’s due, Entertainment Weekly was always on it along with us back then) and the fan response to what we were putting out was awesome. We brought Rob and Kristen to their first MTV Movie Awards, not as presenters, just to walk the carpet and debut the first clip from the film in our pre-show. We asked Rob to surprise a “superfan” at our offices. We organized a mini-premiere for the fans before the movie came out. And then the movie did come out and of course everything changed. This “secret” was out and EVERYONE swooped in.
I first interviewed the cast in 2010 (yes, those 50 interviews happened in less than three years). Larry had moved on and I was becoming more of an on-camera “personality” so the timing made sense. Fans of the series of course want to know what the cast is “really” like. The boring but true answer is they’re real. Love or hate Rob and Kristen’s awkwardness but don’t doubt the sincerity. I’ve seen these guys on and off camera and there’s no difference. And that was the case in my first interaction with them, and it was the case on Monday night when Rob told me he thought a bird had just crapped on him and Kristen told me all she wanted was to take off her shoes. Looking for canned talk show answers? Move on. They’re not playing that game.
I’ve done my last Twilight interviews with all of them now. No more chest bumps with Taylor. No more awesome absurdities from Peter Facinelli. No more Ashley and Kellan mock bickering like an old married couple. I’ll miss them all: Nikki’s earnest thoughtfulness, Liz’s devilish smile, and Jackson’s quick wit. Except of course we all go on. My life is bigger than Twilight and so are theirs. Nothing has given me greater pleasure (I report but I also root, okay?) than to see each of them in new and unfamiliar contexts. Rob and Cronenberg. Kristen in chainmail. Ashley making out with Olivia Wilde. Okay, I’ve said too much.
Depending on your perspective, I’ve either had the best or most torturous job in the world in recent years. Twilight is not for everybody. I get it. And truth be told if I wasn’t doing what I do, I probably wouldn’t appreciate the franchise and actors as much as I do. But for whatever reason, I did luck into this front row seat. And the ride has been an absolute blast. Thanks, Stephenie.
See you all on the next one.