WESTWOOD, California — The nightclub-and-movie-theater-packed neighborhood nestled between Brentwood, Hollywood and UCLA has always served as a playground for excitable young adults, head-turning celebrities and couples looking for love. But never before have all three groups collided quite the way they did Monday night (November 17) when Bella, Edward and a few thousand of their closest friends stormed into town.
"I have no other words but 'bizarre,'" grinned "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson, walking down a snaking red carpet of shrieking fans a dozen deep at the premiere of his movie, which opens Friday. "I left my brain at the door. It's completely insane. You never expect it. ... I'm completely deaf!"
For this week's (possibly last?) "Twilight" Tuesday, MTV News had access to the carpet, movie and afterparty — putting the cherry on top of a year of coverage that has seen the small film grow from cult status to certified blockbuster. In addition to Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and others, author Stephenie Meyer walked the red carpet, mingling with a who's who of young Hollywood that included Demi Lovato, Aly Michalka and Frances Bean Cobain.
"You work so hard on something for so long, and I'm actually really proud of it, and this is what you do it for," Stewart said, looking out at a sea of black "Twilight" T-shirts, homemade signs and waving Sharpies. "The tears, to see people crying in front of you, is pretty alarming. I just want to give them a hug." (See what experts are expecting "Twilight" will bring in on opening weekend, and make predictions of your own, in the MTV Movies Blog.)
Walking through Westwood, one could spot several cars with "Twilight or Bust," "Team Edward" and other messages written on the windshields, their out-of-state plates signaling how far many had traveled for a chance to meet the film's young stars.
"I came by last night and saw everyone hanging out; it was fun," marveled director Catherine Hardwicke, who made several fans' weeks by getting out of her car Sunday evening and visiting with the die-hard Twilighters sleeping on the sidewalk. "People were camping out. ... People are so excited. It's awesome."
While one sign promised free earplugs for RPattz if he stopped to say hello, another begged him: "I'm 16 years old and have never been kissed. Will U B my first?"
"It's kind of great, because we're all in the trenches together, and now watching someone take off is a cool thing," Cam Gigandet (James) said of Pattinson and the other "Twilight" stars who are suddenly being inundated with scripts. "I had an idea that [the fans] were a small, committed group."
Not anymore, judging by the packed barricades across the street. Rachelle Lefevre (Victoria) and Billy Burke (Charlie Swan) were among those who went out of their way to sprint off the carpet and over to the shrieking throng. "I think it's absolutely amazing; their commitment is astonishing," laughed Lefevre, who revealed plans to soon take a much-needed vacation, and then said she'd only harbored RPattz-like affection toward one celebrity in her life: "Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block."
But if you think Pattinson was the only "Twilight" star earning shrieks last night, you may have chosen the wrong side in the "Team Edward" vs. "Team Jacob" battle. "I think I'm dreaming, and I keep telling people to pinch me," said an adrenaline-fueled Lautner, not yet 17 years old and already having fans twice his age throw themselves at him. "[An older woman] told me she was wearing 'Team Taylor' panties and [said], 'If you want, you can sign them.' Luckily, my publicist was there to save me!"
"That's not OK. That's illegal!" marveled Ashley Greene (Alice) when she heard Taylor's tale. "But it is a good feeling to know people love you this much."
"I've never seen anything like this," added Michael Welch (Mike Newton). "I mean, I think we all had a thought or sense that this could be possible. But this is truly a dream come true, and I couldn't be more grateful."
Inside the Mann Village Theater, the stars gathered to watch the completed film — several of them for the first time. After Edward and Bella put the finishing touches on their romance (at least, until the sequels), the crowd walked through Westwood to the nearby Armand Hammer Museum for a fancy afterparty in an outdoor courtyard. Attendees were greeted with martinis, then lined up for a buffet and a desert stand featuring chocolate-chip cookies on lollipop sticks.
Lovato and Perry Farrell worked the crowd, while Oscar winner Kim Basinger sat over in the corner and took it all in. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David watched several 16-year-old girls with autograph books running past him, perhaps imagining the plot for an upcoming episode. The longest line of the evening, however, was the procession coming toward Meyer, asking the author for her autograph and engaging her in conversations about whether Edward's sparkle was the way she had imagined when she wrote the book.
Lautner posed with fans, tirelessly snapping pictures with them all. Peter Facinelli (Carlisle) was overheard complimenting Solomon Trimble (Sam) on a job well done. Gigandet was still hearing his name shouted by fans across the street when he was leaving in his limo, and security was summoned at least once to the tightly packed corner of the party, where a sea of well-wishers crowded around Pattinson and actress Camilla Belle as they partied with friends.
"I'm very, very happy," Pattinson laughed, marveling at the evening. "But it's very, very frightening."
Check out everything we've got on "Twilight."
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