In “Breaking Dawn,” Robert Pattinson plays a centuries-old vampire named Edward Cullen—a character so iconic that even non-fans are likely to recognize him. The film is the first installment in Summit Entertainment’s “Twilight” film franchise and was directed by Bill Condon. It tells the story of Edward Cullen and his struggle for survival in a world dominated by humans. The final installment, “Eclipse,” hits theaters on Friday.
While promoting “Breaking Dawn” in New York City, I had a chance to speak with the actor about his character, as well as about some of the iconic scenes from the film. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
On the Relevance of the ‘Twilight’ Films
Well, they’re not exactly classics yet. I think if you look at the ‘Twilight’ films over the years—the first one came out in 2008, so it’s been four years already—they’ve started to acquire more of a cult status. People are definitely talking about them more nowadays, especially now that we’re coming up on the final installment. I think that, in an odd way, the timing is perfect because it’s been a long time since anyone’s paid attention to the ‘Twilight’ films. But, I mean, it’s been a long time since Edward Cullen and “Twilight” were relevant. So for this final installment, which is very different from the rest of the films, we’re in a world where they’re kind of relevant once more. I think it’s important for people to remember that this is the last film in the series and it’s designed as a sort of conclusion to the whole saga.
How Much Does Edward’s Personality Shapeshift in ‘Twilight’?
As a character, Edward has morphed a lot over the years, and to be honest, I think that’s what’s made him so interesting to watch as the series has progressed. He came from being this perfect, virginal boy to a man where he’s just been through so much pain and suffering that it’s transformed him into what he is today. In “Eclipse,” you see a lot of that personality come through in his scenes with Leah (Claudia Leitte), which are some of the best scenes in the film. But, you know, he’s been through a lot. There are a lot of interesting layers to peel back when it comes to Edward’s character, and it makes me think that he’s been on this lifelong journey to find out who he really is.
Why Did Bill Condon Direct ‘Breaking Dawn’?
So, after “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” was optioned by Summit Entertainment, a new director was needed to bring the tale of Edward Cullen to the big screen. While many may see Bill Condon as the obvious choice, having directed some of the most iconic scenes from “Lord of the Rings” and “Chicago,” it was actually a filmmaker far more unknown to the general public who had the honor of directing the final chapter in the “Twilight” saga.
What Was It Like Working With Bill Condon?
It was amazing. It was such an incredible privilege to work with someone whose work I admired so much. I knew that he would bring something special to the role and be able to make it his own. And, you know, the more I got to know him, the more I realized how much of a perfectionist he is, and how much he cares about making sure that everything is just right. So it was definitely a learning experience to walk in his shoes and see how things turned out the way he wanted them to. In the end, it was Bill’s vision that really came through in this film; even down to the last detail. And that’s all I can really say because, you know, it would be a pretty huge compliment if Bill Condon’s name doesn’t come up when anyone thinks of the ‘Twilight’ films in the future.
More On Edward Cullen
So, as I mentioned before, Edward comes from this very, very perfect world where vampires are the enemy and where he was raised to be more like a human being than a vampire. He got his education in history and art, he was a really, really good boy, and he was brought up to be perfect—hence the fact that he doesn’t age and can stay in perfect shape. He’s been through a lot—he lost his mother when he was 16, he had a very violent father who tortured him, he was almost turned into a vampire, and he killed his girlfriend, Rebecca, in the end. He’s been through a lot, and he’s learned a lot about himself along the way. In “Eclipse,” he’s more mature and experienced than he’s ever been, and he’s come out the other side with a lot more scars than he had when the series began. He’s been through a great deal of change, and he’s definitely a man with a story to tell. In “Breaking Dawn,” he’s found someone worth listening to, and he’s finally started to believe in himself, and in love, for the first time in a long while.
What Was It Like Working With André Singer On ‘Eclipse’?
I’d never worked with André before, so I knew it would be interesting to do, but I didn’t know how much work it would be. When we finally started shooting, it turned out that he was right. It was a lot of work. But in the end, it was all worth it because he brought a whole new level of intensity to the character. He was more than willing to go the extra mile whenever needed and put in the extra effort to make sure that everything was perfect. He took his job very seriously and became a mentor to me during the time that we were together. It was definitely a learning experience, but also very rewarding. When we were done, we had this bond that was unbreakable. In general, he’s a very serious person who takes his work seriously and always wants to do his best. He’s a perfectionist, which probably comes from being one himself, so it was good to work with someone whose opinion you value so much.
How Is Edward’s Romance With Leah Different In ‘Eclipse’?
Well, they’re just different. At first, it’s more of a professional relationship that develops into something more when work ceases to be a factor. But, even before that, there’s a lot of sexual tension between them. When they finally get together, it’s quite an explosive event, and it’s something that viewers have been patiently waiting for since the first film. It’s interesting to see how their relationship has matured over the years. In “Eclipse,” they’re still very much a “work and romantic relationship,” but there’s definitely more of a sensual nature to it. When they finally get together, it’s an extremely passionate encounter that leaves them both satisfied.
Summit Entertainment’s Other Big Bust-Up
Aside from the “Twilight” films, Summit Entertainment is best known for its big-budget action films. The company was initially started in 1993 by a group of Hollywood executives who wanted to be a part of the action movie renaissance that was happening at the time. The original group consisted of John Whittington (founder), Joe Roth (co-founder), and Mike DeLuca (president). Over the years, Summit Entertainment has produced a wide array of blockbusters that include “Conan the Barbarian,” “Gladiator,” “Dark Knight,” and many more. But, at least since 2009, it has been mostly known for its colossal failure after colossal failure. Since then, the company has seen dozens of costly legal battles, countless restructuring attempts, and it even had to be partially sold to a Chinese firm in 2016. In other words, even Summit Entertainment’s biggest fans would have to admit that it hasn’t had a good run lately. Now, facing a $150 million dollar loss in the new year alone, it seems that the company is at the precipice of total collapse—which, given the state of the entertainment industry as a whole, isn’t really all that surprising.