Speakeasy with Jamie Campbell Bower and Edi Gathegi

New Moon vampires sink their teeth into the Twilight phenomenon

As the second chapter of the Twilight franchise: New Moon looms on the horizon, die hard fans (or “Twi-hards”) have been lining up across the country to catch a glimpse of the faces behind the stars as they embark on a cross-country mall promotional tour.

Last week, Edi Gathegi who portrays the foreboding, dread-headed vampire Laurent and Jamie Campbell Bower, whose character Caius is introduced in the latest film greeted fans and responded to questions in a Q&A session held at the Mall of Georgia. Gathegi and Bower sat down briefly to discuss the making of the latest feature film and their own fascination with the series. The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens Fri., Nov. 20.

Was it easier to get into character this time around since you’ve played Laurent before?

Gathegi: It was definitely easier but initially it was very difficult because he’s described as having a slightly French accent and French is the accent that is hardest for me. It’s sort of impossible to do a slight French accent when you can’t even do a regular accent, so I had to learn the accent and then scale it back which was a challenge. So for the second film most of the work had already been done, I just stepped in put myself in a new situation and just trusted Chris Weitz’s directing.

Was there any way of playing it different this time around aside from the accent?

Gathegi: Well my intentions were different.  In the first movie he’s introduced to the Cullen’s for the first time and he’s intrigued by what they’re trying to do and he sort of likes them. And in the second film he’s tried to live as the Cullen’s live by being a vegetarian, he’s been to Alaska and tried that and it’s not for him so he comes back to Forks hungry. He’s not really apologetic about being a vampire and a vampire eats people… so there you go.

Out of all the members of the Volturi, your character Caius is the only one that doesn’t have a power. Why do you think he doesn’t have a power?

Bower: I think it makes the character a little bit more angsty, agitated, and angry. Before we encounter him in the books and in the story he’s had a big to do with the werewolves and was nearly killed by a werewolf so he seems to be the most aggressive out of the three. I think that comes from an almost a Napoleonic complex, the fact that he doesn’t have a power and feels he needs to make up that with a lot more aggression. I’m not sure why Stephanie wrote him without a power though… I should ask her shouldn’t I?

Gathegi: I dare say, these are my own personal thoughts — there has to be a reason you are a Volturi with no powers. If they all have powers and you don’t that almost makes you more a badass than them. How did you get into that position? You must be faster, stronger, smarter — more devious. I think there’s something about him that earns him that right to be on that high seat.

...You don’t think it’s the sexiness or anything?

Bower: laughs Everyone knows he’s Caius the sexiest of them all so he doesn’t need a power.

If you could give him a power what would it be?

Bower: I‘d probably steal Jane’s power played by Dakota Fanning, the power of pain through illusion.

You’ve worked with some well known stars from Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, and Guy Ritchie, what inspiration have you received from working with these people.

Bower: Really learning how to be an actor and how to deal with acting my favorite person that I have worked with ever has been Ian McKellan. The man is an unbelievable actor and a genuinely lovely person as well and we became very close and he’s just amazing at what he does. it’s not as if I going in there and I ask actors questions about what they do because that’s a little too intrusive and it’s not something you talk about but from watching them do what they do you can learn so much and I’m a student of the game.

What are your expectations with coming into the Twilight franchise and coming out of it?

Bower: I don’t expect anything. What is nice about doing a film that does have such publicity and people are so involved in it is that you are able to be seen for roles that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to be seen for and for me as a young actor who isn’t developed yet and haven’t completely nailed my own style of acting yet means I have to up my game, big time and really focus on every single audition that I go in to. I can’t go in there and not know what I’m talking about, I have to go in there and know the character and give everything because the bigger roles you are seen for obviously mean there are people who have been doing this a lot longer than you have and who are probably far better than you, what makes you different what would make them want to hire you? That’s what you have to think about. But that’s because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing half the time laughs.

Gathegi: For me, same thing and I’ve been through this before and you still have to fight for things and especially the more coveted a role is the more people want it so you have to bring your "A" game to every situation. Nothing is going to be handed to you and if is be weary or maybe they see you being the only one who can bring life to it and then it’s a wonderful situation where you don’t have to work for it. But sometimes when you work for something and you earn it, you’ll work harder for it because you had to get it. So I say all of that to concur with him, I don’t expect anything it’s a great mark in my career history it’s wonderful to be a part of but it’s also one mark but I’m making a lot of other marks, nothing will be as big as Twilight its one of the few times that a movie completely takes off and has a life of its own. It’s a pop culture phenomenon it happens very very seldomly so I’ll ride the rollercoaster while it lasts.

How have you learned to deal with the popularity and having to do all these types of junkets? With an attached fan base, how do you deal with that kind of celebrity?

Gathegi: I think it’s always important for us collectively as a cast to remember that these are the people that make the movie what it is. They are the driving force behind the success of the entire franchise, the ones that bought the book and the ones that come to the theater. So it’s nice to be able to meet face-to-face with the people who’ve seen your work and the people who are in love with the series and enthusiastic about it, so I keep that in mind whenever I do press junkets and meet fans. And you feel it when you’re on stage and they’ve camped out and they’ve waited in line for hours and they’re asking sometimes silly questions just because they are happy to be there and connect with you, its fun and its good and it exists in that moment. When I get in my car and go home I have a very normal life, take the dreads off and no one really recognizes me. I can still eat at my favorite restaurants, every now and then someone will come up to me and say “I recognize you from such and such” and that’s wonderful but I don’t feel a need to travel with full security at hand all the time.

Bower: These are the kids that go watch the movie and that are so in love with the film and the characters and it’s amazing and they’ve been there for hours and hours and hours and we show up for half an hour and do what we can and then we leave. I would love to be able to connect with the people more and to thank each person personally one-on-one but you just can’t do that and it’s a real shame. But I don’t think it’s something I’m ever going to get over because it’s bizarre and it’s amazing that people love the work so much and we can understand that people are not screaming for you as a person their screaming for the film, they’re there because of the movie and because of the work and that’s great. If we can be there and represent the film and they’re happy, I’m happy.

Which was your favorite book?

Bower: Breaking Dawn

Gathegi: Twilight was my favorite only for the reason that it was first book in the series. It’s what everyone reads and falls in love with. It was because of that book that you open yourself up to this world and this journey. Now Breaking Dawn was the most controversial book for me, I had conflicting emotions reading it. Things made me made, things frustrated me, I wanted to call Stephanie and ask her why she was doing certain things, but because I had all those emotions about it and things tied up very well in the end it was the most complete reading experience.

Bower: Yeah it’s the final chapter of the series. It’s the stamp at the end of the story.

How much access did you have to Stephanie to create your characters?

Bower: She had full security detail around her at all times, you’re not allowed within 3 feet laughs.

Gathegi: You’re not allowed to breathe in her presence — but we had access to Stephanie in that we had her books. Everything you needed to know she has defined and specified so clearly in regards to the rules and the world of the vampire, because her rules are very different but she describes it down to the tone of the voice of certain vampires. Arrow’s voice was described as being “feathered” — a voice like feathers… so what does that mean to you — how do you bring that to life? But it’s there and she’s very specific.

How was it working with different directors?

Gathegi: I’ve never done a film where there has been the same director as the previous film so for me it was natural I went into a new project with a new crew with a new director. If anything the oddity was going back and reprising the role, I’ve never done that before. Going back into the same world just a different story line, that was the change for me. But the change in directors was natural for me.

Everyone is attracted to Bella’s scent especially Edward, do you think her blood is more potent than any other human?

Gathegi: I believe that her blood in addition to many other things about her is different from most human beings. The fact that the Volturi cannot read her mind or see her history, the fact that Edward can’t hear her, the fact that what ends up happening to her in Breaking Dawn basically makes her one of the most special beings that’s ever existed I think that has to do a lot with why other vampires are attracted to her scent is just that she just does stand out in a different way.

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