Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in "New Moon."
It's been nearly two months since our two-day Vancouver Film Studios set visit for The Twilight Saga: New Moon, and I'm about to burst! It's been a real challenge to keep my mouth shut for so long on really juicy secrets—the Voluturi! Oh the Volturi! They're straight from the pages of Stephenie Meyer's book! The freaky red eyes, pale skin, the chic Italian clothes, a family crest pendant — everything down to the smallest detail — suits their coven perfectly. They make a deliciously deadly vampire mafia. We got to watch Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart film a bunch of scenes near the film's ending, and also interviewed a LOT of the cast and crew: Taylor Lautner, Michael Sheen, and Rachelle Lefevre to name a few.
One more thing. This report contains spoilers galore, so read on only if you dare. All right. Enough of the disclaimer and on to what we've all been waiting for...
Day 1 of our very privileged (Summit permitted only five select media outlets, including Fandango) New Moon set visit had us walking straight into the Volturi's lair. The Volturi, the largest and most powerful bloodsucking coven, rule the vampire world. You don't want to get on their bad side. A bunch of Volturi extras loitered around the set during downtime, caked in white makeup, decked in black clothes. Anywhere you'd turn, a vampire would be standing around watching the filming, or casually sipping a 7-Up, or catching up on "American Idol" episodes on a MacBook. Surreal, indeed.
We also sighted Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart throughout the day—not just while filming, but also walking by, joking (with an audible British accent) and laughing with each other with crew members in tow. No, they didn't seem like a couple at the time, and I didn't ever catch them holding hands. They were perfectly amiable co-stars. Now, here's an interesting, random bit: A few canopies were set up in the main studio, covering cast members' wooden folding chairs with actors' names on the chair backing. One canopy had Ashley Greene, Rob, and Kristen's chairs, and on the seat of Rob's chair was an opened Reese's two-pack. I think it's safe to assume when he's not craving mountain lion, he's got a sweet tooth for peanut butter and chocolate.
Time with Taylor Lautner
Taylor Lautner, the little werewolf who could...pack on 30 pounds of muscle, that is, dropped by the set on Day 2.
As expected, he appeared 30 pounds heavier than we last saw him in Twilight
, with bulging biceps visible from his short-sleeved V-neck. His blue jeans and stubble on his chin completed his comfortably casual look, but his kicks — black Reebok Reverse with hot pink highlights — completed the ensemble.
We sort of all just stood there for a moment in awe at how ripped this 17-year-old kid was. He had to take on a Michael Phelps diet to gain the weight.
"I'd wake up and my trainer would be like, 'You need to have six egg whites, bacon, and toast. It became a lot. That was the hardest part, especially putting something in my mouth every two hours," Lautner says. "At one point, my trainer was literally like, 'Put anything in your mouth! Go to McDonald's. Get the biggest shake possible. I just need get calories in you!' Because my body fat at that time was only 7 ½ percent."
Lautner spends a good amount of time in the movie shirtless, so there was no faking his way through bulking up. Just how much time shirtless, he wouldn't say, but he hints they stay true to the book. In Eclipse, which starts filming Aug. 17, Jacob grows even bigger, so Taylor's already working to gain another 10 pounds.
He talked about his favorite scenes and says he's torn between two: a "cool action scene" or "the break up." Lautner felt sympathetic for his character while reading the books. "Bella's toying with Jacob. She confused him. One moment, she wants to kiss him. The next moment, she's ditching him for Edward!" Not to worry, Taylor. This movie hits it big with Team Jacob. (Check out Taylor Lautner's full interview.)
We also caught up with director Chris Weitz last Tuesday since he was too busy to chat on the set. He says it was a fun process to watch Lautner's character take on a major role." It was great to be with Taylor as he went from a character who had three small scenes in the first movie, to one of the dominant characters in (New Moon)." Weitz says he's about two weeks away from showing the director's cut to the studio, so he's still swamped. "I've got some wolves with fur, and some wolves are still invisible." He's also making sure the sparkling effect of vampires in the sun is just right.
Aro's Scene with Michael Sheen
We didn't get to watch any scenes including Taylor—he and the wolf pack had wrapped, but of all the scenes we did see, the most impressive ones featured high-caliber actor Michael Sheen. He's most known for playing Lucian, leader of the werewolves in Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, but he'll be leading the Volturi as Aro in New Moon. "I feel a bit like a traitor now that I've swapped sides," he jokes.
The scene starts off in the Volturi's underground lair – it looks like it's ripped right out of the "Verdict" chapter, page 467 from the "New Moon" book. The room is circular, with dark green and red accents complimenting the cream-colored marble floors, walls and columns. Dim light spills in from circular windows, symmetrically spaced around the room, nearing the domed ceiling. Latin words fill in the space between the circular windows, creating an endless, connected chain: "Semper. Erit. Vita. Brevis. Ars. Longa. Tua. Vita. Mea. Nemo. Est. Supra. Leges. Et. Sic..." Three ornately decorated black chairs with gold accents and carved lion heads at the armrests are placed at one end of the room atop a three-tiered circular platform. Aro and two other vampires sit, looking bored.
Jane, Alice, Edward and Bella enter from the opposite side of the room. Their backs are to the camera and they face the three seated Volturi. Aro rises from his chair, walks down the steps and approaches Edward. He says something of this effect to Jane: "They say you have to get one, and you brought back two and a half."
Facing the Cullens and Bella, he says in a higher, excited voice, "What a wonderful surprise! Bella is alive after all. Isn't that wonderful? Another happy ending." He sighs and his voice becomes softer as he approaches Edward. "They are so rare." Aro takes Edward's hand. "La tua cantante. Her blood appeals to you so much. It makes me thirsty." He glances at Bella, still holding Edward's hand. "How can you stand to be so close to her?"
"It's not without its difficulties," Edward replies.
"I can see that."
"Bella, Aro can read every thought I have just by touching me."
"You can't read Bella's," Aro says glancing between Edward and Bella.
"And now you know everything."
Aro backs away from Edward, now speaking to Bella. "I'd love to see if you're an exception to my gift as well." He stops a few paces in front of Bella with his arm outstretched. "Would you do me the honor?"
There's a dramatic pause in which Bella hesitates, and Aro lets out an unhinged, high-pitch giggle. His red eyes twinkle as Bella steps forward and takes his hand.
"Interesting," Aro says with a smile. "I see nothing." His smile vanishes and he lets go of Bella's hand. "I wonder if..." he trails off, walking around. "Let's see if she's immune to all our powers, shall we, Jane?" He turns to Jane and smiles.
Off the set, Sheen gives us a little more insight on playing Aro.
"Stephenie (Meyer) said that she loved writing this scene that we're doing now, in the book. I read it over and over again—that particular bit. She describes his voice being quite feathery. That's what gave me the idea of making it soft and light," Sheen says. He demonstrates, coming down to barely above a whisper. "I think she describes it as being like a sigh."
The rise and fall of his voice is nothing short of mesmerizing – a performance for twihards to look forward to. "On the surface, he's terribly gracious, warm, a wonderful host, and at the same time, he's absolutely lethal and frightening," Weitz says. "I think that's what Michael Sheen really managed to convey in portraying Aro."
Rachelle Lefevre Shares Stunt Secrets
At the end of Day 1, we visited a different sound stage to watch Rob Pattinson film special effects. He wore a dark gray suit with strategically disheveled hair, and spent most of the time standing on a platform in front of what looked like an IMAX-size neon green screen for his scenes in which he appears as a hallucination to Bella. A long dolly track was laid down for the camera to travel from one end of the studio to the other, where he was standing. We media folks stayed at the other end of the track, unable to hear anything he said, but Rachelle Lefevre (who plays Victoria) was also at that end. She let us in on all the stunts she'd been filming, which made up for not being able to hear Rob.
For the past two and half weeks, she's been filming her own scenes – up 25 feet high in the trees. She and the cast have a running joke about not seeing each other while filming. "I see them all the time at night, but I never see them during the day," Lefevre says. "They're like, 'Where are you?' And I'm like, 'Oh, you guys don't know, but we're making a whole other movie in the woods, like half an hour away.'"
She has a stunt double, and she's harnessed while shooting, but that doesn't quell Lefevre's fear of heights with all the shooting in the trees. "I'm absolutely terrified when I'm up there," she says. "I'm like, 'Wow, I don't know how I'm gonna bring myself to jump from here, this freefall leap.' And then they say 'action' and you just do it. It's this bizarre thing where you don't want to get all the way up there and then not do it. Failure's just not an option."
At the end of Twilight, Lefevre's character is bent on killing Bella for the death of her vampire mate, James. She spent six hours filming an underwater scene where she attacks Bella, who's just jumped into the watery depths—literally—off a cliff. Then she got to watch the crew film Kristen Stewart's underwater scenes. "It was incredible, because there was no CGI involved in that at all," she says. "They took two massive rectangular containers—they looked like those huge cargo containers on the back of trains—pumped them up with 2,000 gallons of water, and put Kristen's photo double in there. On 'action,' they pulled the hatch and she got pummeled with a massive tidal wave. I got to watch under water because I was in the pool, and literally saw her spinning. They just filmed until she got spit out."
Lefevre says the movie will show more of her trying to get to Bella than what was in the book, in order to make it more visually exciting. When we ask if her future beheading will make it onscreen, she excitedly tells us about autographing books for fans who love that plot point. "I cannot tell you how many times I've signed the page where I lose my head!" she laughs. "I'm like, 'Really? This is the page you want me to sign?' It's either that or the scene where I get introduced for the first time. There was a time when I knew the page numbers."
Despite all the instant fame the actors received after Twilight, Lefevre says she's relieved everyone stayed the same; friendships resumed when they returned to film for New Moon. "It honestly just picked up where we left off. It was a very egoless set," she says. "We may be able to just walk out and get a cab, whereas Rob has to do CIA evasive maneuvers to meet us at the same restaurant, but when we get to the restaurant and we sit down, everything's exactly the same." (Check out Rachelle Lefevre's full interview.)
We still have tons of stuff lined up to share in the second set visit report, including more scenes with Rob Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning and Ashley Greene, plus an exclusive with Jamie Campbell Bower. Head over to our New Moon page for more content.
Only four other sites came along on this New Moon set visit. Check out our friends' reports:
HitFix.com's Exclusive with Producer Wyck Godfrey, Set Visit Day 1, and Set Visit Day 2
MSN.com's Exclusive with Cameron Bright and Superfan Set Visit
RottenTomatoes.com's Set Visit Part 1 and Part 2
Hollywood.com's Exclusive with Jamie Campbell Bower and Set Visit
If you're attending San Diego Comic-Con 2009, don't miss the New Moon panel presentation, featuring exclusive footage from the film. Also, you can buy tix to the Twilight Special Screening Event, featuring an introduction by surprise cast members. Check out the full schedule at Comic-Con.org and details below for the Twilight screening:
Tickets for the screening are $10 and can only be purchased online here at Fandango. Tickets go on sale Monday, July 20, some time between 9 and 9:30 a.m. PST and can be picked up at the theater prior to the event. You will need to pick up your tickets before 1 p.m. PST on Thursday, July 23, in person. Physical tickets are REQUIRED to enter the event. Comic-Con badges are not required. Multiple staggered showings of Twilight will take place at The Gaslamp Stadium. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and fans with tickets will be admitted on a first-come, first-seated basis. The Gaslamp Stadium theater is located at 701 5th Ave., just a few blocks from the Convention Center. Two tickets per person limit.
Send feedback on this column to