Sunday, July 26, 2009
While thousands of fans lined up outside the San Diego Convention Center on Thursday morning, hoping to get into one of Comic-Con's most anticipated panels, a session devoted to a little franchise called "Twilight," the series' stars spent some time with the media at the nearby Hilton Hotel.
The trio -- Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner -- arrived a fashionable 30 minutes late. Lautner looked a good 20 pounds bulkier than he did last year, Pattinson seemed less shell-shocked, and Stewart was made up like the second coming of rock goddess Joan Jett (whom she's playing for the independent film "The Runaways," about Jett's early all-chick band).
"I think last year Comic-Con was the big eye-opener for us," said Lautner, the only actor who appeared genuinely awake and visibly excited to promote the next film in the series, "New Moon." "It's awesome that we get to see them all waiting for us again a year later."
Pattinson had a different take on the story's rabid fans, acknowledging up front that "there's no pleading ignorance [with the press] now. You actually have to have something to say."
So what did the cast have to say? None of them had seen the completed film. And journalists were warned by Summit Entertainment head of PR Vivian Mayer-Siskind at the outset not to even think about asking questions about the reported romance between Pattinson and Stewart. (Mustached online personality and Comic-Con vet Bob Stencil did anyway: "What's the off-screen chemistry like, Rob and Kristen?" The actors didn't have time to open their mouths before Mayer-Siskind shut that down.)
The stars did divulge that Edward would be much more of a presence in "New Moon" than he is in the book, which follows the breakup of Bella and Edward when he leaves her early in the story and reappears only in the final fifth of the novel.
"He's in it!" Stewart said as if to reassure skeptics. In "New Moon," Bella begins hearing Edward's voice after he leaves. In the movie, she'll see him as well.
"It would look probably pretty cheesy if it were just my voice, so they've done these hallucinations, semi-visible apparitions," Pattinson said.
"It's a severely emotional movie," Stewart said as if to explain why she stuck with the teen franchise. "I like it best just in terms of how far I was able to push myself this time. It's not about discovery or falling in love. It's, like, low. Bella is a manic-depressive, basically.
"After 'New Moon,' it's pretty much smooth sailing for her," Stewart said.
The third film, "Eclipse," begins production in mid-August, and Lautner called it "the high point in the series." Pattinson couldn't pinpoint the drawing power of vampire stories -- "When I play it, I try and eliminate the vampire element as much as I can," he said -- but said they obviously had "some sort of power."
"I found myself bizarrely invested in the 'Twilight' story after my first audition -- and I hadn't even read the books yet," he said.
Lautner was a little more upbeat. "The werewolves definitely step up the action in this movie," he said. Of course, he gets to play one.
The 17-year-old also divulged that he'd bulked up by "eating everything" for months and working out nonstop with a personal trainer to keep him locked into the role of Jacob, Bella's werewolf suitor.
(Before "New Moon" began production, it had been thought the actor may have been too slight to play Jacob in the second and third films, in which the character is supposed to have radically transformed.)
Just don't ask him to growl like a werewolf for you. "I really don't enjoy doing that," Lautner said. "Please don't. Just wait for the movie."
-- Denise Martin 'Alice' plus a view of Depp, Burton
Comic-Con attendees expecting surprise appearances from big-name movie stars weren't disappointed Thursday morning at Disney's 3-D panel when Johnny Depp, gallantly dressed in a white shirt and black vest, showed up to support director Tim Burton, who unveiled a teaser trailer for his upcoming "Alice in Wonderland."
The film, which stars Depp and is due out in March, draws from a cross section of Lewis Carroll's writing, including his "Jabberwocky" poem.
The trailer footage prominently featured Depp's flame-haired Mad Hatter as well as a variety of fantastic images that Burton has assembled for the movie, which combines live action and animation.
At the urging of moderator Patton Oswalt, the trailer was shown three separate times to a wildly enthusiastic crowd. "John and I worked together many times, but he has never done a character with orange hair," Burton dryly observed from the stage about the Hatter's unusually colored coiffure. "We scalped Carrot Top and took his hair."
Disney also showcased early footage from Robert Zemeckis' "A Christmas Carol" and its "Tron" reboot.