‘Twilight’ grows up in ‘Breaking’

LOS ANGELES – And you thought a bouncing baby space raptor bursting out of John Hurt’s chest in Alien was a difficult birth.

In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1, teenage bride Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) marries undead dreamboat Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), loses her virginity, winds up pregnant and is faced with the fact that whatever is gestating inside her has its father’s eyes — and teeth. Did I mention the sequel, opening Friday (or Thursday at midnight for the Twi-hard who just can’t wait), is only the first half of the story?

“This movie crams a lot of milestones into one movie,” Stewart says. “I really did get to live 10 to 15 years in that four or five years because all the imposing elements speed everything up.”

Those “imposing elements” being the vampires and werewolves. (Predictably, Taylor Lautner’s he-wolf Jacob isn’t thrilled with the idea that the bun in Bella’s oven will prefer blood to breast milk.)

Off-screen, and without supernatural intrusions, Stewart and Pattinson have taken it considerably slower. Their relationship — which generates as much publicity as the franchise itself — is something both parties have characteristically skirted around since they reportedly began dating two years ago.

However Breaking Dawn director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey) isn’t so evasive. “Those two, it’s crazy just how close those two are,” he says. “It’s wonderful. I feel as though because they’re more relaxed with that, it added something to the movie too because this is the part of the movie where they are together and that’s something they didn’t have to act.”

Even if, during filming of Breaking Dawn’s honeymoon sequence, they apparently got too close. To wit: The R rating Hollywood censors nearly slapped Breaking Dawn with, which forced Condon to trim the sequel’s sex.

“Frankly, it’s a very clinical thing,” Condon explains. “Because it’s subjective, they’ve been forced to have very clinic guidelines like, I hate to be clinical, but thrusting intercourse. So anything that suggested that (was objectionable). Not to make people too excited. It was never explicit. It’s not very different from what you see. But any movement that suggests that is what they object to. And I suspect because it’s Twilight, we had more focus on us.”

And he confirms Pattinson’s claim that it was Stewart’s enthusiasm which proved to be the problem. “Well, I think that’s true,” Condon says. “She got very into it.”

These days, professionally anyway, Stewart is into something else entirely. She’s currently filming Snow White and the Huntsman, the fantasy epic that also stars Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth.

“It’s very weird being here right now, to be honest, because I’m so very involved in that right now,” she says of the new version of the fairy tale, due next summer.

How does the “fairest of them all” compare to Bella? “I guess the only actual comparison, the only one thing that sticks in my mind is that they both are, in different ways, matriarchs — very strong, strong matriarchs and they have to find that position and you see that whole process.”

But as was true of Twilight, Stewart came to the project with little knowledge or affection for the character.

I didn’t grow up on fairy tales. I know everyone says the reason (Snow White and the Huntsman) is so cool is that we’ve grown up with this story and now we’re retelling it. I’m like, ‘Not really, I didn’t.’ And I also didn’t grow up with the Twilight thing.

“So right as I think, ‘Wow, this is important’ everyone in the room goes, ‘This is important.’ So that’s cool. I’ve gotten really lucky.”

Certainly the timing is fortuitous. Considering the current proliferation of Snow Whites — from Ginnifer Goodwin on TV’s Once Upon a Time to Lily Collins in the rival movie, Mirror, Mirror — fables could soon be as overexposed as Dracula’s brethren.

“The movies I’ve done between the Twilight films — I’ve been lucky they’ve been very different. That’s not because I meant them to be, but because the things I was drawn to happened to be different from Twilight.”

As for what will follow Snow White, Stewart isn’t sure. “It’s the first time in a long time when I didn’t know what I was going to be doing next. And I don’t want to rush it. I wanted time off “¦ I want a little bit of time to figure out what I really, really, really want to do. But it really has nothing to do with the profile (of the movie). Literally zilch.”

Which isn’t to suggest Twilight is completely behind her. Although the production wrapped months ago, Breaking Dawn — Part 2 is still to come, meaning one final round of Twilight press awaits her. And at this point, she and her alter-ego remain inseparable.

“I’m pretty wrapped up in (Bella) and vice-versa. I’ve always felt you project yourself on a character. If you’re the kind of girl that would identify with Bella, then you just kind of are her “¦ I think we’re pretty similar at times.”

What’s next for ‘Twilight’ stars?

For vampires, there’s life after death. But for the stars of Twilight, what’s next after the end of the franchise that made them among the industry’s most sought-after commodities? It’s a question that Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are facing now that the series has wrapped with Breaking Dawn — the first half of which opens in theatres this week. How have they fared so much and what’s next for them? Here’s a rundown:

Kristen Stewart: Stewart was no Hollywood newcomer when she signed to portray Bella Swan in 2008’s Twilight. Previous roles included playing Jodie Foster’s daughter in David Fincher’s Panic Room. Since Twilight, Stewart has avoided blockbusters, instead headlining such little-seen films as Adventureland, Welcome to the Rileys, The Runaways and next year’s On the Road. But with Twilight finished, she’s segued into the role of Snow White in next summer’s action fantasy Snow White and the Huntsman with Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron.

Robert Pattinson: Prior to Twilight, Pattinson may have been best known for playing Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Post-Edward Cullen, his choices have met with mixed results. His performance as Salvador Dali in Little Ashes was critically maligned and the drama Remember Me was a commercial disappointment. But he enjoyed success earlier this year starring opposite Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants. Next up are roles in Bel Ami, with Uma Thurman, and Cosmopolis for director David Cronenberg.

Taylor Lautner: Hard to believe Lautner was almost replaced after the original Twilight. But after packing on muscle, he convinced the producers to keep him on as Jacob Black. Since New Moon, he’s made the most overtly commercial choices — from the romantic comedy Valentine’s Day to the action thriller Abduction, which bombed earlier this fall. Perhaps as a result of Abduction’s failure, Lautner appears to be signaling a move away from the Hollywood pipeline (his starring role in the toy-based Stretch Armstrong would appear to be on hold) with reports he’s going to star in a movie for Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting).

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