Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
November 14, 2012
Now that Bella (Kristen Stewart) has delivered vampire baby Renesmee, Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) is officially a grandfather.
“It’s weird being a grandfather at such a young age. I didn’t quite like being called grandpa,” Facinelli said, laughing. “But [Edward, played by Robert Pattinson is] a dad now. So we’re all kind of growing up. It happens.”
It sure does. Four years after “The Twilight Saga” franchise adapted from Stephenie Meyer’s novels became a mega-squeal-inducing phenomenon, this weekend’s “Breaking Dawn—Part 2” wraps it all up as the business hits the fan between the Cullen family and the powerful Volturi vampire collective.
The day after the film’s L.A. premiere—from which Facinelli says he got home around 3 or 3:30 a.m. and woke up at 4:30 a.m.—the 38-year-old actor talked at the Dana Hotel about being asked to sign people's underwear, introducing his vampire self to the real world and if he's ready for all this madness to end.
See him: Facinelli's scheduled to appear 3 p.m.-10 p.m. Fri. at Hollywood Blvd Cinema in Woodridge; 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Sat. at Hollywood Palms Cinema in Naperville; noon-8 p.m. Sun. at Hollywood Blvd Cinema
I’m sure you’re inundated with screams and posters while traveling around with this movie, but can you think of a surprising reaction you’ve gotten, one that stands out?
Screams are OK. The crying sometimes gets me. Sometimes people will cry and I feel bad. [Laughs.]
Are you ever moved to cry when you see them to balance it out?
No, I just give them a big hug and make sure they know I’m just a person.
I read at the premiere someone was holding a sign that was an enlarged photo of Rob’s crotch.
I didn’t see that. Was it the full-frontal crotch?
I assume not, but I don’t know what photos are out there.
I’ve never seen that photo or Rob’s crotch. I’m just going on record saying that. [Laughs.]
That’s good to know. I’m sure people emphasize Rob, Kristen and Taylor, but what do people say specifically about you on posters?
There’s always some kind of posters with the cast or me. Usually they just ask me to sign. The oddest thing someone asked me to sign, I think I was in London. Someone asked me to sign their britches, and I didn’t know what that was. I was like, “Yeah, sure,” and then she kinda rolled up her underwear. I was like, “No, I didn’t know that was a britch. I’m not signing britches.”
Was there anything in this last installment that felt new?
Yeah, we had all new cast members in the last one, which is kind of fun because I felt like we were like the seniors in high school and they were the freshmen coming in. They were wide-eyed and excited and we were like, we had done it already. They’d be going out and going, “Hey, come out with us,” and we’re like, “No, we’re tired, we’re getting some sleep.” [Laughs.] We’d already been there, done that, and now we’re just wanting to get to work in the morning. It was fun watching them come in and look at it from a different perspective because we had already been there, so it was like now they were getting the opportunity to come in and see it fresh, be a part of it fresh.
Were you asked for any advice, being that senior member?
No, no one ever asks me for advice. About anything.
When you guys were in town for the red carpet for “Breaking Dawn—Part 1” and I interviewed Nikki [Reed], she was telling me shooting in depressing places with lousy weather takes a toll on her. What effect did that have on you?
I wish I could get one of those seasonal disorder lights. If I had to do it again, I’d get one of those lights because it’s like six months of rain every day and then you’re on set, you’re in hair and makeup and costume and you can’t really do anything because if you’re not working for a few hours, it’s not like you’re like, “I’m going to go to the gym.” I can’t even go to the convenience store because if you walk in as Carlisle Cullen, it’s creepy.
Did you ever have that experience?
I walked into a 7-11. I had on my full hair and makeup. I actually had just come from working a couple hours and I was like, “Let’s see, I’ll test out Carlisle Cullen and see if people would actually freak out if they actually saw a vampire.” The lady didn’t even look up, so that made me feel good that the Cullens actually could walk around town and not be noticed.
I was impressed that it seems you’ve started your own dance craze on “Ellen.” What inspired you to do that, and how do you feel about “Gangnam Style”?
Well, I had my dance before “Gangnam Style.”
When did you come up with the driving-the-car dance?
Years ago. Years ago. But I’ve just now gifted it to the public.
Thank you. We’re very grateful.
It’s something I do behind closed doors. [Laughs.] When I’m with my kids. I love putting on records and having little dance parties with my kids. We have fun creating new dances.
How did you come up with that?
I don’t know. The music flows and my body just takes over.
You weren’t actually driving?
Nope, it just started happening. And then I gave it a name. I’m working on a new one now called “Flying a Plane.” It’s a good one.
Can we get a preview?
It’s a lot of arm movements and running around. You’ve gotta sway a little bit. But I’m going to let the [“Driving the Car” dance] go for a while. Then I’ll debut the “Flying a Plane.”
I read the cast of “Twilight” played the “Twilight” board game. How did that game go? Were you playing your own character?
It’s trivia. I thought I would fare really well because when we shot these movies I was like the Wikipedia. I did so much homework and so much research. The other actors would actually come up to me. They’d say, “When did you bite me?” I’d give them the exact date, time…
You remember it all?
I don’t remember it now because it’s been four years, but when we were actually filming the first “Twilight” I knew it front and back. I knew exactly the time of day it was, if it was raining. I love research, that’s part of the fun of it. But then we played this board game and I thought I would do really well but there were a lot of parts of the movie that I realized I wasn’t in. So there was a lot of high school in the question. I was like, “Oh, wait, I wasn’t in that part.” I wouldn’t know the answers to the high school stuff. Ashley Greene actually ended up winning. I came in second place.
Out of how many?
It was me, Ashley, Kellan [Lutz], Jackson [Rathbone], the actor who played Riley, whose name [Xavier Samuel] escapes me right now because I only got an hour of sleep. But I think Ashley cheated because her character can read minds—or sees the future. Her character can see the future. I think she actually used that power to cheat.
You think you all adapted the powers of your character?
Yes, I have the power of compassion. So even though she cheated I forgave her.
It seems somewhat easier to have that than the power to see the future, don’t you think?
I’d go with the reading of the minds and the future. I think those are cooler gifts. I talked with Stephenie [Meyer]. I was like, “I kind of got the short end of the stick with compassion.” I was like, “Couldn’t you have made him fly and have compassion?” You can’t really smite the Volturi with compassion.
You could try!
The Volturi’s coming at you, “I’m going to smite you with compassion! I will be the most compassionate man in the room if you don’t …”
“We step down. Nevermind. We didn’t realize you were so compassionate.”
Actually, in “Eclipse” I do a lot of action sequences and I do a lot of killing and murdering of the other vampires, but I always said sorry in my head after.
It seems Kristen is pretty happy the series is over and ready to move on. How are you feeling about that?
It’s bittersweet. I enjoyed the whole experience. I had a fun time. It’s really powerful experience to have this fanbase that grew as we progressed to more of a family. You’d see these fans year after year and you got to know them by name.
Yeah. I’d be like, “Hey, you cut your hair this year.” [Laughs.] it was a family on set, it was a family off camera with the actors, but it was also a family with the “Twilight” fans.
If there were five more installments, would you embrace that?
I love that character, so I would do it as long as I could ‘cause I had such a fun time doing it. As an actor the one thing you know is your job is going to come to an end. Usually you do one movie, and I always have a little mourning for that character because you know you’re never going to play that character again. And I feel really lucky that we were able to extend this for not just one movie but five. If anything, I feel lucky that we got to explore these characters for the last four or five years.
You mentioned having a certain level of seniority on set. You have considerably more acting experience than some of these people. Were you able to advise any of the cast on any of the tabloid nonsense in the last few months?
You know, there’s no advice to be given on any of that. Like I said, I never give unsolicited advice or people never really ask me for advice anyway. [Laughs.] I’m proud of how they handle being under a microscope. As hard as it is, I don’t think anyone can give you any kind of tips or advice on that. You deal with it the way you feel like you need to.
Have you seen any chance in the fan reaction because of what’s going on in your personal life?
I haven’t. Your personal life is your personal life. If people want to see your personal life they’d watch your reality show. They’re there to see these characters and that has no effect on these characters nor the story.
These movies have been so successful and people love them. The reviews are all over the map. Do you think on any level, with movies like “Twilight” with a built-in audience, it almost doesn’t matter if they’re any good and people will go see them anyway?
You know, I never go to work thinking, “Ah, people are going to see this [anyway], who cares?” I always go to work, and I think all the cast went to work, trying to do the best job we could knowing a lot of the people were going to see them. I enjoy them. You can’t please everybody. But I think for the most part when you have an audience come out like they have that says a lot. Hopefully they’ll come out and see “Breaking Dawn—Part 2” and they’ll enjoy it just as much. I really feel like this last one really gives you the sense of completion of these movies and I think a lot of the fans will be satisfied.
On Chicago: “I don’t know. What’s some good things to do in Chicago? Eat some good food, right? Have some Chicago deep-dish pizza. I’ve literally been here less than a couple hours. I had some chocolate covered almonds that were pretty good.”
On road trips: “I love driving the RV and seeing roadside signs like ‘The biggest ball of yarn.’ And I saw ‘The hometown of Superman, Metropolis, Illinois.’ I was like, ‘I have to stop.’ … I loved Superman growing up. Spider-Man was my favorite. Superman was my No. 2. Any time you’re driving through on your RV and you see fun roadside attractions, I’m there.”
On animals he will or won’t eat, in light of Carlisle Cullen surviving on animal blood: “I’m not interested in eating rabbits. They’re cute little buggers, and I think they’re better suited for carrying around Easter eggs and stuff like that … If they’re cute and cuddly, I don’t want to eat ‘em.”
The strangest thing he’s eaten: “Alligator probably. I was in New Orleans and I had some alligator. It tastes like chicken.”
On embracing immortality: “I don’t know what I would do with all my free time. ‘Cause you don’t sleep. I think I’d read a lot. I’d watch a lot of movies. Go to a lot of museums. Immortality’s a very appealing thing. I think that’s one of the things that people find intriguing about vampires is they have eternity … I love life, so I’d like to live it as much as I can.”
His favorite teen movies: “Well, my teen movies I grew up with was like ‘Pretty In Pink’ and stuff like that. Any of those movies were my faves. My go-to, I guess it’s not a teen high school movie, but I loved ‘Goonies’ and ‘E.T.’ and those ‘80s movies.”
On the upcoming “Loosies,” which he wrote and stars in: “’Loosies’ to me is more of a throwback to the ‘70s. I wanted to have this anti-hero, this kind of Steve McQueen kind of lead that led this carefree lifestyle and you still root for him even though he’s a pickpocket. And we have fantastic actors in it, Joey Pants [Joe Pantoliano], Michael Madsen, Vincent Gallo. It was a real treat to be able to film that. Especially since I wrote it … I wrote it in three weeks. It took seven years to get made, but I wrote it in three weeks. [Laughs.]”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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