When Kristen hated saying the word “bittersweet,” during the final “Twilight” panel at Comic Con, I think quite a few of us in Hall H empathized with her. Comic Con 2012 didn’t disappoint when it came to cast member appearances, never before seen footage from “Breaking Dawn, Part 2″ and plenty of swag at the Summit Entertainment booth, but as much fun as it was, it also was bittersweet knowing that this really was it, the end of “Twilight” at Comic Con.
Last year at Comic Con, I was interviewed by Access Hollywood’s Scott Mantz and he asked me how I felt as a fan about it coming to an end. At the time I said that we still had a long way to go before it wrapped up. This year I felt that the end is near.
Rumors started swirling early last week that “special guests” would be stopping by the Hall H line on Wednesday night, which is preview night and also the night before the “Breaking Dawn” panel. Around 8:30 p.m., light up Breaking Dawn necklaces and posters began to be handed out to fans. A little before 9 p.m. a large group of people with some familiar faces started making its way through the low lit tent area toward the beginning of the Hall H line. While Kellan Lutz and Peter Facinelli’s faces stood out, it took a few moments for the fans who were camping out to realize that surrounding the “Cullen’s” were the new vampires. Twenty-eight cast members had arrived to sign everyone’s posters!
It was an exciting experience to welcome Amadou Ly (Henri), Angela Safafyan (Tia), Ashley Greene (Alice Cullen), Bill Tangradi (Randall), Casey LaBow (Kate), Elizabeth Reaser (Esme Cullen), Erik Odom (Peter), Guri Weinberg (Stefan), Jackson Rathbone (Jasper Hale), Janelle Froehlich (Yvette), JD Pardo (Nahuel), Joe Anderson (Alistair), Judi Shekoni (Zafrina), Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen), Lisa Howard (Siobhan), Mackenzie Foy (Renesmee Cullen), Maggie Grace (Irina), Marisa Quinn (Huilen), Marlane Barnes (Maggie), Masami Kosaka (Toshiro), Nikki Reed (Rosalie Hale), Noel Fisher (Vladimir), Patrick Brennan (Liam), Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen), Rami Malek (Benjamin), Toni Trucks (Mary), Tracy Heggins (Senna) and Valorie Curry (Charlotte).
While the vampires were making their way up and down the lines, another person appeared from the shadows, the person who is the reason that we were all there, Stephenie Meyer. Stephenie took her time moving along the line, chatting with fans and listening to stories while taking pictures and giving autographs and hugs.
The buzz among fans continued after the cast and Stephenie departed the Hall H line to head to the Summit Entertainment party at the Hard Rock Hotel. In addition to the cast other attendees spotted included Nerd HQ founder and actor Zachary Levi, director Morgan Spurlock and Twilight fan fiction author, E.L. James.
There was hope among some that there would be surprises in store for the Hall H line the morning of the “Breaking Dawn,” panel as there had been last year, but after Wednesday night’s excitement, Thursday morning was relatively quiet…except for the random screams. Starting at the beginning of the line, there was a drawing to win an autograph session with Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and Mackenzie Foy. You reached into a bag and pulled out a ticket. If the ticket you pulled had a stamp on it you were one of approximately 50 people who got to participate in the signing. We knew every time someone won thanks to the yelps of excitement.
A little after 11 a.m., they began to load Hall H. Fans hustled to get seats close to the stage and then wait in anticipation for the panel to begin! Before the panel began there were mentions of Gisela Gagliardi, a Twilight fan, who was killed when she fell and was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street near the San Diego Convention Center two days prior to the start of Comic Con.
Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were introduced and made their way to their onstage seats. They were joined by Mackenzie Foy (Renesmee), who bounded on the stage and Stephenie Meyer, who was making her first appearance at Comic Con since she was there for “Twilight.”
Before one question was asked, our attention was turned to the screens for a greeting from director Bill Condon. He apologized for not being there because he is in London working on the score, but introduced us to the first seven minutes of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.”
So what happened in the first seven minutes? SPOILER! You remember that at the end of “Part 1” Bella opens her eyes as a vampire – well it picks up where we left off. Bella is taking things in around the room before landing on Edward. He shows her herself in the mirror before she turns and hugs him causing him obvious pain – Edward’s expression was priceless. They head out to hunt and are racing each other through the forest. Bella, looking slightly unkempt, and Edward are tracking a deer when the scene begins shifting back and forth between a man rock climbing and Bella catching his scent. When the climber cuts his knee Bella takes off after the man and begins scaling the rock face. Edward catches up to her on a ledge below him and apologizes to Bella – he didn’t think anyone would be that far out. Bella’s expression is tortured before she finally leaps off the ledge to the ground hundreds of feet below. Edward admires her ease. Next they are back tracking the deer, but instead of taking down the deer, Bella takes down a mountain lion that was about to go after her meal.
After Bella wrestles with her first meal, we see Edward and Bella walking back toward the Cullen house with Jacob coming out to greet them. Bella is surprised to that he is still there and Jacob acknowledges how much she still looks like Bella. Jacob tells Bella that he’s her test to make sure she doesn’t attack him before seeing Renesmee. Bella asks Jacob, “Since when do you care about Renesmee?” A look goes back and forth between Edward and Jacob. Edward holds on Bella while she takes a whiff of Jacob and acknowledges that he stinks. The three of them chuckle and begin heading toward the house.
What did I love about the first seven minutes? I loved Edward’s expressions throughout the sequence. He was overwhelmed and in awe of his wife and it comes across so well so kudos to Rob. From the moment we see Jacob, you can feel that the burden is lifted and that he is relaxed and happy. Taylor even said during the panel that one of his favorite things about this movie is that after pining for Bella for the last few movies it was nice to have Jacob be so happy. Bella taking down the mountain lion kicked ass! We haven’t actually seen any vampires hunt animals since the opening scene of “Twilight” and this is the first time we’ve seen a female do it. I also loved the humor and comfort between the trio when Bella let’s Jacob know that he stinks.
What did I not care for or concerns me? At the end of “Part 1” the camera appears to go around the room showing the whole family waiting for Bella to wake up, but we didn’t see any of them during the first seven minutes and neither did Bella. I love in the book how she wakes up and is taking everything in for the first time including her family. Where are they? The rock climbing seemed a bit unnecessary, but I was more concerned about how close she and Edward got to the climber. It was close enough that you could see him above them. Presented that way on screen, it seems difficult to believe that he wouldn’t hear them or sense their presence. Finally, when Bella walks back to the house after taking down a mountain lion her blue dress is completely intact and there’s not one bit of dirt or blood on her – Bella may be a perfect newborn, but she’s not that perfect. I also felt that throughout the scene the vampires’ grace is sacrificed in the name of speed, but my hope is that the effects will be refined as it was noted that this is not the final version.
The second scene shown was Carlisle, Esme, Rosalie and Alice giving Bella tips on how to act human prior Charlie coming over for the first time. Bella seemed to easily get the brown contacts into her eyes, but then when she went to sit down she moved too fast and almost took out the chair, making her in-laws look a little nervous. At end of the short scene Bella claims to have it down.
After the second scene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene and Jackson Rathbone joined the other five on stage to also answer questions. They were first asked a broad question about their favorite moment throughout the process. Peter talked about how he would miss the fans and the cast, while Elizabeth noted that one of her favorite moments was the deleted Carlisle and Esme scene from “Twilight.” Nikki talked about how they were kids when this started and that they have grown, specifically noting that she and Jackson have gone through so much in the last year (Nikki getting married and Jackson becoming a father.) Kellan talked about how excited he was to finally kiss his “wife” in “Part 2.” Nikki Reed’s husband, singer Paul McDonald, was sitting directly behind me during the panel and he got a chuckle out Kellan’s enthusiasm. Ashley said how great it was to experience all of it with the fans. Jackson said his favorite part was playing Jasper as a human.
Other things that we learned during the panel the Cliff Notes version: Kristen would dress up as the Evil Queen to cosplay at Comic Con while Rob would go a General Zod from Superman. Rob will not be writing a novel from Edward’s perspective, but it also sounds like Stephenie won’t be working on anything with vampires anytime soon including finishing “Midnight Sun,” but Stephenie likes the idea of Rob writing one. We have heard that the dog bowl scene was filmed, but Taylor talked about how he had to chuck the bowl at Nikki’s head all night long and kept missing. Kristen was emphatic that she hates that the scene is not in “Part 1.” Kristen was happy about her wedding though and said that she kept thanking Bill Condon every five minutes because it was so perfect. Rob and Kristen enjoyed Brazil and said that they couldn’t have gotten that authenticity using extras in Louisiana. They said that people would run up to them and hug them while shooting in Brazil. Kristen also said playing a vampire was fun. According to Rob the advice “Breaking Dawn, Part 2” Edward would give to “Twilight” Edward would be “Keep it in your pants.” Rob followed that up by noting that the advice would be not to succumb to peer pressure and start wearing a wig. He said this because on the reshoots he had to do in May they put an “orange” wig on him, which he said was like an amalgamation of six of them, like Frankenstein’s monster. Peter asked him if it was his dyed. Kristen said her favorite moment to film was her first vampire hunt. Taylor said his favorite scene was when Jacob tells Bella that he imprinted and that it is hilarious. Mackenzie said her favorite was riding Jacob as a wolf and that it was really fun and that she lost a tooth, but she now has big girl teeth. Jackson said the most difficult thing about working on the films was getting into the makeup and the difficulty seeing with the contacts. Taylor said it was difficult keeping the weight on and that he had to eat a lot.
With the last question asked, many of the new vampires were introduced including the Denali, Egyptian, Amazonian, Romanian, and Irish coven members who had come to the Hall H line the night before plus the Nomads who were present.
Then the last “Twilight” panel at Comic Con was over, but that was hardly the end of Twilight’s presence at Comic Con. Over the next several days many of the new cast members appeared in the Summit Entertainment booth on the exhibit hall floor, where they were giving away “Breaking Dawn, Part 2” bags, pins, posters, trading cards and screen print tees.
Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Kellan Lutz and Peter Facinelli appeared at Nerd HQ for an hour long Conversations for a Cause panel. For those of you not familiar with Nerd HQ, it was started by actor Zachary Levi at Comic Con 2011 as an offsite event for fans to interact in a more intimate setting. Conversations for a Cause are ticketed events for just 200 people that cost only $20 and the money goes to charity. The fun thing about these panels, in addition to how intimate they are, is that they are not moderated. So for an hour Ashley, Jackson, Kellan and Peter took audience questions and chatted among themselves. It was incredibly fun, entertaining and a highlight of Comic Con 2012. From talking about who put the most money in Mackenzie’s swear jar (Rob), to learning about Jackson’s love for “Game of Thrones” and his excitement when his son first pooped, to learning how the “boys” ran around getting in trouble when shooting “Twilight” to talking about early auditions. It was awesome and worth taking the time to watch the video of the entire “Twilight” Conversations for a Cause below. Follow Page to Premiere on tumblr and facebook for exclusive photos from this and other events coming soon.
The next day, Nikki Reed participated in Entertainment Weekly’s Women in Pop Culture Who Kick Ass panel along with Kristen Bauer van Straten (True Blood), Lucy Lawless (Spartacus and Xena: Warrior Princess), Anna Torv (Fringe), Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead) and Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and the Beast). Nikki drew a lot on her experience as a screenwriter at a young age with the movie “Thirteen” and her work with Catherine Hardwicke throughout her career. When asked about the worst/most exploitive costume she has had to wear Nikki said she’s not complaining about any costume because she feels that anything she’s had to wear made the characters she’s played. She noted that while “Twilight” isn’t over yet, the “Breaking Dawn” panel the day before made her realize that it is coming to an end, but she is crossing her fingers that life goes on after “Twilight.” When asked about women taking bigger roles in Hollywood behind the scenes, Nikki pointed out that highly successful “Twilight Saga” was written by a woman, all five screenplays were written by a woman and the first film was directed by a woman. Finally, when asked about what stereotype she would like to see go away or change when it comes to women who kick ass, Nikki’s answer was body image.
Nikki wasn’t the only “Twilight” cast member who appeared on a Comic Con panel outside of something related to “Breaking Dawn.” Anna Kendrick (Jessica Stanley) appeared in Hall H on Friday morning to promote the animated film “ParaNorman,” in which she provides the voice of Norman’s big sister Courtney. Daniel Cudmore was on a panel for “Halo 4: Forward Until Dawn,” a five episode web series based on the popular video game series Halo. Daniel stars in the series as Master Chief. Finally, the new NBC television series, “Revolution” had a big presence at Comic Con from a billboard that took up an entire side of a the Hilton to a display including an overgrown Ferris wheel and Toyota Yaris right at the entry to the Gaslamp District to being a featured pilot screened on preview night and a panel on Saturday night that included two Twilight cast members who star on the show, Billy Burke (Charlie Swan) and JD Pardo. Also, Stephenie Meyer introduced the first look at the movie “The Host” based on the book she authored after “The Twilight Saga” was finished.
Other projects with “Twilight” connections featured at Comic Con 2012 included Anna Kendrick’s upcoming film, “End of Watch” and Lee Pace (Garrett) looks phenomenal as the Elvenking, Thranduil, in behind the scenes footage of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”
Twilight fan fiction was once again featured in a panel setting with five authors discussing their experiences writing Twilight fan fiction with a captive audience. In addition to the panel, there was a Twilight Fanfic Meetup event on Saturday night where the community gathered to socialize, chat fic and raise a glass to Gisela, who was a fan fiction supporter and many had met at the Twific Meetup in Las Vegas last month.
By Sunday, most cast members departed, the stock of giveaways at the Summit booth was rather depleted and the fans who had stayed for all four days were happy but exhausted. We looked back on the last four days with laughter, smiles and memories of a lot of time in lines or uncomfortable chairs. We had stories to tell about other panels like “Man of Steel,” “The Hobbit,” “True Blood,” “Firefly,” and “Iron Man 3,” but we all had a favorite “Twilight” related moment or two or three to talk about. Yes, it is bittersweet that “Twilight” at Comic Con is over and before you know it the calendar will say November 17 and it will be time to move on. When we look back we’ll have memories, but going forward we’ll still have friends. Over and over again the cast spoke about the fans and the impact they have made on them, but what I find remarkable is the impact we have made on each other. The movies will end with “forever”, but when it comes to the friendships formed “forever is only the beginning.” I’m sure I’ll see many of you in November or sooner because it isn’t over yet!