Jackson Rathbone on Breaking Dawn, Rocking Out and Life After Twilight
Jackson Rathbone says he has felt right at home playing Jasper in the Twilight films, though the vampire's quiet, reserved nature contrasts with the actor's other identity: as the leader of L.A. funk rock band 100 Monkeys, who kick off their first European tour this month. Rathbone, who was strumming a guitar between interviews at the recent junket for this week's Breaking Dawn - Part 1, spoke with Movieline about balancing film and music, Twilight's effect on his success as a musician, and moving on from the series after Breaking Dawn - Part 2 hits theaters next year.
Do you have a true love when it comes to film vs. music? Would you ever give up one to focus on the other?
I would never give up one form of the arts for another form of the arts. Arts as a whole, I'm lucky that I fell in love with something when I was so young and I've kept it my entire life. Passion, to me, is one of the most important characteristics in life and our humanity.
What's it like playing an antagonistic protagonist who has to be restrained from killing Bella all the time?
It's definitely the thing I love about Jasper the most. He's fighting his instincts in order to maintain that last shred of humanity. That's what I find fascinating about this band of vampires and the mythology that Stephenie Meyer has created in the Twilight series. I think that's what people are attuned to. Every day in our lives we're surrounded by temptation and to finally have protagonists who really are trying to stay away from that temptation, that's beautiful. In Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 we have the wedding between Bella and Edward, and they've waited. They've waited until they're married, and that's cool, man. I'm glad that there's a story out there like that, because we've lost that as a civilization. I think it's about time that we got more of the love and left lust behind a little bit. People want to see good and want to know how much good there is in the world, and how much good there is within us. I think it's been pounded into our heads that we're evil and that we're base creatures who give in to sin and temptation, but I think that's wrong. There's such an incredible light that shines within ourselves and sometimes people try to put it out, and it's really nice to see it upheld.
It's probably better for you to be able to play a character that's a little more complex.
I enjoy it. I've always played character parts. I was always a character actor. So when I got the role of Jasper I said, 'Oh, this is fun.' I get to play such a strict very, very, very still character who's quite and thoughtful and trying to resist temptation of his instinct. I'm a very relaxed, easy-going guy, so to play kind of a buttoned up figure like Jasper was very exciting.
Sometimes it can be hard for a band to tour in Europe for the first time, but do you think recognition from Twilight will help?
Over the years I have found that Twilight has helped and hindered. Some people are wary of the fact that I'm an actor as well as a musician, and beyond that that I'm in a movie that's widely seen as being in a feminine demographic, or a younger feel. Our music, though, is not the kind of music that you'd find on a Twilight soundtrack. We sing very eclectic music, our songs ranging from death to the devil or drinking, and we sing drinking anthems. We run around stage like mad men. All of us change instruments. We're very much like a raucous carnival onstage, and I'm really excited to bring that to Europe.
I'm not exactly sure what the live music scene is over there. We've actually had an amazing response from European fans. A lot of them have already flown out to see us in the U.S. so we really wanted to return the favor. We really want to get over and see people that can't see us. The reason it's taken us so long is it's hard to be an independent band.
Is there anything you're looking forward to with the end of the Twilight series, or anything you'll get to do that you haven't done yet?
I've been trying to find time to direct. I have a short film that I wrote that's very important to me. It's a dark comedy based on my philosophical beliefs in life. ... I really love film, and I have ever since I was like 13, 14 and sneaking out to go watch movies at my friends' houses because my parents didn't let us watch very much film. I kept the George A. Romero box set of zombie films underneath my bed when I was 15 because my parents would've said it was some kind of evil and thrown it out.
Have you worked on other projects with anyone you've met from the Twilight films, or plan to?
I hope to, I love collaboration. I love working with other artists, which is why I think film is so important to me in my life. It's why I want do direct. It's the ultimate collaboration and as the director you oversee the collaboration. I take in everything, I'm a listener at heart, so I think I can bring that aspect of my personality into directing.
Have you picked up any habits from the directors you've worked with?
Definitely. My entire career I've tried to not spend much time in my trailer but always be on set watching the work of everybody. It's amazing how much work people don't know goes into filmmaking. If everybody knew how much work it took to make a movie I think everybody would stay to the end of the credits and their hands would be sore from applauding. There's so many different artists and so many different departments that create a film. It's fascinating.
Do you like the instant gratification of being onstage with your band more?
The instant gratification from playing with the band supplements that creative side of my brain. That's why I can't pick between acting or music or directing or producing, or any aspect of art. I love photography, I love poetry. I'm moved by it.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 opens Friday; read all of Movieline's coverage here.