'Breaking Dawn''s Nikki Reed On Rosalie Hate Mail And Life As A 'Twilight' Celebrity
Slight change of topic: You have a song on the Breaking Dawn soundtrack. Congratulations, because that process must be extremely competitive.
Thank you! Can I just say, we fought so hard for that. Everyone who was involved – Bill Condon, Erik Feig, the studio, Eric Kops, Nancy Kirkpatrick — they’ll all tell you this was not handed to us. There’s room for 16 songs, and there were people that really went to bat for me behind this, and really believed in this song itself and wanted to make this happen.
How did you begin campaigning to get the spot? Did you write the song first, or write it for the film?
I love music, and I had just met Paul. We were filming, this was two years ago, and I said to Bill Condon, “I’m dating this guy who’s a musician and we’re doing music together! It’s a whole new chapter of my life. If I wrote something for the movie, would you just listen to it?” And he was like, “Of course, I’ll listen to anything you send.” But that’s as far as it goes. So we actually wrote something. I let Paul read the script so he would actually understand the storyline and we wrote the song together about these characters. There were a lot of yeses, and nos, and of course the politics of it all — there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen and Bill doesn’t just make the decision, the studio doesn’t just make the decision, the music supervisor doesn’t just make the decision, there are so many people.
But it finally happened. And honestly, I didn’t care if it made the soundtrack or the film — I just wanted it to go on a DVD box. I didn’t care if I made $5 from it. The fans write fan fiction, they write songs for us, and I just wanted them to see that I also connect with this on a deeper level, and I’m inspired enough by this series to want to do something like that. I’m so happy that it made it. Then Paul and I decided we wanted to record our album — it’s called The Best Part, and it’s very basic folky music, just us singing together with an awesome guy playing upright bass and some lead guitar. It’s like a whole new chapter of my life that’s opening because of the ending of this, if that makes sense, in a weird way.
It seems as though you take all of the twists and turns of your career and life as a whole, because they all led you to where you are now.
I don’t have a lot of perspective on this series yet because I’m so in it, but I do have perspective on what the journey of a career looks like. You’re up and you’re down, and you’re important and then you’re not, and you’re in the spotlight and then you’re gone, and it really does happen like that. To be a part of something that for so many years has grabbed people’s attention… the fans have really floated this whole thing. I’m aware of that and also grateful for the experience, because it’s success by association, too. Right now I’m in Twilight and I go around to signings and there are people screaming and crying, and it’s so surreal. I know that when this is over in a month or two and whenever Twilight’s no longer relevant, that doesn’t live on for me. It’s because of this. It’s not very often that this happens for people.
Of all the people involved in the Twilight film phenomenon, you’re in the unique position of having been there, in a strange way, from the start; Catherine Hardwicke cast the first Twilight, which launched this entire franchise, but she probably got the job because of her work on Thirteen, which she wouldn’t have made without you. So you have been at the root of this franchise before it was even a franchise.
Absolutely — I think if I wasn’t the first, I was the second person to know about this. Catherine called me seven or eight months before it was happening and she was like, “Hey, do you like the vampire genre? Because there’s this thing I’m thinking about and there are actually some books, and some fans — I don’t know if you’re into it,” and it was that sort of conversation. I was living in Hawaii, I was going to school, I had decided I wasn’t going to act anymore, and I got that phone call and thought, I’m going to just have a look here and see what I think. In the beginning it was as simple and superficial as, yeah, Rosalie seems like a real challenge and I’d love to look so different — I’d love to have blonde hair for something. It was actually more of a physical transformation, if you can believe it, because I thought, When will I have the opportunity again?
Catherine casts films so differently; look at Peter Facinelli, he looks nothing like Carlisle. He’s Italian! And Kellan — Kellan’s whole look goes from tan, blonde Calvin Klein beach model to Emmett. Catherine was a production designer, which is what my dad does, and she goes into an empty room and can fill it with a vision that goes beyond what she’s seeing, and I really feel that’s her casting process. Nine times out of ten I go in for a film and they’re like, “God, you were great — but they want a blonde.” And it’s like, can you not see that maybe I could do that, or I can change what I look like? Catherine casts based on who you are. If you know Peter at all, he’s so like Carlisle — he’s the most compassionate, fatherly and protective, and he really took us all in. Ashley [Greene]’s incredibly girly and into her fashion and things. I think I have a strong personality and I’ve been very outspoken in my life and career, and I think Catherine sees those qualities in you. It’s not about what you look like.
Looking back now, how much has the media attention impacted life for you and the Twilight cast?
I think the attention on the cast has changed the dynamic slightly. I think that if you ask the cast as whole what their favorite film was to make, most of us go back to the first one. I think the reason for that is not even about what the first movie looks like aesthetically or any of those things, but actually because somewhere in us it evokes that nostalgic emotion. That was a really specific time for us. We were just kids, and no one knew who anyone was. Maybe once or twice someone stopped me in Portland and said, “Are you the girl from Thirteen?” And maybe Kristen got that with Into the Wild. But we were just a bunch of kids roaming the streets exploring who we were and learning about the Portland culture.
We were going to shows all the time — I remember I went to my first Black Keys show with Kristen, and Jackson [Rathbone] would come to my room and we’d play music, and Jackson and Rob would go down to the bar next door because there was an open mic night, and Rob would sing… there were no stars, there was no celebrity. We were just people together. There is no negative or positive feeling that comes from what it became next; no one is upset about it. It was just different. And that was inevitable, because we were suddenly under lockdown. We were filming under tents and there were helicopters all the time, and anything you did or said would be twisted in the press. We were getting phone calls from each other going, “Who said this?” It just all became a different creature. I feel like in a sense, that almost links itself to the feeling that people get when they watch the movies and think, “That reminds me of my first love,” so that’s why they’re so connected to it — it’s like a distant, unattainable feeling now, that they’ve been through it and it’s done. That’s the feeling I have when I think about the first movie. I remember that, and I love it, but because I’m aware of it it’ll never be able to happen again.
Does this experience make you hesitant to dive into a Twilight-scale phenomenon like this again?
I would be a fool to ever say no. The good has outweighed the bad so much, and that’s where we’re talking about perspective — when you’re in it, you might feel like that, but what this film has done in my life and career, and who I am, I don’t feel like I could ever turn this kind of opportunity down. With everything great comes a price, always, right? So we’re paying it, and you have the choice to say “Boo-hoo” or you have the choice to look at all the positive things and say it’s all worth it because of that. You know, I just bought my mom a house — a tiny little baby house, and I spent five years saving enough money to just put a down payment on a house for my mother — but I did it. And to be able to say that when you grow up poor — my mom was a single mother, she made $19,000 a year cutting hair from the back room of our apartment — and now that I have that kind of relationship with her, how could I ever feel that this wasn’t worth it? And not just financially. That’s just a small piece of what’s come for me from all of this, but I’m grateful for all of it.
You've got a new album, a new jewelry line, and looking forward beyond Breaking Dawn, you’ve got a very busy schedule ahead of you.
Let me just say too, everyone in my team has watched me with the amount of frustration that I’ve had. Why am I not booking jobs? What’s going on? I’m putting so much work into this, shouldn’t things be coming to me? No, you have to fight, so hard, and I’ve had many junkets where people have said, “What’s going on with you next?” and I’ve had nothing to say, it’s almost embarrassing and painful. So this year as I rattle off the million things that are going on, I just want you to also understand the amount of appreciation I have for those things, because I know the other side of it, and I know that that could also be tomorrow. I did four really cool films this year — two in particular that I’m really excited about. One is called In Your Eyes, and it’s written and produced by Joss Whedon. I play opposite Zoe Kazan, who was just a dream to work with. And I did a movie called Empire State opposite Liam Hemsworth. Those were two films where I play characters who were such a departure from what normally gravitates towards me. And I have my jewelry line, which launches November 7. I’m in such good company, it’s on GlamHouse.com… and I designed it all myself. My name is not big enough for people to go, let me throw money at you because you’re so famous! This was about me saying, love me for the design aspect because I might not be famous enough to support this.
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