“Breaking Dawn”-The Wolfpack: The Clearwaters
Kidzworld asks “Breaking Dawn’s” wolves Seth and Leah (cute Booboo Stewart and Julia Jones) about shape-shifting and acting with Taylor Lautner. These young actors love their more active roles in the two Breaking Dawn films.
Kidzworld: Can you both tell us how you got cast in this movie?
- Booboo: I was in the Walt Disney recording group and, when that ended, fans were telling me about the Seth Clearwater character. My agent, luckily, got me in for a callback because the auditions were already done. I was literally the last to be seen for the callbacks. I went in and read the lines; I think we read the monologue twice. It was just really fun. The casting director and I had a really great time in the room. People say, 'Did you have to act like a wolf when you were auditioning?’ It's like, 'No.' I probably would not have gotten the part if I had to act like a wolf.
- Julia: I had a relationship with the casting director for a number of years; she actually cast me in a movie the first day I got to L.A. years before this came up. I was in Black Cloud that Rick Schroder directed in ’04. So she called and I went in and auditioned for her and David Slade, and went back a week later and auditioned for a whole room of people. I didn’t hear anything for months and then it was a very short list, and then four days later, 'You got it.' It was pretty crazy.
Kidzworld: How was working with Taylor…your “pack” leader? Do you think he has a great future ahead?
- Booboo: I had a really great time working with him actually. I’ve known him since I was nine years old, but it’s our first time really working together. It was pretty cool just hanging out on the set. He’s such a nice guy. He’s pretty much always been the same, he's always throwing footballs around and stuff like that. I can’t throw a football, so I didn’t join in.
- Julia: I did, I did! I played football all the time with Taylor.
- Booboo: You don't want to see me throw a football. It was just fun to work with him. Usually they have to call everyone to set. Like, 'Oh, be on set,' or 'Can you please stay on the set?' Taylor's just always hanging out on set, so you never really have to call him to the set, which I though was really professional. I saw Abduction, awesome movie, and thought it was really cool. I think he is great at doing action stuff, and I think he’ll have a long career.
- Julia: I loved working with Taylor. There's a sort of combination of lightness and energy that he brings to the set that is so fun. He’s always playing games and it’s a really pleasant experience to be on the set with him. And then at the same time once the cameras roll or once they're actually getting to work, he’s very professional and really wants to collaborate. When we showed up to set there was a fair amount of 'Let's figure this out together. What do you think about this?’ And Bill (Condon, director) would be like, 'Okay you guys, just play around and I’ll be back in 10 minutes.'
- Taylor and I would figure out what felt natural to do and Bill would come back and say, ' So, what do you got for me?' and we’d show him. He's like, 'That's all wrong' No! (laughing) We would get together but it was very collaborative and I really felt like it maximized the experience of working with both Taylor and with Bill. And as far as Taylor’s future, I mean what can’t he do? He’s gorgeous, he’s sensitive, and he’s so professional and hard-working and physical, I think he could do anything he wants.
Kidzworld: Your characters obviously go through a lot of growth and change, what have you learned personally from Leah and Seth?
Booboo: Well Seth, he’s a very easy-going, really happy guy. He just wants everyone to pretty much get along. I definitely learned a lot from how easy-going he is about things, and I think that’s really cool. Just his personality, playing the character, I really got to learn to be more calm I think because he’s such a calm guy. He just doesn’t care if you’re a vampire or shape-shifter in everyday life. He’s just more easy-going, I think.
- Julia: I think I should have played Seth! I need to learn that lesson. I think playing Leah, you kind of learn that you are responsible for the course of your life and for the decisions you make. So if you are not happy, it's up to you to do what you need to do to fix the situation. That’s a lot of her journey in Breaking Dawn, and it was very liberating to play that out. Hopefully I can use some of that in my life.
Kidzworld: Booboo, for those who don’t know, how did you get that nickname?
- Booboo: My mom gave me the nickname when I was a baby. I guess I just reminded her of what Booboo would look like, so that’s how I got it. My real name is Nils Allen Stewart Jr. It's very fancy.
Kidzworld: Julia, What are the advantages of having a werewolf as an alter ego? For a woman it seems to be a different kind of a thing. You might be a panther.
- Julia: Right, a cat or something in a different family. For a female, it’s not the best situation being a wolf. I think it's fun to be around the guys all the time; it’s a very familial situation. Also, it's wonderful to be in the woods in the wilderness. Outside of that, there aren't very many advantages. You don’t know if you can have children. It’s very hard to feel feminine or to feel like a girl, and then the whole mind-reading part is tricky too. I think I would prefer to be a wolf. It would be really cool if I were a guy, but for a girl I think the cons outweigh the pros.
Kidzworld: Can you talk about your Native American heritage and portraying Native Americans in a modern sense?
- Julia: Sure. I am part Chickasaw and Choctaw, but I’m a multi-ethnic person; that’s just a part of my identity. I’ve been playing native roles for a very long time. It has been a really rewarding experience in a lot of ways because there is a lot to show. It’s an opportunity to portray a group of people that are not portrayed very frequently and very accurately at all in the media. I cherish that.
- I think that there should be more roles for Native actors in contemporary pieces. It’s an important part of who I am and I’m very proud to play Quileute. The tribe is incredible. I’ve been there to the reservation and it's very exciting for us to have a contemporary Native American culture be portrayed in the Twilight movies. I think it's done amazing things.
- Booboo: Yeah, I think it’s cool. I try not to say I’m this and this and this, because I'm just trying to be a little bit of everything you know? I think it's fun to play the character and I don’t really think of it as I'm just playing a Native character. I'm just playing Seth Clearwater in Twilight.
- Julia: These characters just happen to be Native American. They are so multi-layered and multi-dimensional. It’s about their struggle and it's about who they are as people and their essence, as opposed to primarily falling into these stereotypes of what people think Native Americans are. That really hasn’t been done very much. I think there are wonderful stories and it’s an incredibly important part of our history as a country and they're just not told because there is so little Native American presence in mainstream America.
Kidzworld: Taylor was a bit frustrated that one of his big confrontation scenes was done with his wolf self onscreen. Do you like how your wolf looks?
- Booboo: When I first saw my wolf I was like, 'Wow, this is so cool. You can see it in the eyes and everything.' Phil Tippett's like a beast at doing all the CG and stuff. But then I looked at it and I was like, 'Wow, my wolf is so skinny. He looks like he hasn't eaten in two months!' I still thought it was pretty cool though, seeing yourself as a wolf. I think they did such a good job of portraying us as wolves and you get to see more of that in Breaking Dawn. But, if I had a say in what my wolf looked like, he would be black and like a monster wolf with wings; I’m getting all creative.
Kidzworld: What's been your most memorable fan encounter?
- Booboo: I've had some really cool experiences. There was one experience that was really touching to me. I was doing this movie called White Frog and there were extras in the scene. I play a character who has Asperger’s. After doing my scene, I was just eating some craft service and this mother and son walk up to me, and the mother goes, 'My son didn’t know if he wanted to be an actor and now he realizes this is what he really wants to do.' I was like, 'Wow. This is really cool that you can influence people and change their lives.' I thought that was my coolest fan experience.
Kidzworld: Julia, Leah seems to shift a lot between being incredibly angry and incredibly hurt. Can you talk about finding a balance of those emotions?
- Julia: The balance between the hurt and the anger was a huge part of what happens to Leah in Breaking Dawn. The crux of that shift happens when she breaks off from the old wolf pack. I felt, as an actor playing her, just such relief at not being in that situation and being so angry. It's so exhausting to be angry all the time; I had no idea. There is this one scene with Taylor and after that and he let her stay, I just felt like tons had been lifted off of my shoulders. I was really fortunate that the arc of my character was in the script because it made finding that balance so much easier. It was really quite obvious and really rewarding.
Kidzworld: Booboo, you’re involved in acting and martial arts and music. Is there any comparison to the discipline you have to go through for those?
- Booboo: Doing martial arts definitely helped in just discipline for everything in general, I think. Just being on set, you’re waiting for hours, so you have to have some sort of discipline. I think doing martial arts definitely helped with that. It’s the patience and being able to control yourself.
- Julia: It’s interesting. Alex Meraz, Taylor and you all have martial arts training, and I was a ballet dancer since I was four. I think there's a big part of acting that's discipline. But, Booboo's amazing. He would just fall asleep and wake up and be ready to go at four in the morning.
- Booboo: You're supposed to eat apples, not drink energy drinks and I don’t drink coffee or anything. Actually Bronson [Pelletier] told me to eat an apple. That's what I started doing and it really helps.
By Lynn Barker