'Twilight' Countdown: Edi Gathegi's vampire love
At first, Edi Gathegi wasn’t jonesing to play a vampire. The 29-year-old actor portraying Laurent tells us that, in fact, it wasn’t clear to him that he was auditioning to play one of the nomad vampires in the big-screen adaption of Stephenie Meyer’s hit novel “Twilight.” “I just remember having to read some very strange things to [director] Catherine Hardwicke,” he says. “I wasn’t sold until I read the book itself.”
But now, Gathegi is hooked. He talks to us about channeling his inner blood-sucker, getting to meet Meyer, and which of the “Twilight” books is his favorite. (Yes, it's true. He’s read all four!)
How’d you get involved with the movie?
A casting director who I’ve worked with suggested I audition, but I didn’t know what the story was, or that I was a vampire. I was hesitant when I first got there too. My character was saying things like ‘What is your hunting range?’ And I was thinking, ‘Hmmm, I don’t know about this material.’ I knew it was otherworldly, but I wasn’t convinced about doing it.
What changed your mind?
My agent said I had to read the book. Once I started, I pretty much flew through it. It was fantastic. Yes, it’s a vampire story, but it’s really about love. It had a heart. The vampire stuff is almost just a backdrop. Also, during the auditions, I had a blast with Catherine. Her energy and enthusiasm won me over. In Hollywood, you don’t have a lot of awesome audition experiences, but she and I just clicked.
Many “Twilight” fans are eager to know if the actors have read the books. Be honest -- have you read past the first?
I've read them all. “Breaking Dawn”? I finished that in two days. I have to tell you, every time I finished one of them, a little piece of me died. I’d become invested in that world. I really felt sad. After the fourth one, I was like, ‘What am I going to do with my life.’
Seriously. I’m hardcore. My favorite is the first one. What Stephenie did so well was create to create a believable human world and then introduce the supernatural in a believable way. When Bella’s questioning the otherworldly things going on, it’s real and exciting. The tension is what I loved.
Have you gotten a chance to profess your love to Stephenie?
She flew up to Portland the day I wrapped filming. We were like two ships passing in the night. We ended up meeting at Comic Con for the first time, and I freaked out. I flooded her with praise. We got to know each other better at a dinner the studio held for us. We sat next to each other the whole evening. I monopolized her time, really, but I was just so excited. She’s a doll.
In the book, your character appears just toward the last third. But you and the other bad vamps appear to be pretty important in the trailers we’ve seen.
The script is close to the book, but I can tell you this: Our presence is stronger in the movie. We’re there early on. We are the conflict. There’s so much fun being had by us throughout the film.
Vampires have long been defined by their fangs, but in “Twilight” they don’t have any. How did you transform yourself into a bloodthirsty killer without them?
In Stephenie’s mythology, vampires have to concentrate to appear human. For me, it was an exercise in stillness. The less I did, the creepier I’d be. The more vampire I’d be. I tried to imagine the energy and super strength flowing through my body. That’s sort of the mental prep I’d do to get into character. Personally, I’m glad that we don’t rely on the fangs or the garlic to tell the story. This is a lot more interesting.
You’re also smarter than at least one of the other nomad vampires. You last until the second book. Are you game for reprising the role?
I haven’t heard anything about the sequel, but I’d love to be a part of it. The fans have been so great. You know, I don’t think any of the actors had any idea how large this was going to get. After the initial shock, I think we’ve all been able to appreciate the fact that we have these amazing and supportive fans. It’s really something else.
Have you seen the completed film yet?
I haven’t yet! But I will very, very soon. It’s been busy. Doing interviews, getting fitted for a premiere outfit ...
Ooooh! What are you wearing?
I think I’m going to rock out a suit. Keep it classy, you know? A nice, dark suit.
-- Denise Martin
Photo credit: WireImage