The Official Twilight Convention, held in Parsippany, NJ this past weekend, was my very first convention experience of any kind, so I had no idea what to expect. It did not disappoint. (See my brief report from the Con from the first night — Official ‘Twilight’ Convention Underway In NJ…; also check out all my images from the Con at the end of this post).
The event was hosted by the Hillywood cast, and they made it a great time, showing their uber popular Twilight parody and performing scenes from the movie before introducing the guests.
The first Q&A I had the pleasure of attending was with Gil Birmingham, who plays Jacob’s dad, Billy Black. He made a point of saying what a great kid Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black) is and how unaffected he seems to be by all the chaos surrounding him (may I say now that EVERY TIME Taylor’s name came up…it was met with significant squeals from the primarily female audience). He mentioned Breaking Dawn and how he’d be busy for the next few years between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, adding more fuel to the rumors (hope…please please please) that there will in fact be a movie for the fourth book. Gil apparently spends a good amount of time with the Wolf Pack boys, and he and Alex Meraz (Paul) have a little battle of embarrassing facts going on at these conventions.
At one convention, Alex made mention of a video Gil made long ago, in which he did “cartwheels in a Speedo” – the Diana Ross video “Muscles.” In retribution, Gil shared a story about Alex — in the scene with Bella (Kristen Stewart) where she meets the Wolf Pack (seen in the second New Moon trailer) — where he got the idea that he was going to have his “Oscar moment.” He decided instead of going with the script, that he would grab her by the throat and scream a growl in her face. Well, everyone — especially Kristen and the director — was very surprised by the ad lib and the audience erupted in laughter as Gil described New Moon director Chris Weitz’s reaction: “Alex, I love your energy, but let’s take it down a little”.
Another great moment came when someone asked why Billy was driving the truck in the “complications” scene in Twilight. Gil said he didn’t understand why Billy would be driving since he sold the red truck to Bella since he couldn’t drive anymore. But then he acted out how the scene would have looked if he were in the passenger seat trying to glare at Edward over Jacob’s shoulder… and words can’t do it justice, but let’s just say it was clear why the scene wouldn’t have worked.
Later on that night, Gil performed a concert with his guitar playing John Mayer’s “No Such Thing,” Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” (YEAH!!!), and two original songs, “Get It” and “A Walk in the Park.” He said he is working on a CD for release sometime soon. Count me in on that one, as his guitar skills are impressive and his voice deep and appealing.
Autograph sessions with Twilight director, Catherine Hardwick and Gil Birmingham came next. Catherine is little, cute and sweet and I was even more sorry I missed her Q&A session when I met her for that brief time.
The Gil Birmingham concert that night was followed by a performance of the Twilighters. They are a duo dressed as Edward and Bella, of course, and were fun to watch. They performed some original Twilight-related tunes, but the crowd really went nuts for Paramore’s “Decode” — which they did a great job on considering they just learned it that day!
The next morning I was bright eyed and bushy tailed (pun intended…sorta) to go and see the Wolf Pack Q&A session with Alex Meraz (Paul), Kiowa Gordon (Embry Call), and Chaske Spencer (Sam Uley). The second New Moon trailer was shown before they came out, to the delight of the crowd. This was 19-year-old Kiowa’s first convention, and he was clearly thrilled to be there. Alex and Chaske ribbed him a lot, but he took it like a champ and it was cute to watch as they acted like brothers rather than actors who just happened to be in the same movie. Alex expanded a bit on the story of his “Oscar moment” saying that Kristen took it in stride, and Chaske acted out how director Chris Weitz pulled his hands through his hair as he told Alex to take it down a notch. Throughout the Q&A, Alex answered many questions beginning with “30 pounds bigger” poking fun at Taylor Lautner’s comment in the trailer that Jacob is significantly larger in the new movie. He said it in his best Taylor voice, and it was funny every time, seriously.
When asked about funny moments during filming, Alex shared a story about teaching Kiowa to throw a punch… during which Kiowa caught him off guard and landed one flat on his nose. He had to decide whether to “kill him or not” and Kiowa said he told him he knew how to throw a punch. Chaske’s moment came during the scene where Bella hits him in the chest because she’s angry for Jacob. He said he didn’t want to say anything at the time, but she was really hurting him…and he was actually sore the next day. Acting the manly man, however, he took it like a champ and told Kristen he was surprised at what a good punch she could throw. He said Kristen wasn’t surprised — she’s got three brothers so she’s had a lot of practice.
In a later Q&A session, the Wolf Pack actors talked about the paparazzi and how they come out of nowhere. Alex said that one guy popped out of a dumpster and while he and the others were startled and took awful pictures, Taylor just stood there and posed his best wolf poses… he said the kid can’t take a bad picture. I’m inclined to agree.
Edi Gathegi, bad vamp Laurent from Twilight and New Moon, is a seriously funny guy… who knew? He was asked about performing the scenes with the wolves, to which he replied he didn’t actually perform with them since the wolves were all CGI… he was actually performing with cardboard cows. Yup, a production assistant holding up a cardboard cow on a stick was a stand-in for the giant CGI wolves. He went off in a girl voice as if she was watching the movie, “I see cows in his eyes, not wolves, I want my money back, he’s seeing cows,” hysteria ensued. When asked about the contacts he had to wear as Laurent, he said that the ones for Twilight were horribly uncomfortable and obstructed his vision. So while he was supposed to be sauntering all abs, dreads, etc, he was really trying not to stumble and kill himself. For New Moon, he was much more comfortable…comfortable enough to scare Taylor — he demonstrated by jumping around the stage as if Taylor were in front of him, saying “Taylor” over and over and that once Taylor would finally look at him, he’d tell him to stop scaring him. Awwwwwwww.
And then there was Kelly. Haven’t heard about Kelly? OMG, funniest thing EVAH. One night during filming New Moon, Edi called Jackson [Rathbone – Jasper Cullen] and said he was a production assistant named Kelly and that Catherine [Hardwick] didn’t like his hair which had just been dyed Jasper blond for the role and he needed to be available for a new dye job at 3am. Jackson agreed and told his manager who was on the other line, and she was like “Oh thank God, I hate it!” A few minutes later, Edi called Jackson back and told him “it was me” and Jackson said “Who was you?” which went back and forth for a few minutes before it got all cleared up. Jackson then called his manager back who, of course, had to do some serious backpedaling. What made this story side-splittingly funny, however, was the Kelly voice — Edi said it was so disconcerting to see it come out of his face that he had to turn around to do it. And then he did it… this ridiculously high pitched, little girl voice…it was Kelly…but it was Edi. OMG, the funniest moment of the convention.
The next time we saw Edi, it was along with Justin Chon, who plays “the eyes and ears of Forks High School” Eric Yorkie, for the Q&A dubbed “Life With Twilight.” The two had only just met right before this session, but they were funny as hell to watch and obviously enjoyed each others’ company. Justin said the way they were seated reminded him of a James Lipton “Inside the Actor’s Studio” interview and they proceeded to interview each other in Lipton fashion, using the “affected” Lipton accent as Edi called it. A cute young girl in the audience asked a question about Justin’s Korean heritage, and he conversed briefly with her in Korean. Not to be outdone, Edi chimed in Korean as well…who knew?! This led to a Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan moment during which they each morphed into those characters and said some lines from Rush Hour.
Saturday night brought the Vampire Ball, and can I say, what a BLAST! The attire was both vampire and formal and the mood was fun. The Wolf Pack was shuffled through the tables quickly at the beginning, followed by Gil Birmingham (who gave this writer a nice squeeze and called her beautiful…:::swoon:::) who spent more time visiting with fans at the tables and making his way around the room. The Hillywood Cast was there in full Forks High Prom garb, and they brought along an extra Edward, this one open-shirted and all sparkly. They had everyone up and dancing and then came time to announce the Vampire Court makeovers — three lucky winners of the Twilight Trivia contest earlier in the day, who got to dance with the Wolf Pack boys as a prize. Alex was the most animated with his “prom date,” spinning her around and running his hands all over in places that this writer would have been all too happy to volunteer for. Chaske was sweet, holding on to his date and being very kind to the girl who was shaking so much I could see her from where I was standing a good 20 feet away. Kiowa looked the most nervous, and kind of just swayed along with his very thrilled date.
The weekend ended all too soon, but fortunately, there’s always next year — August 20 – 22, 2010 to be exact, The Official Twilight Convention hits Parsippany, NJ again…and I’ll be there with sparkles on!