'Twilight's' Ashley Greene Talks 'Breaking Dawn' Secrets, 'Pan Am,' and Getting 'Olivia Twisted'
With the beginning of the end of the vampire saga in theatres now, the actress reflects on the experience and discusses what's to come for her career.
Since she was cast in 2008, Ashley Greene has had the job of stepping into one of the most beloved characters from Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga novels. As Alice Cullen, she plays Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) closest sibling and possibly Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) fiercest protector next to him and Jacob (Taylor Lautner).
As with any film series based on novels with a rabid fan base, the responsibility must weigh heavily on an actress. For 24-year-old Greene, that seems especially true.
“This was my first real job as an actor and in a million years, I never could have dreamed up what Twilight would become,” Greene tells The Hollywood Reporter.
“I got a crash course in Hollywood, getting to work with four amazing directors, learning the ups and downs of the industry, and growing both personally and professionally,” she continues. “It gave all of us a springboard for our careers and the most amazing and passionate fan base we could imagine. You can't take one second of an experience and an opportunity like this for granted. I still wake up every day pinching myself."
On the eve of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1’s massive opening weekend, Greene opened up to THR about the film’s success, her experience being a part of the phenomenon, and what fans can expect from her next.
The Hollywood Reporter: What's your reaction to Breaking Dawn Part 1 debuting as the fifth biggest domestic box office opening of all time?
Ashley Greene: It was an overwhelming mix of emotions - intense excitement, awe, gratitude to the fans, and definitely a bit of relief! Even with a film like Twilight, you're still nervous each time. I never take our incredible fan base for granted. Without their continual support of the films and us, we wouldn't have had the opportunity to finish out the saga. We truly have the best fans in the world, and this weekend just drives that point home.
THR: Have you been able to speak with your fellow actors about the opening yet?
I was at a magazine shoot all day [Sunday], so unfortunately not yet! Ironically, this weekend was the first time in a month that I've been apart from my cast mates, since the press tour just ended on Friday. I'm sure we'll all chat later this week and celebrate next time we're together.
THR: Let’s talk about some of the most talked-about scenes of the latest film. Were you shocked at how graphic Bella's birth scene was?
Greene: It was a bit hard to watch at points, but overall, I think [director] Bill Condon was extremely sensitive and conscientious of our younger audience. He had the difficult job of staying true to the book without turning off a major sector of our audience. I think he did a good job of balancing that task.
THR: Can you describe the lengths the production went to in order to keep Bella's wedding dress under wraps?
Greene: We were literally under wraps! All of us, but most importantly Kristen, wore sacks when we were shuttled to and from the set. There were helicopters and paparazzi everywhere -- it was a massive covert operation to keep it all a secret!
THR: Did the wedding scenes live up to your expectations?
Greene: Absolutely. As a fan of the series myself, I've been waiting four years for this moment, just like everyone else. It was magical watching the words on the pages of the book and script transform into this beautiful, live-action moment. The scene holds a lot of weight and was also special, because it was shot on the last days of filming.
THR: Alice has to do some fighting and she’s very acrobatic. How much of your stunts and fighting scenes do you actually get to do?
Greene: I did almost all of my own stunts, which I loved. We worked with fantastic stunt trainers and I took to it quickly, in part because I did martial arts and dance growing up. The most challenging thing about Alice's stunts is that she's supposed to fight with an immense amount of agility and grace, like a dancer. Try moving like that while doing cartwheels in the air, on wires, over a mock wolf!
THR: Do you feel that the films could have included more of Alice's backstory?
Greene: I would have loved to explore Alice's backstory. But luckily, our fans know everything there is to know about our characters and their backstories -- more than us in some cases! So, I have faith that they understand what shaped the character of Alice, and why she is the way she is, without having seen her backstory come to life on screen.
THR: How do they portray Renesmee's (Mackenzie Foy) advanced growth and supernatural intelligence in the next film?
Greene: If I told you, I'd have to kill you! The truth is, the fans already know the thru line of Breaking Dawn Part 2 thanks to the book, so we're trying hard to keep what we can a secret, so they can savor the experience of the last film. What I will say is that they won't be disappointed!
THR: What are you most looking forward to seeing in the final film?
Greene: I'm excited to see the big battle sequence between the vampires and the Volturi. A lot of that was shot on green screen, so I'll be watching it for the first time along with the fans.
THR: You have several upcoming projects. What was the best part of filming the horror movie, The Apparition?
Greene: The Apparition was my first studio lead, so it was very cool to be on set every day, in almost every scene, watching first-hand how the film played out from start to finish. I learned a lot about myself as an actor, and about what goes on behind the camera.
THR: How's your recently announced Pan Am role different from what you've done before? What's Michael Mosley [who plays co-pilot Ted Vanderway] like to work with?
Greene: Pan Am is my first experience shooting an arc on a television series. TV is very different from film, so I'm enjoying that new experience. And I've never played a character from the 60s before. It's a fascinating role to step into, experiencing everything from the wardrobe to the political and social issues of that era. So far, I've only shot a couple scenes with Michael, but he's fantastic to play opposite of, and was very welcoming to the new girl!
THR: What was the main difference between shooting TV over films?
Greene: The biggest difference is probably the time. With TV, you shoot through the episodes at a pretty rapid pace, so there isn't as much time to talk through your character and the scenes with the director as there is in film. On a movie, you might spend months prepping a character and breaking down each scene. It's not that one forum is better or worse, it's just a different experience. It's taught me the value of exploring both film and TV as I grow professionally.
THR: Would you consider becoming a regular on a TV series?
Greene: For me, it's always about my connection with the character and the story. If the right role comes along, be it film or TV, I'd go after it wholeheartedly.
THR: What kind of role would you like to do?
Greene: There's no one specific role I'd love to do because I'm excited by the prospect of diversifying my roles. In Butter, I got to dabble in comedy for the first time, and in Olivia Twisted, the film I just signed onto, I'm jumping headfirst into a darker, grittier, more action-packed role. The most important thing to me when choosing a role is finding a connection to the character and the story. Other than that, I'm open to whatever comes my way!
THR: The American Music Awards were just on. Did you have any favorites among the AMA nominees? What was your favorite moment?
Greene: Sadly, I didn't get to watch this year. But I'm listening to Adele on repeat these days, so a big congrats to her on all her nominations!