For the past decade bookstores and movie theaters have been Rowling this, Radcliffe that. But a new word sorceress has emerged from the darkness. So now, let there be Twilight. Stephanie Meyer’s teenage vampire saga is already a mega-success (the third installment knocked Harry from the number one spot, the final one is released next month), and studio execs are hoping this bloodlust trickles into theaters, when the adaptation hits screens this December. So high is the anticipation, that Entertainment Weekly just featured the film on its cover, officially launching Twilight mania. In a refreshingly candid interview, Michael Welch, one of the film’s young stars, reveals how he was cast in the film, why if it tanks it’s not his fault, and the big secret behind the acting business.
Have you read any of the Twilight books?
Yeah, I read the first book. I haven’t gotten to the others yet. I promised that I will, I’ve been promising the fans I’d get to the others. I just didn’t want to get ahead of the character and the story. Are they planning on making more of them?
I signed a contract that would attach me to a couple more movies if they choose to make them. It’ll depend on how well it does. I talked to Catherine [Hardwicke, the director] a month before we started filming, and she told me that we will know opening weekend whether or not we’ll be making a second. Can you tell me about your character? What is he like and how does he fit into the story?
Mike Newton is a very decent young man. He’s athletic, a small-town boy with small town values, and he’s in love—well, at least what “in love” means when you’re in high school—with Bella. And beyond that I’m not sure how complex he is. I think he is there for relief, because it’s a fairly intense and fairly dark story. It’s really Edward and Bella’s story. I mean, it was a fun thing to do. Because the responsibility certainly doesn’t lie on my shoulders, whether the movie’s going be good or bad. And honestly, I don’t know how they’re going cut it together. I’m not sure how much I’m going to be in it. But it was a lot of fun to do, and I think more than anything else, I’m there to sort of add a little spice to Bella’s story.
Are you similar to your character?
I think the proof that I am similar to Mike is the response from my blog that I’ve been writing to keep in touch with the online fan base is that their views of Mike are kind of their same views of me. For example, someone would read a blog and respond “wow, he’s really annoying.” Perfect. You know what I mean? So that’s how they see Mike. Some people find him annoying, some people—(dog barking) Buckley! Buckley! I’m sorry, that’s my dog.
Don’t worry about it. And are you working on any other projects right now?
Right now I’m not working on anything, but there’s a couple of possibilities. There’s a potential play in Los Angeles I might be doing, a potential movie I might be doing a little later. But these are all in uh, developing. If they’re gonna be happening at all. And then we have the actor’s strike, if that’s gonna be happening—the business is kind of crazy right now. And what if you weren’t acting? Is there anything else you’re really passionate about or might want to explore later, since you are so young and have been acting for a pretty long time? My other passion is music, which is a fairly common thing for a lot of actors. And if I wasn’t an actor, I probably could have committed myself to being a professional drummer or something like that. But acting was really my passion, so I really don’t know what else I can offer. I mean, I’m certainly considering writing and directing, and things of that nature, but it really has to be through some creative filter for me to be interested.
I read on your website that you find certain aspects of the celebrity world scary. How are you coping with that now that you’re doing a film that’s going to be seen by a lot of people? Well, it’s interesting, because celebrity culture is just silly. It’s this whole cycle where people think actors are important, so we think we’re important. It’s just so silly because all actors are replaceable. That’s the big secret to all this.