As the Twilight saga comes to an end, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner talk about the final film and reflect on the astonishing past few years.
THE NEW VAMP
Kristen Stewart was just 17 years old when she was cast as Bella Swan in the first Twilight movie in 2007.
Back then no one knew what a global phenomenon the movies would turn out to be.
"We didn't even know a sequel was possible. It genuinely wasn't the goal," says 22-year-old Stewart, looking relaxed and casual in a black ensemble.
"Twilight definitely had a following [thanks to Stephenie Meyer's novels] but I think we all kind of imagined it was fairly cult-ish. Then it suddenly took off like wildfire."
In this fifth and final instalment, Bella, who married vampire Edward in the last film, awakens transformed.
She's now a mother and finally a vampire but her daughter Renesmee (who's half-human, half-vampire) ignites forces that threaten to destroy the vampire clan.
"Most kids that are attracted to the idea of being an actor are just like little attention-seeking weirdos, I find," says Stewart, who herself was a child star.
"But Mackenzie [Foy, who plays Renesmee] was so solid and steady. Nothing was ever about her, it was always about being a part of the group and wanting to help out and that's how I was when I was a kid."
Although constantly chased by paparazzi and hounded by the films' fans (aka Twihards), Stewart says she's never regretted signing up.
"There have been some heavy moments obviously but I would trade nothing," says the Los Angeles-born actress who endures ongoing scrutiny over her on-off relationship with co-star Robert Pattinson.
"It's such a strange job; you need to be a little crazy, you need to be a little obsessive. But how often do people find what really genuinely challenges them in life at this age?
"I get so much more time to do what I love than most people. I mean I started when I was 10 years old so I definitely wouldn't trade anything."
As the saga comes to an end, the publicity-shy Stewart is determined to savour every moment.
"You get slightly desensitised when you know there's another one coming up, whereas today it genuinely feels like the last day of school, like you're giddy and it's hard for me to focus entirely because I'm excited," she says.
And be in no doubt that this really is the end of the vampire love story.
"I don't really know what we'd do beyond it. It feels . . . conclusive."
THE SEXY VAMPIRE
Robert Pattinson is one of the biggest heart-throbs in the world thanks to his portrayal of the beautiful vampire Edward Cullen but the actor behind the fanged poster boy has remained as self-deprecating as he was at the start of the journey.
The 26-year-old is "pretty excited" that the release of the final instalment is imminent.
"It's really good that we didn't get stopped in the middle of the series. We managed to get to the end and I didn't get fired," he laughs.
Wearing jeans and a T-shirt beneath a checked shirt, the famous hair is as unkempt as ever. He looks exhausted but jokingly pretends to pump himself up for the interview before cringing as he recalls his first outing as Edward.
"I was trying so hard on the first one. I'd never done an American movie before, I'd barely done anything before, and I kind of wanted to take it so seriously and was so determined to prove myself. Occasionally my face went totally out of control," laughs the London-born actor.
Despite a role as the doomed star pupil Cedric Diggory in the fourth Harry Potter movie, Pattinson didn't think he stood a chance of being cast as Edward.
"Someone had sent me the book six months before [the audition] and I'd read it and I was like, 'I'm never going to get this part, there's no point in me doing an audition tape from London'." So he didn't.
But then a while later he made his way to LA for a different role and "went in [for the Twilight audition] for the hell of it basically".
Despite the mind-boggling hoopla that surrounds him, like Stewart, he's never regretted his decision to take part in the franchise.
"It's impossible to regret anything because it's totally random how things work out," he says.
The shy star's even in two minds about the adulation dying down once the franchise ends.
"You don't want people to stop seeing your movies," he says. "You learn to live with whatever circumstances you're given basically. Nothing's that bad though; there are things that are annoying."
He can't recall his strangest fan experience because "I've got a very high threshold for weirdness".
"Someone could come up and show me a tattoo of my face on their face and I'd be like, 'It suits you'."
Despite the global worship and a net worth that runs into many millions, Pattinson doesn't think the Twilight experience has changed him.
"I think I've remained the same as I was when I was 22, like in a bad way," he chuckles.
And asked what he thinks he'd be doing if he'd never gone along to that audition, he says: "I don't know. If I'd continued living the way I was living in London before I got this I'd probably be 350 pounds and a drug addict."
He might be the youngest of the trio but Taylor Lautner, who's played werewolf Jacob Black in all five films is arguably the most relaxed during the interviews.
Flashing a movie star smile, the buff-looking 20-year-old says he's "feeling good" about the end of the franchise. "I mean I think there's mixed emotions for everyone," he adds.
"It's a bummer it's coming to an end and it's going to be tough to say goodbye, but at the same time it's exciting to get this last one out there and have the fans see it and wrap up the franchise."
Though Jacob vied for Bella's affections in the past (prompting Twihards to choose whether they were Team Edward or Team Jacob), his future's now entwined with that of Bella and Edward's daughter.
And as her protector he spends most of this final movie within sight of Renesmee. "I don't even know where to begin with Mackenzie. She's the cutest little girl in the world, so funny and talented," he says of his young co-star.
Lautner, who hails from Michigan, reveals he hadn't heard of Twilight before being cast.
"I'd never even heard of the books and then after we made the first movie we were hoping that some of the people who'd enjoyed the books would enjoy the movie.
"But we had no idea it would turn out like this, not in my wildest imagination," he says.
As close as he is to Stewart and Pattinson now, he remembers it being tricky in the early days. "It was strange because I was barely in Twilight so I showed up halfway through filming and everybody knew each other. I was kind of the new kid on the block so it started off a little bit awkward but that soon changed," he smiles.
But he still can't look at those early images of himself wearing Jacob's mullet wig.
"Whenever someone shows me a picture of it I'm like, 'Argh'. It's tough to look at that," he laughs.
Having grown up on screen, Lautner says he hopes he hasn't changed too dramatically from the person he was before shooting began.
"I hope we haven't changed who we are as people throughout this time and I hope the people who know me best say that about me," he says.
"I can absolutely say that about my fellow castmates. They're the same people today who they were before any of this and that's amazing."
EXTRA TIME - FUN FACTS:
- Filming for Breaking Dawn: Part 2 began in Louisiana in mid-December 2010.
- CGI was used on 10-year-old Mackenzie Foy to digitally alter Renesmee's age.
- The final scene of the movie was shot in the British Virgin Islands when the cast and crew stayed up to watch the sunrise.
- Over the two parts of Breaking Dawn, Bella Swan has about 60 costume changes to show her evolution from small-town girl to the world's most powerful vampire.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 opens at midnight tonight.