Ayanna Berkshire played Cora , the waitress in the Carver Cafein Twilight
Pattinson Post: Ayanna, you played Cora, the waitress in the Carver Cafe in the first Twilight movie, in the scene where Bella and Charlie come in and eat. How did you get this part?
Ayanna Berkshire: I was working in Portland, Oregon as an actress at the time. WhenTwilight was looking to cast their roles for supporting characters, they looked to local Oregon talent first.
From my recollection, the role of Cora was originally written as a middle aged “Flo” type character, the typical small town diner waitress. They were not looking to cast anyone like me, but I had just finished working on Kelly Reichardt’s independent film, Wendy and Lucy with Michelle Williams and since the casting director, Lana Veenker and her assistant Lori knew my work, they felt confident that I could pull off the role of Cora if given the chance. They brought me in for the first audition, simply as an opportunity for LA casting to see if they’d like to bring me back for a second audition- they did!
My second audition was with Catherine Hardwicke where we role-played, i.e. Catherine playing both Bella AND Charlie with myself playing Cora. I left that audition convinced that I’d blown my chance and lost the role, because we’d spent the entire audition laughing. Catherine kept throwing in these hilarious scenarios like, my line would be, “Say Chief, Did you find anything down by Queets River today?” And she’d say something like, “Yep, Looks like ol’ Waylon was eaten by a Vampire.” I’d have to respond with “Wow, really?? Shoot Chief, that really sucks. More Berry Cobbler?”. It was one of the most fun auditions I’ve ever had.
I found out about a week and a half later that I’d landed the role of Cora!
PP: The scene between you and Kristen and Billy is pretty long. What was it like filming with Kristen? Were you aware of her as an actress before this movie?
AB: I was aware of Kristen from Panic Room and she’d been working since such a young age, it was great to talk with her about filmmakers, acting and our mutual acting influences while we were between shots.
It was really interesting filming with Kristen, because she was such a quiet and thoughtful actress. She was very aware of what was happening around her on set, but then she could seamlessly drop into the scene and be fully engaged. She cares a great deal about what she’s creating as an artist and that was really cool to see in her. At the time, she was still 17 (she turned 18 on set, a big deal because it meant that she could work full days and not have to end early due to child labor laws) and she had been around for a long time already. I was impressed because she came across as a very seasoned and extremely professional actress.
PP: Twilight author Stephenie Meyer makes a cameo in the movie as a customer that you serve in the diner. Had you read the books before auditioning for the role and what was it like to meet and have a scene with her in the movie?
AB: It was awesome working with Stephenie! Are you kidding? By the time we started shooting, I’d read Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse (Breaking Dawn didn’t come out until after we’d finished shooting Twilight). One of the cool things Stephenie did after Twilight had been published, was to visit Forks, WA where she met the local residence and hung out, just taking the place in. She kept a blog of her time there on her website, posting photos of the town, the police chief, the local grocery and the people. When I was prepping for Cora, I read and reread her blog and imagined myself as one of those Forks residence. I imagined what it might be like to live with all of these people as my neighbors and even, what it would be like to have a secret crush on the police chief. (If he’s reading this: Well, there you go. I bet you didn’t know someone was imagining having a secret crush on you. Now the secret’s out.)
When the character of Cora was originally written into the screenplay, she was designed to be both the “face” of Forks and a love interest for Charlie.
As a side note, I do have to admit that I got a little nerdy and weird around Stephenie and asked her to autograph a book for myself and one for my sister. I also asked her to do me a solid… write into the final chapter of Breaking Dawn that Charlie and Cora lived happily ever after. She let out a little uncomfortable laugh and let me know that I shouldn’t hold my breath. I know now that she had other plans for Charlie.....
Read her full interview here