Last week's widely anticipated announcement of the New Moon wolf pack marked the official new beginning for the five Native American actors chosen for the part.
They are already the subject of feverish fan-site activity by Twilight nation. And this is just the beginning.
"These kids are kids whose life is going to change," casting director Rene Haynes tells Celebuzz in an exclusive interview. "They are now stars."
"And right now they are just getting the tip of the iceberg."
Welcome to Twilight-mania, wolf pack.
Haynes handled the Native American casting for the Twilight sequel. Her final wolf pack choices include Chaske Spencer, Alex Meraz, Bronson Pelletier, Kiowa Gordon and Tyson Houseman.
"They are all good kids," says Rene. "They have good heads on their shoulders. I think they'll navigate these waters the best they can."
"I've told them, make wise choices from here on out. This is what you've been working for. Don't mess it up."
Just to give you an idea of the fan intensity, IMDB's star meter showed Meraz's star ranking rose 25,566 percent in popularity this week (the shirtless picture at the top sure don't hurt).
Haynes' office set up an extensive nationwide search to find the actors. They searched their database of up-and-coming Native American actors. There was a call-out for video auditions, which brought in 600 tapes ("I watched them all," she says). There was also open auditions, including one in Vancouver which brought out thousands of hopefuls. Houseman was the lucky attendee who not only auditioned on that day, but also earned a part.
"Every single aspect was successful," says Haynes.
It was crucial to Haynes — who specializes in Native American casting − that each of the characters chosen was of Native American descent. "It was important to the filmmakers," says Haynes. 'That is why they hired me. And that was my job."
Perhaps the hardest choice was that of casting Spencer. While Haynes declines to say what part the actor was cast for, fan sites have speculated Spencer is set for the part of Sam - a pivotal wolf pack leader who plays a prominent role in future installments.
"He's someone I feel is going to be a star," says Haynes. "I have cast him before. He's always done lovely work. It's awesome to know that it's time for this young actor to have a great breakout role like this."
It wasn't a sure thing when Spencer auditioned, even after meeting casting director Joseph Middleton in NY for a powerful reading.
"It was a very long process," says Haynes, pointing out there were many strong candidates for the part. "It was up and down, up and down. But he floated to the top."
She's now sure she's found her man. Spencer is an experienced veteran who has worked with Haynes on a number of projects. "He's an emerging young actor who has paid his dues," says Haynes. "This isn't just someone we picked off the street. He's studied and ready for this."
Another choice receiving a lot of buzz in the Vancouver shooting is Meraz. Haynes can see the appeal. "Alex is a professional dancer," she says. "He is definitely a rising star in the Native American community."
While all the actors are studly, the big question is, are they as studly as the bulked-up leader Taylor Lautner? "All the roles require a lot of physicality," Haynes assures us. "They're all quite fit."
photo: google images