Daily Actor caught up with two members of the Denali clan not too long ago and they spoke about working with Bill Condon, the action scenes in ‘Breaking Dawn – Part 2′, being part of such a huge cast and about their auditioning processes.
From my perspective, with all the hype and madness surrounding it, I think it’d be tons of fun to be in the middle of it, where you guys are. What’s it like for you?
Maggie Grace: It is fun. It’s got like a sort of comradery to it. We all go to Comic-con together and that sort of thing, it’s fun.
Mia Maestro: It’s exciting also because we got to watch it a couple of days ago, and the movie is really good. So it’s just, to me, it’s the best one so far and it has so much action and so many new elements that it just made me just excited to promote it.
Maggie Grace: Yes, it’s a much more grownup film, I think. It’s very… it stands out from the others in terms of theme. It’s more about community and the, you know, the community banding together. So… and also Bill Condon, man, he’s a fantastic actor’s director. We just adored him. Every single one of the people on that call sheet adores Bill. You will not find one person to say a word against him. He loves actors and he’s such a warm centered person that, yeah, he just… he was great on set and then created a really, really, you know, put his own personal thumbprint on this. It’s really lovely.
What’s it like working with him? Does he sit back and let you go? Or is he more hands on?
Maggie Grace: He… I think everybody, Mia was saying earlier, no one on the set felt that they were kind of lost in the mix of things even with that much, that many people. He’s really…
Mia Maestro: He makes sure that nobody’s left out, he’s extremely warm, and he’s very specific with the type of feedback that he gives you. And he’s just a wonderful energy to have on set.
Yeah, you guys have a huge cast.
Maggie Grace: Any director handling just the daily on set reality of that many people and set pieces and, you know, green screen and wolves and everything. And to make everyone there feel really…
Mia Maestro: At home. There’s a little surprise at the end of this film and the moment I saw it…
You can tell me all about it.
Mia Maestro: There’s 2 things we’re not allowed to talk about. But the moment I saw it, I’m like, “Oh, this is Bill’s making.” It had Bill written all over it. So it just made me smile and it’s really a moving gesture that he gave all the actors and all the fans and he gave to the saga.
With the contacts that you wear, what is your vision like? Can you see like normal vision?
Maggie Grace: No, in fact you can’t really see anything. It’s sort of, for me, I don’t know if this was everyone’s experience, but with my contacts they’re gorgeous and hand painted and certainly I was happy to have them. They’re really a neat addition for the heightened reality of vampire, you know, the vampire aesthetic. But, yeah, I couldn’t see anything. The person opposite me is like a dark smudge against bleary, white light. I couldn’t see anything.
Did you have to do action scenes with those too? How do you manage?
Maggie Grace: They’re tricky. It’s funny as an actor because you’re so used to the business of connection really having an exchange with someone. And then you can’t see the person you’re speaking to.
Mia Maestro: I think it was luck as well, a little bit of a lottery, because they’re hand painted. I could see quite a lot in mine, but I knew that some people who couldn’t so it all depended which ones you got, which ones they gave you. But also, I wear contact lensesin life so I think that helped a lot. It was just… it was really easy for me to have just contact lenses. What I did, which I think is a good trick, is I wore mine and then on top I wore the…
Maggie Grace: Oh really?
Mia Maestro: …ones. So my eye was always protected from those.
Maggie Grace: That’s great.
Mia Maestro: Yeah. So I think that kinda helped, because I never had trouble with my eyes being irritated. I mean, I had a little bit of trouble but it was just one day. But some people had a lot of…
Maggie Grace: Yeah, I’m normally not so sensitive to much.
With green screen, you guys are pretty much pros now I would guess. Even when you walk on set after having done it multiple days in a row, is it still something you have to get used to?
Maggie Grace: Yeah, there’s a certain point where you just commit even if you feel really silly. Sometimes it’s tough having a really emotional scene with… I’m trying to… I don’t think my character had any, but the funniest stand-in, there was these sort of balls covered with fur that would help the people doing CG exactly how the wolves would look in the light for the fur in the light. And so that was kind of funny, they’d have these big cutouts that looked more like cows than wolves and then these furry balls that we were reacting to as the wolves. So I was just glad I didn’t have any really high stakes, emotionalscenes with the furry balls. The fur balls.
Mia Maestro: It’s also, I think, with green screen you have a question of trusting your direction and just letting the director guide you what you’re really supposed to be doing. I think the tendency for me would… if it’s an emotional moment and because there’s nothing to play against you do it smaller than what, you know, you just turn your whole emotions a little bit down. So it’s just good to have someone like Bill saying, “Right now we need to bring the energy up and whatever you’re doing, do it 3 times bigger.” So it’s not so much a question of intensity, but it’s a question of quantity. How much of that intensity is… could I show with this green backdrop? You know? Because I think when we were in the room then energy just gets absorbed…
Maggie Grace: Especially when you’ve been in a room for 6 weeks shooting the same scene. You know?
Mia Maestro: So it gets… energetically you get dizzy a bit in terms of where am I, what am I doing. Everything becomes the same. And also because it’s green your eyes sometimes get tired. Plus the contact lenses, it was… sometimes it was a little bit kinda like dreamy…
Maggie Grace: Yeah, it was strange. We had fun too. It’s so much fun, actually, because we would all get quite slap happy and it becomes, like, devolves to kindergarten.
I’m sure after 16 hour days your brain is just kind of melting.
Maggie Grace: Yeah, it’s kind of funny. I mean, I think a 12 hour day in a green screen is different than a 12 hour day anywhere else. But, yeah, I think trusting your director is the biggest thing.
Have you guys had any nightmare auditions?
Maggie Grace: Sure. Yeah, it’s funny the ones though that you walk away from feeling really terrified and humiliated are often the offers.
Yeah… and auditions where you’re questioning yourself.
Maggie Grace: Yeah, I mean, you never know. Yeah, in one I remember they posted my Lost audition on the internet and I didn’t know it. My manager had approved it and I didn’t know, I was so embarrassed. I was like, “Oh my God, that’s not finished work. That’s so embarrassing.”
Mia Maestro: I think it’s a very unnatural circumstance for an actor. It’s not actually that good of an acting process. Because normally the best thing it is to do your homework and just be ready, but also arrive to a room or arrive to rehearsal or to a job and work on the scene with your director, have a wonderful director directing you and guiding you through it. And also have an actor or an actress or group of actors playing the scene at the same level that you’re going to be playing it. And not… most of the time some of the auditions that you do or 50% of the time are read by people that are not actors, and…
You can read the interview in its entirety at Daily Actor .