BWW EXCLUSIVE: Lisa Howard on TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN
This week marks the release of Lisa Howard's stunning new collection of William Finn songs, SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE, as well as a showcase at Birdland featuring the selections from the album and some special surprises, so now is certainly the best time to catch up with the 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE star before she takes on Mother Abbess in THE SOUND OF MUSIC and Paulette in LEGALLY BLONDE later this year. Additionally, Ms. Howard shares with me all about the filming of the highly anticipated conclusion of the TWILIGHT series, TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN Parts 1 & 2 in which she plays a central role: that of Siobahn, an ancient Irish vampire. William Finn, Dan Fogler, Bill Condon, Michael Sheen, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and stories about working with many more of her exciting co-stars and collaborators await in the complete conversation, but, first, here are her TWILIGHT-centric comments! Be sure to pick up the Finn album available at GhostlightRecords.com to enjoy Finn favorites old and new, plus the premiere of a number of songs from ROMANCE IN HARD TIMES, THE ROYAL FAMILY and the titular song cycle itself, SONGS OF INNOCENCE & EXPERIENCE.
Voice of the Vampire
PC: Moving to movies: you are making your feature film debut in one of the most hotly anticipated films of all time, TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN, yes?
LH: Yes, yes, I am! (Laughs.) Isn't that crazy!
PC: What an accomplishment! And to work with Bill Condon - he's a real Broadway baby; plus, he directed DREAMGIRLS!
LH: I think that's probably why he even considered hiring me - because I am a Broadway gal and he understands our world, you know?
LH: I think that may have even been the reason I was even considered.
PC: The theatre connection. What was the audition like? How did it come about?
LH: Jen, my manager, got me the audition. Of course, I was a huge TWILIGHT fan and I had read all the books and seen the movies. You know, I was like, "Oh, that sounds fun! Great!" never thinking that I would get it - even though I fit the character description perfectly, and that doesn't happen all the time for a gal like me!
PC: Where did you audition?
LH: We went in and I put myself on tape and we sent it in. The next week, I got the call that I got the job.
LH: I know! It was kind of surreal. I was like, "What. Is. Happening?!" I was so excited.
PC: What was your audition piece?
LH: It's actually just a scene that's really not in the movie, but they obviously just wanted to seewhat I could do with it. It's a scene between me and Edward. Do you know the story?
PC: I do, but why don't you fill everyone in.
LH: Well, it's when Bella's having that baby and she's half-vampire/half-whatever...
LH: Yeah, Renesme. So, they are showing it to their friends, saying that, you know, "Hey, you can hear her heartbeat! We didn't create an immortal child! We didn't, like, bite a baby!"
PC: Which is a big crime for vampires.
LH: Right. They call their other vampire friends from around the world to help them give witness that they didn't commit this vampire crime. (Pause.) Gosh, it sounds so funny when you actually talk about it out loud. (Laughs.)
PC: And the baby is actually "imprinted" on Jacob, the werewolf, and they are destined to be together, ultimately. He isn't in love with Bella, he's in love with the baby inside of her.
LH: Yes. Right. Exactly. That's the story. That's also why he's always hanging around being tortured. (Laughs.)
PC: With his shirt off.
LH: (Laughs.) With his shirt off; exactly! Of course.
PC: What happens to your character in the scene you auditioned with?
LH: It was a scene between Edward and my character, Siobhan, who is the head of the Irish clan - the cousin clan - of vampires.
PC: What was it like working with Robert Pattinson? You are a Broadway baby, so you can spot it: does he have the goods?
LH: Yeah, he does. He's great. And, he's really nice and he's professional and easy to work with. He's just great.
PC: It filmed in Baton Rouge, correct?
LH: Yes, I was there two weeks in December and then January through mid-February.
PC: You are in quite a number of scenes, correct?
LH: Uh huh! Yeah, I am.
PC: They're splitting it into two films, so are you in both or just Part 2?
LH: Right. The movie is going to be TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 1 and TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 2. I am in Part 2.
PC: So, we don't even get to see you for a year and a half!
LH: For another year, yeah! I think I'll only be in Part 2.
PC: But, it's all good stuff, since I'm assuming it follows the book closely?
LH: Yes, it does. We have the big scene where we all come to the house and we meet them. Then, we have the scenes where we are in the woods waiting for the Volturi to come. Then, of course, there is the big scene at the end - the big stand-off.
PC: And you have a lot of material with Michael Sheen, yes?
LH: Yes, tons! Tons! That whole scene in the field we spent weeks - weeks - doing that one scene. It's a huge scene.
PC: The special effects are supposed to be really impressive.
LH: Oh, yeah, totally! We were standing in a field, completely surrounded, 360 degrees, by green screen.
PC: What challenges did that pose?
LH: It was crazy! They would have these fake wolves behind us that were like these cardboard cut-outs, and then they would do a shot with the fake ones and then take them out and do it again so that they knew where to reference to put in the wolves in post[-production]. So, it will be cool to see myself standing with these giant wolves behind me, you know? That will be pretty neat. (Laughs.)
PC: Your son is going to have one famous mom really soon! What does it feel like to become a part of the TWILIGHT phenomenon?
LH: (Big Laugh.) It's kind of crazy! It's kind of crazy that my feature film debut is in this amazing series - this huge, worldwide phenomenon.
PC: And Bill Condon delivers?
LH: Oh, yes. The fans will be very pleased - I think everyone will.
PC: What's he like on set?
LH: He's just fantastic! He's just so kind. You know, some directors can not be - in whatever field you are working in - but, he's nice and comes out and talks to the actors. If you're not getting it, he says, "OK. Well, why don't you try it this way?" He's calm. You never saw him explode on set. He just gets done what needs to be done. And, he's a wonderful presence to work with - there's no drama.
PC: So, it was a great experience to work with him on BREAKING DAWN?
LH: Oh, yes, totally - at least that I saw and was involved in! He was very kind and made everyone feel important and special to the scene - because, everyone is. (Pause.) He was just a doll to work with.
PC: How was it working with the Director of Photography, Guillermo Navarro (JACKIE BROWN, PAN‘S LABYRINTH)? He's so gifted.
LH: He kept the ship running, that's for sure! He did a great job, from what I could see on the monitors!
PC: Neither film is in 3D, correct?
LH: I think they are both in standard, not 3D, as far as I know.
PC: Have there been any re-shoots?
LH: No. I mean, that's still a possibility - but, no, I haven't had to.
PC: It's still a year and a half before it comes out!
LH: Right! Right. They have time.
PC: What was your camaraderie like with the rest of the cast? It's a huge cast!
LH: Yeah, there were so many new cast members - it was a lot of fun! We all stayed at the same place and got to hang out. Dakota Fanning and the Volturi and all the Cullens that were in the other movies were there, so it was really nice to get to know them and then to get to know all the new vampires.
PC: Did you get Robert Pattinson to sing with you at all on set? He supposedly has a wonderful voice.
LH: I didn't get him to sing! But, we did chat about it. In one scene he has to play the piano, and he was like, (British Accent.), "But, I don't know how to play the piano!" (Laughs.) But, he did learn a little part and he actually plays it - the song he writes for Renesme, from the book. We briefly talked about that - but, no singing on set.