Elizabeth Reaser has played Esme Cullen, the matriarch of “Twilight: Breaking Dawn’s” vampire family, throughout the entire saga, and the actress tells PopcornBiz how the cast’s bond goes beyond mere friendship: it’s almost a blood tie.
POPCORNBIZ: In some ways this role could be a thankless task, considering it's such a big ensemble cast. What are the thanks that you get from playing this part?
ELIZABETH REASER: Well, I sort of grew up in the school of a supporting role is what that means: to support the other characters, to support the story. That to me is not a thankless role, especially in working on these last two. I had more to do. I had fun. I think that [director] Bill [Condon] was very interested in as much Esme's take on things. He was more interested in having Esme be the matriarch that she is. I found that interesting psychologically. So I can always kind of keep myself going even when there's probably not a whole lot that ends up onscreen. But for me, it's interesting because I think the character is interesting, even independent of what story is actually being told. The story is not about Esme. It's not about us. It's about my son and the girl that he wants to marry, and that's interesting to me.
The family feel comes across in this one. As a cast, you guys are a family of sorts at this point, doing all these movies and press tours together. How bonded are you with everyone?
It's interesting. I think we're bonded in a way that's unusual and will be lifelong, in a way, but we're also a family in the sense that we're not all meant to be friends. We're a family, which is different than being friends. There are things that we've experienced as a group that no one else has, and that are so singular. I think that's really cool, and that's one thing that I'll really miss about doing these movies, that sense of family because you can't really create that other than on a film set in this way and to do it over and over again. Usually you never work with someone more than once. Rarely do you, so that's a nice thing.
Is there someone in the cast that you've bonded with in a surprising way, someone that you wouldn't have seen that with in the beginning?
I think there are a few, actually. There are just people that I never would've met, from an age difference even. I think that Kristen [Stewart] is such a doll. She and I would've never met or have known each other. I think she's just so funny and sweet. Then Peter [Facinelli], actually. We've been playing husband and wife for years now. I think in these last two movies I got closer with him than ever. I found him to be the most hilarious, most vulnerable, sweet, brilliant person. I feel like it took me years. I always adored him. I always really liked him and have loved working with him, but just in these last two movies I've really sort of fallen in love with him. It was such a great thing to be playing opposite someone that you feel that way about.
Fifty years from now you're going to be invited to talk and go to screenings of these films all over again. Do you think about that, about how 'Twilight' will probably never go away in some sense?
I don't. It's not a part of my conscious world at all. I don't think about it. It's never even in my awareness of myself and the world. I had a career before this, and so it feels like a job to me. It feels like a really lucky thing to be a part of and is very exciting. But even when people are like, 'Oh, my God, what's it like?' I'm like, 'It's really like I'm going to work and people are very excited about it.' That's nice. People are nicer to me, for the most part. If I meet a fan they're usually really nice. I've only really been yelled at once or twice. So it's just like going about my business.
Do you think that maybe you've gotten the best of this experience considering people aren't really poking into your life in a really personal way?
Yeah. I've also always kept very private. I'm a very private person. I've always lived that way and I'm very low-key about how I go about my business in this business. So I've been really lucky in that respect. No one is really coming up to me saying, 'Who are you dating?' No one cares, and so that's good. I once got yelled at for not stopping and talking to a solicitor because they were like, 'But you're famous. You're in "Twilight." You should stop.' That was interesting. I was like, 'You have a point. I don't think I agree with you, but…' so that was interesting.
Is there a part of the 'Twilight' experience that you'll be happy or relieved to put down and walk away from?
Yeah. I think we're really done. I feel really at peace with that. It was very satisfying to get to finish it. I don't think you always get to in a series, but this did so well that we got to do it. There's no part of me that feels, like, 'I wish we would've done that.' I feel like we really left no stone unturned and that's good.
You have other work ahead, like 'Young Adult.'
That was amazing, yeah. Jason Reitman. That's like at a whole other level of filmmaking. Also, to be in a movie like that, written by Diablo [Cody], it was just such a great script - and Charlie [Theron]: I've never worked with an actress or anyone that good. She blew me away every day, from being in the hair and makeup trailer to the rest of the day. I was just riveted by her.
What was it about that part that really intrigued you?
I think the fact that she played the drums, and she was a special needs teacher and her confidence, which I can't entirely relate to. She has a confidence in her relationship and in her husband and in herself, in that she's not threatened by Charlize. She's probably the only woman that wouldn't take a look at Charlize and freak out. I mean, I wouldn't want Charlize around my boyfriend or husband! So I think there's something really special and really cool about that. And I really learned to play the drums, which was the best job perk that I've ever experienced. I got really good. I mean, I had the bass drum going, too. I don't know if you noticed that.
What's after that?
I'm going to go do a play which I'm pretty freaked out about. I haven’t done it in about five, five and a half years. I'm kind of nervous because moviemaking is a really private, intimate, weird thing, and I love that because I'm really shy. I think that I've allowed myself to get even more shy because film is so intimate and now it'll be a very different experience.
How did a shy person decide that acting was the right career?
I don't know because if I had known…I just don't think that I thought it through. I'm obviously also some sort of attention…there's definitely some need for attention there. But I didn't put it together because I am really shy. I don't like to leave my house. I have a touch of agoraphobia. When you're two and you want to put on a show for your family and you just keep doing that and doing that, it's suddenly very different, the reality of being an actor which no one tells you. Even if they did you wouldn't listen.