The Twilight Saga: New Moon marks the first appearance of the Volturi, the closest the vampire world has to royalty and a major force in the future of the saga. Centuries old and unimaginably powerful, they serve as lawmakers and enforcers for the community.
The leader of the group is Aro, played by Michael Sheen, an actor who is no stranger to this genre, having played a werewolf enslaved by vampires in the Underworld series.
While all the Volturi are formidable, the most feared is Jane, played by Dakota Fanning, a sweet-faced, innocent-looking vampire who can – and does – inflict pain merely by willing it.
At the press junket for the movie Sheen and Fanning spoke of their roles and the Twilight phenomenon.
Dakota, as such a fan of the series, what was the highlight of playing Jane for you?
Dakota Fanning: I think the highlight of playing Jane was getting to wear that costume and to have the red contact lenses, and I was really excited about getting to play an evil character.
[It was a little scary] going into this movie with a cast that already knew each other really well, because they’ve already done a movie together. You’re kind of like the new kid coming in, but they were just so nice and so welcoming and just a really great cast, so it was kind of hard to be star struck even though you’re such big fans of them and excited to meet them. They’re just so nice and you become friends pretty quick.
What did you think when you saw yourself for the first time with the red lenses in?
Dakota Fanning: It was really scary. I think it makes anyone look automatically evil. But it was really fun. You get used to them after a while. You can see pretty good, but it’s still kind of weird.
Michael, can you talk about finding your voice as Aro? You’ve said you thought of the Blue Meanie.
Michael Sheen: It was from Stephenie [Meyer] in the book. She describes Aro as having a voice like feathers, so that made me think about what would it sound like if someone had a voice like feathers? And then, as I was starting to play around with it, I reminded myself a little bit of the Blue Meanie.
You remember the Blue Meanie in Yellow Submarine and the hand that goes with it? And then I was also thinking about characters from when I was a kid watching stuff that really freaked me out, and the Blue Meanie really freaked me out.
I liked the idea of a character who on the surface appears to be very friendly and thinks of himself as just being a sentimental old fool, a romantic at heart, and then he wants to eat your eyes. I liked that sort of idea so that was where Aro came from.
Now that you get to play a vampire rather than a werewolf, was it more satisfying?
Michael Sheen: The tailoring is so much better as a vampire. I’ve been observing vampires for some time now and I finally got my own fang, although we don’t have fangs, do we? But no, it was great to be on the other side for a bit.
Dakota, the fourth book hasn’t been written yet, so as a fan, where would you like your character to go?
Dakota Fanning: The last book, the fourth book, has been written so we see all of us in that last one. I think it culminates in the final battle which is a really cool scene to read in the book.
Can you talk about your character’s special power and if you had a special power in real life, what would you like it to be?
Michael Sheen: My power is to be able to read people’s thoughts by touching them, and in real life, I would like to have the power to always look like I’m 3 centimeters to the right of where I actually am. [Laughter] You mock! I’m doing it now. I actually do have that power. More fool you!
Is it challenging to play characters that are duplicitous because that’s kind of what you get into whenever it comes to the Cullens and also, is it fun to play characters that are so intimidating?
Dakota Fanning: Yes. [Laughs] Yes, it is fun.
Michael Sheen: We had to tone Dakota down. Her natural personality is too evil and we had to tone the volume down on the evil.
Dakota Fanning: [Laughs] Yeah. It was fun to get to play a feared character; it’s something different than what I’ve done before. And also, she uses her power not for good, which was another thing that was kind of interesting to me.
What has your experience been like with the fans of Twilight?
Michael Sheen: I haven’t really experienced much of the Twilight fan stuff yet. But, I did go into a store in L.A. to buy a pair of jeans and I went into the little cubicle to try my jeans on.
It’s always a quite nerve-wracking time when I come out of the cubicle to look in the mirror anyway and I like that to be a private moment. As I came out, there was a woman shaking, going “You’re Aro, aren’t you?!” and I just hid in my cubicle again. That’s been really my only experience with that.
Apart from also going into my daughter’s bedroom and seeing pictures of Twilight and New Moon everywhere — and seeing my own little picture, which I think she did out of pity. [Laughter]