The Twilight Saga: New Moon is a continuation of the hit movie, Twilight. Everyone knows Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner. In “New Moon,” we get to meet some of Jacob’s Quileute brothers. Alex Meraz and Kiowa Gordon talked about their experiences playing Paul and Embry Call in the latest installment of this saga.
Kiowa had a very personal path to this role. “Well, I was going to church as usual with Stephenie Meyer, the writer, and she kinda saw me and thought that I’d be a good character for the native roles. I was pretty stoked that she would see me as one of her characters. She told me about the open casting call in Phoenix and I went to an acting coach I went into the audition and knocked it out!” Pretty amazing for his first role!
Alex admitted to not really being aware of the first movie and not realizing how big it was because he was working in Canada at the time. When he heard that there was a Native American component to the series, he decided he would not let the second film go by without trying to get a part. He auditioned for the role of Sam Uley. “It was really close. We were short-listed, but I just didn’t feel right about it. I was trying to be what the books explained. I was trying to be taller, bigger, a deeper voice.”
He was crushed when he learned that he did not get the role of Sam, saying that he thought he didn’t get any role. But his manager was quick to point out that he would play the hot-headed, short-tempered Paul. “I was happy when I did research about who Paul was, because I kinda like the more bad boys, guys with attitudes.” Later, when he met Chaske Spencer (Sam Uley) he realized immediately that he was perfect for the role of the Wolf Pack leader.
When asked about preparing for the parts, both guys said that their native tribes were not similar to the Quileute tribe of Washington. Though they are all connected spiritually, the tribes all used different languages, were made up of different people, and had different beliefs, but as Kiowa stated, “we’re all still brothers and sisters.” Alex prayed every day and relied on spiritual preparation to help his portrayal of Paul, “I asked permission to represent the Quileute tribe. I asked permission for the people of the past, present, and future, that I can honor them in a respectful manner.”
Their native background is obviously important to their preparation for the roles. When commenting about the portrayal of Native Americans in film, Alex said he was happy to get to show a more modern, truthful version of their history. “All they might know is what Hollywood has taught, which is not very much it’s very cool that natives are being seen in a different light. It’s not leather and feathers on a horse, ya know. It’s contemporary. People can relate to it.”
In addition to preparing their spiritual selves to play native characters, they immersed themselves in the book that inspired the movie. Alex freely stated that when he read “New Moon,” he was obsessed with it! Both actors enjoyed director Chris Weitz’s interpretation of the book and felt that he balanced the storyline well, promising that his input in the movie created an action-packed, but romance-driven story. While the action is very prominent throughout the film, Kiowa said that the movie stayed true to the book. “It’s pretty close to the book, actually, but they just spice it up a little bit yeah, Twi-Hards definitely will be happy!” Kiowa followed that up saying that it has more action, pointing to the fight between Felix and Edward, but other than that “it’s pretty close to the book, they didn’t take too much out the movie is just as amazing!”
As any “Twilight” fan knows, “New Moon” has mythical transformations involved. These two young actors were able to work directly with special effects crews to make those changes show up great on the silver screen. The special effects crew was very willing to work with the actors to capture these scenes. In the scene that shows Paul phase into a wolf, they showed Alex what was going to go on and what the movements would look like. “I asked if I could do a shiver and go down before I jump up, and they were totally cool with it!”
Alex and Kiowa pushed to do as many stunts as they could so that they could get the experience and do as much as they could on the set. They were thrilled to do the stunts they did! They detailed the cliff diving scene. “We had a 60 foot scaffolding that we had to practice jumping off of and landing on a small 10 x 10 mattress. It was pretty intense!” He reflected back on the actual shooting of that scene, “on the day, none of us were nervous. We just jumped off, and it makes for a fun scene.”
Obviously this film required the wolves to be in shape. Alex said he saw Taylor’s body and worried that he had to live up to that. He worked out a lot, but realized that he was cast the way he was. He continued to train, but didn’t want to look huge, instead, he decided he wanted to look more like Bruce Lee, because Paul is “a scrappy, fighter character. I tried to do as much cardio as I could because I wanted to be as lean as I could. Just longer muscles, scrappy, wily.”
After being on set, they regularly went to training aka Wolf Camp! Kiowa shared some details. “We did some training, about an hour and a half a day for about three weeks, and we just packed on the muscle. We ate lots of protein, about six meals a day. We just pushed each other.”
They had a great time on the set stating that the best thing about filming was the people they met. Alex claims to joke around a lot and pointed out that the presence of the Pack on the set completely changed the dynamic. “We just have a great time! We light up the set. When we were not filming, then we came back, the people were like, ‘awww, the Wolf Pack is back!’ and everyone’s screaming.”
Kiowa and Alex are touring and sharing their stories. While they have experienced the pandemonium that is surrounding these films, it hasn’t grabbed them yet. They still enjoy the relative privacy and are able to go out to eat and not get recognized. Alex said, “I don’t have to deal with the craziness that the ones in the forefront have to. We’re just supporting cast, but I’m happy with that because I get all the perks of being in the movie, but I can also live my normal existence.” He admits to not knowing if it will change when the movie is released, “but whatever this brings, while I’m constantly changing to do whatever I’m asked to do or be. I feel like the same kid as I was when I was ten. I’m so grateful to have people recognize the work, but I’m still giddy. I still get nervous inside and I just don’t think that’s gonna change.”
Alex and Kiowa both plan to attend screenings when the movie opens. They’ll likely get their first taste of real fame shortly thereafter!
The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens in theaters on Friday, November 20th.