By YVONNE VILLARREAL
The family that slays together, stays together. At least that’s the case for the Cullen brood.
In “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” which hits theaters June 30, Seattle is ravaged by a series of killings caused by an army of newborn vampires controlled by revenge-seeking bloodsucker Victoria. To combat the threat against Bella (Kristen Stewart) in this third installment of the franchise, the Cullens must band together and join forces with their sworn enemies, the wolf pack.
“The whole family is in a vulnerable position because of the love we have for Bella,” said Elizabeth Reaser, who plays matriarch Esme Cullen. “If she’s not OK, we’re not OK.”
In the past, we’ve seen the clan hit baseballs so hard that they can play only in a thunderstorm, to block out the sound. And we’ve watched the buttoned-up human imposters welcome Bella into their home as the human girlfriend of one of their own — the handsome Edward.
“This time around, you get to see their true vampire-ness,” said Peter Facinelli, who plays lead vampire Carlisle Cullen in the series based on the best-selling books by Stephenie Meyer.
The film is directed by David Slade, the edgy filmmaker behind “Hard Candy” and “30 Days of Night.” And if the trailer is any indication, he has definitely given the franchise a darker sensibility.
“The guys are going to bring their girlfriends to this one, mark my words,” said Kellan Lutz, who plays Emmett Cullen. “There’s a lot of fighting, a lot of cool stunts. It’s a little darker. The stuff I’ve seen so far is amazing. Amazing. The music is great. Everything is just really captivating. I’m excited to see it, and I’m excited for the fans to see it.
“The stunts are so cool. It was a bit weird, like for the main battle scene where the newborns come in. I mean, we’re looking at these cardboard cutouts as we’re acting, as we’re supposed to be head-butting creatures. So to see it live on the screen is so cool.
“And running on the treadmills to do the chase scene was awesome. We were being pulled by a truck going really fast to make it seem like we were running at vampiric speed. To see it on screen, it looks epic.”
What else can we expect from the pale-faced Cullen family (which includes the Hale siblings) this go-round? Here’s what the actors say audiences can expect from the story and their characters:
•Facinelli: “For me, as Carlisle, it’s an exciting portion of the series. Carlisle is very compassionate, and he has a lot of killing to do in this movie. I joke, after he kills the bad guys, he says he’s sorry in his head.
“And, you know, he’s calm and level-headed. He’s the rock of the family. He usually has a lot of information to draw from because Alice can see into the future and Edward can read minds. In this third movie, he’s not getting that information. Neither one of his sources is working, so he’s kind of flying blind.”
•Reaser: “Esme is still a vampire. She still wants to kill people all day long. It was interesting to get in touch with the vampire side of her in ways that haven’t really been explored. Her family is in danger, and that brings out the mama bear in her.
•Ashley Greene (as Alice Cullen): “Yeah, she’s delicate and prissy at times, but Alice gets a little edgier with each installment. And with these vampires messing with her family and the people she loves, you’re going to see a bit of her toughness. It’s a reminder to the audience that even though we restrain ourselves at times, we’re still vampires and we’re dangerous. You’re going to see the dark, dangerous side of Alice.”
• Lutz: “You’re going to see a smile on Emmett’s face from start to finish. He just loves to fight. And there’s a lot of fighting. He sort of plays bigger in this one than the others.”
•Nikki Reed (as Rosalie Hale): “You see a reason for her attitude. I think fans will feel for her. There was a bit of that in ‘New Moon.’ Fans got to see a bit of her sensitive side. Her sane side. Her logical side. And her desire to help her family. This time around, she is much more of a participant. She’s a survivor. This is her family. So if protecting Bella means protecting her family, she’s going to do it.”
•Jackson Rathbone (as Jasper Hale): “You’ll get to see a little bit of the root of what makes Jasper so withdrawn and quiet in the Cullen family. Fans will get some of Jasper’s back story in ‘Eclipse.’ I got to wear the whole Civil War gear and everything. There’s a bit of the softer and darker side of Jasper in this film.”
•Robert Pattinson (as Edward Cullen): Snagging a phone interview with the brooding dreamboat — who was overseas shooting his latest film, “Bel Ami” — proved difficult.
So what can we expect from the lovesick Edward? He promises to love Bella “every moment of forever,” as the trailer reveals. He’s still hesitant about her becoming a vampire. He’s determined to protect her from Victoria. And he’s vying with Jacob for her affections. Oh, the life of an antique teenage vampire.