Where have I been? I ask myself this question every day, recently. At the risk of sounding unnecessarily dramatic, I have been involved in the longest, most challenging, scariest project I have ever undertaken. I have sacrificed and sweated and agonized - for good reason. Most of the folks involved are above my pay grade. And it's been a secret. Soon, I will return to "TwiMadness' with a vengeance…for now, just another blog post about my nutty Twilight experiences.
I get asked 3 questions all the time. Hard as it may be to believe, I have a few anecdotes in reply:
What's it like working with Stephenie Meyer?
Stephenie's success is just staggering and I am pretty sure many would and probably did feel intimidated around her. Here's the secret about Stephenie that I accidentally discovered, though…she is normal. REALLY normal. And funny. But mostly normal…like the kind of person you'd hang out with. Just to shoot the shit.
At first, I was pretty shy…for me. And nervous - I met Stephenie AFTER I'd been cast when some of us were called down to Baton Rouge for a make-up/wardrobe test before shooting began. So, I didn't know how she felt about me or my choices for Stefan. I mean, I know if she would have HATED my audition tape, I wouldn't be there but you know, maybe she was just like "Eh…Guri…whatever…thank GOD we also got better actors…"
When I finally met her in Baton Rouge, I was already in costume and make-up. I shook her hand and she said, "You are EXACTLY how I pictured Stefan" and smiled. And I relaxed. Like a baby, actually. In fact, I wet my pants…not really. Okay, a little.
So, from that point on, we just clicked. We chatted a lot and some folks that hadn't quite figured out the 'normal' part about her were speculating as to what she had to say and if there was any 'Twilight' secrets she shared. I actually had some folks come up to me asking, "What do you talk about?" So, as a public service, I would like to disclose one of our 'top secret' conversations now. I think the one that sums it up best is this story :
On set, there were different 'video villages' which are areas with monitors displaying different camera angles and chairs huddled around. It was a bit tense on set as we were behind schedule. However, I'm just an actor in a VERY silly mood and so I go find Stephenie…'cause her village was down like that.
"Guuuuurrrrriiiiii….how are ya?"
"What's wrong?", she asks, all sincerely.
"Where are the Jewish vampires, Stephenie? Not ONE Jewish vampire?!?"
She laughs. "Because it goes against everything Judaism is about, GURI."
"I don't think you're seeing it. See, if there were some Jews in the vamp camp, we could sidestep all battles in favor of negotiation…plus, I think the vamp world needs a good kosher deli…"
Now, I notice Lily Collins there. She's laughing at my stupid Jewish vampire joke, so I immediately like her. And to the fans that are trying to stir up competition between the two Snow White movies, IMHO, they are VERY different films, they BOTH look great and I am a fan of BOTH actresses.
Back to the day. So, Stephenie is telling me about 'The Hunger Games' and what a great book that is and then we discuss the sacrifices we will all be making that night, as shooting is going to go LATE. I mention that I am VERY distressed that I will be missing my new favorite show, 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills'. My wife's agitated and colorful commentary after each episode is just nothing short of priceless. But, that night, alas…no RHOBH. Stephenie doesn't even know the show and I'm aghast. Lily is also aghast. I look at Lily, who I now see is an incredibly astute young woman with FINE taste in reality television and we high five. We then describe the show to Stephenie by acting it out. She seems unimpressed by the show yet oddly adamant that we keep discussing our viewpoints about it with her. Oh! Right - and then Stephenie makes fun of me AD NAUSEUM for watching it. Not Lily, she got off scott-free for her allegiance to RHOBH. Just me. Whatever.
So, now everyone knows. Jewish vampires and the The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills are excellent examples of the scintillating, exclusive topics Stephenie and I discussed.
What was it like being involved in Breaking Dawn - the LAST film of the Twilight franchise?Obviously, we all realized that we were a part of something epic and had the appropriate level of reverence while shooting.
Wait. That's not what happened. Here's a typical on set day :
We're all on set against a green screen and massive amounts of fake snow. Shoot dates were getting long and we were all extremely silly. Plus, there were cardboard cut outs of the 'wolves'. If THAT'S not fodder for juvenile behavior, I don't know what is. So, par for the course, one of the P.A.s starts taping various notes to unsuspecting people's backs (tagging - BD style). Wyck Godfrey is JUST NOT HAVING IT. He's the producer, we were behind schedule and he certainly does not want the shoot to devolve further with antics such as this.
So, of COURSE he got tagged. Once with a sign that said 'Kick Me' which was the tamest sign he was tagged with. Over and over, Wyck was tagged by pretty much everyone. Agitated, he was paranoid about signs being on his back all day, always checking. He actually very much resembled someone with Tourette's Syndrome. PRICELESS.
Not to be outdone by ANYONE, Charlie Bewley had some prints made of a photo of himself looking particularly snooty as 'Demetri. On the photo, he wrote 'Team Demetri' and stuck it on Nikki Reed's back. She had no idea for hours, so definitely he scored a win with that one. Plus, it started the 'Team' epitaphs ('Team Cullen', 'Team Wolves', 'Team Edward', 'Team Bella', 'Team GFYS') that became ALL the rage. Coincidently, if you have never seen a huge, burly, macho grip or electrician with 'Team Edward' taped to their back, I'm just not sure you've lived…
Those crew guys got the responsible P.A. back, though…when we finished shooting for the day, this P.A. kept looking for his backpack. No one could find it. Finally, it was found…35 feet in the air hanging by a rope with no foreseeable way to get it down.
Bored with sticky notes on people's backs, Christian Camargo decides he will up the ante - by 'tagging' all - and I do mean ALL - of the cardboard wolves asses with my name. I kick him pretty hard and Mia Maestro comes running after me, emotional and confused, saying over and over…"You HURT him, Guri. You BOTH are HURTING each other TOO MUCH. What is WRONG with you two?!?"
So, I'm back over in Stephenie's video village, thinking that would be a safe haven. As I'm chatting it up with her about CRITICAL issues facing the world today (like my deep love for Food TV), I am oblivious to the fact that a P.A. is attaching a hook to my coat - the other end of the hook is attached to a sand bag. As Stephenie is chatting with me, she gives NO indication of what is taking place behind me. All is fine until I stand up and prepare to walk away…only to be jerked back to my chair in a motion that has only been captured before in The Three Stooges films. I'm embarrassed, OBVIOUSLY, and Stephenie is looking at me like the cat that ate the canary. OH! The shame…
What are the Twilight Fans like?Well, it's a mixed bag. GENERALLY, the fans have been nothing but gracious and supportive with me. Even the snarky girls at the Letters to Twilight Site have had relatively benign comments about me and I am not just commenting about them because they left comments on my blog. OK. I am mentioning them primarily because of that. YES, I DID get a huge kick out of them commenting on my blog. And they're really funny. Except when they make comments about me…
There are always stalkers, trouble-makers and those that want to claim a 'friendship' only so they can brag to friends. The fandom is too large for this NOT to be the case. And, for those fans wondering why they can't have more access to Rob, Kristen and Taylor, you must understand that these 'troublesome' fans to tend to make actors suspicious and distant. I had one actor tell me about one fan that claimed an affair with said actor…disrupting this person's relationship. Another had some rather disturbing gifts delivered to a hotel when we were working on BD 2 and even me, plain little 'ole me, my performance not even out in theaters, has had a VERY scary experience with a fan that really enjoys cyberstalking. You must understand that these experiences will put any human being, celebrity or not, on edge.
But what I really want to talk about are the fans that make the Twilight experience one of community, love and sharing. I am not an easy guy to get to know, CERTAINLY. I have had my share of receiving death threats and obtaining restraining orders and horrible forced home moves due to my own history that is steeped in political divide. However, there are fans that have made me believe in the goodness of humanity and the incredible potential of the Twilight fandom. When I started fundraising for small, local, under served charities using the ridiculous, inane name 'GFYS4Charity', I was astonished by the amount of love, support and commitment TwiFans gave the effort. There are the special fans that promote the charity, buy from my little fundraising t-shirt stores and continuously feed me with new ideas for fundraising. These people have warmed my heart and given me hope.
Recently, I had three very special women step up and offer even more…not only are they creative and innovative with their input, dedication and tangible contributions but they are what I consider angels. They are pictured above - Bridgette, Melinda and Melissa. Their drive is enormous, their input invaluable and their contributions selfless. So, in June, these very special ladies will be taking over fundraising for GFYS4Charity.com. We have all collaborated on specially TwiFan designed, TwiStar autographed items for auction (forthcoming auction items w/signatures are a surprise but guaranteed to be items/signatures that TwiFans REALLY want…REALLY). We will unveil these items during May as well as special video chats with BD2 cast, starting with yours truly. I am so happy as I feel this collaboration between TwiFans and TwiStars is VERY special and unique - with the proceeds directed at small, local charities serving kids and animals. To get a sneak peek at the items to be autographed and auctioned (and to buy these designs for less, with no autographs, still supporting charity), as well as to get the general 411, please join GFYS4Charity.com (it's free). We will be changing products, offerings, specials often and of course, we change the charity we fundraise for each quarter. Right now, we are concentrating on a charity close to my heart as a dog lover, Ring Dog Rescue.
OK guys, that's it for now. I'll be back soon (I know, I've said that before - but I really MEAN it this time) and in the meantime…GFYS. For charity. :)
I forgot to include a charity that I recently donated an auction item to, please help in any way you can...this is an amazing cause.
Clark Memorial Hospital
"We provide our breast cancer survivors with beautiful bras that make them feel pretty as well as providing them with any prosthesis they may need to assist them with looking and feeling whole again. We also provide wigs for our lovely survivors if they cannot afford one, as well as hand-made scarves and wraps. Getting back to normal is another one of our special touches at Clark Memorial Hospital. We give them a special treat with our "Look Good, Feel Good" treatment with sensitive skin make up along with lotions and other such items that help with the discomfort of living through the procedures one has to endure with breast cancer survival."
Donations can be mailed to:
Clark Memorial Hospital Foundation
1206 Spring Street
Jeffersonville, IN 47130