In support of the February 11, 2012 Blu-ray and DVD release of the fourth film of the Twilight series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, the gorgeous Casey LaBow was out doing publicity rounds (supported by massive amounts of caffeine). LaBow plays Kate, a member of the Denali clan of vampires who are close friends of the Cullens. The Denalis, who are also vegetarians and have been together as a family unit for centuries, are an integral part of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight world but made their first appearance in the movie series with Breaking Dawn Part 1. Introduced in the wedding scene in Part 1, the Denali clan will figure prominently in Part 2.
LaBow was very good about keeping any spoilers out of our interview, and not just because she doesn't want to get on the wrong side of Summit Entertainment but because she wants the fans to be surprised when they hit the theater to see Part 2. But she was able to provide us with a little insight into how she prepared to play Kate, her special vampire power, and what it was like being on the Breaking Dawn set.
Exclusive Interview with Casey LaBow:
What has it been like being a part of this franchise with this huge fan base?
Casey LaBow: "Incredible. I mean, I have never witnessed that sort of devotion before. When we went down to tent city the day before the actual premiere in November...we went down and we gave out breakfast and signed some autographs and there was just so many people. I'm like, 'This is true serious love.' You're camping out on concrete for five days with no showers. I want to love something that much."
Nothing in your life so far has hit you like Twilight has hit these fans?
Casey LaBow: "No. I'm waiting for something. It's going to arrive. Maybe my kids will."
Do you understand the passion of these fans?
Casey LaBow: "I do; I get it. I think that probably when I was younger there were things that I got really excited about. [Laughing] Maybe I'm just a little old and bitter - and jaded - now."
Why sign on to a franchise like this where you know everything is so scrutinized by fans?
Casey LaBow: "Really? I don't think that's true. I think everybody's so in love and so enamored and so excited about it and by it, that they're just happy to see it happen. I haven't really encountered too much scrutiny. I think that the devotion and passion overrides any box of scrutinization - if that's even a word."
Were you a fan of Twilight before getting the part of Kate?
Casey LaBow: "I was. I had seen the movies; I actually hadn't read the books. And then after I booked the job, obviously I read the script and the book. I understand it now. It is a world that was created and yes, we've seen vampires and werewolves before but we've never seen them together. It's the ultimate Cinderella story. She's a princess and everybody is fighting over her. Everybody wants to save her life, you know? To have that sort of relationship to something, I get that as a young girl or maybe even a young lady - maybe even some boys, too, whether they want to admit it or not."
Were you into vampires at all?
Casey LaBow: "I am a huge Anne Rice fan. It started back with Interview with a Vampire, probably also because of my Brad Pitt crush that I had back in the day. I read a lot of her books...The Witching Hour. I am a big witch girl. That's what I am. I love a good witch story."
What good witch stories are out there to be made into movies right now?
Casey LaBow: "The Witching Hour. I think it's 950 pages long, so they might have to make two or three of them to finish that. But I don't think Anne Rice is ever going to let that one go. I think that if she's going to make it, they would have done it."
What was it like being on the set of Breaking Dawn?
Casey LaBow: "It was fun. At first, it was super overwhelming. I was really, really nervous initially..."
Casey LaBow: "Just the size, the scale. The first day I got there, I went to do hair and make-up tests for the director. We were on a very, very, very elaborate, huge scale set and I wasn't shooting that scene but I had to go and get hair and make-up tests. I just was wide-eyed, mouth open, and I got nervous."
And how was being one of the new players coming into an established franchise?
Casey LaBow: "At first I think that there was...it wasn't like a cliche...you have this pre-existing family of people who've shot Twilight 1, 2, 3, and now they're doing 4 and 5, and they have 40 new actors coming in. It's overwhelming. It's not like you're just going to walk up and go, 'Hi, nice to meet you,' and then do a scene with somebody. There's 40 people standing around, you know? So, it was overwhelming for everybody. Everybody was sort of taken aback by how large it was. It took a while for everybody to get their footing, get their comfort zone. Not a while...actually, it really didn't take that long. It took maybe like a week and then by then, we were all hanging out and having fun. But it was an interesting thing to walk into."
How long were you actually on the set?
Casey LaBow: "Seven months. And I got a long stick - I mean Kristen [Stewart], I've got to hand it to that girl. She was like 10 months, six days a week. That's a lot of work."
So with Kate, there are a lot of fans who think she and Garrett deserve their own book.
Casey LaBow: "Really? Well, I encourage all of those fans to contact Stephenie Meyer and let her know."
You haven't talked to Stephenie Meyer about it?
Casey LaBow: [Laughing] No, that's not really something you can do. 'Can you do me a favor? Can you go home and write me a book now?'"
Looking into your character's future, what do you think happens to her relationship with Garrett? Have you thought about what happens after Breaking Dawn ends?
Casey LaBow: "I think they go off and live happily ever after, and travel the world together. Garrett was a nomad; he was a traveler and so he didn't have a coven. He didn't have a family. Obviously, the Denalis - we're very tight-knit. We've been together for a very long time and so I think he comes and joins us. In my fantasy land, he comes and joins us and then he and I go off and perhaps travel the world together."
Your character has a power that isn't easy to portray in a film. How did they manage to convey her ability on screen?
Casey LaBow: "There was a very, very talented team of special effects boys on hand at all times. Actually, I'm sure when you see the behind-the-scenes stuff on the Breaking Dawn 2 DVD, because we did film how that worked out - how that was shot - and it'll make sense."
You'll be able to tell that your character has something going on.
Casey LaBow: "Oh yeah. You can not miss it."
Was it difficult for you to figure out how to play that?
Casey LaBow: "No, and luckily we had Stephenie there for any questions. She was on set every single day so any questions, really, we were able to go and run past here, which was kind of a unique thing because I'm not sure how often that happens that an author sits on the set. She was there every single day."
What was Bill Condon like as a director?
Casey LaBow: "Oh my gosh, I just want to squeeze that man. He's so freaking nice I can't cope. I want everybody to be that nice. [Laughing] This world would be a better place if everybody was as nice as Bill Condon is."
How would you describe his style of directing?
Casey LaBow: "He works with you and then he'll come back and he'll sort of very, very kindly suggest how we can change it. It was always a conversation and he always made sure to go to each and every single actor and have a conversation with them, even when we were shooting with 30 people in one scene. He took the time to make sure that everybody felt a connection and that he was present for them as well."
He's not known as a big action movie director, so how does he handle the action scenes?
Casey LaBow: "Emotionally. He makes sure that the emotion remains, that we are all reminded that while there is technical stuff involved, that there is an emotional experience that you're having as well."
How did you get yourself physically prepared to play Kate?
Casey LaBow: "I actually did a lot of boxing. And then when we got there, there was some stunt training. They brought us in separately - it wasn't all at once. They have to teach you moves."
Did you come up with much of a backstory for Kate to figure out who she is?
Casey LaBow: "I did. I did some of my own and then when MyAnna Buring arrived, she and I got to sit down and talk about it. We did a lot together, which was really nice. And she and I had a really great connection which helped in the portrayal of sisters who've been together for a very long time. But, you know, I researched a lot about where she came from and did some brief historical overview of the centuries that she lived through."
Was there anything you figured out in your backstory that we made not have known about Kate that you think is kind of interesting?
Casey LaBow: "That's a tough one. Sometimes those are your little secrets as an actor that you don't want to share, but I will say that being that Kate, Irina and Tanya were the original succubi - the original man-eaters - that there was some fun to be had with that backstory."
How was your relationship with Lee Pace?
Casey LaBow: "I just love him so much!"
Is he as good-looking in person?
Casey LaBow: "Better. Way better, way hotter, and he's super sexy in this movie, too."
Did you two have an immediate connection?
Casey LaBow: "Yeah, we did. I'm still friendly with him. I saw him in New York a month ago."
Do you still see a lot of your Twilight family?
Casey LaBow: "Yeah. Maggie [Grace], Mia Maestro and MyAnna Buring, we've all remained very close. MyAnna's obviously in London. Oh, and Julia Jones. Julia, myself, Maggie and Mia have hung out on a number of occasions. Mia is a musician as well. She plays and we all show up for her shows. I'm co-hosting a charity event in the beginning of March - it's called A Night for the Dolphins. It's Ric O'Barry's charity from The Cove [Casey's friends with Ric's son and has friends who are involved in the charity]. I called Mia and asked her if she'd perform, and so she's performing. Maggie Grace is co-hosting. We all kind of did bond and stay in each other's lives."
Tell me about getting into Kate's hair and make-up.
Casey LaBow: "That was the very talented hair and makeup crew. I mean, it's not the most pleasant thing but you've got to do it."
What was your experience with the vampire contacts? Could you see?
Casey LaBow: "You can see. You know what? They didn't bother me as much as they bothered a lot of other people. A lot of people had a really hard time with them. Yes, you get headaches after you've been wearing them for hours on end. It's not really that much fun to have somebody sticking their fingers in your eyes four times a day, but it wasn't that bad for me."
What was your first reaction upon seeing yourself in costume as Kate?
Casey LaBow: "I got so excited. I got so excited and I was so bummed about the fact that we couldn't take any pictures! I wanted to show my friends but we couldn't."
So, how much more are we going to see of Kate in Breaking Dawn Part 2? She's an integral player in the book.
Casey LaBow: "Yes. I can't say much. [Laughing] She's all up in that situation. Let me say this, I think that the fans will happy."
The wedding scene was one of the most anticipated scenes of the whole franchise. What was it like being on that set?
Casey LaBow: "Surreal. It was insane. It was the last thing we shot of the entire production, and so there's a lot of emotion going on because for everybody it was coming to the end. It was a close of the whole thing. None of us were allowed to see Kristen in the dress until the moment. So all of those reactions are actual reactions to it. There were a lot of reasons behind that."
What did you think of the dress?
Casey LaBow: "Beautiful. Gorgeous. I was not expecting that because Alice had a hand in it. I was expecting a little bit more fluff."
Did you do anything extra for the DVD release?
Casey LaBow: "On this DVD there's audio commentary from Bill Condon, there's some stuff for the Team Edwards and Team Jacobs of the world, and some behind the scenes footage. And there's a wedding video where everybody who was at the wedding got to say a few words, like a real wedding."
Was that scripted?
Casey LaBow: "No, we came up with it on our own."
Without giving anything away, how would you sum up Breaking Dawn - Part 2?
Casey LaBow: "Without giving any spoilers away...a whole lot of new vampires."
What are you going to do next?
Casey LaBow: "I have a film coming out on May 25th with Josh Lucas called Hideaway [previously known as A Year in Mooring]. This movie is ridiculous. It's so beautiful and poetic and it's sad but it's happy. It's really, really beautiful. We shot it in 19 days in Michigan and there was a little angel over that production because we were shooting in it November/December in Michigan on the lake and every day it had to be sunny - because it takes place over a year - and every day it had to be sunny, it was sunny. And every day it had to be raining, raining. Snowing - you got it. In 19 days, in winter, in Michigan."
And then I go in April to film this little indie romantic comedy called Wrong Number that Abigail Spencer wrote and is starring in. You can see her this coming weekend in This Means War. James Franco is producing it as well as acting it. It's a good little crew."
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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 is available on Blu-ray and 2-Disc DVD on February 11, 2012.