Maggie Grace ('Irina') and Mia Maestro ('Carmen') play vampire sisters in the Twilight film series, with their characters part of the film's finale as vampires who side with the Cullens take on the evil Volturi and their minions. Grace and Maestro's characters are members of the Denali 'family' - close friends of the Cullens and fellow vegetarian vampires. But while the Denalis and the Cullens have known each other for decades, it's Grace's Irina who sets the pivotal events of Breaking Dawn Part 2 in motion by making the Volturi aware of Bella and Edward's baby.
Grace and Maestro do not share much screen time in Breaking Dawn Part 2, however they're close friends off-screen which made their publicity tour for this final Twilight film all the more enjoyable for the two actresses.
Maggie Grace and Mia Maestro Exclusive Interviews:
What was your experience with the Twilight saga prior to signing up for the films?
Maggie Grace: "Well, we did read the book. There wasn’t a script so we went straight to the source, of course. At that point there wasn’t a script released because it was somewhat of a secret at the time. Yeah, I mean, of course we’re never going to catch up with the true fans. You can’t play catch up that fast so with the mythology, there’s so much to know and remember. They'll certainly keep us honest. And certainly visiting fan camp, there's things that I’m learning."
Mia Maestro: "Do you know who was amazing on the set? MyAnna Buring who plays Tanya. MyAnna has always been a huge Twilight fan."
Maggie Grace: "Always."
Mia Maestro: "Yeah. Whoever had a question about the characters or what would a vampire do in a specific situation..."
Maggie Grace: "Can they blink?"
Mia Maestro: "Yeah. MyAnna would be the person to ask."
Were either of you ever able to stump her with your questions?
Mia Maestro: "I don’t think so."
Maggie Grace: "But also author Stephenie Meyer was there on the set all the time."
Mia Maestro: "Stephenie was always in the set so if you had any questions, you could just ask. She was super open and cool."
Maggie Grace: " We always knew we could knock on her door if we had a big question."
Did you have any questions for Stephenie? Was there anything that you didn't get out of the script that you needed to know?
Mia Maestro: "Not really."
Maggie Grace: "No, my character was pretty straightforward. We understood why she does what she does. That’s definitely all there for me in the book."
Mia Maestro: "Yeah, for me as well. You know, I think, as you know, like the story really is the story of Bella, Edward and Jacob so secondary characters, I think you just see a glimpse of their stories and their lives. So it was just pretty straightforward."
Did you feel really welcomed onto the set with so many new people and also this whole gang of returning Twilight players?
Maggie Grace: "Definitely. Well, you have to remember the new vampires outnumber the old."
Mia Maestro: "We were welcomed by our own newcomer kind..."
Maggie Grace: "...and just the original cast as well."
Mia Maestro: They’re super warm and Robert [Pattinson] and Kristen [Stewart] were great. Bill Condon was extremely welcoming to all the new actors. He was such a wonderful director to have because as you know, it’s a big, big cast and Bill just had like undivided attention to every one of the actors.
Maggie Grace: "He’s such an actor’s director."
Mia Maestro: "The best."
Maggie Grace: "But you know actually, come to think of it - and I just remembered this - you know who made me feel especially welcome?"
Mia Maestro: "Who?"
Maggie Grace: "The Fach, Peter Facinelli."
Mia Maestro: "Yeah, Peter was great."
Maggie Grace: "Yeah, he played some great practical jokes on me that made me feel so welcome into the whole community there in Squamish."
You felt like you were really a member of the Twilight group?
Maggie Grace: "Oh yeah, the practical jokes. He and Kellan [Lutz] played a joke. They got me pretty good one night and it was kind of in front of my whole vampiric coven, so that was pretty funny."
You can’t just say that and then not say what the joke was.
Maggie Grace: "Well, let’s just say we were all having dinner together and they played some jokes with the phones in the hotel. They did some voices and I fell for it. It was pretty fun. Yeah, I can’t go into too much detail but they’re very … they’re actors, man. [Laughing] They’re very good."
Neither of you had played vampires previously. What was the appeal of signing on to this series?
Maggie Grace: "Why? Why not?"
That’s probably a better question.
Mia Maestro: "First, again, it goes back to Bill. He’s such an incredible director and, of course, I think Maggie would agree, we just wanted to work with him. And then also just to be part of a film that has such a following and is such a social event. It’s something that's just hard to say no to."
Maggie, you had that a little bit with Lost because those fans were also very passionate and very much into the characters and mythology.
Maggie Grace: "And actually Mia also had that with Alias. We’re JJ [Abrams] sisters as well as vampiric sisters. [Laughing] There's a lot of ties there. Yeah, definitely. It’s a totally different group of fans, I would say, but equally passionate and detail-oriented at times. They like to be honest."
How have your encounters with Twilight fans been thus far?
Maggie Grace: "They’re really sweet."
Mia Maestro: "Yeah. Mostly just great."
Maggie Grace: "And also, I think I was really blown away when we came to Comic Con seeing for the first time the sense of community and pride among the fans. It's like a Burning Man bond between these girls and guys that they camp out there. They’re all united by this common thing. It’s cool to see that. There’s a lot of mother-daughter day trips and sisters and aunts and nieces. It was just really neat."
Did the two of you do anything special to bond, since you're playing sisters?
Maggie Grace: "Yeah, it’s funny. Honestly, it had nothing to do with it because like Mia said we’re supporting characters and honestly, you don’t even see us together very much because my character is some would say a traitor - I say tragically misunderstood. But yeah, you know, it was a happy accident that we had known each other socially a bit but became much better friends on this film. It was such a gift to me. It’s really cool. But obviously not for film. We’re not even really together in the film much, but I'm so happy that they paired us to do a lot of the travel for press because it makes it so much fun on these trips."
Every time I talk to Peter about these movies, he’s always saying how much he wished Stephenie would write a book just about his character and his backstory.
Maggie Grace: [Laughing] "He’s a loose cannon, that one. If you’re going to get anyone to spill the things they shouldn’t say, the few things we’re not supposed to talk about, I suggest aiming those questions at Peter."
Would you like to see a spin-off where they tell the backstory of the sisters?
Maggie Grace: "You know, from everything Stephenie has said, this is definitely the end of an era with Twilight so I would hasten to add that I’m also a book nerd. I like to see things in book form first."
Mia Maestro: "I think, you know, to me, the main thing about Twilight is the chemistry and the connection between the three main characters, between Bella, Edward and Jacob and how those three actors just portray these characters. So I would have a hard time seeing a Twilight without them because they are the heart of Twilight."
Maggie Grace: "They are the heart of Twilight. I’m not sure you can see lightning strike twice. But, you know, those characters really mean a lot to a lot of people."
Twilight fans are willing to line up days in advance for the movie’s premiere or anything else having to do with the series. Is there anything in your background that you would have ever been that passionate about that you would line up two days in advance to see?
Mia Maestro: "Yeah, Maggie has. [Laughing] Maggie for sure. Yes, I do too. I don’t know with lining up. I’m never too much of like a 'liner' but there’s some musicians that I just love, for example, Patti Smith. I know every song. I know every album. I’ve seen her every time that she’s been in a nearby city. I think she’s an incredible artist, such a wonderful writer, and I was obsessed about Patti Smith when I was 14, 15 and 16 years old so I could relate to that. But Maggie has also."
Maggie Grace: "I’m outed - my geekdom. Yeah, I’m a Janeite for Jane Austen from a very young age. So I actually just made a pilgrimage recently in England to her home and I got to see her writing desk. I say the window from which she looked when she wrote her books. It was really special. So, you know, that started so young that I obviously understand that passion, and also seeing characters cast from a book that I thought I knew really well."
Is there anything about the final film that will surprise or shock the fans - something they won't expect?
Mia Maestro: "Yeah."
Maggie Grace: "There is a major twist. It’ll make people understand and really like it."
Mia Maestro: "It is the best one of them all."
Maggie Grace: "Bar none."
Mia Maestro: "Bill Condon did an incredible job with the film and I think the fans are just going to love it. We saw it the other day and we were moved by it. It had so many great action sequences. You see Bella being the vampire, you know, just like an extremely powerful and beautiful vampire. You have the interaction of Renesmee, played by the wonderful little Mackenzie [Foy]. You have these really sexy and interesting new vampires that come in that are just very different in nature to all the other vampires that you’ve seen before. So, there’s so much. I just cannot believe how well Bill Condon weaved all the different elements so flawlessly into one movie."
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