July 31, 2008 - In the Mixed Martial Arts movie Never Back Down, Cam Gigandet played an obnoxious bully who picks on the new kid in town. In Twilight, based on the bestselling vampire novel by Stephenie Meyer, Gigandet handles the part of yet another bad guy. Gigandet tackles the role of James, a vampire whose ability to track his prey is unparalled.
"I am a bad, bad vampire. Well, so everyone else thinks. I think I’m just misunderstood," joked Gigandet during press rounds prior to taking the stage at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con. "Yes, I’m the bad vampire. My sole goal is to basically kill Bella, I guess, and revel in Edward's pain as he watches it."
For those not in the know, Gigandet explained why exactly his character James is after Bella (played by Kristen Stewart), the soul mate of good vampire Edward Cullen (played by Robert Pattinson). "It’s definitely related to Edward. You know, I see what Edward has with her. He has love, he has peace. He is everything that I am not and do not have and, you know, Bella is directly related to that. And Bella alone even has something that I don’t understand, you know? It’s something that draws everyone to her – vampires, humans, everything's [drawn]. She has that something. And so being that I don’t understand it, I want to squash it."
To say he's jealous of Bella and Edward's relationship doesn't adequately sum up his feelings. "I think obsessed is actually a better word," offered Gigandet. "It’s something that he doesn’t have and he doesn’t understand. And, yes, once he makes that commitment to do what he sets out to do, it is an obsession."
Gigandet doesn't mind being cast as the bad guy. "I've done it a few times now and I kind of love it," admitted Gigandet, although he's not sure why he keeps getting cast as the villain in films. "I don't know why really. It’s not like I’m a terrible person. It might be, I don’t know. You know, it’s something that, I don’t know, it just kind of connects. I understand where they could be coming from. Not that I personally [would] make the choices that they make but, you know, if you break it down a little further they are all good guys/bad guys. They're still having the same issues, which is how they deal with them. And I think breaking a bad guy down to, you know, if he has his heart broken he can deal with it one of two ways and he just goes the other way."
Meyer's vampires aren't your typical long-toothed sexy creatures who sleep in coffins and avoid daylight at all costs. But Gigandet says there are a few physical traits that distinguish them from living, breathing humans. "I was going to say that they were all stunning-looking but that's mostly in regards to the Cullen family, the good family of vampires. They are all stunning which, you know, they walk into a room and everyone stops and stares. But aside from that, the Trackers, the bad ones, they look like bums. But, you know, there isn’t that noticeable of a difference. They're all very pale. They don’t go out in the sun although they can be in the daylight. You know, it’s kind of in just how they move and how they walk. They have extra strength and are super fast and suck blood instead of salads, I guess."
Gigandet revealed that he and his fellow Twilight cast members studied animal videos in order to figure out how to move as vampires. "Once we got there we actually watched numerous cat videos, like tigers and lions and all sorts of things, because they move with such a grace and speed and power and make it look so easy, you know? Not that we’re running around like cats but, you know, there's that movement. It’s very fluid and so we worked on that as much as we possibly could. We even worked with a dance choreographer to get in touch with our bodies."
In a strange coincidence, while filming Never Back Down Gigandet became interested in the prospect of a Twilight movie. "So last summer I was away filming and my girlfriend at the time actually got the book from someone on the airplane when she was coming to visit," said Gigandet. "She read it and said, 'You have got to read this book. It should be a movie.' So I read it and I was like, 'Ahhh, let’s get all the information, blah, blah, blah... We're going to make it ourselves.' And then like two months later I found out that it was being made by the same people who were making the movie I was actually filming for. So it was pretty wild."
Gigandet was in great shape after playing a Mixed Martial Arts stud in Never Back Down, but the stunts in Twilight were still difficult to handle. "What added to the difficulty was that, for scheduling reasons, we had to put our biggest fight - the one in the ballet studio, actually - the very first week of shooting. And that was our major stunts that we had and they were all, there was no CGI… It was all like wire work and tons of choreography. But the biggest thing was the amount of wire work. You know, having two vampires who have super speed and extra strength and there can't just be a normal toe to toe fight. And so everything had to be incorporated with, 'All right, so if someone throws someone it’s going through a window 20 feet in the air.' And so, yes, all that wire work. Then some of the things, like the one where he goes into the wood floor, that was a little too extreme and I opted not to do it. But I did as much as I thought I could do without not dying."