Xavier Samuel is the first person we see onscreen in the third chapter of the Twilight series, Twilight: Eclipse, as we witness his character Riley being attacked by a vampire, in turn transforming him into a powerful newborn bloodsucker. It’s a big role for the Aussie actor and has put him on the map to becoming the next hot star.
Bamcat.com spoke with Samuel about Twilight: Eclipse. Read our Q&A below.
Bamcat: Were you a fan of the Twilight series before getting the part?
Xavier Samuel: I knew that it was very popular and I had seen the lunchboxes and pillow cases, and it was on the back of buses everywhere, but I think I was the only one on the face of the planet who hadn’t read the books. So [when I got the part] I ran to the bookstore and read them very quickly and it’s safe to say I’m a big fan now.
Bamcat: What did you like most about the Riley character?
XS: The complexity of him. He’s not a two-dimensional villain — he’s still got human blood pumping through his veins. He’s kind of a tragic figure in a way because he’s being manipulated and seduced, and will do anything for love even if it means assembling a newborn army of bloodthirsty vicious vampires. He’s had his humanity snatched from him and as a result has this intense jealousy and rage.
Bamcat: Was it awkward joining the series as a new cast member?
XS: In theory, coming in as an outsider and playing a bad guy, you imagine you’d be ostracized. I was relieved that everyone was so down to earth and warmly welcomed me into the family.
Bamcat: What was the most challenging aspect of the film for you?
XS: The challenges were living up to the character and really delivering. So it was remaining as focused as possible and doing the best job as possible. And fighting with imaginary wolves of course.
Bamcat: Do you feel Twilight: Eclipse is different from the previous films?
XS: It’s more action-packed and the stakes are much higher now that Bella has this choice to make. One of the exciting things about the whole saga is that each time there’s a new director and they bring their own interpretation and aesthetic to the film. David Slade really has this fierce grip on the dark side of the film and if you watch something like Hard Candy, which was another one of his films, the performances are so well measured. He’s really an actor’s director [and] it’s really a film as opposed to a movie.
Bamcat: How would you sell a non-Twilight fan on Twilight: Eclipse?
XS: This film in particular takes it to a new level and it stands on its own. Again, David Slade comes from a very different perspective than I imagine the other filmmakers come from so it’s exciting to have it in his hands. The chase sequences are awesome… everything about it I’m really proud of.
Bamcat: Have the Twilight fans embraced you?
XS: Because the character is so dear to everyone you sort of become them but I haven’t been mobbed yet or anything. I understand why people are so passionate about it. It is surprising in that the hysteria is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Bamcat: What will we see you in next?
XS: I just finished a Roland Emmerich film called Anonymous. It’s kind of a departure for him and is about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. I got the impression it was a story that was really dear to his heart and something he always wanted to tell. I play this guy called Southhampton and I have long, blond, curly hair. He’s really loyal and is a patron of the theatre but is staging a rebellion at the same time. It was a lot of fun to do.