LOS ANGELES: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson sit side by side on a sofa at the Four Seasons hotel, discussing the end of the five-film project that made them famous and brought them together.
''Twilight'' rocketed both to superstardom, and their real-life romance only propelled them further. With Friday's release of the final film in the franchise, ''The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2,'' the young actors bid farewell to the worldwide fantasy sensation.
Based on a series of novels by Stephenie Meyer, rocketed the three main stars, Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob), into the spotlight and the first four films have grossed more than $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office.
For director Bill Condon, who shot both parts of “Breaking Dawn” together and split into two movies post-production, the fifth and final film was all about the fans - who get a surprise twist to the ending.
“The real challenge was to make sure it was a satisfying climax,” Condon told reporters. “The film opens with an overture of all the main scenes from all five movies, and at the end, I...brought (it) back to the spirit of the old movies.”
“Breaking Dawn-Part 2” shifts the action from a love story to a family story, as the Cullen clan recruit their extended vampire family to protect Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee from an ancient vampire coven.
“I think it's very sweet, especially the ending of it, I think it's very close to the book as well. It seems to be that it's really made for the fans,” Pattinson told Reuters.
Bella and Edward, Stewart and Pattinson briefly split, which not only threatened to jeopardize marketing for the final ''Twilight'' film, but unraveled the real-life element of the vampire love story.
Now reunited, the pair finish each other's sentences during a recent interview as they talk about how much their lives have changed since the first ''Twilight'' movie was released in 2008.
''After the first one, I mean, it's a different world you're living in,'' says Pattinson, 26. ''Also, we're at that stage of life when things are shifting anyway,'' adds Stewart, 22, who was just 17 when she first played Bella Swan.
Global fame makes growing up challenging, they say, acknowledging they've become more insular.
''It's a really weird thing because you kind of have to hide,'' Pattinson says, ''and hiding really destroys the thing which, for one thing...'' Stewart interjects: ''That fuels you as an actor.'' ''Yeah. It destroys your fuel,'' he continues, ''and also it destroys you get to the point where you start to lose interest in things because you spend so much time...'' ''Guarding,'' Stewart says. ''Yeah, and that's your world,'' Pattinson says. ''Your world gets smaller.
There's a massive contraction. And the weirdest thing is the more you contract it, the more the (public) interest goes up. It's so crazy. There's no way around it. You're either on a 24-7 reality-TV show, or people think you should be.'' ''No, it's hilarious,'' Stewart says, not looking like she finds it very funny. ''Either way, people are like, 'Ugh. Famewhores.''' But she has wanted every ''Twilight'' film to be successful and knows it's not popular to complain about the personal costs of fame.
''This is a really scary question to answer because people instantly just hate you for even saying that anything is close to unsavory or whatever or however you want to put it,'' she says. Director Bill Condon, who began working with Stewart, Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in 2010, says the young megastars understand the pressures of the spotlight.
''They appreciated the good stuff about it, they were able to kind of glide through the stuff that wasn't so good, and, really, they're three very grounded human beings who really just, I have to say, matured into better versions of themselves,'' Condon said. ''They didn't get altered by it, which is kind of extraordinary.''
Stewart said it's been an indulgence to play the same character for so long, but there is some relief in having reached the end of her story. ''There are so many beloved moments in this series that we would think about for five years,'' she said. ''They weigh on you, whereas in a normal movie, you've got five weeks, five months... We, for five years, have been waiting for the story to be told. And now that it is, I don't want to say that I'm so excited that it's done, because that sounds like I just don't want to do it anymore, but I'm just excited that we don't have that on us anymore.''
Wrapping up the second ''Breaking Dawn'' film was a relief for Condon, too. ''It's something you obsess on for so long,'' he said. ''It's good to say goodbye to it.'' Pattinson and Stewart are also glad to finish the last round of ''Twilight'' promotions and press interviews. ''Doing press for a different movie, you're literally just talking about the movie,'' Pattinson says. ''This, 90 per cent of the time we're talking about our lives rather than the movie.'' ''But this is it,'' Stewart says. ''It definitely makes today easier.''
Going off the book
While the past four films have stayed true to the books, author Meyer and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg came up with a plot twist that adds a major scene that may surprise movie-goers.
“(The action) is off screen in the novel because we only see what Bella sees, and this was just a way of making visual what some of the other characters might have seen,” Meyer told reporters.
“It does feel very surprising. There's something new to see but to me it doesn't seem like it's going hugely off the page,” she added.
While the fourth film saw Bella's human life draw to a conclusion when she died giving birth to a human-vampire hybrid baby with new husband Edward, “Breaking Dawn-Part 2,” sees Bella as a mother and a newly-transformed vampire.
“The coolest thing about vampire Bella is that I got to play her as a human for so long, and the special parts of each vampire are always informed by the great things that they were as a human and so I got to walk in those shoes,” Stewart told Reuters.
“Everything made total sense to me. I waited for so long (to play a vampire), once I finally got it, it was so comfortable, I couldn't wait,” the actress added.
“The Twilight Saga,” first published in 2005, kicked off a wave of vampire or supernatural-themes books, films and TV shows including HBO's “True Blood,” the CW TV network's “The Vampire Diaries” and Richelle Mead's “Vampire Academy” series of young adult novels.
As the sun sets on the franchise Meyer brought to life, the author said that while she didn't rule out the possibility of finding more stories in the vampire-werewolf universe, she had closed the chapter on the Cullens. “I don't know if I'll ever get back to these (stories). Someday I'll write down what was going to happen next. It's sad knowing I don't have another party with the kids again, I really hope I have a chance to at least see my friends again,” she told Reuters.