Jodelle Ferland is the young actress playing Bree Tanner in Twilight: Eclipse. She’s got a resume a mile long already, even though she’s not even sixteen, and it includes working with heavyweights like Terry Gilliam and Jeff Bridges and on movies like Silent Hill and The Messengers , which pretty much everyone who likes horror movies saw when they came out.
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with her on the set of her latest project, the upcoming indie flick Mighty Fine, and everyone there had nothing but wonderful things to say about her. Director Debbie Goodstein gushed that she “is great in every shot. Every shot,” and predicted that after the debut of the third Twilight Saga installment she’ll be well on her way to stardom. With her unique but undeniably beautiful look and a self-possession uncommon in girls her age, Jodelle does seem to have all the right equipment for it. I talked to her about how she got her part, how she liked the latest Stephenie Meyer book about her own character, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, who’s her favorite Cullen, and much more. Be sure to keep your eyes out for her in the movie, and in the meantime enjoy the BSC exclusive interview below!
Elena Nola: So, were you a fan of the Twilight series before you got cast as Bree?
Jodelle Ferland: I had read the books, and I’d seen the movie, and I definitely loved the books. I mean, I’m a major book horse, and I also really liked the movie too. So I was a fan of it before I got the part.
What did it feel like to get a part in a story you like so much?
AMAZING! I mean, it was completely unreal, when you see people pretty much every day and then suddenly they’re ACTUALLY in front of you. It’s insane, I mean it feels so unreal!
How did you end up getting cast? Was it something you had reached out on, like have your agent let them know you were interested, or did they just happen to throw the audition at you?
Well, it was the same as any other audition process. I got a call from my agent that I had an audition for Eclipse, and I went and I did my audition, and then I got a call back, and after that I found out I got the part.
Did it make you nervous going into it, knowing that this was a project you were going to really want to do, or did it help?
I tried to think of it like any other show, because (giggles) if I started to think of it like, “Oh, my gosh, this is Eclipse, if I fail at this audition it’s going to be horrible,” it’s just too much pressure on me. So I tried to stay calm and act like it was any other show.
Who is your favorite vampire?
Well, my favorite Cullen is Alice—she’s so cute. I love her!
How can you not? She’s adorable! How different do you think your experience has been, coming into Eclipse after the franchise was already a national phenomenon, as opposed to the cast members who went into Twilight thinking it was going to be a nothing movie?
(Laughs.) Well, definitely everybody already knew each other really well. The whole cast was already established. But they made me feel really welcome, and I was so happy to be a part of it. It’s a lot similar to when I do a guest star on a series, because everybody already knows each other really well. They’ve been working with each other for a long time, and then I come on just for a little while. But I still had a really good time.
On the same line, have you been the recipient of much of the crazy fandom attention yet, other than you know, people like me randomly showing up at your other movies?
I definitely don’t get it as bad as the main stars, who have been doing it since the first movie—Kristin, Rob, Taylor (laughs). They have it a lot worse than I do. But I’m sure that when I go to the premiere it’s going to be crazy!
Be ready to get screamed at.
How much have you gotten to work with the three of them, and the rest of the principles—the rest of the Cullen family?
I was filming for around two weeks, most of that was with the Cullen family. I also worked with Xavier Samuel, he plays Riley. I actually didn’t have any scenes with Taylor Lautner.
Not even during the big fight scene?
Naw. I didn’t get to work with him, which sucked, but I did get to meet him. So I was happy about that (laughs).
When Stephenie Meyer announced The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, she said you were one of the cast members who’d gotten to read that.
What did you think about the story? Did it help you, or did it surprise you?
It absolutely helped me with playing Bree, because I knew almost nothing about her, other than she was a newborn and not quite as evil as everybody else. So it was very helpful for me to be able to read that. I got to know her whole story, her history, how she became a vampire.
What did it feel like to be able to read that story before pretty much anyone but her editor did?
I definitely felt very special to be able to read it (laughs)! Before I even started filming. Thinking that nobody else has read this, only a few people, and I’m one of them! That’s pretty amazing. “This is one of Stephenie Meyer’s books, and I’m reading it! and nobody knows it exists!”
I was looking at your IMDB page to see what else you’ve done…you’ve got quite an impressive resume. One thing that stood out was that you’ve been in a lot of horror movies. Why do you think that is? Do you think it had anything to do with how you got cast for this part, since Eclipse is more like an action/horror movie than, say, New Moon or Twilight was?
I have absolutely done a lot of horror movies (laughs). I’m not even sure why that is. I started out doing a few smaller parts in horror movies, and then I did Silent Hill. People just see me in that kind of movie, and then they want to cast me in that kind of movie. If I’d started out doing something else, I’d probably be doing comedies, or something. But as far as it helping me get a part in Eclipse, I think even if I was a comedy actress, if I had done a good job in the audition, if I was what they were looking for, they would have still hired me.
Do you feel like with young actors if you do several similar movies—do you worry about getting typecast? Or do you think, well, once I’m out of high school, or at whatever point, I can just do something crazy and break away from that?
Well, I’m already getting typecast quite a bit. Not that I mind it, because I do like doing horror movies, but I have been cast for quite a few of them. Probably because I’ve been doing them since…well, a long time. I’m not really worried about it, though. I’m able to do different kinds of movies, too, not just horror movies. It just happens that those are the kinds that I get cast for.
The only movie I’ve actually seen you in is Tideland. I know some people might have considered it a horror movie, but I thought it was, in its weird way, kind of sweet. When you were doing that movie, did you have any real idea who Terry Gilliam was, or the kind of caliber of actor you were working with with Jeff Bridges, and then his stand-in corpsified mannequin?
Well, I mean, I was only 9, so even though I’ve been acting since I was 2 years old, I didn’t know who a lot of people were then. Of course, I know who they all are now. I think I had heard of Terry Gilliam and a few of his other movies before. But, oh, gosh, I loved working with him. (laughs) He was awesome!
So what can you tell me about this movie you’re working on now? I don’t think it’s a horror movie, right? It’s called Mighty Fine, and it’s set in the seventies…that’s about all I know. What else can you tell me about it?
Well, Mighty Fine is a drama—not a horror movie. It’s about a family who lives in Brooklyn, and the father of the family has some anger issues. They relocate to New Orleans, Louisiana, hoping that their issues will resolve, but they don’t, exactly. They’ve got quite a lot of family problems. (laughs)
And you play the daughter of the couple?
I play the daughter in the family. And I’m working with Chazz Palminteri who’s my father, Andie MacDowell is my mother, and Raini, who is Andie’s daughter, and she’s playing my sister.
How’s it been coming down South in the middle of summer and working with everyone down here?
(Laughs.) I had no idea that the weather was like this here! I’ve worked in Shreveport before, but that was in October, and I thought that was hot. THIS is hot. And then it rains, like in the middle of the day, when it’s been boiling hot a few seconds ago, and then it’s raining and thunder, and then it’s hot again!
And even more humid than it was before, which just…how is that even possible?
How IS that even possible? But it is! But I’ve had a really great time. I love Louisiana, I loved filming in Shreveport before, and New Orleans is really fun, too.
Before I go, is there anything you want to add about this movie, or the Eclipse experience?
(Thinks for a moment.) I don’t know—I think we’ve about covered everything!
In that case, thank you so much for letting me stop by and pester you on your lunch break.
You’re welcome. It was my pleasure.
Elena Nola is the imperial movie critic and the colder half of the Ladies of Ice and Fire.