Saturday, April 10, 2010

An Interview With Jackson Rathbone.

Right now you want to be Jackson Rathbone. The actor is on a serious, serious roll. He plays Jasper Hale in the blockbuster Twilight series and has The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on the way later this year. He co-stars in the much-anticipated fantasy-adventure The Last Airbender (2010), due out this summer, in Girlfriend (2010), an indie drama he also co-produced, and in a very creepy little horror film called Dread (2010), just released on DVD from Lionsgate. Based on a Clive Barker short story, the film casts Rathbone as Stephen, a college student who partners up with Cheryl (Laura Donnelly) and Quaid (Shaun Evans) on a project that chronicles people's greatest fears. However, Quaid pushes matters to the extreme, forcing Stephen and Cheryl to confront their own fears far more personally and viscerally than they ever imagined. ScreenStar caught up with Rathbone as he and his band 100 Monkeys -- yes, he's a musician, too; check 'em out at -- made their way toward New Orleans for a concert there, part of the group's ambitious 100-city tour. Dread was the main topic of discussion, but the amiable Rathbone talked about some other subjects of interest as well.

Let's start with Dread. Had you read the Barker short story on which the film is based?

I read the short story when I first got hooked up with the script because I wanted to see what the adaptation was from. I read the script and then the short story, and I was amazed at what (writer-director) Anthony DiBlasi was able to pull out and what he was able to create from the short story. Obviously, certain things have changed, but he kept the heart of it and expanded on it.

What did you like about your character, Stephen?

I've always loved characters that have a lot of development and grow over the course of however long the story is. It's about a month in this, and he really gets to go from being this shy pariah to being more outgoing and to going out to nightclubs with Quaid and to discovering more about himself through other people's dreads and fears. And he fully realizes his own fears and dreads through Quaid's demented personality.

The film does a nice job of delivering a plot that makes you think as well as giving us chills, gross-out moments, and characters to care about. What did you make of the mix of elements?

I think what Anthony did, from adapting it to filming it to cutting it together in the editing room, was to create this film that's more of a psychological thriller than a horror film. It does have those horrific elements to it, but at the end of the day it's more of a person-to-person drama. And it's beautiful to be a part of that. This is a horror story that could happen. It's the horrors of day-to-day life, of the dark sides of our own psyches.

A lot of people are very excited about The Last Airbender. How did that shoot go?

We shot for two weeks in Greenland, which was freezing -- freezing -- but beautiful. You really can't fake that. I did a month and a half of kung fu training in Los Angeles. And then I flew out to Philadelphia for another half a month of training, rehearsals, fittings and tests and everything. We were actually in Greenland for our first two weeks of shooting, then flew back to Philly for the rest of the film. It was a great experience.

Probably even more people are excited about The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. What will we see of Jasper in the next film?

We get to see a lot of his back story, which is what I'm really excited about putting out there. It's back in the Civil War era. You see him turned into a vampire. Back when he was a human he was in the Civil War and he runs across these vampires -- three beautiful women vampires -- in the desert, and they turn him. And he becomes a warrior who trains these vampire armies. We see a lot of that and see a lot of Jasper's back story, which is really cool because in Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon you could kind of see that he's still dealing with this new way of life, especially now that his adoptive brother (Robert Pattinson) is dating a human (Kristen Stewart). And in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse you get to see why.

You seem so busy with the acting right now. You've produced Girlfriend and are trying to get that on the festival circuit in order to find a distributor. How concerned do you get about leaving enough time to devote to your band, 100 Monkeys?

It all depends on how many hours of sleep you want to get a night (laughs). When we did Eclipse I was filming it in Vancouver and flying to Boston on my off days to shoot Girlfriend, as well as mixing my band's album and recording vocals for it. So I was doing three or four different things at once. It was two months of doing that. It was difficult, but at the end of the day you just sleep a little less and drink a lot more coffee.


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