New Faces Fridays: Breaking Dawn’s Joe Anderson talks about his musical talents & developing Alistair in exclusive interview

September 28, 2012

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Today, Page to Premiere exclusively is featuring the entire Joe Anderson interview as part of New Faces Fridays. Joe plays an English nomadic vampire named Alistair in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2.”  You may recognize him for his singing and acting talents from when he performed Beatles classics in the film “Across the Universe,” and more recently he was featured in “The Grey.”

How much did you know about Twilight before you auditioned or before you got the part?

Joe Anderson: I wasn’t living on Mars so I knew a lot about it. Friends of the family as well were a little younger than I am, young girls, and they were huge, huge fans so when they found out that I was going to have something to do with it, my street cred went through the roof. So there was a gathering and watching of films together and getting excited about it. I’d seen all of them (the movies) I think by the time I was shooting in Canada.

Does that mean you haven’t read any of them?

Joe: No, you know interestingly enough, no, I did pick around the books. The interesting thing with Alistair is that the way he is used in the film versus the books is slightly different. For me it was more about taking this rather aloof character and developing him. And as an outsider, you know I wasn’t part of the previous movies, so I sort of felt like I had a bit of room to kind of play with this guy because none of the other characters quite knew what to expect and what have you.  So it was quite freeing – quite fun to sort of go in there and really sort of invent something.

He’s (Alistair) a loner.  Except for his history with Carlisle, you almost wonder why he decided to come and join up with the Cullen’s.  He’s leaving pretty early on. Did you have an idea or did you talk to Stephenie about what his motivations were?

Joe: Yeah. It’s a really interesting question.  I think, obviously without giving too much away, that the notion of just a general sort of right and wrong.  One of things that serves Alistair is that he’s a tracker – his senses were quite strong. I think the reason for what he does is more to do with morality and right and wrong, and I think that he just doesn’t feel he is necessary because whatever will happen will happen.  But I think it will explain itself, without giving anything away, more clearly in the film.

As the images are coming out of the new vampires some of them are really quite striking, and I have to tell you when your shot of Alistair came up in the trailer I jumped and I was like, *gasp* ‘Oh my gosh!’ because I really didn’t expect them to show Alistair in the trailer. What was it like for you to see yourself in your full costume and makeup with the contacts the first time you saw yourself in character?

Joe: It’s a funny point actually. I was shooting another film at the same time so I had few a fittings. For me I love to get a hold of the costume and that stuff very early on so I can shape the physicality and what this character is. So that part for me was brief (due to shooting the other film).  By the time I actually got fully into the whole costume and the whole getup with the contacts and what have you, it was literally my first day on set. So I’m standing in the trailer sort of looking at what this sort of amounts to, and it was just so exciting to sort of feel it, but then you know to actually see it in the world and to see this thing you sort of created placed in that world and work…I feel like at least ‘I don’t stand out.’  It was an interesting thing. The guy (Alistair) is aloof. He is an outsider. You want to make him slightly different, but, of course, he has to comply with certain rules we have in this world so I think it works. I hope it works.

I thought you looked great.

Were there any favorite moments during filming?

Joe: Yes, definitely.  To be perfectly honest, watching Bella train and learn out behind the Cullen’s house was an extraordinary day. We stood around and just watched quite an extraordinary little sequence.

I would pop in and out and I would do a few days here and then come back and do a few more days and then come back…and you know each time was like stepping into a circus where something amazing and extraordinary is happening even if it’s a lot of cast members – I don’t think I’ve been a scene with so many cast members sometimes in one film so even that dynamic when the covens were just in the room together was electric. Every day on the job was great one for me.

What was your experience at Comic Con like interacting with all these Twilight fans on such a large scale?

Joe: It blew me away to be honest. It’s very interesting.  There are fans who do other things for a profession and there are fans who are obviously fans and are in the business.  I meet so many fans who are in the business so to meet people who are not in the business and to get their take on it – you know you worry as an actor sometimes that when you get into movie making that the magic disappears, but when you meet those guys it doesn’t because that’s where it is. That’s where the magic is. So it was just a buzz the whole time. It was fantastic.

I’m a big fan of Across the Universe and your musical talents, and I know you wrote a song with James Fogerty for another film. There’s a lot of musical talent in The Twilight Saga cast and I’m curious might we have some kind of music from you for the soundtrack or something along those lines?

Joe: No.


Joe: My musical side was only ever sort of a ‘me’ thing – me and a guitar in the bedroom type of thing. And I sang obviously in Across the Universe, and like you said on the small film, 27 Club, that we sort of wrote the music and did some of the stuff for that. But that’s much more of a private passion for me in a weird way, so I mean if they asked then of course I’d probably leap at the chance to do something, but it’s usually a private thing. I can just act and leave it at that. *chuckles*

What was your favorite song you sang in Across the Universe? I love ‘Hey, Jude’ by the way.

Joe: It was very tricky for me in an interesting way because my voice was still breaking, was still settling. Where it is now is definitely not where it was when I go back and I see clips or whatever and I go ‘Wow, I actually…’  It was in a different place. So I remember thinking, ‘My goodness, ‘Hey, Jude’ was very high for me.’ My favorite song was ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun.’ I could not hit that end note for the life of me, and it was actually Bono, who was obviously in the film, standing there telling me how to scream a note basically, and sort of standing next to him screaming like a lunatic I ended up getting it; so that’s the one that makes me laugh every time.

What was it like working with Bill Condon as a director? We’ve heard so many great stories from the cast members and I was just wondering if you had any particular moment that stood out for you.

Joe: Yes, generally the amount of calm that the man has. Obviously the film is massive and some of the sequences are huge, and obviously because we are sort of culminating in this movie. From the times that I worked with him, he seems to be so level headed and didn’t seem to miss a beat and was so calm and generous as a director – it was very kind of free and allow me to sort of play and would just sort of nudge me in directions, and that for me is a Godsend from a director. He knew exactly what he wanted. He’s technical and he’s got a lot of, lot of heart and you can’t ask for much more than that I think.

I have to ask you about The Grey. How cold was it to film that movie?

Joe: It was extraordinary to the point where I remember Frank Grillo, myself, Liam (Neeson) standing around saying if anybody doubts the fact that we were on the top of this mountain in minus 30 degree we’re going to reach across the table and…absolutely, it was extraordinary. We were up there on top of that mountain and it was a group of guys – I was the youngest, with the mouth, and it really sort of became the dynamic that you kind of see in the movie.  I mean we all got on and everyone loved each other, but it was a bunch of guys dealing with minus 30 and frostbite for real whether you’re filming it or whether you…doesn’t matter. So that was far more of an expedition then filming a movie for me. There wasn’t much pretending in that film. Let’s put it that way.

We hear a lot of weather stories from the Twilight cast members so did you just say to them, ‘Hey guys, this is nothing?’

Joe: I was in shorts and tee shirts in Squamish in January. I had done a few things in Canada back to back so my blood was thick at that point. I didn’t need my woolies.

You talked about having some family and friend that were Twilight fans. Were they the first people you were able to tell? Where were you and who was the first person that you told when you found out you were cast?

Joe: The first person was my wife. I was washing up, standing in the kitchen, and the phone rings and next thing you know you are off to tackle a vampire. That’s the best bit about it all.  Obviously the filming is amazing, but generally when you go for something and you want it and they come back and they want you too that’s fantastic. It doesn’t get much better than that. So it was good day, just standing in the kitchen washing up – nothing glamorous.

Past New Faces Fridays

7/20 Casey LaBow (Kate of the Denali coven)
7/27 MyAnna Buring (Tanya of the Denali coven)
8/3 Judi Shekoni (Zafrina of the Amazonian coven)
8/10 Tracey Heggins (Senna of the Amazonian coven)
8/17 Rami Malek (Benjamin of the Egyptian coven)
8/24 Angela Sarafyan (Tia of the Egyptian coven)
8/31 Patrick Brennan (Liam of the Irish coven)
9/7 Marlane Barnes (Maggie of the Irish coven)
9/14 Noel Fisher (Vladimir of the Romanian coven)
9/21 Guri Weinberg (Stefan of the Romanian coven)

Amy is a lifelong fangirl, who gets most excited over The Twilight Saga, Harry Potter, Disney, Star Trek, superhero movies, and Broadway musicals. She’s Twilight fan fiction writer, Esme Mom Cullen, and her work is (mostly) focused on her favorite ship – Carlisle and Esme. She has the sarcasm and wit of a born and raised Jersey Girl, even though she now makes her home in Southern California. She currently works in the areas of communications and corporate social responsibility.