Cam Gigandet, the imposing vampire tracker, James, from the hugely popular Twilight movie, based on Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling debut novel, talks to State about making a modern vampire classic. The former OC star talks about playing the villain, his love of the Twilight novels and taking on Dracula.
Did you enjoy playing the baddie?
Of course , I loved it! I’ve always kind of loved it I guess. I’ve always felt that I’ve had more freedom when I’ve played the bad guys. It comes naturally and I feel like I can take more risks. I may not look bad, but then you know looks can be deceiving! (Laughs)
So it comes naturally then?
I know! (Laughs) I think actors as they are coming up in their career, they all try to find something that gets them to that next level and hopefully this will do that for me. Once I’m comfortable with that, I can branch out and take other types of risks.
How did you find this character?
For James, I tried to bring a heart to the character because you never want a bad guy to be one dimensional. So, I think finding justifications that aren’t just -I hate this person,’ or -I want to hurt this person,’ it was something deeper and it was something that was involving his heart was kind of like the thing that I tried to get as far as I could with. Bringing the heart to it kind of opens up some odd doors and some creepy things, when I would look at Kristen’s character or Rob’s character. It doesn’t come from a place of hate. It comes from something else – whether its love or fear, it added a whole new level to it which was kind of fun to play around with.
What’s the best thing about playing a vampire?
What I had the most fun with was living in that skin. Once I had the entire wardrobe on and the contacts in my eyes, you have this sense of power that you can walk around with. It’s not really you, but then it’s you. It’s like you have this weird confidence that’s deeper than driving around in a cool car.
Can you talk about the physical transformation of your character?
The contacts were quite odd. I had to wear black with tints of red contacts, which gave me tunnel vision. I didn’t wear any fangs. They are very human. They have a lot of human qualities. Pale skin. It was different for the good vampires and the bad vampires, because they looked even more normal. We didn’t wear shoes. We went barefoot everywhere. We were like the rock stars of the vampire world.
Did you have any expectations when you signed on to make Twilight?
I had no idea. I still don’t. I said yes, because I love the studio and I loved the book, and I had never done anything where it goes from book to a movie. Although I think it is nearly impossible to do any book justice while shooting a movie, I think you can get close. I thought this script was as close as it was going to get. I still think it has the essence of what the book has.
Did you have to audition for this role?
I auditioned for this role but then they gave me the role of Emmett and I said yes to that. And then a week went by and I asked for another shot at playing James and so they did, and they gave me that role. It was nerve-wracking. I was at a wardrobe fitting for Emmett and I saw Catherine (director) and she noticed something before I said anything. I told her: ‘Please give me another shot. I don’t want to be difficult.’ But they did: it was nerve-wracking to have to fight for something in this career.
Could your character James take on Dracula?
Yes. I think so. James is ruthless. What’s been fun about him is that he doesn’t care. He’s not fearless, but death is part of the draw for him, even his own. He feeds off of it. It’s almost sexual, in a weird way. It’s like the forbidden fruit!! James views Bella as that forbidden thing he can’t quite understand or grasp that makes it a bigger attraction. I think Bella with Edward is the same thing.
– Twilight is released on DVD today, Friday, April 3.