Our very lovely staff member Charli (twilight to me) has gotten Twilighters.org an exclusive interview with Matt Bushell who is Phil in the Twilight movie.
Charlotte: When you first signed up for the role of Phil, did you have any idea how big the fan base was and did it surprise you how dedicated the fans are?
Matt: One hundred percent, I had no idea. Um yeah, I had no idea what the book was. I had no idea that this was an existing project; I thought this was a new project. It’s so awesome when we read for roles – we just kind of get them and go. It’s never something I have time to research what I’m going in for, who’s in it, who’s doing it, who’s producing it, where did it come from. So yeah, I was completely shocked to see some of the responses already. Just how many people are anticipating this project.
Charlotte: Yeah, It’s kind of becoming a worldwide phenomenon really, really quickly.
Matt: Yes, that’s my understanding that it is kinda a phenomenon, it’s something that happens once in a while. For a particular genre, a certain story. So, um, what a gift. What a gift to have grabbed a role.
Charlotte: What do you think of the fans such as those from sites like twilighters.org, twilightMOMs and the twilight lexicon? Do you think we’re all just as crazy as each other?
Matt: You know, when a project does really well. Like when a story
hits like this I don’t judge the fans either way. The days I did shoot there were fans on set. They found where we were on location so we were in the middle of lunch and they were there they found us at a random house. It was pretty impressive. There were probably twenty or twenty-five fans. They were all so sweet and respectful and genuinely so enthused about this project that I love it; I think it’s great. I have absolutely no ill will at this point. I’m really not ascrucial to the story as others so, you know it’s different for other people. They had different experiences than I did.
Charlotte: So what was it like having the fans there on set while the scenes were being filmed when you were there?
Matt: Actually at first, I didn’t know they were fans. When I was shooting the movie I had no idea how many people were into this story, and into Stephenie Meyer’s books. To be honest with you I was shocked. At first when they came up an they were like ‘can I have your autograph?’ and my honest response Charlotte was ‘ I don’t think you want me.” I was being extremely serious, I was like I don’t think I’m one of the ones you want. The the director, Catherine Hardwicke came over and she said to the girls, ‘this is Phil, this is Phil!!’and then they were like ‘wow can we get your autograph?!’ and I was like ‘Really? Sure!’ I was very surprised. I was not expecting it. But it was a very good experience and they were all really cool.
Charlotte: I’m just glad you didn’t get scared by them, ha-ha.
Matt: Definitely not, definitely not at all.
Charlotte: Phil has no lines in the books, so how are you going to bring a virtually invisible character to life?
Matt: Right. How do you do that?. Well the beauty of this was, thank god for Catherine Hardwicke who took on this project because she allowed me to improv. So, there was a couple of lines in the script for me so it wasn’t completely without lines. But because of Catherine letting me improv I got more of a scene out of it. I had like one nice scene that I was involved in, where I had something to do and something to say instead of being completely silent. So in terms of the book, I didn’t have to do what the book told. I didn’t have to be completely silent in my time so I think Catherine was kinda good with that. And also, film is different. Film is different than the book. On film, to make this story carry, it’s gonna be a little different than the way it reads. And the brilliance of the book I certainly don’t deny but I’m really glad that they could work it out so I could speak.
Charlotte: I think it’s great they have given Phil some lines because he doesn’t get to speak in the books and I think it’s nice for Catherine to do this for the character. It’s good he gets to speak.
Matt: Yeah. And lastly I’ll say on that, is that, it’s where Bella comes from. It’s the only glimpse in ‘Twilight’ of where this girl comes from. Meaning living with her mom and me. So, it’s good that I had lines and something to do, even quickly, even in one scene. We establish kinda where she lives, who she hangs with and who her family is. I kind of become more like her buddy than I am her step dad or anything like that, I’m just sort of like her buddy. And I played it that way. We’re kind of friends, buddies. I’m not her step dad and I don’t play it as such.
Charlotte: Because Phil is obviously younger than Renee in the books, do you think that’s maybe why Catherine’s chosen to have him as Bella’s buddy rather than her step dad?
Matt: Yeah. Probably, probably. I mean nothing in the text or script dictated me to be any type of a parental figure. So, I mean, he’s really kind of a big kid who loves to play baseball and take my girl – my wife on the road with me and loves it. Making very little money at it. I think I’m a good ball player but I’m still in the minors and I’m not making a lot of money so it was all about the love of the game. So I saw him as a big kid who wants to go play baseball. That’s it and that’s kinda the way we did it. I didn’t have anything with regards to how she mothers her daughter . I didn’t get that, you know what I mean? I didn’t really have too much to do with that.
Charlotte: How did you prepare for the role since Phil is such a small character, did you do any preparing at all?
Matt: Well, I knew it was baseball. I knew it had to do with sports and everything. So we made sure I had the gear, that I looked like an athlete. I wore a cap in my part and I just look like an athlete about to go play a game or about to go to a game. In terms of preparation, I played sports most of my life so I didn’t really have to do too much. I just kind of show up and bring what I brought in the audition which wasn’t an athletic thing. I think Catherine hired me more because of trying to create that relationship between me and Renee. So that it’s a fun relationship, it’s a good relationship. She wanted it to be very specific and she actually got it. It was actually interesting that she chose Sarah Clarke as Renee because Sarah Clarke and I have actually worked together. We worked on ‘24’ together. So going into this role and on set, I knew her.
Charlotte: Oh right! So was it comforting to know somebody on set when you got there?
Matt: Yeah, it was great! And also, that she was my wife because the whole thing with the scene is, in the introduction is what you see with her and I is that it’s about our relationship. Like that we’re close and that we really love each other and Bella sees that. Catherine did it a certain way. This is really Catherine’s idea and I’m sure Stephenie’s as well, but Catherine’s whole unique way of shooting this and then we just kind of did our own thing with it and created that characters. The characters told the truth.
Charlotte: Who did you connect with then during the scenes that you shot? Did you connect with anyone in particular or were you just friends with everybody?
Matt: Definitely Renee. And Catherine, I love the director and Bella. Kristen was great. I connected with all of them. Absolutely, I connected with all of them.
Charlotte: Were the other cast members on set while you were filming your scenes? Did you get to meet any of the other guys?
Matt: One of them I know actually – he plays Laurent. Edi. I know him from when we worked on ‘CSI: Miami’ last month. We did the same episode we played bank robbers. So yeah I know him then I met Sarah and I met Kristen on set. No one else , yeah no one else . It was just me and Kristen and Sarah. Oh well, a couple of the other guys I met. Some of the younger kids. I didn’t see the lead kid there, Robert Pattinson. I didn’t see him there and I didn’t see some of the other vampires. Because my stuff was not with them. I’m not really around the vampires. I would have loved to have been. I would have loved to and who knows, in later books or movies if they decide to change something. I Think his characters there for a certain reason.
Charlotte: Had you read the books before going into the project?
Matt: No. Nope. (laughs) and that’s the honest truth. Also, as an actor I have a script to read and then I read the script and then I go and I shoot what I read. If somebody wrote something totally different than the book and I reference the book and I look at the book too much and not looking at the script. And as an actor, in terms of getting the job, and getting the job done it’s really about the author wrote in the script not as much about the book. It’s not that I shouldn’t read it but for me it’s really about I don’t need too in order to give a performance. I don’t need to reference the book. I can just read the script.
Charlotte: Do you think that this is one of the most exciting movies you’ve worked in and if so what makes it different than other movies you’ve worked in?
Matt: Hmm I would say…well I saw the trailer and I wasn’t there when I shot any of the stuff with the real action stuff, the real intense stuff. The parts I wasn’t there for so seeing the trailer I was really excited! Because I thought the trailer was just fantastic and I thought it was just so cool. So well done. It just looks really right – really, really right. And I can imagine – I hope most people that are such fans of the books see the trailer say ‘WOW! This looks so far like a great adaptation. I don’t know what the finished product is gonna look like but this is definitely an exciting movie. I was just coming off a movie with George Clooney and that was also very, very exciting. So it’s hard to compare excitement from one movie to another. From a sports movie to a vampire movie and again my role is not huge so you gotta know in terms of, if I were shooting for two months on this movie it would be much more exciting experience for me. But I was shooting for less than a week, I don’t have a major impact on the overall action. So that’s a difficult question, I’m definitely excited for it but if I was eating people ha-ha, if I was going after people , how much different would that be? My experience would be that much different.
Charlotte: Do you think that in the last book or movie, Phil is going to be revealed to be a super evil vampire/werewolf in disguise and end up slaughtering the whole cast?
Matt: That would be a cool twist! I mean how unbelievable would that be? I would be thrilled to be that big a part of the fourth movie or the fourth book. However, realistically – whoever asked that question I just want to say Yes! Yes! Yes! It would be great – the truth is I think probably not going to happen the way the stories go. But who knows? Who knows? What would be great was, I was hoping that I could have a portion where I would be able to, you know Renee and I would be able to come back and actually encounter some of what we see in action. Actually see a gleam of that and see what’s really going on. It’s my understanding that we’re in the dark on this situation the whole time through all the books right? Is that correct?
Charlotte: Yeah, I most of the way through up until the end of ‘Eclipse’ Renee and Phil don’t know anything and neither does Charlie.
Matt: It would be great if we were kind of in the loop and ran into something. But, in terms of the story I don’t know if that would fit. And you would actually be best to tell me than me. You would know more than me in terms of that. You would know more in terms of the tone of that if it would even be a possibility. But, that would be cool.
Charlotte: I don’t think that it would be possible but it would definitely be very cool for us to see that!
Matt: Yeah, that would be amazing. It would be so interesting because I have such a smaller part, to come up at the end so big would be like almost like ‘Of course! The small guy at the end! Who you would never think would do it!’ The postman that comes in and delivers the mail. Somebody who has the smallest role. I just kind of drag Renee away. My plot point is kind of a way to get her away from her daughter so that Bella has all of these experiences on her own instead of having her mom like ‘where are you? What are you doing?’ every minute.
Charlotte: How does it feel to be in a movie like this, knowing the book was on the bestsellers list for weeks?
Matt: It’s great. And I do wanna say, because I’ve mentioned about the role a bunch of times. I am thrilled to be a part of this project to whatever extent my role is. I just want to kind of say that because it is an interview, I am thrilled to be a part of the project. So in no way do I take away from the role I do have. It’s just that as an actor of course you love to spread your wings and go after something big. So that is all I mean in terms of that. I’m excited about it, really excited about the premiere, about seeing the finished product. And about the response of it. And also to see where it goes. I think that part 2, making the second novel a movie is completely determinated by how well the first one does. On an economic basis, so I hope that it does well. I hope that the movie does really well. I think it will. I think everyone will see it. And then hopefully, they’ll jump into a second one. I think that is the goal. It’s just really well done. So I’m excited about it, really.
Charlotte: What was it like working with Catherine Hardwicke, when she’s done projects such as ‘Thirteen’ and ‘Lords of Dogtown’ in the past?
Matt: Yeah. Those are two terrific movies so when I met with her, I read with her months ago. I auditioned for this in like November or December of last year and she remembered me and hired me six months later. It took six months before I shot. Which is usually unheard of, that I was on hold for this movie that long. Then I finally got to do it. She was a terrific, terrific person, director. Just a very caring , understanding and professional director. And because she’s patient, I felt so comfortable. I would have done anything for her. I was like ‘ Whatever you want. I just want to get this job done how you want it done. Whatever your vision is, I trust it.’ She is so cool to work with and so professional to work with that you as an actor want it to do well. You want to do well and really serve the project. I just trust her and her vision. Tell me what you want me to do and we’ll get it done. So she was awesome, one of the best directors I’ve worked with.
Charlotte: It does seem like you had a great time even though you were on set less than a week.
Matt: Yeah, it wasn’t too long but I would have loved to have done the whole thing. I would have loved too. But, It’ll be great to see it.
Charlotte. Well, I am actually out of questions now, so..
Matt: Well I hope you got what you need!
Charlotte: I did and honestly, thank you so much for doing this and giving me this opportunity to do this. This is the first time I’ve done something like this over the phone so thank you.
Matt: Oh no worries. No worries, I appreciate it and I wish you the best of luck and I cant’ wait to see the finished product. We all can’t.
Charlotte: I think we’re just as excited as everybody else in the cast too. So thank you very, very much for talking to me Matt and I wish you the best of luck too.
Matt: Oh you got it Charlotte, take care.