Before 'Twilight,' Reaser was famous to Tulsa
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Sunday, November 13, 2011
11/13/11 at 4:03 AM
Elizabeth Reaser had some idea how popular she is in Tulsa - and it's not due to her role as Esme Cullen, the adoptive mother to Edward and his vampire siblings in the "Twilight" series of films.
For those who need a clue, Reaser was the star of the acclaimed 2006 indie drama "Sweet Land," a turn-of-the-20th-century story about the American immigrant experience set in Minnesota's farm country. Its story of living off the land resonated so strongly with Circle Cinema moviegoers that it remained the Tulsa arthouse theater's most popular film for more than three years.
"You know, I did know that thanks to the director telling me, and that's so wonderful to hear," Reaser said in a recent phone interview. "As an actress, 'Sweet Land' was the most rewarding and challenging experience that I've had. To play that character and tell that story was the role of a lifetime for me, so I'm really happy that people responded to it.
"As Tim Guinee, who played my husband in 'Sweet Land,' told me on that movie: 'Savor this; it may not happen again.' "
The success of "Sweet Land" was a surprise to everyone involved. The success of the "Twilight" films have been anything but surprising. The penultimate film in the hit franchise opens Friday - or Thursday at midnight, depending on one's level of fanaticism for Bella, Edward and Jacob.
Reaser admits that "some part of me" will miss working with the "Twilight" cast members over and over again, for five movies in five years. They've become something of a family. She'll even miss "breaking dawn" each morning with them, for van rides to the movie set with other sleep-deprived "people who are all grumpy, but you know them so well."
From this film family, she can single out one person to whom she has become incredibly close. Reaser isn't married to Peter Facinelli, but he plays her husband in the movies.
"I love Peter Facinelli in a way that, I mean, I'll never know anyone the way that I know Peter Facinelli," Reaser said, slightly fumbling with her words to describe the depth of her admiration. "He's so special to me, and I care about him so much, and that was a gift for him to be in my life. He is someone that I will love in a genuine way (as) a great person, father and a family man."
The directors - a different one for each "Twilight" movie - have had the most impact on how Esme has been depicted, Reaser said. She has embraced "Breaking Dawn" director Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls") and his idea of Esme being the family matriarch that she is said to be in Stephenie Meyer's books.
"I think in the past, even in the way that a scene was blocked and I was standing behind Carlisle - I didn't quite see that as authentic. As a woman myself, Esme feels like the stronger personality in that relationship. Maybe Peter would disagree with me," Reaser said, laughing.
Reaser, 36, may still be best known to TV fans for her breakout role as "Jane Doe" in "Grey's Anatomy" in 2007, or perhaps her recurring role on "The Good Wife." She'll be on film screens throughout the holidays in "Young Adult," co-starring with Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson in the new drama written by the "Juno" team of director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody.
But first things first: She has to get Bella married off to Edward (sorry, Team Jacob) in "Breaking Dawn, Part 1."
"Oh, that wedding scene was something," Reaser recalled. "Just seeing (actor) Billy Burke as Bella's father, just breaking down, it was just the sweetest thing. Seeing her (Kristen Stewart) walking down the aisle, that was just so moving to me. She's like a kid to me still. But I know that she's not."
Now that sounds like something a mother would say.
Original Print Headline: Film family
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
Elizabeth Reaser (left) plays Esme Cullen in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1," but she gained popularity in Tulsa before she was Edward Cullen's vampire mom thanks to a popular run of the indie drama "Sweet Land" at the Circle Cinema. ANDREW COOPER/Summit Entertainment
Elizabeth Reaser said she has become close with Peter Facinelli, who plays her husband, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, during the filming of the "Twilight" movies. DOANE GREGORY/Summit Entertainment