Lynn Hirschberg: Everyone knows you as Bella Swan, the heroine of the Twilight series, whose penultimate installment, Breaking Dawn Part 1, premieres on November 18. What audiences may not know is that you’ve been acting since you were a child. How did you get your start?
Did you do any commercials, or did you go straight into films?
I did two commercials, one for Porsche, but I was definitely not the type of child one would cast in a commercial or any TV that you’d typically go out for as a young kid. I wasn’t the type of kid who would be in stuff that kids watch. I wasn’t cutesy.
In 1999 David Fincher cast you as Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room. He likes to do dozens of takes for each scene. Was that difficult, as a child?
I didn’t realize that 80 takes wasn’t normal. But it’s funny: Some of my proudest moments from film sets are in Panic Room. My character had seizures. Just being able to say, I was 10 years old and I broke all the blood vessels in my eye on that take, is cool. It was fun.
You had a tomboy quality, which was unusual.
I have brothers, and that so-called boyish quality was something that I was deathly self-conscious about when I was younger. I was, like, No, I’m a girl. Actually, I’m still embarrassed to say that.
But it sets you apart from other young actresses. And it made you more interesting.
I don’t really know what to say. I just knew I wanted to work. And I did. I was working when I read the script for Twilight. I read the script before I read the book. I actually did the audition before reading the book, which was kind of crazy. Obviously, I tore all four books apart over the course of three years, but initially I had no idea that Twilight was such a big deal.
Did you have a particular interest in vampires? All young girls like vampires.
I fucking love me a vampire [Laughs]. I was 17 when I read Twilight, and at the time it was so perfect for me. The script was about young kids who think they can handle stuff that they just can’t. And they’re going to do it anyway. Because, why not? Just torture yourself. I relate to that. Vampires are a little dangerous—and we girls like to test ourselves.