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Alex Meraz on The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Published November 17, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Summit Entertainment
The Twilight Saga: New Moon is not just an opportunity for young actors to make their mark in a film guaranteed to get them seen. It also exemplifies Native Americans in a way rare for Hollywood movies. The werewolf clans of the Twilight franchise are Quileute and Native American actors like Alex Meraz portray them in the film.

Alex Meraz Howls at New Moon


“I think also, as representatives for Native Americans in this franchise, we have a responsibility not to be a bad image,” Meraz said. “We're portraying Natives and that's what they're going to see. I think it's time for us to kind of rewrite what Hollywood's take on Native Americans was, which was long hair blowing, noble kind of people, leather and feather period pieces. So now you see something in a contemporary setting, and you see us to be humans. It's great. I think it's a great thing.”

Well, kind of human. They are still werewolves. “There you go, kind of human, but we're not demonized, which is important. It's done in a very tasteful way.”

So within the film’s portrayal of werewolf culture, you’ll see a little bit of Quileute. “During the process of casting, when I was waiting to hear word if I got a role or not, there was a through-line of I prayed every night. I was asking for permission even to represent the Quileute tribe. I was putting out a lot of good thoughts. In essence, even though we're taking some of their mythology, their creation story and it's mixed in a fantasy, still we're taking from the culture. Being Native, we needed to be conscious of that and ask permission to the people of the past, present and of the future for it. It's a very conscious thing. Native Americans, they have a right to be protective of their stories.”


The Twilight Saga: New Moon The Twilight Saga: New Moon


It’s also nice to see different Native Americans getting some work. “Hollywood thought Adam Beach was the only Native American left,” Meraz joked. “We were extinct except for Adam Beach. They were almost going to put him at the Smithsonian being the last Native American! So it's kinda good that people did their research. A lot of thanks goes to Rene Haynes. She was kind of the Native American liaison who added to casting. Joseph Middleton did the primary casting, but Rene had cast Chaske [Spencer] before in other projects, myself as well. She knows her stuff. That was a good thing that Summit did. They really made sure they did it right for the wolfpack.”

Quileute is one of the rarer tribes so it there may not have been enough specifically Quileute actors to portray them. Meraz is Purepecha. “During the process of auditioning, I did as much research as I could about the Quileutes, knowing that they're whalers and they inspired the shape of their canoes to be pretty much clipper ships. They were really fast, and they were able to go from the Washington area all the way down to San Diego hunting whales. I learned about the mythology, really, the creation story. The Quileute came from wolves and transformed into people, but they don't go back. That's the thing, they don't go back. That's the aspect that Stephenie changed and took some things and put it in this fantasy realm. We're not even Quileute. The tribes we are is not Quileute. So for us to represent that tribe, it's as if we weren't even Native. It wouldn't really matter, because they have different customs than all of us do. It wasn't like we had to teach him how to be a Quileute Native, because we don't know how to be that either. All we had was our culture to bring into the filmmaking. We just knew how to respect the mythology of the tribe.”

The Twilight Saga: New Moon opens to theaters on November 20th.

For the trailers, posters, stills and more movie info, go the The Twilight Saga: New Moon Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Summit Entertainment
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