The 1950s gave us the Rat Pack. The ‘80s, the Brat Pack. These days, the Wolf Pack is roaming the film scene.
Although the “Twilight” franchise may have helped spur the vampire craze with the Cullen brood, the saga’s gang of shape-shifters is bringing sexy back to werewolves. And in “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” which hits theaters June 30, that’s no different.
“The Cullens are very reserved,” said Alex Meraz, who plays Wolf Pack member Paul. “They’re vampires, but they’re not out killing people. They’re not what they’re meant to be. Whereas the Wolf Pack, we’re through and through animals. We’re frisky. We’re fun. There’s something sexy about that.”
In the third installment of the franchise, the band of brotherly (and sisterly, as we’ll see) hirsute creatures joins forces with its rivals, the Cullens, after Seattle is plagued by a series of killings caused by an army of newborn vampires.
But since their computer-generated alter egos seem to be getting most of the screen time, here’s a chance to get to know the actors pre-transformation:
Alex Meraz (Paul)
At 25, Meraz is still adjusting to the whirlwind that comes with being in a blockbuster franchise. But don’t be fooled. He’s not complaining.
“Bring it on,” he said. “I was working really hard before, and it just didn’t seem to pay off. I’m just really grateful for it all.”
Before he caught the acting “virus,” Meraz — who admitted his first viewing of “Twilight” was a bootleg version — demonstrated his artistic tendencies through dance, martial arts and painting. In fact, he still breaks out the paint and brushes to maintain his sanity through all the “Twilight” pandemonium.
But it’s that pandemonium that gets him amped when talking about the movie.
“The fans are going to love this film,” he said. “I didn’t get my chance to touch anybody in ‘New Moon.’ This time I go at it with Emmett [ Kellan Lutz]. I give him a nice bitch slap. But I’m in wolf form, so maybe it’s a big paw slap?
“Oh, and there’s a lot more action. It’s more Paul wolf. You’re going to see my wolf form doing a lot of stuff. You’ll just see me running around shirtless once and a while.”
So what of all those topless scenes?
“I have a newfound respect for women. I have to keep my figure. Girls are telling me to take my shirt off. It’s like, ‘Hello! I’m a person, too!’ ”
Julia Jones (Leah Clearwater)
Bryce Dallas Howard isn’t the only new face to join the burgeoning ensemble cast. Jones will make her debut to the franchise as Leah Clearwater, the scorned and bitter sole female member of the Wolf Pack.
“She’s really a tough character,” said Jones, 29. “She’s pretty angry about a lot of things that she has every right to be angry about. She’s miserable and lost and trying to cope internally without a lot of help. And she lashes out quite a bit.”
Jones may not be a household name just yet, having appeared in independent films and a few episodes of “ER,” but that will surely change for the Boston native come June. And for the woman who said she knew she wanted to be an actress after playing Michael Darling in a production of “Peter Pan” as a child, it’ll be a learning process.
“I don’t know,” Jones said. “I’m just trying to take it easy while I can. It’s going to be a new thing to figure out how to navigate this craze. I’m doing my best to prepare myself for all of it.”
Chaske Spencer (Sam Uley)
Spencer reprises his role as werewolf Sam Uley, the sometimes disgruntled leader of the Wolf Pack.
Although Spencer hasn’t exactly gotten used to the global attention — “It’s cool, the recognition. But it’s work. I know how to keep my life private” — he said he doesn’t regret the decision to join the wildly popular franchise.
“There’s a lot more offers,” said Spencer, 35. “As an actor, that’s all you can hope for: more chances to keep it going.”
Spencer is in Arizona shooting his new film “Shouting Secrets,” about a successful young writer in Los Angeles who is called back to his Native American background to tend to his ailing mother.
With the media blitz already in full effect for “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” Spencer said working on something completely different is a way to escape. But there’s no escaping the constant pleas for spoilers from the new flick. And like his character’s quiet, shadow-like wolf form, he only gives a whisper of details.
“This time around, Sam has to put his ego aside to take on this new breed of vampires,” Spencer said. “There’s a lot of new relationships being formed.”
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