Judith Shekoni is one of the many new faces in The Twilight Saga: breaking Dawn - Part 2 as the final instalment of the popular franchise hit the big screen over the weekend.
The actress takes on the role of Zafrina and we caught up with her to talk about her role and stepping into the franchise.
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 has just been released into cinemas so what can we expect from this final film?
I think that you can expect a little bit more from this film than the others as there is more action as well as more new characters than ever before and it is sexier than ever before.
But I just think that it is more epic than every before and there is some great CGI and it really just goes out with a bang.
- You are one of the new faces on the cast list taking on the role of Zafrina so how did you find stepping into such a huge and successful franchise?
I found it just really exciting - I think that it is actually easier to step into a successful franchise than it is to do a movie that you don’t know if anyone’s going to see or if it will get distribution. So from the point of view it is easier.
Also with Twilight, although you don’t go out to do a band job, I know that it is not on my head so there is a little less responsibility than normal.
- Without giving too much away of course can you tell me a little about your character and what we are going to see her up to in this movie?
I play Zafrina and she is the leader of the Amazon coven and her power is she can make people see whatever she wants them to see - she can create illusions in people’s minds.
She is from the Amazon so she is very animalistic and with a deep connection with family.
I along with my fellow coven member Senna come to help the Cullen’s fight against the Volturi and protect Bella and Edward’s daughter Renesmee.
- And what was it about this script and character that really drew you to this project?
I had already been a fan of Twilight as I had read all of the books and seen all of the films. So I was already a huge fan and there was not an option of not doing it.
What was wonderful about the character is it gave me the opportunity to explore areas that I hadn’t explored yet such as how do you create a superpower? What do you look like when you use it - particularly when it is one to one?
What does it mean to be described as feral and animalistic? How does that come into with the character and her behaviour? And then the relationships that I have with other people.
- A movie like this is very CGI driven - you have mentioned the CGI already - so how did you find that aspect of making the film?
There was definitely more CGI in this movie than anything that I had done before; I did do Garfield 2 and the whole time we were looking at an X rather than Garfield the cat. So I did have experience with CGI but this was definitely the most expansive.
It was quite complex because we were using green screen and so we were looking at nothing and pretending that vampires are flying in, so it was definitely challenging.
But as long as you have a good director who is explaining what is going on and you have done the work before hand your imagination can just kick in and you can go to that childlike place and start creating in your mind.
- Well you have slightly touched on my next question really I wondered how much the CGI aspect is a challenge for you as an actor? And how much does it push you to produce a performance that perhaps you wouldn’t…
I think it’s definitely a very different element of acting. There are ten different elements of acting and they are all interconnected to create a character and a story but, in a weird way, but they are all separate in the technique that you may have to use to get to that place.
I think acting to something imaginary and trying to have a real response to it is challenging and it is something that I will get better at with practice and experience.
I find it fun because I like to be able to use my imagination and be able to work my body so it reacts in certain ways but I would love to have had real vampires flying in to attack me. But it is as good as you can get and you make the best of it.
- Bill Condon is in the director's chair for this final instalment so how did you find working with him? And what kind of director is he?
Wonderful. He is a very caring and thoughtful director and he never shouts or raises his voice or gets angry.
There are no tense emotions, drama or rushing he is just very grounded and never seems to get into a fluster, no matter what happens.
He also has a great sense of humour and I really feel that he brought that along to the set and just eased everyone in. He really was great.
- Stephenie Meyer was on set every day during the shoot so how useful was it to have the writer of the novels on hand?
It was particularly useful because you were able to go up to her and ask her questions about your character and get even more back-story.
You were also getting her approval with everything that you did because she was right there watching - she was watching ever move that we made and was kind of signing off on it.
Even before we began shooting she came to the make-up and hair tests and approved those as well so she was very influential and very hands on in the whole process of creating each individual character.
It was an honour to have her there because she was one that started it all.
- You have mentioned already that you were a huge fan of the novels so how useful were they in the development of your character?
They were definitely useful because there was a lot more description and a lot more going on with my character than you can squeeze into a movie script.
In the book the characters were really defined in terms of what they do, their relationships and their live but unfortunately you can get all that into the script.
So it was great to have the book to go to for a further resource and to be able to really make sure that I could expand my vision of the character as wide as possible so I could show as much as possible on the screen.
- You were on the red carpet in London at the premiere earlier this week so how did you find all of that?
It was extremely intense and I had butterflies in my stomach because I was worried that I had made the wrong dress choice and everyone was going to laugh at me.
I was thinking about all of the things that could possibly go wrong but once you are there you just get on with it.
It was amazing to see all of the fans that turned out and they are very passionate about the movie and it is inspiring.
It’s one of the few times in your life when you are going to get an experience like that where you stood on a balcony waving to the fans with some of the biggest movie stars in the world.
- The series has such dedicated fans so what has it been like being able to be a part of that whirlwind and hysteria?
I haven’t found a lot of hysteria as that is really directed to Robert, Taylor and Kristen and so I Haven’t really had to deal with that.
But what I do get is passion, love and appreciation from the crowds and all that has been a wonderful experience. I haven’t had any bad fan experiences yet, touch wood.
- Throughout your career you have mixed your movie work with TV so how do the two mediums compare?
I think that movies are great because you get longer to work on your character and really explore that is always great because you are always seeing more potential things that you could do.
But TV is also great because there are some really great writers writing for TV at the moment and there are some great characters in the likes of Homeland for example.
You know that you doing and you really get to explore the character because you have time. In an ideal world it would be great to work in movies and then do the odd TV show every now and again.
- I was reading that you have made the movie over to Hollywood so how are you finding your time out there?
It’s great. It is definitely different to England and when I come back now I appreciate it like an old tourist. It is the right place to be for my career and I think that it’s very beautiful and very forward thinking.
- Finally what is next for you?
I have a movie that I am going to shoot in Africa early next year, it is like an African Eat Pray Love, and I get to play the lead girl.
So we are shooting half in Los Angeles and half in Africa - I am half African so it means a lot to be able to go back to my home country.
I am also taking a lot of readings right now with regards to securing my next project and trying to find one that is going to be as interesting as Twilight.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is out now
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw