Do you believe in vampires? Well if you grew up in Latin America, you probably know more about La Llorona than vampires. And although not a believer, actress Mia Maestro, who was born and raised in Argentina, finds herself playing a vampire in The Twilight Saga Part 1 & 2, the last two installments of the most successful vampire franchise in cinema history.
“Vampires…no they don’t exist,” says Maestro, who plays Carmen Denali, a member of the Denali Clan of vampires. “I’m not a fan of horror film. I didn’t grow up watching vampire movies.”
She’s not the only Twilight cast member who is not a fan of vampire films.
“It seems weird to say that I love vampire movies. I haven’t seen that many vampire movies,” Rob Pattinson, the heartthrob who plays the lead vampire, Edward, in The Twilight Saga, confessed at a recent press conference. He went as far as to say that people who love vampire movies as a genre may have a “psychological problem.”
So what is the fascination with the Twilight Saga films, which to date have grossed over $2 billion at the box office? Could it be its vampire-themed fantasy romance saga of a modern-day love story between a teenage girl and a vampire? Many believe so; while director Bill Condon credits Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of the lead role of Bella as the main draw.
In a span of four films, Stewart goes from ordinary girl next door to the strongest of the vampires in the last installment of the franchise.
The fascination began with Stephenie Meyer’s novels, made into the The Twilight Saga series of motion pictures by Summit Entertainment. The film adaptations of the first three books were released in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The fourth book was adapted as two full-length films, part 1 and 2.
“There has always been a fascination with vampires,” Maestro chimes in. “Perhaps because of the immortality …the idea of living forever. The myths about vampires and werewolves have been part of our literature before cinema even existed.”
Maestro said with the Twilight series, "it’s become urban myth.”
The four directors of the Twilight Saga films have each introduced new groups of actors to the franchise. Catherine Hardwicke cast the Cullens and Bella's family; Chris Weitz introduced all of the Volturi and the wolves; and David Slade’s casting showed us the power of those newborns and more Quileutes.
In the latest installments, Condon introduces vampires from all corners of the earth as they descend on Forks, Washington to meet Renesmee, Edward and Bella’s child.
With his casting, Condon broadens the Vampire spectrum. “Here it's vampires from around the world,” explains Condon. “What I loved about it was that they were all playing off of archetypes. I’ve loved vampires since I was a kid and in this you have the British Christopher Lee vampire, the Egyptians from The Awakening, the absolutely traditional Romanians a la Bela Lugosi Transylvanian vampires, and then some other more surprising ones from America. That was a treat.”
And what a treat that Condon decided to include and hire Latino talent in The Twilight Saga: Parts 1 & 2 – as the native vampire tribes. In addition to Maestro, Christian Camargo is Eleazar, her partner.
Both were introduced at Bella and Edward’s wedding in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, as members of the Denali Coven, cousins to the like-minded vegetarian Cullens. There is also two Ticuna Indian vampires played by JD Pardo (Revolution; A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story) as Nahuel, a vampire/human hybrid and his aunt Huilen portrayed by Marisa Quinn, both Latino.
Although, Twilight fans will always remember Maestro as a Denali vampire, international audiences remember her as Elena in the 1998 Academy Award nominated foreign film Tango, a psychological love triangle directed by Carlos Saura. This film was Maestro’s introduction to Hollywood audiences at the young age of 20.
Maestro went on to amass a long list of eclectic credits, including the role of Christina Kahlo in Salma Hayek’s Frida; Gael Garcia Bernal’s love interest in the Golden Globe nominated The Motorcycle Diaries; and as the lead in Jonathan Jakubowicz’s thriller Secuestro Express.
Most recently, she co-starred in the film Poseidon. U.S. TV audiences remember her in the role as Nadia Santos in the television drama Alias playing Jennifer Garner’s sister.
Maestro is also an accomplished singer-songwriter, having performed in Los Angeles, New York City, and Buenos Aires, and recently recorded her first album. One of her songs "Llovera" was featured in the Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 soundtrack and serves as the backdrop to Bella and Edwards lovemaking scene.
It was Condon who invited Maestro to submit her music and selected her song to be included in the movie’s soundtrack.
Working on The Twilight Saga was a unique and treasured experience for Maestro. It's not often an actor is cast in two films at once.
It was also the longest shoot she had ever been in. Because the two films where shot concurrently, Maestro was required to remain on location for six months, enough time to make new friends.
“Shooting Twilight I have made some really good friends, one of those being the film’s director of photography, Guillermo Navarro,” Maestro said. They have hit off so well that they have already collaborated on a music video she shot with him and his son, Alvaro.
Life after Twilight includes a film project she will be working on in Argentina with fellow filmmaker Pablo Arguello. Then it’s back to the U.S., where she stars in the TV adaptation of Neil Labute’s play, Some Girls, alongside Adam Brody and Emily Watson.