Twilight star Jackson Rathbone reflects on the franchise’s legacy. It’s been ten years since the film adaptation the book the world by storm. Based on the YA novel by Stephanie Meyer, the movie, which starred Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson as Bella and Edward, star-crossed lovers tasked with overcoming their one-hundred year age gap and Edward’s vampirism. Twilight was a cultural phenomenon when it launched, and its fandom remains strongly devoted to the saga of one of the great love triangles of recent memory, between Bella the human, Edward the vampire, and Jacob the werewolf.
Among Edward’s vampire family are Emmett (Kellan Lutz), Alice (Ashley Greene), and Jasper, played by Rathbone. At New York Comic Con’s celebration of the tenth anniversary of the film, Rathbone spoke to us about his role in the Twilight saga and the effect Jasper continues to have on his life following the tremendous success of the five films, which have collectively grossed over $3.3 billion worldwide.
While best known for his role in Twilight, Rathbone has certainly been around the block, and his resume is peppered with a variety of roles in films and television as diverse as TNT’s The Last Ship, MTV’s Finding Carter, and the acclaimed web series, Aim High. Nevertheless, to a legion of fans across the world, Jackson Rathbone will forever be remembered as Jasper Hale, the svelte and gorgeous sparkling vampire and Civil War veteran.
JACKSON RATHBONE ON THE LEGACY OF TWILIGHT
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Twilight on popular culture. From the books to the films, Twilight is one of the few mainstream mega-blockbusters made by women and for women. Though not without its criticisms, one cannot deny that the image of a vampire with porcelain skin which sparkles in the daylight has become just as ubiquitous as Bela Lugosi’s flowing black cape and widow’s peak haircut.
For every actor involved in the production, Twilight has become a tremendous part of their legacy, and Rathbone is no different, and it’s a legacy of which he is proud:
The legacy of Twilight, yeah, it’s going to follow me, but at least it’s a legacy that was impactful for a lot of people. To see the fans and the connections that they’ve made worldwide, and with their own families, I couldn’t be more proud to be part of that. I will meet a lot of people, still, that are like, “Jasper!”At first it was kind of like, “C’mon,” ya know, “I’m a serious actor,” but now I just see the joy in people’s faces. For me, above all else, I am an entertainer. I want to make people happy. I think the job of an entertainer is to give someone reprieve from their daily life. And if they’re passionate about the Twilight series, that’s incredible. Just yesterday, I was flying from Chicago to New York, and as I was getting on the plane, the guy loading the bags was like, “Yo, hey man, I just started watching The Last Ship, and you were incredible in it, I love you!” And it was just fun to get to see people that have seen my work and have it impact their life, even if it’s just entertainment. At the end of the day, that’s all this is. It’s just entertainment. Let’s have fun, come together, and enjoy things.
As he describes it, Rathbone was already well on his way towards being an accomplished actor by the time he was cast in Twilight, but the effect it had on his career cannot be understated, for better and worse:
I was about 22 years old. I had a nice career going for me. I had been doing a lot more comedy before Twilight began. After it hit, the comedy world dried up a little bit for me. Everybody kinda pigeonholed me into the drama world, which I was into, but I’ve always been a character actor. My first gigs were in the theater world, where I would be Atolicus in A Winter’s Tale, King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar. Then, Twilight came about, and suddenly, people wanted to pigeonhole me into teen drama, and I really fought against that, and I still do. I really like to choose my roles as eclectically as possible.
With that in mind, Rathbone’s upcoming projects showcase his versatility as an actor: there’s Dreaming Grand Avenue, in which he plays a man haunted by mysterious dreams; in Heart, Baby, based on the true story of boxer George Lee Martin, he plays Doc, Martin’s corner man and best friend. Also on the docket for Rathbone are the horror films Red River and Do Not Reply, both of which are scheduled for 2019.