by: Anne M. Raso
Michael Welch plays the endearing annoying high school kid Mike Newton in the Twilight movie series, and while he has given up on finding love with Bella (since she has two more endearing suitors, namely Edward and Jacob), he also has other movies in line for release, including Unrequited which hits theaters on July 27th. In Unrequited, he plays the rather disturbed Ben Jacobs, an 18-year-old just released from a home for troubled teens and upset that his former gal-pal has moved on to a college guy.
Affable Mike will also be on the Twilight Fan Cruise to Alaska leaving from Seattle coming up August 8th to 15th. We got the 23-year-old "thesp" to spill secrets on the making of Eclipse and what the shoot in Vancouver was really like. He's got a good head on his shoulders when it comes to success. He is one of the supporting players who helps make this the most profitable movie series in the history of film! (And no matter what you think, it's not just teens who love it)!
Q: I hear that most of the guys in this movie had to do the Wolf Camp workout, even if they weren't wolves. (I know you are not a wolf!) Did you get put into the training camp again?
MW: I did not do much of that because I am not a wolf. There is a big fight scene in the third film (Eclipse) where the Cullen clan and the wolf pack get together and have to fight this army of what is called "newborn vampires" so they went through like months of training and all that...but for me, I am just at the high school cafeteria. We mere mortals in high school did not go through any of that.
Q: Will you talk about filming Eclipse--was it tougher than filming the other two in some way?
MW: Yeah, filming Eclipse was definitely challenging. Each film definitely presents its own challenge. The main thing to really figure out is how to work with these same characters with different directors. That has really been an interesting challenge because these three directors, they are all brilliant but they are all very different in how they approach filmmaking and working with actors...so that has been kind of interesting. And it's also been kind of interesting for me to deal with the character challenge of Mike Newton--because at this point, in Eclipse, he is not really going after Bella anymore. He has finally come to terms with the fact that he and Bella will probably never work out romantically and I think that anybody going after a girl who is being courted by both Taylor Lautner and Rob Pattinson would come to the same decision! It is no shame losing out to those guys!
Q: OK. (Laughs.)
MW: But that is a big part of the Mike Newton character--the way he chooses to go after Bella! That is not there anymore. Mike Newton is equal parts endearing and annoying--but in a good way...in a way that serves its purpose for the film. But what makes Mike endearing is the way he goes approaches trying to get Bella to go out with him--I hope that now (in Eclipse), he doesn't come off as just annoying! (Laughs.)
Q: And they introduce so many characters in the series which has to be a challenge--especially in this third installment! Do you think they try to stay true to the book with all three movies even though books have more details than movies and obviously directors have to let some things go?
MW: I think the filmmakers and the studio have been respectful to the books...they make little changes here and there and of course you can't get everything in, but overall, they tend to follow the stories pretty closely and I think that's smart. We're seeing less and less of that today. There are a lot of movies made now that are remakes or based on books and previous characters and the directors do not even capture the original essence of what the thing was about! They basically just have the name for name recognition and then they do whatever they want. For this (Eclipse), everyone involved is cognizant of respecting the fans and the author and we don't forget that our fan base is what makes this entire pop culture juggernaut possible in the first place. If we don't make them happy, they there's really no point to making these movies, so I am happy with what we have done.
Q: Fans love to read about "bloopers" or things that were difficult on the set--did you have any weather issues or was there a scene that was super-challenging...anything like that?
MW: Just let me say that there are always weather issues in these films--every single time. The first time in the Washington-Oregon area, the weather changed every ten minutes from sun to rain to cloudy to rainy and sunny (that is just what the weather is like up there). That presented a lot of problems because obviously vampires can't be in the sun so then the crew would have to switch scenes and go back to something else...but then the clouds would come back in...so it was very challenging! It was very difficult...and with Vancouver, you just never know. It rains quite a bit there, too. I think one of our high school scenes got cut out because they had to keep postponing it over and over again because of the weather. After two weeks they had to drop the scene because they had to simply move on. (Laughs.) They had to get to other parts of the movie. Yeah, weather is always a challenge for us in this franchise for some reason!
Q: I know you do a lot of those Twicon fan conventions and i wonder if you enjoy doing them. What do you think of those things for real?
MW: I actually enjoy them a lot! I hope it doesn't sound disingenuous saying that but I really do. First of all, it's a great opportunity to meet with the fans and to really get a sense of not only the impact that the Twilight series has had on our culture but the joy and passion it has created in people's lives. To get to see that up-close is refreshing in a lot of ways--it sort of puts things in perspective. Some questions the fans ask are difficult to answer. People write their questions down ahead of time and then people who are on tour with the convention who are dressed like characters from the films pick out questions and they try to typically pick out fresh and new questions for us--so that we don't get the same ones all the time (during the Q&A sessions at the conventions). And I get to host a karaoke party at each convention!
Q: Oh, I didn't know about this! Do you have any karaoke favorites for yourself to perform?
MW: I do! My "Free Bird" of karaoke, if you will, is "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.
Q: Now, there is a hard song to sing--it is about as hard as it gets for a pop song!
MW: Yeah, it is very difficult and I do not try and sing it well like Freddie Mercury did with it! (Laughs.) I am just trying to be entertaining. I am more of a Jack Black style karaoke performer.
Q: I call that "Kamikaze Karaoke" because he does songs really over the top!
MW: That is a really good way to put it, actually! So, yeah, that is what I do--that is the song I close my karaoke party with every time.
Q: And how does the party work? Do you come up at the beginning just to start things up and then the fans come up one by one to perform karaoke?
MW: No, they set up a karaoke machine at the convention hall in the conference room wherever it may be and I host a karaoke party and I will will do four or five songs during the night and I will just step in and sing when I feel like it--and I call people up to the front and sometimes they ask me to sing with them! Sometimes I will be just sitting there, sometimes I will be singing with them, sometimes I will be dancing and sometimes I will be acting out the action of the song, whatever it may be. We just have a good time, I mean, it is a lot of fun!
Q: It does sound like fun! You also host charity concerts I hear. You did one for the homeless in February.
MW: Yeah. It was for the Midnight Missions and it was at the Roxy (in LA) and the band was Shy Rock and they put the show together and just asked me to host the event, so I did. It was actually a drive to raise money for the Midnight Missions who do incredible work. They get clothes for the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles
Q: Wow, very cool. I am curious if you have other events you do with other cast members..
MW: Some of my cast mates are involved with really good causes. I was just asked to be part of one and i cannot make it--I wish I could remember the name. I cannot make it because I am going to be in Paris while it is going on...but it is a charity that is getting clean water to people in countries in poverty. It is really about building fresh water wells so that people have clean water. Ashley Greene is involved in that one and Chaske Spencer, who is one of our Wolf Pack boys, is involved in this great organization that is about the environment and the earth and just trying to make conscious and aware of what is going on on our planet right now. I would love to get involved with some of these causes. These are all really remarkable things to be a part of and it is nice to see my cast mates using this opportunity for some positive and productive work in the world. It's really nice.
Q: My last question is: what are your goals as both a person and a performer?
MW: My goals are to just continua to grow as both a person and an actor. I plan on doing this the rest of my life. I want to be the best actor I can possibly be and I will never stop working at it. I will never give up. I just hope that I can be happy and make my family and my friends happy and do something good...and be a source of good and not pain. That is all I can hope to do, and beyond that, I do not know how my life will actually end up playing out but I am just going to do my best,
Q: Oh, one more thing--what was it like having fans and paparazzi milling about the Eclipse set? Were they ever distracting?
MW: (Laughs.) The paparazzi was a little distracting because when you're trying to work and create something, it's a little distracting to have someone clicking a camera from inside the bushes! (Laughs.) The fans were not really distracting--not for me, anyway. We went over and said hi during down times when we were not filming. But yeah, the whole world of paparazzi is something that is very strange to me but i am sure how I will deal with it over time...not that it's that much of a problem for me. People are not following me around all the time but when we are on set, they are definitely there! Their presence is there.
Q: I thought that maybe screaming fans might have really distracted you as well.
MW: The fans are pretty smart. They know that while we are filming, they can't actually be screaming because you can't have that on a film. I think people understand THAT! It is just fun to see people get so excited about something--and the fact that I am part of it and get to experience some of that fan enthusiasm myself, it's indescribable. I do not know what to say. It's amazing!
Q: OK, really last question: are you doing Breaking Dawn?
MW: I don't know yet. I have not officially been invited back at this point. i would love to be a part of it as long as they will have me--the only thing that I really know about the film at all at this point is that they have signed (director) Bill Condon and i would love to work with him. And I think they are still working out the details if they are making Breaking Dawn in one parts or two, but I know the film will be in the work by the end of the year.
Q: Thanks, Michael--it was great to talk to you!
MW: Thank you so much! Take care and good to talk to you!
[photos: Summit Entertainment, video: seventeen.com]