With a recurring role in what has arguably become one of the most popular film franchises of the last decade, Twilight actor Chaske Spencer is surprisingly grounded.“I’m glad and very happy that I’ve got to be part of this pop culture phenomenon but at the end of the day it will go away,” he said last week, speaking from his base in Los Angeles.
“It will be a drinking game for the girls who grow up at college, it’s gonna launch some careers and give people a lot of opportunities.
“I’ve enjoyed the ride and I’m still enjoying the ride. I take it with a grain of salt.”
First appearing in the second film of the saga, New Moon, Spencer plays the role of Sam Uley, leader of the wolf pack.
“There’s a lot of physicality to this role and so when I prepare for Sam the book gives me the insight into what I need to go for with the character, but the workouts really helped out a lot. After you’re doing 100 push ups and 1000 sit ups you feel animalistic.”
He is currently promoting the third film, Eclipse, in which he and his fellow werewolves share a lot more screen time.
For those oblivious to the phenomenon, The Twilight Saga began with the best-selling series of novels by Stephenie Meyers.
The tale is spun around lead character Bella Swan, who is torn between love interest Edward Cullen, a 17-year-old “good” vampire, and her best friend Jacob Black, a 16-year-old werewolf who preys on “bad” vampires.
It’s a Mills & Boons-style romance, only with fangs and fur, and it has been embraced by a devout legion of Twilighters [as the fans are known] around the globe.
As well as continuing the love story, Eclipse will include more action and see the introduction of new characters.
“We [the wolf pack] join forces with the vampires and I think the fans are gonna love it, especially the ones who read the book,” Spencer said.
“We’ve got some new vampires coming in: Xavier [Samuel], who I think is a brilliant actor and a really good guy to work with; Julia Jones, she’s gonna play Leah Clearwater. I think she’s a wonderful actress and I’m very honoured to call her a friend. And BooBoo Stewart as well all these great new characters coming in.”
Spencer, a native American, was born of the Lakota Sioux tribe and raised on reservations in Montana and Idaho.
The 35-year-old has appeared in television series, films and on stage, but since appearing in New Moon, many a new door has opened.
“I’m gonna be forever attached to this franchise and it’s a double edged sword,” Spencer said.
“It’s a good thing because it’s giving me opportunities. For me, I appreciate everything it’s done but at some point you’ve got to distance yourself and take other roles where you keep your shirt on.
“I just did a film called Shouting Secrets, a very character driven movie and worked with a brilliant cast and a beautiful script, and that’s what the saga has allowed me. I also did a film called Winter In The Blood in which I pretty much play an alcoholic.
“I’ve been working before Twilight it just happened that when I got this role it’s given me a lot of exposure but I think you’ve got to keep a smart head on your shoulders and at some point back off.”
Spencer said he was grateful to the saga for its portrayal of native Americans.
“This time around we didn’t have to speak with a broken tongue or slap on the leather and feather,” he said.
“There’s character involved here and story, so it was a breath of fresh air … and the fans of Twilight don’t see us as native American actors, they see us as actors, which is something new. It’s a breath of fresh air that when the character’s introduced you have some rock music playing in the background, they’re not looking at you as long-haired native American. They’re looking at you as a werewolf that happens to be native.”
Spencer said that he would return for the fourth film in the saga, Breaking Dawn.
He said that the hardest aspect of preparing to play the part of a werewolf was the intense workouts.
“We hit the gym hard,” he said. “I really liked it though. My body has changed this past year, because I wasn’t that big. I was in shape but I was not the size that I am now.
“According to the book the wolves do get bigger when they’re in human form so I’ve been eating a lot, putting on weight, lifting more and then when it gets closer to game time I start getting cut, running, watching what I eat.