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When “30 Days of Night” filmmaker David Slade took the reins of the “Twilight” sequel “Eclipse,” his appointment seemed to raise more questions than answers. Would the über-violent filmmaker create the bloodiest film of the franchise? Would he attempt to broaden its appeal beyond women and teenage girls? How much of the creative voice would he wrestle away from Stephenie Meyer and make his own?
Now, many of those details are coming into view via a top-secret cameo Slade has filmed … with a 1980s new-wave rock icon.
“[When I was young], I was a huge fan of a guy who does a cameo in ‘Eclipse,’ a guy named Peter Murphy,” revealed Billy Burke, the veteran actor who plays Bella’s father, Charlie Swan, when he stopped by the MTV studios this week. “He used to be the singer of Bauhaus.”
Bauhaus pioneered the “goth rock” music genre from 1978-1983, and although they were never hugely successful commercially, the band made a mark with such memorable songs as “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” which the band is seen performing in the opening scenes of the 1983 vampire flick “The Hunger” (starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneueve), a longtime goth touchstone. In the years that followed, Murphy launched a solo career that featured early MTV hit videos like “Cuts You Up” and “All Night Long.”
“He came in for a cameo, and I was wildly excited about that,” marveled Burke, who has his own musical career on the side from his acting. “I saw his name on the call sheet, and I had to give him a call and ask him to have some dinner with me, because I was a huge fan when I was growing up.”
The so-called Godfather of Goth, who used to rise from coffins onstage and drive a hearse, is appropriately enough portraying a vampire. “He plays a vampire in a flashback sequence,” explained Burke. “I didn’t get to see any of it, but all reports from the director David Slade, and everyone around say he just kicked ass. I’m real excited to see it.”
Rather than a Volturi or a Cullen, however, he’s playing a predecessor of the warring vampire factions. “[His role] started out as an old Spanish, sort of unrelated vampire, in a flashback sequence,” he explained, saying the flashback involves Gil Birmingham’s wheelchair-bound Quileute elder. “Billy Black’s talking and telling the story of the werewolves, how they evolved, and how they met the vampires and stuff. [Murphy’s cameo is] in a sequence that involves that.”
Although odds are that most “Twilight” fans aren’t rocking out to Bauhaus on a regular basis, the cameo is important because it seems to shed a bit of light on Slade’s vision for the third “Twilight” film. Hiring a goth pioneer from the ’80s could indicate his eagerness to embrace an older audience and a darker, more violent, possibly more male-friendly tone. It also shows that Slade, who rose to prominence with the twisted indie film “Hard Candy,” isn’t afraid to veer off Stephenie Meyer’s written pages from time to time.
“I wasn’t there during the filming of his scenes,” Burke sighed, adding that 19-year-old star and punk-loving actress Kristen Stewart also “did appreciate” Murphy being on set. “I was gone that particular day. But we did end up going and hanging out, and had some dinner and drinks; he was so open to talk about everything — the glory days of Bauhaus and his present career. He was just an awesome guy.”