Preston Johnson, 22, had just gotten out of class in Eugene when he got the call from a casting agency: “Do you still have long hair?” they asked. A couple weeks, hair length confirmation and multiple auditions later, the University of Oregon student was kickin’ it on the set of a small film called Twilight with actors Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward) and the rest of the vampy gang—paid around $150 a day to pile on pale make-up and fight off crazed fans and TwilightMoms as Pattison’s photo/stunt double on the film’s Oregon set. As New Moon, the second film installment of the mega-popular book series, hits theaters and decimates box office records, Johnson looked back on his three months of filming as the other Edward.
WW: How did you first hear about the job? Did you have to audition?
Preston Johnson: Actually, it’s a weird story. I had been somewhat of a skating double for Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park and [the agency] must have saved my file. I had to do about 5 or 6 interviews. It was a pain in the ass because I was doing school in Eugene and was driving back and forth to audition. I almost dropped out of the running. But then they decided to use me as Robert’s stand-in. I just had to stand there while they tested lighting. But then I got talking to the director, and he liked me, so he promoted me to a photo double, where they shot me for crane work or behind-the-head-shots.
Had you ever read Twilight?
No, I still haven’t read the books! I’ve only read the scripts. I don’t even think Robert had read it when we were filming. (Gozde: yeah sure, we all know how much Rob hates reading… *eye roll*)
Had you heard about it?
No, no one knew about Twilight when we started working on it. No one knew it was going to be as big as it is today. It was a very calm set. There were no fans until the very end of the shoot. By the end there were teenage girls and the TwilightMoms. This bunch of moms would just sit around all day and take pictures. But even then, no one had any idea how big it was going to be. When it came out, I talked to Rob, and to be honest, I just don’t think he was ready for that kind of attention.
So you still talk to Robert?
He changed his phone number, but I can’t blame him for that. We talked for a little bit. I have Kristen’s number. I called her last month to say hi. But they have busy lives.
Is Kristen Stewart as big of a bitch as she seems? (Gozde: Wow!Just wow!)
The first week, it was kind of awkward. I felt like I had gotten to know her a little. But we were sitting together at lunch one day, just talking, and I said “Hey Kristen, how is filming going?” She blew up at me. “Preston! Don’t ask me how filming is going! I hate when people ask me that!” I got upset. Like, ‘oh sorry you’re the fucking star of the movie Kristen, my bad for asking you how it was going.’(Gozde: And yet you still called her last week to say hi? What happened did she not recognize you?)
Do you think that they’re dating?
No, I don’t think so. There was no chemistry on set. Robert… I just don’t think Kristen is his type of style. He’s a really shy kid. I think he’s only had one girlfriend ever.(Gozde: ♫♫♫Who is the bitterest man in the living room? The bitterest man in the living room?♫♫♫ You may be Robsten, nonsten or crapsten but I don’t think anyone can deny their chemistry.)
What was the best thing about being in Twilight?
Filming the stunts for the baseball scene in the first movie. I wasn’t even supposed to be in it. I was just sitting on set and got a call on the radio. “Preston! We need you in the jeep!” And they just threw me in the car with the Bella double and said “Gun it!” It was this narrow gravel road and I was going as fast as I could, fish tailing around turns. There was a lake on one side and a big drop on the other. I thought ‘If I make one wrong move, we’re totaling this car,’ but all I could hear was the director through the radio yelling “Faster, faster!”
Did you work on New Moon at all?
No, unfortunately I did not work on New Moon, mainly because everyone besides the main cast members were new—including the director. Catherine [Hardwicke] decided not to work on the series again so everyone who wasn’t an immediate cast member was dropped. Another reason was that New Moon was shot in Canada and it would of cost them a substantial amount of money to fly me there and pay for everything. However, I did receive an e-mail from my agency saying that the fourth movie will be shot here in Portland and that I will still be considered for the part. (Gozde: Even after this interview? Really?)
Any movie plans in the future?
Right now I’m really focused on finishing school, which if I’m lucky should be at the end of this summer. In my spare time I really enjoy playing ice hockey and snowboarding. Ice hockey is a huge part of my life, my grandpa was a pro hockey player and played for many different teams, including the Portland Buckaroos. After school, I’m planning on devoting some time on my acting career. Acting has always been a passion of mine from the time I was 10-years old. I think because of my sense of humor and goofy personality, acting has always seemed to just fit in with my way of life. I really feel like this is what I was meant to do.
Do you ever still get stopped on the street or mistaken for Robert Pattison?
I have gotten stopped a few times. Actually, when I went and saw New Moon last week I got stopped. I thought I was going to disappoint them. You know, “oh, actually I’m not Robert, I’m just his photo double.” But they freaked out when I told them! They were so excited. Teenage girls are crazy.(Gozde: Sorry to break it to you but you really don’t look like him. Did you see the movie in a theater for visually impared people?)
Commentary by the lovely Gozde at Robsessed