Photo credit: Megan Allen

It’s been 10 years since Stephenie Meyer’s popular Twilight novels were first translated to the big screen. The YA love story about teenage Bella Swan who falls for mysterious vampire Edward Cullen captured the hearts of millions all over the world and made Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson huge stars.

Now, a new 10th anniversary DVD/Blu-ray collection has been released. ScreenPicks spoke with Jackson Rathbone, who played the dashing vampire Jasper Hale and paramour of Edward’s sister, Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene), about some of the cool bonus features in the collection. We also talked about Rathbone’s career today, which includes his music and a new album American Spirit Blues, along with a new boxing drama Heart, Baby.

ScreenPicks:  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since the first Twilight, doesn’t seem that long ago. What do you find most fascinating about this whole experience? 

Jackson Rathbone: You know I look back and I think aboutTwilight came out before Instagram or before Twitter. It was kinda like something that exploded before any real social media took over. You had Facebook back then. We had a Facebook fan account set up for the movie and for us and the cast. Nowadays everything is on a grand scale. We had this sort of phenomenon of Twilight back then. It’s really cool when I see the passion that people still have for these characters and these books. I think that the greatest thing for me is the fact fans come up and they say that these stories really connected them. That maybe they found a best friend across the world or maybe that they were able to connect with another family member. Just the power of literature and art.

ScreenPicks: So true! Twilight did come before the onslaught of social media. I’m just wondering with that kind of phenomenon, what it’d be like today? It would probably be a whole different deal.

Rathbone: I always wondered about that. Would it be bigger or would not have been anything even close to the same? It’s just, you can never tell and maybe people would have been more active and voice their concern with casting or maybe … you just never know. Things have sure drastically changed and you kinda look back and say, “Wow, 10 years ago, it’s when Twilight came out and did what it did at the time it did”. It’s kinda like the right time for the right stuff

ScreenPicks: Now this new DVD/Blu-ray collection of all the Twilight movies, what are some of the new things we’ll be able to see in it?

Rathbone: One of the new things that I was heavily involved in — [Twilight director] Catherine Hardwicke and I actually went back to Portland, Oregon where we filmed the first movie. Stayed at the same hotel that we stayed in when we were filming the first film and we visited all of our old stomping grounds where we filmed. Where the Cullen house was. The diner where Stephenie Meyer made her cameo. Then, an utterly unbelievable thing happened while we were filming this. No one knew that we were going to go back and film this. While we were at the diner we met a Brazilian man, woman, and their 14-year-old daughter, who came to Portland to see this diner. Because they were Twilight fans. We went to the Cullen house and as we were on the balcony talking about our memories with the owner of the house, a group from Guam walks up and were there to take pictures with the Cullen house. I was talking to a group of about seven to eight people and it was just one of those things. It was such a cultural phenomenon that people really identified with the characters. It just really spoke to people. Even 10 years later they were traveling to see where these films were created. The new collection also has all new artwork. It’s really beautiful. It’s really nice to have it all in one place like that. There’s a nostalgia there.

ScreenPicks: And now, you’ve got lots of things on your plate! Your new movie Heart, Baby looks very intriguing… tell us about it.

Rathbone:  Oh thank you so much! It’s a beautiful true story, which took place in 1984 in Tennessee. It’s about this prison boxer, George Martin, who was serving a life sentence for armed robbery and a bunch of minor offenses as a kid. He’s in prison and is the best boxer in prison. They started bringing pros and heavyweights to come fight him. He would knock them all out. Until finally the Governor of Tennessee came down and he said, “George, we want to pardon your life sentence so you can go and fight for the U.S. in the Olympics in 1984”. But George Martin turned them down and he said no. The reason why he said no is incredible. It’s going to blow your mind. I play Doc who is George’s best friend and ring man. We had the real Doc on set every day helping us out. He also is a singer songwriter and led the prison band, so in the film, I get to play some of Doc’s songs that he actually wrote. I get to sing and play. It’s fun. It’s my two loves, music and acting all coming together in this beautiful true story that’s so progressive and it really ignites and incredible conversation for anyone who has seen it.

ScreenPicks: I definitely want to see this. I watched the trailer and I get that Martin has been in jail for most of his life. It’s like that Shawshank Redemption moment when the librarian has been in prison his whole life, what does he do when he gets out?

Rathbone: Well, Doc got out, but he had a hard time trying to figure out what he would do with his life as an ex-con. He ended up becoming a truck driver and starting up a business where he could hire other ex-cons. It’s one thing I learned a lot about in the course of this film is forgiveness, rehabilitation. Hopefully can work at bettering the lives of all of us including those like the ex-cons. People who don’t have a voice.

ScreenPicks: Speaking of the music side of things, I got a chance to listen to some of your music, it’s amazing! It’s really great. What is it about the music process that you love so much? Were you a musician first and then an actor? 

Rathbone: Honestly, it all kinda came together at the same time for me. I was learning guitar independently, but at the same time my older sister was in the theater, and her theater friends were really cute. When I started, I didn’t want to keep playing football hitting my head over and over again. I had my first concussion when I was in fifth grade. By the time I was in 9th grade, I said, I’m done with football, I’m going to try the theater thing out and once I step on stage in the musical Grease, I was singing and playing the guitar, for the character of Doody. I just fell in love with it. I was like, “Nobody is hitting me on the head! This is great!”

ScreenPicks: So did you had both the acting and the musical passions at the same time as you got older?

Rathbone: I ended up moving out to Los Angeles when I was 18 originally as a songwriter. However, for reasons, the record deal didn’t end up working out. Kinda blew up a little bit, but I stayed out there crashing on some couches and then I met an acting manager and she said maybe she could get me some gigs. I started booking a little commercial here and a little commercial there. That’s when I was like, you know what, I want to stick this out and I would bus on Venice Beach and I lived extremely modestly. I then I started making some money, I was able to get my own place. One thing led to another. By the time I was 22-23, I landed Twilight.

ScreenPicks: Tell me about your new album, American Spirit Blues, how did it come about? Tell me some of your processes for making this.

Rathbone: American Spirit Blues is the album that is the most true to the type of music I’ve done. I’ve played with big bands before. My last band, 100 Monkeys, was much more psychedelic funk and I wanted to do something that went back to the roots of the music that I grew up with. Like Paul Simmons and Cat Stevens. Like folk and a little bit of rock and roll, but nothing too hard. I just wanted to do something that was honest. I kinda looked at old songs and my stuff that I started writing and didn’t finished when I was as early as 18. I just kinda wanted to show the years that I’ve had under my belt. The good times and the bad, just to really explore songs that I could tell some stories with. Actually, my new single, which is out today, called “Young and Tragic.” I was 27, I really wanted to get out of that rock and roll life. Hang up the partying and doing the whole Hollywood thing. I wanted to make sure I wanted a long career. I didn’t want a short career. So, I kinda wrote this song with a note to myself. That’s what it became. It became like a sense of the things I don’t want to be. How to hold my head up. How to put my shoulders back and speak clearly about who I am. I want people to know my name with the good sense. To have a good vibe. In time I met my wife and she really inspired me to become a better man. I have her singing in the background on the song!

LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE!

ScreenPicks: It’s been a banner year for movie musicals like A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody. What do you think about the blending of music and movies?

Rathbone:  I think looking at La La Land and Whiplash with director Damien Chazelle, there is a certain magical thing when film and music come together. When was the last time you saw a silent picture, right? It wouldn’t be anything if it wasn’t for that choppy piano storm happening you can’t just sit there with quiet and look at pictures. Film and music go so well together. Like The Greatest Showman. It was such an incredible piece of film. It has been a banner year for music in film.

ScreenPicks: Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you in a movie musical, Jackson, I think that’s your next move.

Rathbone: That’d be great! There’s this book about this little-known band from the ’60s that I really want to option. I’m not going to spoil it. I’m not going to tell you who it is. That is something that I have set my sights on in the movie.

Be sure to check out Rathbone in Heart, Baby, which will be released on November 16 in NY and November 23 in LA and on VOD.