Marlane Barnes, MFA ’10, plays the Irish vampire Maggie in the new Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2. She told us how UT prepared her for Hollywood—and what happened when she forgot she was wearing her creepy get-up.
Have you always wanted to act?
I always loved theater, but I’m from Arkansas, where no one makes a living as an actor. So I got an English degree and planned on law school, but then I realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer—I just wanted to play one. As an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas, I looked for an MFA program with a lot of support and resources. That’s how I came to UT.
How was your UT experience?
It was three years of immersion in the acting world. At the end, there’s a showcase in New York where you get to meet industry professionals—casting agents, managers, other actors. That’s where I met my current manager. Relationships are everything in this industry.
How did you get the Twilight part?
I did a 30-second audition, and not long after, my manager called to say I got the part. It was very shocking, because you can go to 30, 40 auditions and not book anything.
What don’t people know about Hollywood?
It’s not just that there are so many aspiring actors—it’s that messing up as an actor is really expensive. Movies cost millions of dollars, and if you make a mistake, it’s going to cost a lot of money. That’s why producers want to cast actors with a reputation for showing up on time and being professional. So it’s hard to break in because you don’t have anyone to vouch for you.
Tell us about shooting the film.
It was wonderfully fun and challenging. We shot in Baton Rouge, La., and I was on set for almost three months. I got really homesick and missed my family and friends so much. But it was an unforgettable experience.
What’s your character like?
She’s an Irish vampire named Maggie, and her gift is that she can tell when people are lying. I studied an Irish accent at UT, so that came in handy.
Does playing a vampire bring any unique challenges?
Actors work with their breath a lot, but vampires aren’t supposed to be breathing, because they’re dead. I was very conscious of that—it was tough to hide when I was out of breath. The vampire makeup was the same color as my regular foundation, which was kind of embarrassing. I also wore crazy blood-red contact lenses. I’d forget I was wearing them, and then I’d terrify the crew members with my crazy eyes! Mine and the other Irish vampires’ contacts were extra red to show that we were definitely people-eaters.
What’s the appeal of vampires?
I love that vampires are like humans, but they have all the capabilities of animals. They combine death, immortality, and sex, all in this impossibly beautiful way—they’re the ultimate predators.
Credit: Paul Smith Photography
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