Xavier Samuel in Teen Vogue
When Xavier Samuel arrived in Vancouver last summer, he didn’t make it far past baggage claim before he started making headlines. With just a few offbeat Australian flicks under his belt, the sandy-haired 26-year-old had been chosen to play newborn vampire Riley, the latest heartthrob in The Twilight Saga. Almost instantaneously he was being hailed as Robert Pattinson’s doppelgänger and couldn’t get coffee without seeing flashbulbs.
“It was all very sudden, not just with the paparazzi but also with being cast in general,” says Xavier, who’s been acting since high school. “I did an audition from Sydney on tape. Then I got word that it was down to four guys—and that I was one of them.” (Rumor has it he beat out Channing Tatum and Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton for the part.)
But the role of Riley was a perfect fit—and Xavier had a blast hanging out on the set of Eclipse. An indie-rock aficionado who has recently been digging The Magnetic Fields and The xx, Xavier joined in on periodic jam sessions with fellow guitarists Robert and Jackson Rathbone. (Xavier travels everywhere with his old Yamaha C-40.) And he bonded with Bryce Dallas Howard—his on-screen love interest, vampire trainer Victoria—who thought she was helping him get acclimated with stateside pop culture when she bought him a DVD box set of Lost. “People think that there’s, like, one public phone in Australia and that we all ride kangaroos to work,” the Adelaide native jokes. “They’re surprised we do actually get American TV and things there.”
After a few months of couch surfing in Los Angeles post-Eclipse, Xavier took off for Berlin, where he’s been filming the Roland Emmerich–directed Anonymous, an Elizabethan thriller that contests the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. “It’s been lots of tights, pantaloons, and riding around on horses—definitely a change of speed,” he says. “To go from Stephenie Meyer to Shakespeare? You can’t really make a bigger jump than that.”