New Face Friday’s: Judi Shekoni
Twilight fansites (US) are interviewing the new vampires from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. This weeks interview with Judi Shekoni was hosted by Breaking Dawn Movie.org. Links to previous interviews with Casey Le Bow (Kate) and MyAnna Buring (Tanya) can be found at the bottom!
Could you talk about what it was like the first time you saw yourself fully in costume? There are some wonderful studio stills that were released of you and Tracey [Heggins] together in costume.
Yes, the first time I saw myself fully in costume was overwhelming. It was kind of hypnotic and you can’t stop staring at yourself in the mirror. It was just kind of overwhelming. I don’t think I’ve ever been in that position in my life, where I had so many people who are great at what they do, all come together and work on this project as one entity. It was really breathtaking. As it was happening with the costume tests and make up tests that when it finally came together, it was all of a process, and it was very rewarding.
Will we get to see some of Zafrina’s illusions in Breaking Dawn Part 2?
I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about that. [laughs] I mean, we know the character has a special power. I don’t know if I can talk about that to be honest. I’m so sorry.
**Edit: Judi just updated re this question on her official facebook page with the following:-
New answer to Special Power Question: Yes you should get to see Zafrinas special power and its awesome!! I was soooo excited to play a character with a special power – being a sci-fi geek and loving superheroes in all forms I was so excited to get to play a character with one. It was great to try to figure out exactly what I would look like when I was using it… I admit to doing a bit of research by watching X-men (naughty naughty 😉 But since Zafrinas special power is a mental one – it was a little tricky to know how to portray it … so hopefully what I am doing will look good! I also think that the special power to kinda alter peoples reality – make them see whatever I wish them to see – would be a pretty kick ass special power to have. I see lots of potential for fun there 😉 Also for me personally invisibility would be a fun one too… but I cant guarantee I would always use the powers to save the world… I might get a bit carried away at the Channel store… or checking up on an ex-boyfriend or two ;-)))
Zafrina is very fierce, she’s kinda scary but she’s also got to be so soft enough to befriend this small child, and for people to let her around this young girl. How did you toe the line between the intensity that she had to have and also the softness?
I think what was so wonderful is she has a real animalistic quality. I really wanted to work with what that meant and tried a feral aspect. I definitely worked with animals and looked up the black jaguar, that kind of quality. Then with regards to Renesmee, I thought of it like in a way, parental. It was so great that I got to have that parental aspect, because you know vampires can’t really give birth. I was fortunate to have that kind of relationship with Renesmee that most vampires don’t have. I also think it came from a protective kind of instinct. I felt that Zafrina really stands up for family and the most important thing for her is family. That’s why she wanted to help the Cullens. It’s why Senna came with her, because her family is the most important thing in life.
How did you prepare for the role for Zafrina, like her backstory and also physically?
I did a lot of different things. Physically, I went to the gym a lot and ate more protein. I just really built myself up muscly, make myself a little bit stronger. Obviously, I was really blessed with my 6 feet tall and I have long limbs and a thin face, a lot of the characteristics that the character [Bella] mentions. Other than that, I watch almost every single vampire film I could get my hands on. I watched all the Twilight movies. I had a great opportunity to go through the books again. What was wonderful was that all the books were already on my bookshelf. I really got into what it was like to be a vampire. I came up with the idea that vampires have about 25% more of everything. They have 25% more hair. They have 25% more eyelashes. Just everything about them is a little bit more than human. I really worked from that aspect. I thought they could feel everything more as well. Almost like they can feel the wind more, and they can hear the sound. I used those kind of senses to go from.
You were a fan before you came to work into this. Who were you most excited to work with?
I was really excited to work with the whole cast because I’ve seen the movies before. Also, I was really excited to work with Kristen [Stewart], Bella. Because when you read the books, they’re from Bella’s perspective. I almost felt like I let Bella drive myself and I kinda been on that whole journey. It was so nice to meet Kristen and do scenes with Bella. I felt like a had with the part of Zafrina that I also had a real close connection with the Bella character. I think Kristen herself is wonderful. She’s like a little doll. She seems extremely generous and very intelligent. I think the characters of Bella and Zafrina have a interesting relationship because she’s [Bella] Renesmee’s mother. When another woman comes in and has a relationship with your own daughter, it always creates something strange between the mother and the other woman. I felt like my character had a special relationship with Bella as well.
Many of the vampire from the book has not been cut, but so far we know in the book there’s a third Amazon vampire, Kachiri. What happen to her?
I ate her. [laughs] I think obviously when you translate from a book to a movie, there are certain things that come and certain things that go, and I think they did just concentrate on a few vampires. I don’t think that character [Kachiri] was that strongly mentioned in the book either. When that happened, me and Tracey [Heggins] had a little conversation about it. We just tried to make sure we can encompass as many qualities of that coven [Amazon] as possible. So anything that may not be in the movie that was in the book, somehow we put that in [Breaking Dawn Part 2] by using that energy to still have some of those characteristics. So, yeah she’s not there at all. [laughs]
You talked about preparing the emotional side of it and what you did to train. How did you prepare the animalistic motions that your character has as oppose to the other vampires?
I went to the London Zoo pretty early on and met up with Tracey [Heggins]. We came up with the idea of them [Senna and Zafrina] having these animalistic qualities. We actually went to the LA Zoo together before we started shooting. We looked through all the animals and decided which animal we can pick our movement from. We came up with the black jaguar, because there are a lot of them in the Amazon and they have these beautiful bright eyes that very similar to vampire eyes. We’d go to the zoo, using video and watching the animals in real life and taking pictures, deciding which aspect. Basically, they have a lot of power and a lot of energy in their shoulders. They have this grace about them, and a stillness about them as well which is very vampiric. We tried to find elements to put that in. We actually did a couple of dance classes together, me and Tracey. So we could just be able to find a way to move at the same time, and have that same kind of rhythm about us. Actually, it’s quite funny on set, Stephenie Meyer came up to us at one point and said she noticed our vampires are really different from the other ones. She really noticed us and thought it was really pure. It was all a success for it to be noticed by Stephenie.
As a fan of the books before you came into this franchise, obviously you were probably very excited when you got cast but you’re usually not allowed to tell anybody. When you finally got to tell somebody, who did you tell first?
I remember! I first got into the Twilight Saga because I was on a cruise on holiday with my friend Jenny. I was bored, stuck on this ship and she was reading Twilight. She gave me the book. I remember I started reading it going ‘a life about sixteen year olds’. Then after the first few pages, I was totally hooked. She was the one who bought tickets in advance for the first film. We spoke about the casting and we went along through the journey together. It was so wonderful and she was the first person I called. I said to her “I’m playing Zafrina,” and she couldn’t believe it. She was there when it all started. It was so wonderful because I was able to offer her tickets to the premiere. I asked her to be my date to the premiere. This coming premiere, she’s going to be my date to experience the whole thing. She was there in the beginning. She gave me the first book and she’s going to be right up there for the premiere when I come out for the first time as the character.
Is there a scene that blew you away?
I really did love the scene that you saw with the campfire. For a lot of us, it was our very first time on set. I remember being completely nervous. It was the first time we all got to see each other in character. It was the first time me and Tracey got to decide where we would stand, the type of movement we have to each other, how often do we look at each other. I felt like it was the first time on screen that those characters developed very early on in the story, where those characters are all together. For us as a unit as actors, it was one of our first times for us to all be together on set. I would probably say that. It was so beautiful and it was a campfire where stories are being told. It was very scenic, a very beautiful experience. Magical.