When Adelaide-raised actor Xavier Samuel won a coveted role in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, his mum, Maree, burst into tears, his dad, Clifford, beamed with pride, but his brother, Benedict, 22, had a different reaction. “He was like, ‘Why are they letting you do that?’ ” says Samuel. “He was just joking, but it was funny to have someone kind of keep you in check.”
He might just need it: as Victoria’s lover, Riley, who leads the newborn vampire army, Samuel, 26, has been launched into stardom. Luckily, his co-stars Rob Pattinson, 24, and Kristen Stewart, 20, have schooled him in some nifty tricks, including sunglasses and “keeping your head down.” The cast, says Samuel, are “really down-to-earth. It is possible to live a normal life as long as you keep a level head and surround yourself with wonderful people who remind you who you are.”
The actor (2:37, Newcastle) describes Stewart as “really focused” and Pattinson as “a wonderful guy taking it all in his stride.” The music fan does feel for the franchise’s big names, with the scrutiny they are under. “It can be a bit invasive when you want to go out and can’t, but they’ve got a good team that has always got a secret back door they can run out of and escape, and have a good time being young people,” says Samuel, who loves playing his guitar and driving the 1992 Chrysler that he bought with NIDA acting-student Benedict.
Another escape is jamming with co-stars “Kristen, Jackson [Rathbone], Ashley [Greene] and Rob, who is a very talented musician—having something like that to turn to keeps you grounded and relaxed.”
In Eclipse, Samuel shares a kiss with Bryce Dallas Howard, 29, who plays vamp Victoria. So was it a painful pash? “No, there are no fangs,” he says. “We talked about it a lot and researched clips of the best kisses in cinematic history, because if you ignore it, it comes to the day and it can be really awkward. And you don’t want to chip a tooth or something!”
Samuel may have to get used to screen snogs - he has two high-profile upcoming flicks: horror movie The Loved Ones and 2012 director Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works. So far, the ride for the young star has been “amazing, eye-opening, surreal and a whirlwind.” He’d better hold on.