Alex Merez is one of the wolf pack in this week’s release of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the third of the series based on Stephanie Meyer’s wildly popular books. The wolf pack are the Quileute people who become wolves. I spoke to him when he came to Washington D.C. for a special showing of the last film, “New Moon.”
When “New Moon” came out, I spoke to two of the vampires, who told me they took movement lessons to develop their cat-like grace. What kind of preparation did you do for moving like a wolf? Was your background in dance helpful?
Yes. I think it is mostly about your posture. People can tell whether it is defensive or aggressive. I put some thought into it but I didn’t take any classes. (Laughs.) It’s all in the eyes. That’s where their chain of command is, in the eyes. Little subtleties, too, where their ears are, keeping my shoulders in, kind of scrappy and aggressive.
Do you have any action scenes in the film?
No, but my wolf does! I made sure to massage Phil Tippett, the genius behind making the wolves do what they do. I just massage his shoulders and then he made my wolf do extra-cool stuff.
What’s the most fun about playing a wolf person?
Being half-nude the whole time! It got freezing cold, but it was the only time I could be that naked and not get a ticket.
I watched over and over again Bram Stoker’s Dracula with Gary Oldman, one of my favorites. I really enjoyed that film. Now I like more dramas and indie films. I loved “Crazy Heart,” this anti-hero trying to reclaim the fleeting game.
Did you want to be an actor when you were a kid?
It wasn’t until much later. I thought if you wanted to be an actor you had to be on stage, acting, singing — that was not my cup of tea. But I met my mentor, a very strong, physical, masculine man and he persuaded me to go into it.
You are a First Nation descendant of the Purepecha Nation, so like the wolf pack in the movie you are of Native American descent. Is that important in playing the role?
The cool thing about it is coming from that cultural perspective, you can’t fake it or read a book about it. It’s something you just have. It’s just a part of you. So we really bring that into our characterization. We definitely focus on the community. And wolf packs rely on each other. They can’t survive alone. That’s something native people do anyway.
What did you do to have fun while you were filming?
We would go out to eat, we were watching movies. And Taylor would just hang with us.
Do you study martial arts?
Yes, I’m a black belt in Shidokan karate, have done muay thai, Afro-Brazilian martial arts, a little bit of ju-jitsu.
Why is this story so popular?
It’s grounded in reality. Every great story is a love story at the root. Everyone can relate to that. Everyone understands hatred, betrayal, revenge, unrequited love. It touches on a lot of things that fans can grasp.
What do the fans say to you?
Take your shirt off!