Even though you probably wouldn’t mind Jackson Rathbone sucking on your neck, he (unfortunately) plays a politically correct vampire who refuses to feast on human blood in this month’s much-hyped film version of Twilight based on Stephenie Meyer’s novels about love between mortals and the undead. We guess we’ll just have to learn to appreciate Rathbone for his acting chops and musical skills, instead.
Tell us about your character in Twilight.
I play Jasper Hale, a vampire who has joined the group called the Cullens, who have agreed to not eat humans anymore due to a certain moral tide that swept over them. They’re kind of like vegetarian vampires.
Did you have any idea how popular the books were when you signed on?
I did not. It was funny. I called my folks and told them I got this part in this movie, and they told my little sister and she flipped out. She’s 13 and she’s read all the books. Then, like, the next day all my cousins e-mailed me from Louisiana. I’m talking about my cousins who are in law school, who are also head-over-heels in love with these books. [Laughs.] So I started getting wind of it.
You also recently finished filming S. Darko, the Donnie Darko sequel. Are you concerned about the backlash from diehards who are upset that Richard Kelly isn’t directing?
Oh yeah. That was kind of one of the first things that worried me when I signed on to do the project. But I read the script and met Chris [Fisher, director[, and he had an amazing vision for it. Honestly, without this movie, the story wouldn't even continue anywhere. Those Donnie Darko diehards will be the hardest to win over, and I hope they at least give it a chance.
We also hear that you play in a band.
[My] band’s called 100 Monkeys. The original idea was just completely, 100 percent improvisational rock ‘n’ roll with a little bit of Ween influence. I personally come from a blues and Southern rock [influence], mostly… We all kind of like that folk sound, but we’re all a little more rock-oriented.
Do you think you’d ever switch your focus more to music than acting?
It depends. I might. But I like to be pure, and music to me is my soul, and I’m not too ready to sell my soul. Acting is like my vocation; it’s something I do for a living. And music is my application; it’s something I do because I love it and if I didn’t do it, I’d probably shrivel up and die.