Actress Lisa Howard knows what it’s like to see red.
The Akron native’s not an angry person: She wore red contact lenses as a warrior-type vampire in Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, her feature film debut. Fans of Howard, a Broadway star, will get to see her on the big screen this week as the fierce, statuesque Siobhan, head of the Irish coven.
The eagerly awaited final movie of the Twilight saga officially opens in theaters to the general public Friday, which is, coincidentally, Howard’s 38th birthday. Select theaters in the Akron area will actually begin showings Thursday night, starting at 10 p.m.
Howard, who graduated in 1993 from Firestone High School, was a fan of the Twilight books before she auditioned for the role of Siobhan in the movie. She read them all while performing in the Broadway musical 9 to 5 as Missy in 2009. Between scenes, she’d quickly change her costume and read under her dressing room lights.
Howard’s agent was the one who pointed her toward the Siobhan part.
“She saw the role and thought I’d be perfect for it, so she submitted me,” Howard said.
The actress read a Siobhan scene a couple of times on videotape at a casting director’s office in New York, sent it to producers and was offered the part the next week.
In the audition scene, which did not make it into the movie, Siobhan was reacting to Edward warning her not to pre-judge his and Bella’s half-vampire, half-human child, Renesmee. Lead characters Edward and Bella must convince their vampire allies that Renesmee has a heartbeat because turning a human baby into a vampire is outlawed.
“It sounds funny to talk about it,” Howard chuckled.
Usually, landing a role in a movie requires going in in person to meet the director or casting director or going in multiple times to do readings with other actors.
“I’m just so very fortunate that I had the opportunity to work on such a huge saga,” Howard said.
The actress said she’s happy that the movie producers stayed true to author Stephenie Meyer’s description of the tall, voluptuous, beautiful Siobhan.
“It fits me to a ‘T’ because I am tall. I am not Hollywood size,” said Howard, who’s 5 feet, 9 inches tall. ‘‘I’m a plus-sized model in New York. I’m tall. I’m curvy.
“There aren’t many written characters, especially in movies, that are for tall, voluptuous, statuesque women. It’s just not out there, so it was nice that it was written like that.”
Howard, who lives in Secaucus, N.J., filmed her scenes for Breaking Dawn Part 2 nearly two years ago in Baton Rouge, La., when the two parts were filmed simultaneously. She filmed over a three-month period between December 2010 and February 2011.
She said she interacted the most with Robert Pattinson’s Edward but was in scenes with all three principles, including Kirsten Stewart as Bella and Taylor Lautner as Jacob. Her key scenes include one in the Cullen home as well as a huge vampire confrontation in a forest clearing.
So is Howard a member of Team Edward or Team Jacob? The actress admits she’s partial to Edward’s brooding character.
“It’s a vampire book. You end up rooting for the vampire, to me,” she said.
Howard filmed the movie when her son, Leo, was only 5 months old. He accompanied her to Baton Rouge, with the help of her mother, Laura; husband, Matteo Masiello; and a girlfriend over various weeks.
The Akron native had nearly two hours of hair and makeup preparation each day as Siobhan, which became routine. She wore a gorgeous long wig that fit perfectly to her head and took an hour to put on.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 came out last November. This week, Howard finally gets to see the fruits of her labor with the premiere of Part 2. She attended the Los Angeles premiere Monday at the Nokia Theatre, where she was decked out in a short, gray dress from the “White by Vera Wang” collection.
Howard’s parents, Philip and Laura Howard, who live in West Akron, have seen their daughter follow her dreams from her 2005 Broadway debut — originating the role of Rona Lisa Peretti in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee — to now, her feature film debut.
Tonight, mom Laura, who teaches first grade at King Elementary School in Akron, will be Howard’s plus-one date on the red carpet for Breaking Dawn Part 2’s VIP New York premiere, the location of which is being kept secret. For that event, Howard will wear a short, black sparkly dress, also from the “White by Vera Wang” line.
Laura Howard said if people ask her who she’s wearing, she’ll say “Macy’s.”
“It’s very exciting. We’re real proud of her and the accomplishments she’s made,” she said of her daughter. “The movie end of the entertainment field is new to us.”
Lisa Howard had experienced some of the Hollywood celebrity treatment earlier, including appearing with fellow vampire actors Marlane Barnes and Patrick Brennan at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego in July. There, she walked the red carpet, surprised fans by walking through the crowd, and did a number of photo shoots and interviews.
“You’re walking into something that already has so many fans, and it’s so huge that you’re becoming a part of history this way,” Howard said.
Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.