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‘Twilight’ mom Sarah Clarke brings human dimension to supernatural love tale

TORONTO – For hardcore “Twilight” fans, the long-awaited wedding of Bella Swan to her vampire love Edward Cullen is the culmination of years of their own devotion to the blockbuster love story.

For “Twilight” actress Sarah Clarke, who plays Bella’s little-seen mother Renee, it was a chance to celebrate the penultimate chapter of the movie series by finally meeting the rest of the sprawling superstar cast in a massive wedding scene.

“It was really fun to get to have scenes with other characters and to feel like, ‘Oh yeah, these are all the ones that we’ve been reading about,'” Clarke chuckles during a recent interview in Toronto in advance of a red carpet premiere Thursday.

For much of the franchise, Clarke’s character has been relegated to the background while the teenaged Bella wrestled with competing feelings for her undead suitor Edward, and best friend-turned werewolf, Jacob.

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The 39-year-old Clarke says the mother-daughter scenes in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Down – Part 1” add a bit more dimension to the romantic fantasy.

“It is nice to mix it up in the movie, to be able to see the human side of the story and then the supernatural side of the story,” says Clarke, also known for playing Nina Myers on “24.”

“We have a few scenes where we basically just discuss the idea of marriage and what that means and I am sort of sending her off into her life with Edward.”

The fourth instalment in the passionate teen romance – which catapulted stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner to fame when it began in 2008 – continues Friday with Edward and Bella marrying and conceiving a child.

Their long-awaited union follows a protracted and sexually charged courtship that pervaded the “Twilight” saga book series that inspired the films and helped vault Stephenie Meyer’s young adult novels to the top of tween book lists.

Clarke admits to having some qualms about the erotic but largely chaste tale, but admits she understands its massive appeal and would have been obsessed with the books herself as a teenager.

“It’s brought an innocence in some ways back to love in that there’s a reason why you can’t consummate it and you can’t be together right away,” says Clarke, the mother of daughters aged five and one.

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“But I don’t know, there are a lot of things about the relationship that I don’t find ideal. As a mother I would want to talk through a lot of things.”

Meyer’s novel “Breaking Dawn” was split into two films. Part 1 delves into Bella and Edward’s evolving relationship in more detail and offers a glimpse into the interior life of certain characters, says Clarke.

“Breaking Dawn – Part 2” is slated for release in November 2012.

Clarke says the wedding scene was shot outdoors in a remote area just outside Vancouver in Squamish, B.C., where it rained nearly every day.

“It is actually very beautiful,” Clarke says of the resulting scene. “The weather opened up for us for one day and it was the day we shot the wedding. Otherwise it rained every day but it’s pretty spectacular.”

As with other “Twilight” shoots, some eager fans tried to catch a glimpse of the film’s photogenic stars by trying to sneak onto set, says Clarke, but they didn’t linger long.

“The security was extremely tight but they definitely had some people that made their way onto set and, of course, were escorted off,” she says.

Other intruders made a larger impression on set, but they, too, were ushered away.

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“We also had a bobcat, we also had a bear,” Clarke notes. “We did have wildlife more than actual people.”

Ardent fans are expected to converge on downtown Yonge Street for a splashy red carpet premiere Thursday in Toronto. Stars including Jackson Rathbone, who plays the vampire Jasper, and Ashley Greene, who plays the vampire Alice, are slated to join Clarke for the Canadian debut.

Clarke says she’s astonished by the fervour that has followed the franchise over the years, noting that throngs of fans camped out hours in advance of L.A. premieres in years past.

As the mother of two young girls, Clarke says she’s glad to see the latest “Twilight” chapter dig a little deeper into the mother-daughter relationship of Renee and Bella, noting she always had trouble with the book series’ arm’s-length approach to parenting.

Clarke says she discussed a possible backstory for Renee with “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke when they shot the first film.

“There’s a lot that’s not said about who Renee is with her daughter,” notes Clarke, who lives in Toronto and is set to join her husband Xander Berkeley as part of the cast of “Nikita.”

“Catherine and I came up with a nice scenario as to how I got involved with (Bella’s father) Charlie and what that meant and when I left so that by the time you see us in ‘Eclipse,’ you do understand that there is quite a strong bond.”

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“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” hits theatres Friday.

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