- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2011

ROME (AP) - Jackson Rathbone, a star of the “Twilight” movies, likened the wildly popular series about love between a human and a vampire to the story of Romeo and Juliet, as the next-to-last film in the saga was screened Sunday at Rome’s film festival.

Speaking to reporters about “The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn Part 1,” Rathbone called the love between Bella and Edward “almost as mythological as the Romeo and Juliet story,” referring to Shakespeare’s play about star-crossed lovers.

A co-star, Nikki Reed, who plays a teenage vampire twin to Rathbone’s character, mused about the popularity of the series, which has raked in over $2 billion (euro1.41 billion) worldwide.

“This love between Edward and Bella is just out of the realm of possibility and reality. I mean, it’s unattainable, it’s not real, and that’s what makes it so magnetic,” Reed said.

She added that she thinks “that’s why there’s no specific demographics for this, because you know, 12-year-old girls fantasize about having this, and women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, think about when they had that first love.”

Rathbone said he is still grappling with the reasons for the runaway success of the series. “When I first came on board of ‘Twilight,’ I had no idea what was going to happen with it, and for it to be now a worldwide phenomenon is still baffling,” he said.

The Rome festival runs through Nov. 4 and includes 15 in-competition films plus documentaries, children’s films, exhibits and screenings of movie classics.

(This version corrects quote from ‘mythical’ to ‘mythological.’)

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