By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Thousands of screaming fans lined the black carpet late on Monday for the final "Twilight" film premiere as the cast of "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" bid farewell to the franchise and its loyal followers.
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner and other cast members greeted fans known as "Twi-hards," many of whom had camped out for days in downtown Los Angeles to catch a glimpse of their favorite actors and see the film before it is released in theaters on Friday.
Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will see the love story of human Bella Swan (Stewart), vampire Edward Cullen (Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob Black (Lautner) come to a tantalizing end, when Bella and Edward are forced to protect their child from an ancient vampire coven.
Stewart, who was finally able to embrace her wild side by playing Bella as a vampire, hoped people would enjoy the ultimate transformation of her character in the film.
"Bella has worked pretty hard to get to the point where they can have it all, and it's fun to be there. She's always been human, but now that she's not, you're just in full blown vampire land and it feels funny in a great way," Stewart told Reuters.
More than 2,200 fans from all over the world came to camp out on a concrete plaza in downtown Los Angeles last week, where Twilight movie studio Summit laid out activities and marathon screenings of the previous movies.
All of the film's main actors spent time signing autographs and posing for photographs with the loyal fans who had camped out in chilly November weather over five days.
Pattinson, who plays vampire Edward Cullen, said he hoped the fans would like the franchise's swan song.
"I hope they feel it kind of respects them, because I think in a lot of ways that's what we were thinking when we were making it," the actor said.
Lautner, who plays werewolf Jacob, said he'd be sad to say goodbye to the films and his character and hoped fans would be happy with the conclusion of the final film.
"I'm feeling fantastic, sad, emotional, there's a lot of things going on inside of me right now but I'm just trying to soak up every moment because this means the world to me," Lautner said.
The three lead stars were joined by fellow cast members including Nikki Reed, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning, as well as director Bill Condon and author Stephenie Meyer, whose Twilight novels kicked off the franchise and phenomenon.
Meyer said she would miss watching the three lead cast members evolve as actors and characters in the films.
"It's really been great to watch them grow up, particularly Kristen because her character gets to evolve so much in this film, and to watch her be all powerful and really get to where the character was always meant to go, to be the fiercest of the fierce, was really rewarding for me," the author said.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Paul Casciato)