James was the leader of his coven, with his mate Victoria and Laurent. He caught the scent of Bella Swan, and hunted her as his next meal in Twilight. Using his power of tracking, he found Bella in Phoenix, and tried to lure her into a trap by claiming he had captured Bella's mother, Renée Dwyer. However, he failed to make Bella his meal and was killed by Emmett Cullen and Jasper Hale (and Alice Cullen in the movie). He was the main antagonist of both the Twilight book and film, although his role was slightly expanded in the film.
James was born towards the end of the American Revolution. His father was a French trapper and his mother was from England. She had come to America as an indentured servant and later ran away from her master. James was raised to track and trap by his father at a young age. The Iroquois killed his parents before his eleventh birthday. He used his substantial skills to survive on his own in the wilderness. He gained a measure of fame during his late teens and early twenties as the best tracker on the frontier, as well as sometimes being called the ugliest. He didn't care about his face, all he cared about was winning.
One night in Montreal, he met a mysterious French vampire who found James' confidence amusing and offered to best him in any test, his only condition being that the competition had to be at night. James was unimpressed by the dandified appearance of his competitor, and he agreed without hesitation, even when the Frenchman - seemingly in jest - upped the stakes to life or death. During the contest, James released a marked deer into the wild and tracked it. The Frenchman found it in a matter of minutes. James cried foul as he witnessed his speed and lack of evidence of traditional hunting methods on the deer's body. He claimed the Frenchman had an undisclosed advantage, perhaps witchcraft or demonic help. He also said that he would have been able to track it if he had the same advantage. This prompted the vampire to turn him and give him the same advantage. After he bit James, the vampire took off, laughing, and offered a rematch in a decade or two.
As a vampire, James adjusted to his new life very easily. He was a skilled tracker who enjoyed the hunt as a sadistic game. He tended to get "feelings", a sort of "sixth sense", about his quarry's whereabouts, which aided him in the hunt. Though it's never explicitly stated, perhaps this was the ability he brought over from his human life. However, that did not soften him toward the French vampire. About six months after he grew out of the newborn ravage, he found his creator and killed him - which James considered as his idea of winning the bet. He went on to hunt and track his prey, which grew tiresome as he always found them no matter the distance or time. He searched for more challenging prey, and targeted on vampires. Though it almost cost him his life a few times, he did not stop.
While in London, he targeted Victoria, and she avoided him for months until he found her evasion interesting and made her his mate. He never lost his quarry, except in one case where his prey was turned into a vampire before he could attack her. He wanted her because Alice's scent was very intoxicating to the latter, like Bella's is to Edward. For revenge, James murdered Alice's creator, causing Alice to be alone. He wanted to see if she could survive on her own, and maybe someday find her again and then finish her off. Unlike the Cullens, he drank human blood regularly as his food source, and because of this, he was physically slightly stronger. Their little coven was later joined by Laurent.
While in Siberia, he came across the scent of a werewolf, and apparently did not know what it was, and chased it throughout the country.
- Main article: Twilight
- "The hunt is his obsession. My reaction on the field set him off. I just made this his most exciting game ever. He's never gonna stop."
James and his coven went to Forks to check out the Olympic coven. When they did, he caught a human (Bella Swan) among them, and with Edward's protectiveness and the unexpected presence of Alice, he felt excited about starting his most exciting hunt ever and decided to get to Bella at all costs and then finish off Alice - the prey he never got to. Though Victoria didn't think it was a good idea, he still stuck with his plan and had her dig up information about Bella, though the betrayal of Laurent was unexpected. He was furious with his defection, but in his hurry to get Bella before someone thought to change her, he postponed vengeance until after the hunt.
After finding Bella's old address in Phoenix, he ran to her old home and dug through the house before calling her. He made her believe that he had captured her mom and lured her into a trap at her old ballet studio, where he brutally attacked and almost killed her after telling her about his encounter with Alice. He was disappointed by how easily she was lured, but was hopeful that Edward and his family's search for revenge would prove more exciting. He left Bella with 4 broken ribs, a head wound, and a broken leg from where he stood on it.
He also bit her right hand, which left a permanent bite mark, before Edward, Jasper and Emmett stopped him and destroyed him. His venom was drained out of Bella by Edward to stop her from becoming a vampire. His remains were burned moments later, along with the whole ballet studio.
His death prompted Victoria's desire for revenge and ultimately led to her death in Eclipse.
James was described as being 5'10" tall, with an average build and average-looking due to his naturally unattractive facial features, which made his appearance less beautiful than most vampires. There was nothing remarkable about his face or body at all, according to Bella Swan. He had light brown hair cropped short, and burgundy eyes that darkened to black with the increase of his thirst. His outfit comprised of blue jeans and a pale blue shirt, both frayed with wear. He also traveled barefoot to allow him to run faster.
In the movie, his appearance was altered. His long blond hair was tied behind his neck like a ponytail, and he only wore a set of dark jeans, boots and a dark leather jacket that he stole from Waylon Forge when he killed him. He also wore a small pendant around his neck.
James was a cunning, sadistic, and ruthless tracker who hunted humans for sustenance, but chiefly for the joy of hunting. He also hunted vampires and animals for the same reason; he would kill a coven member if it meant provoking the remnants to chase him, which was more fun and dangerous to his point of view. He was always open to dangerous challenges as long as he could have his fun.
He often tormented his victims before killing them, as when he tortured Bella during his failed attempt to kill her. James had no appreciation for human life and considered them nothing more than playful food. He enjoyed hunting so much that he would destroy anyone who got to his prey before he did. Also, he would never stop hunting until he got his prey.
In a deleted scene of the New Moon movie, Victoria mentioned that James hated cars (probably because they could hide a person's scent), and that she would steal one occasionally while playing games with him. He also enjoyed the cries of a human before killing them.
Powers and abilities
James was known as a very strong vampire, and difficult to kill. In the Twilight movie, he easily overpowered Edward in combat before he was overpowered.
- Main article: Tracking sense#James
- "He's got unparalleled senses. Absolutely lethal. I've never seen anything like him in my three-hundred years."
- ―Laurent on James' gift[src]
James had the additional ability of tracking, which allowed him to sense in advance what his prey's moves would most likely be and then track them down. According to Laurent, his senses were unparalleled and far superior to those of regular vampires. It allowed him to hunt his prey from a longer distance. He once picked up the scent of a werewolf without knowing what it was, and hunted the creature across Siberia. He could pick up a scent, wait a while before he started following it.
He could also sniff out a very old and faint scent, and then return to the same place after one week or month and begin hunting.
His skill was practiced by his father at an early age, and when his parents died, he was already skilled enough to hunt, track and trap, allowing him to survive on his own.
Although his gift was strong, Demetri, a member of the Volturi guard, had a tracking sense that exceeds his, as James needed to be in close range with his prey, and Demetri could track anyone around the world. Another vampire with the similar gift is Alistair, who can sense the location of those nearby.
James was the single child of a French man and a British woman.
- Main article: James and Victoria
Victoria was James' mate, though he only loved her for her innate ability to escape: he found her gift useful in his challenges. With a partner on his side, his hunting sports got much smoother.
Victoria was very upset when James died, and felt vulnerable and paranoid, so she went to Seattle to create newborns for her own protection. After hearing about the use of newborn armies in the South, she tried to kill the lover of James' killer, so that it would be "mate for a mate" (otherwise known as "an eye for an eye"). Edward Cullen was James' killer, and so Victoria aimed to kill Bella Swan for retribution.
In Eclipse, Edward taunted Victoria by saying James never loved her, and that he only kept her around because her ability was useful.
Laurent, along with Victoria, was a member of James' coven. However, the bond between the two was unlike that of the bond between the members of the Cullen family. This was shown when James made the decision to hunt Bella causing Laurent to leave his coven. After Carlisle makes it clear that Laurent is neither with the Cullens or against them, Laurent chose to abandon his covenmates and head north to the Denali coven, later growing intimate with a member of the Denali coven, Irina. The ease he had leaving his coven and the lack of loyalty he felt shows how as a human blood drinking vampire it is harder to make real bonds with others, other than 'mates'. This is why James' coven of three was unusual.
James was angered by Laurent's betrayal, but decided to ignore him at the time.
James was portrayed by Cam Gigandet in the Twilight film. The character was given a different appearance than in the book, having long blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. For the movie, James was also given the surname "Witherdale".
The crew filmed the ballet studio scenes first because Cam had another job scheduled at that time and they had to make time to finish his scenes before they moved on. During shooting, he mostly did his own stunts.
- New Moon (mentioned)
- New Moon film (mentioned and archive footage)
- Eclipse (mentioned)
- Eclipse film (mentioned)
- Breaking Dawn (mentioned)
- Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (archive footage)
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