Ashley Greene

Ashley Greene on 'Twilight,' Pregnancy, and Becoming a Gay Icon

In the era of TikTok, Alice Cullen has become a symbol for gay awakenings, and the actress behind her is taking her new title — and the Twilight resurgence — in stride.

Nearly 14 years after the series premiered in 2008, the Twilight standom is stronger than ever — thanks to the saga's debut on streaming platforms and the TikTok thirst traps (see: Alice Cullen baseball pitch) and fan reenactments that followed. Its release on Netflix in 2021 thrust the films back into the pop culture zeitgeist and was one of the few things that brought solace during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Maybe it was nostalgia for simpler times (in the early 2000s, my 7th-grade self's main worry was deciding if I was Team Edward or Team Jacob), before the world descended into virus-spreading, politically fueled madness. But Twilight movie marathons and those "Where the hell have you been, Loca?" memes have returned, plopping us right back into the fantasy world of Forks, Washington, and providing an escape from our own dreadful, pandemic-surging reality, even if just for a moment.

Ashley Greene Khoury, who played vegetarian-vampire-turned-gay-icon, Alice Cullen, heard the fans and capitalized on the Cullen craze by launching a podcast, The Twilight Effect, a deep dive into the making of the movies with guest appearances from all your favorite cast members, like Kellan Lutz (who played Emmet Cullen) and Billy Burke (Bella's completely oblivious father, Charlie Swan). After attending a fan convention, reuniting with some co-stars, and reminiscing about her time as the future-sighted good vamp, the mom-to-be (she's expecting her first child with husband Paul Khoury) knew she wasn't done talking about the films.

"I have reconnected with a lot of fans and had a lot of really meaningful conversations with them because Twilight acted as this escape for them during the pandemic when they were going through a lot of really heavy things," Greene explains to me over Zoom from her Los Angeles home. "That's really special."

Ashley Greene
Georges Chakra Couture Dress. Paul Khoury

In the era of meme culture, it's become evident that others connected with Alice on a deeper, more personal level, crediting her with their gay sexual awakening. Fans made Alice TikToks and memes (with an emphasis on the sexy baseball scene from the first movie) to let us know that we had been fantasizing about the wrong vampire all along. And the sentiment resonated with the Internet and Greene, who says she totally sees it now.

"[Alice] is such a representation of coloring outside the lines and not living within a specific box and truly being her authentic self," Greene explains. "And, of course, I can see the kind of intimate relationship that she has with Bella and where that connection was formed. I will take that title any day."

Greene is embracing the Twilight-verse now, but there was a time when she struggled to separate herself from it after the final film premiered in 2012. "I went through kind of this post-Twilight moment where I questioned a lot of things," she remembers. "It was just an immense growing period of really kind of figuring out who I was and what I wanted."

After Twilight, the actress has nabbed roles in a variety of TV and film projects, including Staten Island Summer (starring Fred Armisen and Saturday Night Live's Cecily Strong), One Shot, Step-Up: High Water, and the 2019 Oscar-nominated film, Bombshell. And she's adding a few more projects to her stacked résumé in 2022. She starred alongside Bruce Willis in Wrong Place, which premiered on Prime Video last month, and next, she's playing temptress Simone in a psychological thriller called The Immaculate Room starring Kate Bosworth and Emile Hirsch. This winter, she'll play opposite Nicolas Cage in The Retirement Plan.

Ashley Greene
Brooks Brothers suit. Agent Provocateur bra. Paul Khoury

In a not-so-subtle nod to quarantine, The Immaculate Room (in theaters and streaming on August 19) follows a couple who voluntarily locks themselves in a blank, white room void of any outside communication for 50 days in order to win $5 million. Sounds easy, right? Well, the room (which Greene describes as its "own character") deploys temptations and distractions to test the couple's relationship. Her character joins the room to drive a wedge between Mike (Hirsch) and Kate (Bosworth), and according to Greene the "room" and its spooky atmosphere are very real — she experienced some of the film's claustrophobia herself while filming.

"You really do get a little anxiety driven when you're in there all day, every day, having to really just deal with your inner demon and your thoughts because there's nothing else to distract you," she recalls. "And especially in this fast-paced environment and world that we're a part of now, we're full of distractions. I mean, if you don't want to deal with what's going on inside, you don't really have to because we move at a very fast pace."

Aside from her on-screen lineup and quickly approaching mom status (baby Greene Khoury is due in September), Ashley co-founded Hummingway, a women's reproductive company, alongside her sister-in-law Olivia Khoury. Known for its natural Cycle Soother patches, the brand helps combat and de-stigmatize menstrual symptoms.

In a post-Roe V. Wade world, education and access to healthcare for women are more important than ever — and a driving force behind the company, says Greene. The brand has always been supportive of reproductive rights, but lately has doubled down on plans for the future.

"What we can do is educate people on ways to get abortion pills, on where they can go, on extensions, and ways to perhaps track your cycle that doesn't have to do with an app," she says. "[We can] give people at least the options that are still available to them and any kind of insight as to how to avoid that pregnancy that they perhaps are not ready for."

Ashley Greene
Osman Yousefzada jumpsuit. Paul Khoury

Greene's familiarity with reproductive care — born from her work with Hummingway — naturally made for a smoother first pregnancy. On both good and bad days, she takes every part of her journey in stride, including when she discovered her placenta was anterior, which meant she didn't feel any movement from her baby until the end of the second trimester. In fact, it wasn't until recently that becoming a mom felt "real" for her.

"One of the things my mom told me that is most exciting is being able to see your child blossom into their own unique human being," she explains. "No matter what you do, they are kind of their own human. She also said there's something really magical about becoming a kid again yourself. You get to see the world through this person's eyes, and the way that they view the world is so beautiful and so special."

Solicited (and unsolicited) advice is an unexpected side effect of pregnancy — whether it's coming from friends, family, or, in Greene's case, fandoms (think Twilight-themed name suggestions in her comments section). But there's only a few nuggets of wisdom she's really taking to heart. For starters, she knows that advice and preparation will only get you so far. "You need a bassinet and a pump, and maybe some bottles if you're having issues with breastfeeding," she predicts. "But you don't need much to keep the baby alive, especially for the first couple months." The rest comes down to lived experience.

Ashley Greene
Brooks Brothers suit. Agent Provocateur bra. Paul Khoury

She also has a full board of women's health experts at Hummingway to fall back on, plus a few pals and former co-stars who have or are expecting children of their own. "Being pregnant allows you to connect with people in a very different way," Greene says. "[Nikki Reed, one of her Twilight co-stars] and I align on a lot of things, so that has been a really nice kind of re-development of a relationship."

Several other Twilight castmates, like Kellan Lutz and Peter Facinelli (a.k.a. the ultimate vampire zaddy, Carlisle Cullen), have babies on the way as well, a happy coincidence that has brought the clan back together. "We have this kind of family bond. I could not see this person for five years, and then talk to them, and it's like you pick up right where you left off," she says before adding that she'd be down for a Twilight cast playgroup once the babies arrive.

When it comes to parenting advice, for the most part, Greene is taking things as they come. But, there is one other mom that Ashley is taking guidance from: Bella Swan. "The one thing I'll take from Bella and her relationship with Renesmee is kind of the fierce protectiveness and loyalty that she has to this child," she says. "I think that is something that innately comes with being a mother, for sure."

But as a soon-to-be parent, Greene has a new perspective on the Team Edward V. Jacob debate. "They both seem very intense for a 17-year-old relationship if I'm being honest," she exclaims before deciding to stay loyal to her "family." "I do think that it's hard not to be Team Edward because I am a vampire myself. His intentions are always very good, so I'd probably still stick to Team Edward."

Hair: Scott King; Makeup: Jose Corella; Styling: Olivia Khoury; Photography: Paul Khoury.

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