11/19/2008 at 11:00 AM EST
The supernatural is hot, according to Cam Gigandet, who plays the villainous vampire James in the upcoming flick Twilight.
"Vampires definitely are sexy," he tells PEOPLE. "The mystery that surrounds them is kind of what's sexy."
But the transformation for the film's character wasn't as easy – or sexy – says Gigandet, 26, had to wear red-and-black contacts 12 hours a day.
"We were always so dirty and everything," he says. You always had dirt in your eyes. It was kind of miserable."
As for his character's long locks, Gigandet confesses that it's a wig. In real life, the actor's hair is short, and he only had a month before they started shooting the film so he didn’t have time to grow it longer.
"Hopefully, one day I could actually tough it out and get it longer,” he says. "I kind of love long hair. It's kind of fun.”
The movie, which based on the popular book series by Stephenie Meyer, opens nationwide in theaters Friday.
For more about Cam Gigandet, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday