'Twilight' Countdown: Catherine Hardwicke says original script was more like 'Charlie's Angels'
Two weeks and counting. Today I've got Part II of the Countdown's Catherine Hardwicke interview. (Read Part I here if you missed it!)
The director talks about the original "Twilight" script, sets the record straight about Robert Pattinson's music and early reaction to the movie.
What were the major differences in the original “Twilight” script and the one eventually written by Melissa Rosenberg?
The very first thing in the script said that Bella was a track star. She’s obviously not a track star so the first moment you’re like whoa. And then she’s sitting in a diner with James and the bad vampires in the first couple pages. Wow, that doesn’t make sense. And there’s this whole FBI organization that’s tracking these bad vampires, the nomadic vampires, as they go down from Canada to Mexico. I mean, it’s pretty way out. And by the end the FBI is chasing them around on jet skis out in the ocean.
It kind of turned into ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ It was cool enough that when I read it I became curious. I went out and read the book and was like, ‘Whoa boy. Throw the script away and let’s start over.’ Out of fairness to the original writer, he’s a great writer, the book wasn’t out at the time the MTV and Paramount people were developing it. The idea of ‘Twilight’ was only a jumping off point and they did their own thing after that.
What specifically were you most interested in that compelled you to go ahead and get the book?
I was intrigued with the idea of this human girl falling in love with a vampire. And this vampire family seemed very fascinating. Vegetarian vampires –- what does that mean? They’re fighting their true nature and Edward is struggling with his nature and tortured by his feelings. And all the sexual tension was there where you just felt like the closer he got to her the greater chance he would kill her. That’s pretty exciting.
Talk about the love theme for the movie. There seems to be some confusion over Robert Pattinson’s role when it comes to that music ...
Maybe you can help me with that! People are very confused because they think that Rob wrote the love theme for the movie and that we chose not to use it and we used Carter Burwell, the composer, instead. That is actually not what happened. I’ve been wanting to tell someone this.
I asked Robert if he was interested in writing the love theme and he went, ‘Not really. No, that’s not my thing.’ I mean he’s not like an artist that you give an assignment to and he completes the assignment. For Rob, it flows out of him. He’s more of an organic artist. When he feels something that’s when he creates. You can’t tell him, ‘Do this. Do a love theme for Bella that will be used throughout the movie and translates to six different instruments.’ That’s not the way he creates. So, he never wrote a love theme for Bella.
What he did the day we shot the piano for the first time was he sat down and improvised for the hour we filmed. He improvised beautifully. I mean, he’s such a musician. Just beautiful things and melodies, but it wasn’t an intentional theme that could be used in different parts of the movie and developed and orchestrated with the violins and everything. He just let it flow. So the composer, Carter Burwell, did compose this beautiful love theme and that is developed in the early stages, in biology class, and then it keeps growing and goes through different instrumentations, and finally recorded with a full orchestra. When we re-shot the scene, Rob played that love theme on the piano.
What about the songs he recorded for the soundtrack?
We have two of Rob’s actual songs that he did create in the movie. He created them way before “Twilight.” “Never Think” is on the soundtrack. [The bonus song is available when you purchase the disc on iTunes.] They’re both haunting and just beautiful. Fantastic. The fans will not be disappointed for Rob, I don’t think.
Everyone’s waiting to see how the movie performs at the box office before talking about a sequel. But, have you done any preparations if and when “New Moon” gets the go?
Here’s the thing: I literally last Friday finished working the movie. I know it seems kind of unbelievable, but you won’t believe all the details that go into post-production. You’re literally polishing a gem. You’re working on the music, the sound effects, the color timing, all the visual effects. And so the day I finished, I got on a plane to Madrid; Kristen, Cam and I went. Rob joined us in Rome. So, honestly, I haven’t had time to think about it. Of course, it’s in my mind. I’ve just been trying to make this one really good.
Have you read all four of the books, and if so, which is your favorite?
Of course I’ve read all of them. That goes without saying. Of course I went and got ‘Breaking Dawn’ at midnight the night it came out and read it instantly. I was like, ‘Yes!’ On one level, my favorite is ‘Twilight’ because it’s the first one and it’s when you’re completely introduced to this world, and it’s very fresh and crazy and fun and beautiful. I love ‘Twilight.’
Each of them takes you to a new place, and a new level of wild challenges for a filmmaker, shall we say? In fact, each one has more challenges than ‘Twilight’ does. The rest of the books are going to be more expensive.
They have all the werewolf effects. They go to Italy. More stunts, going off the cliff, and the motorcycles. This movie will have to make a lot of money to be able to afford or justify the next ones. We hope it does, but we don’t know for sure.
Talk about working with Nikki Reed (Rosalie). This is your third collaboration.
I love Nikki, she’s obviously inspiring and was instrumental in me being able to break out of my other job and get to direct films, which I’d been trying to do for so long. She’s courageous and did a great job in ‘Thirteen.’ And luckily both ‘Lords of Dogtown’ and this movie had parts that I thought she’d be really great in.
Rosalie Cullen is, even Stephenie Meyer says, quite a bitch. Nikki can pull that off! Nikki is just like such a little badass. She said, ‘Catherine, you want me to play the character that everyone’s going to hate because everyone wants Edward and Bella to be together but Rosalie doesn’t? I’m fine with that!’ She’s so feisty and funny.
Are you nervous at all about what the fans are going to think?
We had a mini friends and family screening so I’ve seen the reactions and talked to probably 150 people. A little less than half were Twi-hards and the other part were people who were interested but hadn’t read the books, certainly not three times. Across the board, we got a really positive response. In the Twi-hard group there were like two haters, like, the movie would never live up to what they wanted it to be, and I think that’s to be expected. Anything that creates this much passion, some people are just going to hate whatever’s done. And that’s kind of good too. I don’t feel bad about that. I think if people are that excited about it, that’s good too.
Because mainly of the chemistry between Rob and Kristen, I think people are going to feel good about it. I think they’re going to like it.
How are the cast members handling that pressure?
We were just in Italy. That was pretty crazy. We were in this bookstore after we had already done 10 things, and there was this line of people who had been waiting since eight in the morning. It was around the block. Everyone wanted their books signed and wanted to kiss Rob and photos. There were literally thousands of people so it was physically impossible. That was wild.
Trying to leave the bookstore we had that moment where the cutest sweetest girl one minute before was suddenly smashing the windows of the van, banging on the van and chasing us. The mob mentality is taking over. Personally, I thought it was kind of cool and exciting and fun to be in that rock concert vibe, but I think it’s overwhelming for the cast. Kristen is very tiny and they get jostled around. I was a little bit scared for her.
I think Rob likes it a little bit more than that. But imagine, every girl that walked up there to get there book signed, they would ask, ‘Can we kiss you?’ and the bodyguard would say no, and then they would just jump over the table and kiss him. Oh yes. ‘Can we take your photo?’ The body guard would say no, and they would just lean in and take it. It’s kind of funny, it’s kind of intense. But Rob has a great spirit. He makes it funny in a way. He’s wonderful.
-- Denise Martin
Photo: Robert Pattinson and Catherine Hardwicke at the Apple Store in SoHo on Nov. 3 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images