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'Twilight' screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg talks Kristen Stewart, Bill Condon and 'Breaking Dawn'

MelissaRosenberg002 Last week, official word came from Summit Entertainment that "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" will come to the big screen as two films. Now what? 

Major cast deals are signed, Bill Condon has set his directorial wheels in motion, and the world has "Eclipse" to snack on while massive preparation gets underway for "Dawn" Parts 1 and 2. 

We got to chat with the woman at the eye of the vampire storm, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, midway through her adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's final book.

While she'll break from the job at hand to receive honors from Prevention magazine Tuesday in Los Angeles for her charitable work with the Writer's Guild Foundation, the scribe admits she's all "Twi," all the time.

Does she think Condon is up to the task? Will we see the sex, violence and graphic childbirth the book promises? Is Kristen Stewart ready for the epic journey in store for Bella Swan?

 Get these answers and more in our Q&A after the jump...

Ministry of Gossip: 'Breaking Dawn' is no small undertaking. How's adaptation going?

Melissa Rosenberg: It's going really well -- it's a very big challenge. It's just thick with mythology and characters and choosing which stories to bring forward. It's a beast, but I think it's going well.

MoG: Stephenie Meyer has been consulting on the films from the start. Given this is the final chapter, what are her major priorities for the fans?

MR: She has always only demanded one thing, and that is that we adapt the book. All of her really big boundaries have to do with just adapting the book. That said, she isn't terribly precious about things. She's supportive of my bringing invention to it. 

MoG: Speaking of which, [spoiler alert!] fans are crazy over Bella losing her virginity, the graphic birth of her and Edward's child, and her vampire transformation. Any idea how you'll handle such serious imagery?

MR: On the fan site, on Facebook, all the comments are "It has to be R rated! You have to show the childbirth! Gore and guts and sex!" For me it's actually more interesting to not see it. You know, you can do childbirth without seeing childbirth ... it doesn't mean it's any less evocative of an experience.  

MoG: Kristen Stewart arguably has the most work to do in the final films. Is she up to the challenge?

MR: Kristen Stewart is really, I think, tremendous. And one of the reasons why we got Bill Condon. And Chris Weitz, for that matter; they all want to work with her.

MoG: A lot of the fans credit you with giving Bella more backbone in the films than she has in the books. Was that something you did actively? 

MR: That's something I did very consciously. What's interesting is that it's all there -- the strength was there, it was just kind of tearing away some things. You know, she's human. She doesn't have the physical strength of Edward and all of them. So how do you make the character strong when she's physically vulnerable? There really is a goal to give her stamina and other strengths. She really is a role model.

MoG: Your prior credits ["Dexter," "Ally McBeal"] definitely incorporate strong females. Is that a place you'll return to after "Twilight" is done? 

MR: Absolutely. What I really want to do is create great roles for women. And I'm not talking Nicholas Sparks romance. I think women's roles have gotten ghettoized in these sort of places. ... I'm thinking women in action, comic books, or like the Tony Soprano of women. We need some complex roles.

MoG: Back to "Twilight"; this franchise has dozens of characters. Anyone in particular you love writing for?

MR: I love Charlie, Billy Burke's character [Bella's father]. Writing for him is so spectacular, he's so funny and wry and every scene he's in he just takes. There's a scene in "Eclipse" where Bella tells him she's a virgin, and it's the funniest, most awkward scene I've ever seen on film.

Rosenberg says pre-production will begin July 1, with both films slated to film back to back at the start of October.

What do you think of her plans for "Breaking Dawn"? Tell us in comments.

-- Matt Donnelly

Photo: Melissa Rosenberg

We've got all the "Eclipse" headlines you could want. Don't miss the Ministry on Facebook and Twitter.

 
Comments () | Archives (121)

How come this woman has almost shifted the story from Edward/Bella to Jacob/Bella? The big love story is Bella and Edward, and not Bella and the dog.

Totally agree with what rocknmovies said

Ms. Rosenberg's adaptations of Twilight and New Moon leave a lot to be desired. Her dialogue is often unnatural and clunky and characters' motivations tend to be murky due to inadequate development.

The main appeal of the books is the all-consuming love between Edward and Bella and yet the films so far appear to actively downplay that relationship. Twilight was able to overcome her script's shortcomings through sheer force of its charm and the two leads' earnest performances, but New Moon failed to rise above the script's scant treatment of Edward and Bella's relationship. The problem began in Twilight where the development of their feelings for each other was not given adequate attention. In New Moon the problem was exacerbated with the disproportionate emphasis placed on the Bella/Jacob relationship so that viewers were left wondering why Bella didn't just go off with Jacob.

The promotion for Eclipse doesn't give me much hope that Ms. Rosenberg has finally got it right, since "the choice" seems to be the emphasis of the film. As a reader of the Twilight Saga books, I never got the impression that Jacob was a serious alternative to Edward. Perhaps Ms. Meyer intended for him to be just that, but if so, she failed to create a compelling love triangle in her books. In that sense, the failure of the scripts may have as much to do with the weakness of the source material as with Ms. Rosenberg's deficiencies as a screenwriter.

Breaking Dawn is my favorite twilight book. I am so happy it's 2 movies. The first 2 movies were great; can't wait to see Eclipse. Thank-you Ms. Rosenberg 4 standing up 4 female audiences. Keep up the good work. BTW: You are very beautiful woman.

Christie D'Zurilla here from the blog with a reminder that we don't publish comments that have profanity in them, even if you use dashes or symbols to disguise the words.

If your comment isn't live, that's probably why.

//cdz

Melissa doesn't seem to understand that "giving a girl a backbone" is different than re-writing a character to turn her into an insensitive witch with no regards toward her boyfriend's feelings. Judging by the clips we've gotten from Eclipse, Melissa doesn't seem to have capture the characters at all. She's changed everything around to make Edward look like a jerk and Jacob like the poor victim. She doesn't seem to have understood that regardless of which side SHE is on, Bella chooses Edward and the series is about the love between Bella and Edward, not the love she wishes was between Bella and Jacob. All the clips we've seen show Bella annoyed and angry whenever she's around Edward and happy when around Jacob, or at the very least conflicted with being with Edward. She's always looking angrily at him or rolling her eyes at him. There isn't supposed to be a real love triangle in the books. Bella always loved Edward and always knew she was going to choose him, no matter what her feelings were for anyone else. There was never any real confliction in her, just sadness at not wanting to lose her best friend.

Melissa seems to think that adapting something for screen means that she can change everything around to suit her character better and make Edward look like a jerk. A good example of this is the scene released after Jacob (forcibly, although, who knows what Melissa actually did to that scene?) kisses Bella. In the book, Edward is very calm over the situation, regardless of his anger. He refuses to harm Jacob at all, despite Bella wanting him to, because "it will bother [her] in the morning." Or, as Melissa Rosenberg saw it, he threw a fit and tried to beat Jacob up, but Bella had to beg him to stop. Way to get a good grip on the characters there, Melissa. I disliked the book of Eclipse enough, but I am slowly losing hope for the movie to be any semblance of good and I can't see Breaking Dawn being any better.

The Twilight films have made money despite Melissa Rosenberg, not because of her. She doesn't seem to understand it's supposed to be an epic love story between a girl and a vampire, since she puts more emphasis on Bella's friendship with Jacob. She's also claiming to have made Bella stronger but in Eclipse it just looks like she's made Bella more cruel, twisting the events from the book in such a way that they no longer reflect the character's intentions. It's sad that she's being rewarded for slaughtering what was a fantasy romance.

Ishiki,

The problem is the source material, the books themselves. They were written without much depth to them. This became painfully obvious listening to the dialog of movie 2, a dialog that pretty much came straight from the book.

I believe it was the intention of Myers to take Jake from being not even a viable alternative to being a serious rival for the coldblood. From my reading of book 2, Bella did fall in love with Jake (Myers's most developed character) until Alice arrived with the news of Edward's romp to the Vatican City. In truth, Bella was only even infatuated with Edward until the middle/end of book 3. And book 3 was about choice. Book 1, Edward. Book 2, Jacob. Book 3, choosing between the two. Book 4, consequences of the choice.

Uggghhh...more bad writing of love and co-dependency for really bad movies about vampires and werewolves...but teens, tweens and lonely, love-starved cougars will wet themselves over the Twilight schlock...while gay guys will overheat over Taylor Lautner's abs and perky nipples...sigh!

Why or why does she continue to fail at showing the TRUTH in Edward and Bella's lovestory? Just because she is Team Jacob? Because she would chose Jacob? How selfish and rude to true fans. Melissa all but spit on the love Edward and Bella had in the book in exhange for the lie that was Bella loved Jacob as much as Edward. So much of the film is so far from the books it's like it's a whole new story. Bella choses Edward because she loves Edward more, not because she wants to be a vampire.
This is NOT Jacob and Bella's story. It IS Edward and Bella's.

Melissa Rosenberg should be fired. She butchered one of the most beautiful romantic love story between Bella and Edward.

this woman has single handly ruined the twilight saga. does she even read the books? the movies miss what the focus of the saga is about edward and bella. she has turned it into a giant jacob lovefest. if summit wanted breaking dawn to be at least a decent movie they would have gotten rid of melissa rosenberg and picked someone who can do a better job. breaking dawn will be a diaster and it will be because of the awful script writer.

I HATE this woman with a passion for RUINING the epic LOVE STORY of Bella and Edward. I'm sorry but this saga is NOT suppose to be a Jacob lovefest for god sakes. You are turning Bella into a Grumpy old WITCH!! You give Edward all the stupid cheesy lines and Jacob gets all the humor and good lines. Edward is educated for god sakes. If it wasn't for Kristen and Rob acting in these movies i wouldn't bother wasting my money on these piece of dodo movies

GRRRRRR

I am really disappointed with the trailers for Eclipse so far...there is no way that Bella would leave Edward to ride off on a bike with Jacob. She is so physically aware of Edward, almost intoxicated, and still so paranoid of another disappearance after New Moon that she couldn't leave him. I was disappointed with New Moon and Eclipse is my favourite of the books, I hope it lives up to it.

As for Breaking Dawn, and judging by Ms. Rosenberg's comments above, there is no way on earth we will get pillow biting, feathers or sex of any kind (or childbirth) as Summit are, predictably, more concerned with getting asses on seats and an R-rating would kill that. Suggestion: could they not release an R-rated full version simultaneously with the kid-friendly kind?

While the source material is bad, Melissa Rosenberg has somehow managed to make the material even worse. Considering Breaking Dawn is the worst book of the series, one can only hope Melissa actually can pull this off. But based on her work Twilight and New Moon, I'm not holding my breath. Regardless, Summit knows these movies will take in a killing, quality aside.

It's more than a little embarrassing to admit being at all invested in this series.

Movies aren't usually 100% faithful to the books they're adapted from, and with Twilight there's so much room for improvement, but Rosenberg hasn't been able to do that at all. At its heart Twilight is just a love story about a misfit girl and a misfit boy who find each other and fall in love.

Rosenberg's completely lost sight of that by trying to focus on Lautner's character at the expense of the story. With Lautner's father on the board at Summit, Lautner became promoted and catered to at the expense of everything else, and fans are really alienated.

I love what Melissa has done. And if everybody agreed with you M haters millions and millions of people wouldn't be watching these movies.

I do not think that either part of Breaking Dawn has to be R rated. I agree with Ms. Rosenberg on the fact that some things can happen without us seeing every gory detail. If you read the books what did you do? You used your imagination and I think a lot of that can be accomplished with the movie as well.

Please Bill Condon, work your magic. I want him to make Kristen as a vampire pop on screen. All he'll have to do with Rob is point him to different spots in the second half. If I reread the whole thing Edward's lines would probably only fill 3 pages, if that. MR is a great TV writer but obviously it's harder for her to condense everything into a film. Taylor Lautner has definitely benefited from her re-writes. Maybe she'll go all out and write a sex scene with Bella and Jacob.

I agree with the comments above! Book 3 it most definitely NOT about choice (she made that in New Moon when she left Jacob to get Edward in Italy). In the movie New Moon Bella tells Jake, "...don't ask me to choose, because it'll be HIM [Edward]. It's always been him." So Eclipse is about being steadfast and making that life altering decision to marry Edward. In the end of Eclipse she's 100% certain this is what she wants. Here's some more examples: Bella and Edward can never be separated because they were "irreversibly altered" (Bella, end of New Moon) and "moved like magnets" (Renee, beginning of Eclipse) whenever they are around each other. Sure, in THE END of Eclipse Bella sees a potential future with Jacob, but there was never a choice other than solidification of wanting to be with Edward. This is what makes Bella strong! She knows what she wants and sticks to her guns. That is what gives her the backbone and not the wishy-washy 'I think maybe I like Jacob more today and I'll do what I want Edward, thank you very much' (like in the school clip). The scene where Bella ditches Edward at school to ride off with Jake on the bike... that is a blaring example of my point. Bella would NEVER do that! Being away from Edward "brings back abandonment nightmares" (beginning of Eclipse). Her decision is solidified IN THE END after she finally kisses Jacob because he manipulates her into doing so so that he doesn't let the vampire army kill him in the fight. Alas, she is saddened because she cannot have both; she doesn't love Jacob enough and still picks Edward. How come all the fans get this? How come >85 million are all upset? Maybe it is not our unified interpretation, but the screenwriters'. Just saying.

THE MOVIES ARE TERRIBLE!

sometimes its better to leave books in their printed format and not bring them to the big screen. These movies are so terrible I don't have any real desire to re-read the books anymore which is a shame since I used to re-read my favorite, Breaking Dawn, quite often . In my eyes the movies have turned the books into a joke and torn apart what the writing stood for. The bad casting could possibly have been made better with great screenwriting, but sadly this woman fails as a screenwriter. Terrible dialog, extreme personality changes in key characters, and lack of any real emotional connections between characters is NOT what the Twilight movies should contain.

so thanks alot Melissa Rosenberg for ruining something great. I will not be waiting with anticipation for your next work which, if there is a god, will end up in a bon fire somewhere.

MR forgot about the appeal of this story..the loss of somebody you love who leaves you because he thinks he put you in danger. It's a romantic Lovestory. Too bad that MR tries to destroy that with her desire to push J and B together...Oh well we still have the Books. And maybe ..just saying ..maybe she gets it right when she writes BD..

By moving the focus of the Edward and Bella love story to shirtless Jacob and his motley pack of hounds, Summit has let Melissa ruin this series. Yes, the films have made money because fans will pay to see Robert Pattinson as Edward, even if he's only in a third of the film, but it doesn't mean fans are happy with the adaptations. Melissa should have been fired a long time ago, she's a no talent hack.

I hate her with an indescribable passion. I am not looking forward to Eclipse or Breaking Dawn because of HER. She has taken out everything I love in the books. Those feelings, the epic love story has been shattered because she has a soft spot for Jacob/Taylor whatever. It is not fair to US the the fans that go out and pay for this crap. It just isn't fair! Why can't Summit see this?! So many people hate her. Take a POLL and you'll see!

I wish there would be new screenwriters like there are new directors with every film...or maybe the other way around with same directors, ... I'm not sure where the problem lies exactly but part is definitely in the writing. Very spotty and inconsistent in the films. Thank goodness there is a true fan base that can truly appreciate the story, otherwise we couldn't see anything past Twilight. :(

 
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