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'Twilight' Countdown: Melissa Rosenberg defends 'Breaking Dawn'

November 13, 2008 |  2:00 pm

Melissa 7 more days ...

There's no question that “Twilight” fans were divided on Stephenie Meyer’s series-ending finale, “Breaking Dawn.” But the author can take comfort in knowing that should the remaining books be turned into movies, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg is in her corner.

In my interview with Rosenberg, one of the driving forces behind Showtime's darkly comic "Dexter," she goes to bat for Meyer, reveals which actor came closest to the character she had envisioned while adapting "Twilight" and talks up Robert Pattinson’s take on the brooding Edward.

As a writer yourself, what did you think of “Breaking Dawn”? Fans were pretty divided.

I was utterly compelled by it, first of all. I understand why there's uproar, but I respect Stephenie for having made the choices she did. She easily could have played it very safe. She could have had the series go on for another eight novels, but she took a risk. And she blew it out! She just completely went wild. I just think that that's such bold storytelling. She turns the series upside down.

Here's the thing: If you're playing it safe, you're not going to offend any of the fans. If you take a risk, you risk losing your entire audience, you risk destroying your entire series. We deal with that on "Dexter" all the time. Every time you take a risk, you have a 50-50 chance of choosing wrong. We've all seen series take that risk and fall flat on their asses and everyone cries, "What have you done to my series?" And then you're the most hated person. But I think Stephenie was true to herself and her story and that's what is important.

Tell me how you got involved with the movie.

I had written "Step Up" for Summit Entertainment. They gave me a call and told me about the book and told me it had quite the fan following. But it was the characters that compelled me to take the job. And actually, more than that, it was what Stephenie did with the vampire genre, which is one of the most well-trodden genres we have. She reinvented the mythology in a fresh way, and that's really quite the feat. I'm a big fan of the genre. Plus, I was really intrigued by Bella, who is really the everygirl brought into this new world. She was someone I wanted to see more of and develop.

Did you know how big that fan following was at the time?

When I signed on, I had gotten a little bit of a sense of it. I researched it online and realized it was pretty extensive, then I stopped looking. I didn't want to know! I knew it would get overwhelming.

I’d heard that Stephanie sent you a “manifesto” of things that had to be in your adaptation of “Twilight.” Can you talk about what it said?

She did send one, yes. It's understandable after what happened the first time around.

But there was nothing on that manifesto that I disagreed with. It was very much like, "You can't kill characters who don't die in the book"; "if you kill Jacob, you don't have the sequel." It said the characters had to have the same powers and gifts they do in the book. Basically the manifesto said to adapt the book. Since that was my intention, to adapt it as opposed to use it as a jumping-off place, it was easy to adhere to.

Which actor came closest to the character as you envisioned while writing the script?

Billy Burke I thought was just incredible. I wasn't sure at first, because I didn't really have an actor in mind while I was writing Charlie, but he so beautifully embodied that relationship with Bella. He's one that really stands out for me. I was also delighted by Jackson Rathbone, who plays Jasper. He doesn't have a ton of dialogue or screen time, but he just pops. I don't know what it is exactly; he's just got this spark. And Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were also both spot-on.

That’s interesting. Both Robert and Stephenie have said they didn’t see eye to eye on Edward initially.

Yes, that's true. But I liked what Robert did. The tone of my original script was off. It had more humor and he brought it to a more sober place, which winds up being really great and dramatic for the film. He's very elegant in a way. You can see him as this guy who's been around for 100 years; he brings that history with him. It's almost as though he's from a different time. It's really effective.

Which of the books is your favorite?

They're all so different it's hard to choose. As a reader, I'd say  "Eclipse." But it would be the greatest challenge to adapt because Bella isn't driving the action in that book.

Are you onboard to adapt the sequels?

I'll adapt anything Stephenie writes! She's a great storyteller, and now that I know how she collaborates, I think we'd work well and much closer on future movies.

Catch up on past Countdown interviews: Robert Pattinson (Parts 1, 2 and 3), Kristen Stewart, director Catherine Hardwicke (Parts 1 and 2), Peter Facinelli, Edi Gathegi and Taylor Lautner.

-- Denise Martin

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Photo: WireImage