BEVERLY HILLS, California — With the best-selling novels, the multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, the near-riots at public appearances and so much else, it’s hard to imagine that all this “Twilight” madness began as a simple dream.
Now, rabid fans are one week away from having their own dreams come true, as the “Twilight” movie hits theaters November 21. It seems only appropriate, then, that MTV News would mark another of our 10 Days of “Twilight” by checking in with the stay-at-home mom who awoke from that dream five years ago and wisely decided to write it down.
Be sure to check out this video, pairing many new clips from the movie with a new Stephenie Meyer interview, and then read on for her thoughts on debating Robert Pattinson, hanging out on a movie set and her desire to write a 14-hour-long screenplay.
MTV: How do you explain the popularity of “Twilight”?
Stephenie Meyer: I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer that, because for me, it’s an absolute mystery. I read a lot of books, and some of them that I love are really popular, and there are others that I’m like, “Why isn’t everyone in the world reading this book?” It’s amazing. I wrote [“Twilight”] for me. It’s exactly what I want to read, so I’m hooked on it.
MTV: We’ve seen everything from young teens to people in their 40s and 50s loving the book. Were you trying to target the “young adult” audience when you wrote “Twilight” or a larger one?
Meyer: Well, I had a very specific audience, and it was a 29-year-old mother of three. No one was ever supposed to read this other than me, and if I had any idea other people were going to read it, I never would have finished it. It would have been way too much pressure.
MTV: Hollywood has a long history of ignoring writers once the cameras start rolling. What did you do to make sure you’d be treated differently?
Meyer: It was a really pleasant exchange [between me and the filmmakers] from the beginning, which I think is not very typical. They were really interested in my ideas, and I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I don’t know how to make a movie. I didn’t want to make it worse and screw it up somehow, so I let them come to me — and they did. I’d sometimes send them back the script with red marks through the whole thing, like, “Wouldn’t Bella say it more like this?” or “Wouldn’t this sound more like her voice?,” but not like, “This whole scene needs to go,” because it was in really good shape from the beginning. I think they took 90 percent of what I said and incorporated it into the script.
MTV: And as “Twilight” fans know, you also gave the studio a sacred list of things that can’t be changed about your vampires.
Meyer: Yes. The vampires had to have the basic rules of the vampires I’ve created — which means no fangs, which means no coffins, which means they sparkle in the sunlight. The characters have to exist by their present names and in their present forms, and you can’t kill anyone who doesn’t die in the book. Just basics like that, that were in the foundation of the story.
MTV: Did you and director Catherine Hardwicke hit it off right away, or were there some territorial issues at first?
Meyer: Catherine’s fantastic. The first time we started talking to each other about things, I was surprised, because I knew that this person’s focus would shape the film, and if this person had a different idea, it wasn’t going to turn out the way it was in my head. We were on the same page from the beginning, and things that I was worried about, she was already on top of. I’d be like, “Hey, Catherine, about the wardrobe — I’m a little worried that things are going to go all chokers and leather.” And she’d be like, “Oh, no, I’ve already talked to the wardrobe person,” and it was exactly what I wanted. She was great, because she got it the same way I got it. Now we’re kind of buddies. She’s really cool to hang out with.
MTV: And did any of the stars have differing ideas from yours?
Meyer: A little bit. With Rob [Pattinson], we sat down to talk about Edward’s character before we started filming. It wasn’t an argument, but we actually disagreed on his character. I’d be like, “This is how it is,” and he’d be like, “No, it’s this way.” And the funny thing about it was, here we are, arguing about a fictional character. Yet, in the performance, he did what he wanted, and it turned out how I wanted it.
MTV: What was it like the first time you watched the film and saw your book come to life?
Meyer: Well, I was so braced for it, because what if it was really horrid? I was all ready for it to be bad, almost watching through my fingers, and I had my notepad because it was just a rough cut, and I was going to give them the notes on what I wanted. After a few minutes, you get into things that are like déjà vu to see them, so when the movie was over and the producer said, “OK, give me your notes,” I needed a minute. I was so overwhelmed, I had to have a moment just to sit and think, because it was so much to take in. So many scenes were exactly the way I had envisioned them. It was partially creepy and partially wonderful.
MTV: Would you ever write a proper screenplay?
Meyer: I don’t think I could do that unless Hollywood is ready for a 14-hour experience. [Laughs.] I tried once to write a short story, and it was horrible. I don’t think in short terms; I have to explore every tiny detail of things. I really admire people who can come in and streamline [a screenplay] and get all the information across, but simply, that’s not my talent. I can’t imagine doing that, although my ideas are very visual. I’d have to have a partner who knew how to do it.
MTV: We know you visited the set several times. Did your visits feel like work or pleasure?
Meyer: Well, that was one of the coolest things that agreeing to do a movie gave me, because I was right in the middle with [my career]. I had two book tours this year, all this crazy stuff, and the movie was just fun. I found it fascinating. One time, I had my brother with me for two days, and I knew he was just bored stupid [when I took him to set], like, “Ugh, how can they say the same line again for the 16th time?” I was with the humans that time, and for me, every time Anna Kendrick added a new little twist or her eyebrow raised just a little differently, those nuances were fascinating to me, probably because [the character] was mine. I don’t know if I’d be that way if it were another film, but I was looking at the monitor and kept saying, “Oh, I love that!” I was just thrilled.
We’ve got the biggest exclusives from tomorrow’s blockbusters today. Check out the premiere of MTV’s “Spoilers” on Friday, November 14, at 7:30 p.m., for first looks at “Twilight,” “Watchmen,” “Bride Wars,” “Bedtime Stories” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” And before the most-anticipated film of the year, “Twilight,” opens November 21, we’re celebrating with 10 Days of “Twilight,” featuring exclusive interviews, scenes, photos and more.
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.