HOLLYWOOD — Ten years ago, brothers Paul and Chris Weitz burst on the scene with “American Pie,” a raunchy, out-of-nowhere hit that would define comedies — and the careers of actors like Alyson Hannigan and Seann William Scott — for years to come.
Now they’re the kings of … vampires?
These days, Chris is hard at work on November’s “New Moon,” while Paul is similarly slaving away on October’s “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.” Both are based on wildly popular book series, involve teenage protagonists having their eyes opened to the darkness beneath their everyday existence and are envisioned as part of a multi-movie franchises.
Following up on two of the hottest new trailers to hit the Web, we visited the duo’s Depth of Field production offices to speak with the older Weitz brother about their bloodsucking blockbusters, the similarities between RPattz and John C. Reilly and whether Paul will direct “Breaking Dawn.”
MTV: Paul, the first question is an obvious one: What is it with you guys and vampires?
Paul Weitz: [Laughs.] Well, it was a complete fluke that we both have made vampire movies. But the weird thing is that our grandmother [Lupita Tovar] actually starred in the Spanish-language version of “Dracula,” shot in the 1930s. It still gets played on the festival circuit — so there is a weird family vampire connection.
MTV: Wow. Is she still with us?
Weitz: Yes, she’s 99. They still play the movie at different festivals and horror festivals, and she still goes sometimes.
MTV: What does she think of her two grandsons directing these vampire movies?
Weitz: I think she’s really happy we have jobs. [Laughs.] Beyond that, she thinks it’s all a hoot.
MTV: There aren’t many things that people cared passionately about in 1930 and still do. What is it about vampires that makes them so fascinating to us?
Weitz: I think it’s about rules being broken. In the case of “Twilight,” it’s a romantic rule being broken: Bella has this love that she’s willing to throw everything away for, which is a big taboo nowadays. In the case of “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” it’s about breaking the rules of being trapped in whatever situation you’re in — the idea that you can escape. You’re going to go through suffering and hardship, but you can become your own person by having your own definition of what right and wrong is.
MTV: Your movie stars John C. Reilly as a 200-year-old vampire who takes these teens away from their humdrum high school lives. Will your film do for him what “Twilight” did for Robert Pattinson?
Weitz: Yeah, John C. Reilly has a different feel from Robert Pattinson’s Edward. [Laughs.] But I can see a lot of shirtless photo spreads for John after this movie.
MTV: You and Chris share your production offices and offer each other endless support. Do you ever catch your films bleeding into one another?
Weitz: I wish I could’ve stolen some stuff from Chris’ outtakes on “Twilight”! But no, we see each other’s stuff and try to be supportive of each other, and I think it’s a kick for both of us that we’re directing [these movies].
MTV: There were rumors for a little while that you might come onboard eventually for a “Twilight” sequel. Any truth to that?
Weitz: No. I am kind of vampired out for the moment. They got a wonderful director for that.
MTV: Well, “Eclipse” is taken. But there’s no “Breaking Dawn” director yet. Would you be interested?
Weitz: I think they could do much better than me for “Breaking Dawn.” I would make it too weird.
MTV: Really? Have you read “Breaking Dawn”? It’s a pretty weird book.
Weitz: I’m sure they’re going to get somebody really wonderful for it. Maybe they’ll get Chris to come back to do number four. I’ll throw another rumor out there. [Laughs.] Why not?
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