‘New Moon’ Screenwriter Reveals Four Tweaks That Made The Film Work

Melissa Rosenberg discusses how she helped transform Stephenie Meyer's novel into the biggest movie of the year.

BEVERLY HILLS, California — By now, we’re all on the same page. We’ve all seen [movie id="414921"]“New Moon,”[/movie] and we can finally discuss the spoiler-heavy details of what worked and what didn’t. That means we can unveil not only articles like this , but also our exclusive interview with screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg.

In this sit-down with the adapter of the entire [movie id="369195"]“Twilight”[/movie] series, Melissa pinpoints four key details that she tweaked, augmented or deleted entirely, transforming Stephenie Meyer’s novel into the biggest film of 2009 . From Harry Clearwater’s reimagined death to the lack of Laurent, read on for Rosenberg’s official take on the tweaks that made “New Moon” shine:

Hope Bella Got a Gift Receipt …
In one narrative device Melissa is particularly proud of, Jacob gives Bella a Quileute trinket meant to capture bad dreams — although, judging by all those late-night shots of Kristen Stewart in tears, it doesn’t work very well. “One of my favorite things is the dream-catcher that Jacob gives Bella,” the screenwriter said. “It’s the first time that we see Jacob, and I wanted to establish his and Bella’s relationship, his sort-of crush. [The gift establishes] her affection for him and Edward’s jealousy of him. So I had the idea that he brought her a little birthday gift and came up with the dream-catcher, which would be true to his culture but also to the theme of the movie; there’s a lot of dreams in this movie. That, I thought, played well.”

Getting the Cullen Kicked Out of Him …
In Meyer’s novel, the Volturi scenes are a moody medley of tension, fear and careful wordplay. In the movie, however, Felix lays the smack-down on Edward as he tries to protect Bella. Like many scenes, Rosenberg said she needed to up the visuals to take the place of lost narrative nuances. “In the book, at the very end, the final climatic scene is Edward and Bella and Alice going to the Volturi and the potential that they might not walk out of there,” she said. “It is very fraught with tension, but the tension is expressed through dialogue, and I wanted to heighten that. I wanted to have that conflict be external. So I pushed it into an all-out-battle, and Chris [Weitz] and the stunt people, along with ['X-Men' star] Daniel Cudmore who plays Felix, did this great action sequence at the end that’s just really fantastic.”

Cause of Death Unclear …
Although he’s a relatively minor character, the death of Quileute elder Harry Clearwater sets off a pivotal chain of events in the “Twilight” world. In Meyer’s “New Moon” novel, Charlie Swan’s friend dies of a heart attack. In the movie, the sight of vixen vampire Victoria kills him. So why the switch? “Well, in the book, Harry Clearwater’s heart attack is mentioned as something that happens offscreen, although it plays a crucial part of the structure of the books. It’s what gets Edward going to the Volturi, after he calls Charlie and then Jacob answers and says, ‘Charlie’s at a funeral,’ ” she explained. “That launches the entire third act of the movie. … That just gave me the idea ‘Stephenie doesn’t specify what causes the heart attack,’ so I decided that it could be caused by something startling him. It could be caused by fear. That was a way to keep Victoria alive. It was a way to keep Charlie and the danger of the hunt alive, and that’s where we get a really great action sequence with Victoria that blends together important parts of the movie and important parts of the book moving forward. So I particularly like that.”

The Love of Laurent
Sadly, fan fave Edi Gathegi doesn’t get much screen time in “New Moon” and dies quite quickly. Rosenberg told us that if she had one regret, it’s that she would’ve liked to delve deeper into the nomad’s motivations. “Yes, we had to pull out some of the backstory, because it really just came down to conversation. Laurent was in Alaska, trying to be a vegetarian briefly, and all of his relationship with the Denali clan,” she revealed. “A lot of the backstory for Laurent had to be pulled, because it just slowed everything down. I wish we could have gotten more of that in there.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

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