Last Saturday, in beautiful Beverly Hills, my fellow movie website brethren and I had a chance to sit down with director Catherine Hardwicke. Here's what she had to say about Robert Pattinson, casting, and what might be missing from the film.
Question: It seems like with Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, and now Twilight you have a particular affinity for a younger audience. You have the ability to speak to them very well. Where do you think that comes from?
Catherine Hardwicke: I guess it's like your spirit. When I did Thirteen Holly Hunter seemed like a teenager, like the other girls. I think at any age you can stay open, and creative and excited. I like that age because so many changes are happening. It's such a dramatic time in your life. You suddenly get boobs! You could have sex or drink for the first time, or drive for the first time. Everything is changing. It's a very dramatic time.
Q: One of my favorite shots in the movie is at the Cullen house, with all the graduation caps hanging on the wall. How do you tell that part of the story, of vampires that are much older than teenagers?
CH: That was a challenge. Rob (Pattinson) was always thinking about it. He looks like a teenager, he's stayed in the body and the mindset, but he's lived for 108 years. How do you play that? But sometimes I see people that are 60 years old fall in love again. He (Edward) had his feelings shut down for so long, but then he falls in love again and that opens up that side again.
He comes out of that funk, that depression, that almost manic depression that he didn't connect with anybody for so long. Finally he feels that connection. He's the outcast, the one person in the family that has no love. No soul mate. That's what we were trying to find and that was always a balance with Rob. He felt like playing it really manic depressive. And I told him, "Sometimes you see love, so let's see that contrast where you feel hope, where you see that joy."
Q: There's a scene where Rob is walking across the parking lot and he's got his sunglasses on, it's very James Dean.
CH: That was really a bad day because the sun was out almost all day. If you look on our website, on our weather blog, we had the whole crew trying to pull clouds out of the sky, doing cloud dances. Because we couldn't shoot at all until we got some clouds. Finally, when we got some clouds, he'd been wearing sunglasses, and I said, "What the heck, put those sunglasses on, let's do it!" We were crazed by that point.
Q: Talk about the music of Twilight. It seems like you've taken some very cool bands and put them on. What did you imagine the soundtrack to be coming into the project?
CH: Definitely a lot of the credit goes to Stephenie Meyer because she listens to Muse and that's her inspiration for the books. That was the soundtrack she played. As soon as I read that I started playing Muse 24/7 to try and feel all the different colors.
I put myself on tape, tried a zillion times to reach the Muse guys, because I wanted them to be involved. I'd yell "We love you, write songs for us!" but they were pretty busy. We were fortunate enough to get that one great song. ("Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse, below)
I wish we'd gotten more and we wanted to collaborate. As I listen to those songs that Stephenie loved I thought they really worked. Then we started finding other things that worked. We made a CD with 50 songs. You try every one of them with the picture. And a lot of times music does not work. Sometimes the lyrics cut through and you start listening to the lyrics instead of the dialogue. Or too much of a fast tempo. We probably tried, for every song in the movie, 50 to 60 different songs, played to picture until you get one that works.
Q: Is it always done while you're editing afterward?
CH: No, it's really integrated. For example, in the rehearsals we always play music too. For example, the Iron and Wine song that's at the prom, Kristen suggested that. And soon as we put it on Kristen and Rob started dancing. We thought it was a cool song. But it's very rare that the song you put in rehearsal makes it all the way through and works to picture. But that one did (video below).
Q: What's the rehearsal process like?
CH: For this one we tried to have like three weeks. It turned out to be two and a half weeks, where as many of the actors as we could get came up to Portland. We were all in the same hotel. With my other movies they've been at my house because it's a little funkier.
We would just go through the scenes in the film and do physical activities together. For this one it was baseball -- we all learned how to play baseball. Those were bonding moments, going on location, freezing in the rain, learning how to hit a ball. We did go through each scene, and the scenes with Rob and Kristen, it would be just the three of us, and we would really hash it out. It would be like "Is this working? Do I feel it? Can I say that line?" And a lot of times, for them, they didn't feel great about a line. And they really had to make it their own or they wouldn't say a line. We had to find something that worked for everybody.
Q: Have you done the Blu-ray yet? What scenes look amazing?
CH: I've only seen one scene on Blu-ray, the sparkle scene. It looks really great, I was worried how that was going to play. But we're doing some cool Blu-ray things.
Q: Can you push the sparkle scene even further on high definition? What else will be on the DVD?
CH: That's what we're looking at actually. We might be going back to ILM and pushing it a little more. We do have a dozen deleted or extended scenes. I made a couple of crazy montages. vampire attacks, human hijinks, a lot of times the human kids would improvise and do funny stuff. Have you heard the Jason Bentley remix of Bella's Lullaby? If you buy advance tickets you get the really cool remix of Carter Burwell's Lullaby. I also made like a whole trippy version of outtakes and other cool stuff.
Q: What was your approach to making a very popular book translate visually?
CH: That was one of the challenges to me. Every single scene I had to figure out "How can I make this alive?" I was not about to shoot scenes from the book that are two people talking in a car. In the book it works and you're into it. You can visualize it. But it would never work on screen for her to reveal "I know you're a vampire" in the car. Every single scene was a challenge for Melissa and I to figure out. How do we make it come alive? How do we make it dynamic? So that it's visual and cinematic and you want to be there. So that it's not just books on tape.
We kept just pairing it down, even on the set and in the editing room. Make it more visual. It's not one of those movies that hinges on the witty banter. That's not what it is. It's more visual cinema. How do you keep that tension on the set with all the crazy things that were going on with the weather? I try to be as close as I can to the actors. Wherever I had to be. How can I be intimate so that I could feel what they were feeling?
Q: There's this one incredibly sensual moment where Bella is having a dream about vampires.
CH: That's the one thing I thought would be so cool. That one old-school radical vampire shot. I went for that one.
Q: It's a different color palette too...
CH: Yeah, almost the only red thing. I was looking at some of those old photographs. When you research online you get movie images coming up. I wanted old myths and other cultures, and only in the very end of it going into how films have translated it. Just that one image.
Q: Talk about casting Kristen and Rob.
CH: Kristen jumped off the screen for me in Into the Wild. I thought she was sensational. I couldn't believe what expression she had, and how palpable I felt her yearning and desire. How much she wanted Emile. I thought it was awesome that anyone could convey that.
Also, Bella is serious and she has a lot of depth. It could not be like a cutesy actress. That couldn't work for Bella. So I got on a plane and went to Pittsburgh with my video camera. It was her day off on another film and we went around and filmed all these scenes with her, acted out a lot of the movie. Then I went back and looked at it. Edited it, and looked at it and thought, "Yeah, she's gonna be Bella."
Editor's Note: The early fan favorite was Emily Browning, pictured on the right.
But I had her in mind. She kicked ass.
Rob was ten times harder in a way. I'd already seen that performance for me that nailed it with Kristen with Into the Wild. I wouldn't say that was the case at all with Cedric Diggory. He did a great job, but that was three or four years before. I'd never met him. I didn't know what he looked like. I didn't know where his head was at. What I knew of him wasn't Edward to me. When I was getting desperate I was thinking, "Who is going to be this person?" There were a lot of good-looking kids coming in, but they looked like they were the boy at my high school. I didn't feel like it was someone that was 109 years old that had all these amazing and mysterious elements to them. I was getting scared. We got it down to our top five and I talked to Rob on the phone in London, but it was still kind of sketchy.
His agent said he would fly over, on his own dime, and sleep on his couch to audition. So he came over to my house and we did the scene with Kristen. Three different scenes. With Rob and Kristen you could feel the magnetic pull. You felt that fascination and that sexual tension that was essential to the movie.
Stay tuned for more interviews, articles, and photos in our Ten Days of Twilight extravaganza!