Yesterday, Laura was able to sit down with Melissa Rosenberg and chat with her one-on-one about the final Twilight saga installment. Here is Part 1. Part 2 Will be out tomorrow.
One of my favorite things when these books are made into movies is that point of view expands. The books are from Bella’s point of view, so unless she’s right there you only hear about things, or you have to surmise what happened in another location. In this movie the world opens up: we see Jake transform in front of Charlie, the acquisition of the witness vampires, and Irina in Volterra. Which of the expanded point of view scenes was your favorite to write?
Well certainly Jacob and Charlie. You picture that and you think, “well how did that happen?” Did Jacob just burst into fur, or did he probably take his clothes off first? And then if you’re Charlie, you’re like, “What’s going on boy, put your clothes on!” And when you know you have both of those actors (Billy Burke and Taylor Lautner) who are so great with comedy, you can really write to them, knowing their strengths.
I also liked writing the gathering of the vampires. Particularly them finding Garrett (Lee Pace). I spent a lot of time talking with Stephenie over this. She has very detailed backstories for all of them. Because you’re getting into meat-eaters now.
Exactly, you now have the T-Rexes of the vampires coming to Forks. The cuddly, vegetarian Triceratops Cullens aren’t the only ones.
Even Garrett, who is one of the good guys, is one, and that expands your range of what you can do with him. What is he like around people.
Who was the most fun of the new vampires to write dialogue for?
Definitely Garrett. Alistair too, he’s all gloom and doom, we’re all going to die.
That’s actually a very cool way he’s written in the film. I think on the pages of the novel he gets a little lost in that vast influx of vampires, and people just remember him as a moody guy who goes to the attic. They don’t have a firm sense of who he is. I felt when I watched the film that he was a bit of a foil to the optimistic outlook of the Cullens. He was the voice of reality. Did you feel that way in writing it?
That is suggested in the books too. He is sort of the naysayer. They’re all going, “It’s fine we’re going to win” and he’s going, “I’ve been around forever. I’ve seen a lot. It’s a load of crap. You are not going to win.”
I honestly wrote major scenes for all of the new vampires, and then it comes to decisions. Is the action of the storytelling slowing down or even stopping. You have to start picking, and you feel like you are killing your children. It came down to who is driving the story forward the most.
Was coming up with who had a more prominent role among the new vampires a collaborative choice with you Bill Condon and Stephenie Meyer?
It was totally collaborative. We started looking at what was the emotional arc of the story. What pieces do you need to structure that. And in doing this, pieces start to naturally fall out. Some people you have to have with a speaking role, and others it breaks your heart . You go through feeling, “I wrote this scene. I love this scene”. And then you know it’s just not going to make it. And even sometimes things are shot, but later on in editing they have to make decisions and things go. I know there were some things I really loved with the new covens that didn’t make the final cut.
Well, hope spring eternal on the DVD.
You’ve worked on all the films, and in doing so you’ve had four different directors. Some came from a writing background, others purely from a director’s view. Looking back, who were you the most collaborative with?
Definitely Catherine Hardwicke on the first film. We had very, very little time. We had 5 weeks and we knew the writers strike was coming and we were trying to beat the clock to get it done. I’d write something, show it to her, get her feedback, revise, it was intense! Unfortunately, then the writer’s strike happened and I had less ongoing collaboration with her than I would have liked.
The next two movies were written ( New Moon and Eclipse) before the directors came on. I think I had more collaboration with David Slade as rewrites started.
But in reality, thinking about it, the deepest collaboration I had was with Bill Condon. I had written the outlines for the two movies, but I had no actual script. So, he came in at that stage. He’s an academy award winning writer, and that kind of thing can go either way. You can have someone who is like, “I’m a writer, but I don’t know how to tell you what I want so I’m just going to do it myself” which is certainly legitimate. I think Chris Wietz is more in that vein, which was fantastic with things he did it was a great job. Then, on the other hand, you have the writer/director who knows exactly what he wants and how to articulate it. And when you have Bill Condon as an academy award winning writer he’s uniquely qualified to articulate it. So when we first sat down he said, “I don’t want to write this. I want you to write this”, and at that point I was so tired and I thought, “really, don’t you want a part of it”? He made me work for my money (laughs) , but it was collaborative. It was hours and hours of bouncing ideas off each other.
I’d write an action sequence and give it to him. He’d give it to the stunt coordinators for their feedback and get their notes and I’d revise. I actually went down to Louisiana with him before shooting to talk some more. It was one of the best collaborations in my career.