Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke reveals behind-the-scenes film secrets

You better hold on tight, spider monkey!

Twilight (2008) Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson

Fifteen years ago, director Catherine Hardwicke took on the difficult task of adapting Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, a story about a clumsy 17-year-old human falling in love with a Volvo-driving 100-year-old vampire, for the screen. Hardwicke says, “You have to remember Twilight wasn’t Twilight at that time. It wasn’t like we were doing a Marvel movie. Nobody even thought it was going to be particularly successful.” Not even with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the lead roles.

From using melted cheese for skin to Stewart pitching “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” by Iron & Wine for that prom scene, Hardwicke takes us behind the scenes of the making of the first film.

When Edward Met Bella

Twilight (2008) Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson

Keeping the Biology class scenes true to the book was one of the most important tasks when it came to adapting Twilight. Hardwicke says she trusted Stephanie Meyer to write the dialogue for Edward and Bella’s first true interaction in order to “keep that very accurate.”

“That’s such a memorable scene in the book,” Hardwicke says. “This is the first moment that any kind of contact is made so I wanted enough time to film that so I would have great shots of her and him, and to be able to play with the camera a little bit so we could feel how those two are connected. You don’t want to just do single coverage. You have to find a more lyrical way to tell this story.”
This was the moment where she wanted audiences to start asking, “When are they going to get together?” “[It] was more exciting to see that than if you just see two people slam into each other and start kissing. That misses all that beautiful anticipation that the book has,” explains Hardwicke.

“Skin of a Killer”

Edward telling Bella the truth happened a little differently in the book as compared to the film, and that was a change Hardwicke knew she wanted to make right off the bat. Rather than the vampire confession happening in the front seat of Edward’s car like in the novel, Hardwicke brought the conversation to the outdoors. Hardwicke says the forest location for the vampire reveal was in her original pitch deck because she wanted the audience to feel “intoxicated” by the location to reflect what was happening in the scene. “I love that location with the rocks and the moss. We had another location, it got snowed in so we couldn’t go there. At the last minute, I had to go find something else. That’s right near a restaurant. It’s in the back of the restaurant, by a parking lot,” reveals Hardwicke. “I go there and I’m walking around [thinking] ‘I can’t look that way cause it’s a freaking parking lot, but can I make it work just looking like this?’ I took the two stand-ins [for Pattinson and Stewart] and I was like, ‘We’re just going to run around in here and try to figure out if I can shoot this.’” And over time Hardwicke quickly realized that it was possible to turn this into the perfect forest location she needed for the pivotal scene. “We really made it our own little world.”

But creating Edward’s “skin of a killer” wasn’t an easy task. Hardwicke had to be very particular about when she would show Edward in the sun. “In the book, he’s in the meadow and there’s quite a long scene of dialogue where he was just sparkling the whole time. We could not afford that,” Hardwicke says. “We could only afford a couple of sparkling shots. I actually thought that was more effective though anyway. Just to see a taste.”

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