Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub
Just a few days ago I did something that many, many “Twilight” fans wished they could’ve done…I participated in interviews with the cast of the upcoming movie and author Stephanie Meyer.
While I’ve never read the books, and I admit to not knowing much going in, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from all of you thanking me for my questions…so thanks. And even though I wish I could tell you what I thought about the movie…I’m under embargo from writing anything. Sorry. And my words would be positive….
Anyway, on Saturday afternoon Stephenie held a press conference and the entire transcript is below. Not only did she talk about what she’s working on now, she tells some great stories about how the book almost got turned into a terrible movie and how great Summit Entertainment was to work with. I promise you…if you’re a fan of her work and the “Twilight” series…this is a must read interview.
And like I always do…you can either read the transcript below or listen to the press conference by clicking here.
But before getting to the interview…here are some links to the other “Twilight” stuff I’ve recently posted…look for more interviews soon….
A 4 minute sizzle reel and the 15 minutes of behind the scenes footage from Twilight
Robert Pattinson Interview
Kristen Stewart Interview
Director Catherine Hardwicke says there are 12 deleted scenes on the Twilight DVD and a lot more
Studio provided interviews with Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Peter Facinelli, Cam Gigandet, Taylor Lautner and author Stephenie Meyer
Question: Why would you say is the reason for the incredible popularity of the series that you started? What do you think the essence of why so many twelve and fourteen year old girls cannot live without reading every one of these books?
Stephanie Meyer: I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer that because for me it’s an absolute mystery. I read a lot of books and some of them that I love are really popular and there are just others that I just think, ‘Why isn’t everybody in the world reading this book? It’s so amazing.’ So when one book takes off it’s, ‘Why? Why does it ever happen?’ I don’t know why people respond to these books the way they do. I know why I do, because I wrote it for me. It’s exactly what I wanted to read so of course I’m really hooked on it, and for other people it’s kind of bizarre actually.
Question: Did you write it with the idea of it was going to be sort of like preteens or young teenage girls? That was going to be your audience?
Stephanie Meyer: No, I had a very specific audience and it was a twenty-nine year old mother of three. No one was ever supposed to read this except for me and if I’d had any idea that anyone else would ever see what I was doing, I would have never been able to finish it – way, way too much pressure.
Question: I’m curious about how much input you had with the script and how much they listened to you as far as lines that you needed to keep in or events.
Stephanie Meyer: It was a really pleasant exchange from the beginning, which is I think not very typical. I don’t know. They were really interested in my ideas and I didn’t go in thinking, I really didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I don’t know how to make a movie, I didn’t want to get in the way and make it worse or, you know, screw it up somehow. So I let them come to me and they did, and they kept me in the loop and with the script, they let me see it and said, ‘What are your thoughts?’ And so they really opened themselves up there, and I sent them back the script with red marks, the whole thing. And it was stuff like, ‘Wouldn’t Bella say this more like this? Wouldn’t this sound more like her voice?’ It wasn’t like, ‘This whole scene needs to go,’ because it was in really good shape from the beginning. But they let me have input on it and I think they took ninety percent of what I said and just incorporated it right in to the script.
Question: There was a key line about the lion and the lamb that you insisted they keep.
Stephanie Meyer: You know, that was an interesting thing because I actually think the way Melissa wrote it sounded better for the movie. It really did. It was just a little bit more relaxed, but the problem is is that line is actually tattooed on peoples’ bodies and, you know, which I don’t approve of by the way. But I said, ‘You know, if you take that one and change it, that’s a potential backlash situation. And if there’s a place where we can make it, you know, give a little shout out to the fans, do something for them, that was what I thought about that.
Question: Is it true that you didn’t want to commit to the film until they promised you there would be no fangs?
Stephanie Meyer: Yes. It was an interesting thing because when we started out with this I actually sold the rights to a different company. I got a look at a script that, you know, objectively probably a decent vampire movie that had nothing at all to do with Twilight. It was just, you could have produced that movie and never given me any credit because it wasn’t anything to do with the books. And that was kind of a horrifying experience. Like I had realized it could go wrong and that they could do it badly, but that they would do something that had nothing at all to do with the story, it was kind of shocking to me. And I know that’s because I’m really naïve. So when I went back in to this and I had learned and Summit said, ‘We really want to do this.’ And I was weary and I said, ‘You know, I’m just not sure.’ And they said, ‘What can we do for you?’ I said, ‘What if I give you a list of things that absolutely can’t be changed?’ And I’m not talking like I said, ‘Okay, you have to read…and it has to be exactly like the book.’ It was very fundamental outline things like, you know, the vampires have to have the basic rules of the vampire world I’ve created, which means no fangs, which means no coffins, which means they sparkle in the sunlight. The characters have to exist by their present names and in their present forms and you can’t kill anyone who doesn’t die in the book, and just basic things like that that were really just the foundation of the story.
Question: And you got that in writing?
Stephanie Meyer: I got it in writing. That’s the best thing about working with a new company, is they’re really open to working with you. You don’t get that with, you know, a big, huge group.
Question: How did you get the rights back?
Stephanie Meyer: The option period was up and they weren’t going to use it, and that’s actually where Summit came in and said, ‘Can we roll over your option? Can we have it?’ And I wouldn’t have done it because I, you know, I’d learned my lesson except that they, I could tell, if I’d come to them and given them this list and say, ‘Okay, these are the things I want,’ and they had hesitated or put on the breaks and said, ‘Wow I’m not sure about this…’ But they were like, ‘Oh, of course.’ And so I knew that they wanted to do it the way it was in my head.
Question: I know you were approached before you were actually published, so did that change the way you wrote the next few books? Did you write them more cinematically thinking they might turn into films?
Stephanie Meyer: No. What’s funny about that is when I was writing Twilight just for myself and not thinking of it as a book, I was not thinking about publishing, and yet at the same time I was casting it in my head. Because when I read books, I see them very visually. I cast every book I read pretty much. I’m like, ‘Who could play this? Who would do this?’ I did exactly the same thing when I was writing it. So if I hadn’t had that feeling about it, I probably wouldn’t have agreed to do a movie in the first place, because it’s a huge risk. And it was that sense that this was a natural step for the story that made me feel like I could go ahead with it. With the others it was very similar but I had already had a movie, it was like a movie anyway with the first one and so the others were very similar but it was the same experience.
Question: Did you have any direct interaction with the actors and what did you think of Catherine, she’s kind of an interesting person as well as a director?
Stephanie Meyer: You know, Catherine’s fantastic. The first time we started talking to each other about things I was surprised because I knew this was the person whose focus was going to shape this film. And so if this person had a different idea from me, it wasn’t going to turn out very much like how I had seen it in my head. And we were on the same page from the very beginning and things that I was worried about, she was already on top of. And I would be like, ‘Hey Catherine, you know, about the wardrobe, I’m a little worried that this is going to go all chokers and leather and everything.’ And she was like, ‘Oh no, I’ve already talked to the wardrobe person and we’re thinking ice and this is what we want it to look like,’ and it was exactly what I wanted. So she was great because she got it the same way I got it and I just really loved working with her. And, you know, we’re kind of buddies. She’s really cool to hang out with, she’s just an awesome person. But tell me the first part of your question again because I have lost it.
Question: Dealing directly with actors, do you have any connection with Robert?
Stephanie Meyer: A little bit, a little bit. With Rob actually, we sat down and talked about Edward’s character before the filming started and I’d just come in and met everyone. It wasn’t an argument, but we actually disagree on his character. I’d be like, ‘No, this is how it is.’ He’s like, ‘No, it’s definitely this way.’ And the funny part about it, you know, is here we are arguing about a fictional character and yet in the performance he did what he wanted and yet it was still exactly what I wanted. So that was really cool.
Question: When you saw the finished film what was your most significant moment where you sort of felt dislocated from the finished film as opposed to the world you in your head? And was there also a similar moment where you also felt ah there it is, the world in your head, you know?
Stephanie Meyer: You know, it was a funny experience and it’s hard to pull out a moment because as a whole it was just so overwhelming. I think probably if you just said the first scene because it took me a minute, you know, and I was so braced for it, because what if it was really horrid? So I was just like all ready for it to be bad, you know? Almost watching through my fingers and I had my little notepad because it was a rough cut and I was going to give them the notes on what I wanted. So after a couple of minutes and you start getting into this voice and you start hearing Kristen’s voice and then it becomes Bella’s voice, and you see in the scenes, it got to where I completely forgot why I was there. And all the scenes, there were so many things that were like déjà vu to see them that when the movie was over and the producer, I was with her, she said, ‘Okay, let’s have your notes,’ and I said, ‘Give me a minute. I really have to just…’ I was so overwhelmed. I had to just have a moment to just sit and think because there was so much to take in and it was so many scenes were the way I had envisioned them. There was partially creepy and partially wonderful.
Question: Could you tell us a little bit, since you wrote this for yourself, what was the day you sat down and said I’m going to do this, and how did it get published and how did it all work?
Stephanie Meyer: You know, I don’t think many authors have as specific an answer to that question as I do. It all started June 2nd 2003 and I have the exact, I know the exact date because I have all these other things on my calendar that I had to do that day. And I had this really great dream. I tell this story a lot and I think it starts to sound like I’m making it up, but I’m not. I had an awesome dream and it was odd because it was coherent, because it was a really complicated conversation, and because I don’t ever dream about vampires. So that was also very odd. And I woke up and I just was wrapped up in this idea of what was going to happen next. You know, was he going to kill her or were they going to be together, because it was fifty/fifty at that point. And I wrote it down because there were a lot of nuances to the conversation I didn’t want to forget and I knew they would go. I forget everything. And once I got started within that day I was completely hooked on writing, and this was something brand new to me. I had no ambitions for a writing career. I had a career and I was really busy with it.
Question: Being a mother?
Stephanie Meyer: Being a mother, which is about the most full-time job you could have. And I had three little boys and there was no time to do something else, but I was obsessed with it from the first day. I mean here, I’d painted before, I’d done a couple of other little creative endeavors that always, they were good, you know, it felt good to be creative but it wasn’t completely fulfilling. And then writing, it was like I just found it, you know? Like you just found your favorite flavor of ice cream, all of a sudden there it is. ‘This is what I should have been doing for the last thirty years. What was I thinking?’ So I was, then I was in and then I had to just keep going with it.
Question: How did you get it published?
Stephanie Meyer: Sheer luck or fate or what have you. I had the easiest publishing experience in the entire world. I sent out fifteen courier letters to agents, got five no replies, nine rejections and one I want to see it. A month later I had an agent. Another month later I had a three book deal with Little Brown. And it does not happen that way, if you expect that going in get ready for heartbreak.
Question: Do you believe this was happening?
Stephanie Meyer: No, I still don’t.
Question: You had just come from the set and described the cafeteria scene, and you touched on this earlier about how odd it was seeing everybody there. What I want to ask is I know you listened to Muse a lot when you were writing this. How much was it important to you that they be on the soundtrack in some form?
Stephanie Meyer: You know, I knew that that was out of my hands with the music. I think I would have always felt like there was something lacking in the soundtrack if they hadn’t been a part of it. And then even more so knowing what I know now, having seen how Muse brings that scene to life and how just, that’s a moment when everything – music, action, atmosphere comes together so perfectly. I mean how could you not have that? I mean it would just not be right if you didn’t have Supermassive Black Hole playing in that scene. It was so perfect. So, you know, watching that, I think that was one of the most surprisingly enjoyable things. I knew I was going to enjoy it but not that much. That was cool.
Question: Why this enduring interest in vampires?
Stephanie Meyer: Well my answer here has to be hypothetical because I am not a vampire fan and I never have been. I don’t do horror. I’m an enormous scaredy-cat. Hitchcock is about as much as I can handle and I love it, but anything more than that and you’re not going to see me in the theater. And I have never gotten it – why are people obsessed with vampires, you know, and I know a lot of people who are. I’m actually surprised now I know how many more people are, and so the fact I would write about them is wildly out of character for me and bizarre, and nobody who knows me believed it for a really long time. But this is my theory, having talked to a lot of people about why do you like vampires so much. Besides myself it seems like everybody really loves to be scared in a controlled environment. Horror movies do really well, you know? It’s a big industry. People read a lot of scary books. So I’m missing that gene, but clearly we like to be scared and they look at the monsters we can scare ourselves with and most of them are disgusting and, you know, gruesome and they’re covered in nasty things. And we don’t want anything from them, we just want to get away from them. They’re just there to scare us. And then we’ve got vampires who are often beautiful and eternally youthful and rich and cultured and they live in castles. There are so many things that are ideals in our culture that we want that they have, so there’s this double-edged sword – they’re going to kill us and they’re terrifying and yet maybe I even want to be one. I don’t want to be a vampire. A lot of other people do and I think it’s that duel nature – we have, you know, terrifying/intriguing.
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Question: Have you had any other dreams that have fueled maybe future projects? And the second part of that, now you’ve had a taste of the Hollywood system would you think about doing a screen play rather than writing a book first?
Stephanie Meyer: Okay, with the screen play, I may have to ask you for the other one because I get going and I forget everything else. Like I said bad memory. I don’t think I could do that unless Hollywood is ready for a fourteen-hour movie experience. I tried once to write a short story and it was a horrible thing. I just, I don’t think in short. I have to explore every tiny, little detail of things. I really admire people who can come in and streamline it and get all the information across but they do it so simply. That’s not my talent so I can’t imagine doing that. Although my ideas are often very visual I’d have to have a partner who would know how to do it. Now give me the first one again?
Question: Have you had any other dreams…?
Stephanie Meyer: Oh dreams. You don’t get a dream like that twice, you know? I got my chance and I do feel like I was supposed to be writing and this dream way my kick in the pants to get going. And once I started it I didn’t need another one because once I discovered how wonderful writing was for me, I was ready to go with it.
Question: What sets your vampires apart?
Stephanie Meyer: Well in general, because I know there’s a lot of varying legends, you know, and there’s the ones that turn into bats and mist and there’s the ones that are more concrete. In general, my vampires don’t have fangs and they don’t need them. You know, strong as they are it’s kind of unnecessary. They’re fairly indestructible. Wooden stakes and garlic are not going to get you anywhere. They don’t sleep at all, they’re never unconscious, they have no periods of unconsciousness. And the sunlight doesn’t harm them, it just shows them for what they are because they sparkle in the sun.
Question: How about reflections?
Stephanie Meyer: Oh they totally have reflections and you can take pictures of them. All of that is kind of these myths, in my world these are myths that vampires actually anciently spread around so that people would say, ‘Oh this person can’t be a vampire because I can see them in the mirror so I’m safe.’
Question: As the fan base grew for the series and then it became more of a phenomenon, did that change in any way how you approached the later look? And also what was your response to the fan response of the fourth book?
Stephanie Meyer: Well as far as changing things, it couldn’t because I actually had the first three books and a rough draft of the fourth one written before Twilight ever came out, so the story was there. And it’s funny, I had this conversation with a friend of mine who wrote nonfiction, like obscure historical stories, and she was saying how it must be so hard for you because when my editors come in they can’t change anything. This is what happened. And it kind of clicked in for me because that’s exactly how I feel, like it’s historic, like this is what happened. It’s not like I can just change things, this is how it went down. And that’s a kind of awkward position to be in when your editor does want you to change things. So the fan expectations, I already knew the story. It did add a little bit of pressure and it was particularly difficult when, you know, when I’m writing I tune that out and I don’t think about it at all. But when I’m editing, I get online and I see one blog that says if A and B don’t happen I’m burning this book, and then on another page if A and B do happen, this is going to be the worse book ever. So you know going in and there is no way I can please everybody. I can’t even please half the people because everybody wants things that are so different and they’ve written this story in their heads to a way that they are happy with. I read an interview that George Lucas did about Indiana Jones and how all the fans have already written their sequel and if they don’t see that sequel, they’re going to be upset. And I really found myself in that same position. And so I was braced going in, I knew that this was going to be bad, and it was also good. That was the thing about the fourth book, is it was so much more in every aspect. It was bigger than I ever would have dared to imagine. It was better in a lot of ways and it was worse in a ton of ways. And it was a lot of overwhelming stuff that I couldn’t really take in. I found that it’s easier for me, when I’m at home and I don’t have to talk into a microphone in front of a bunch of people, I just forget that this is all going on and I just live my life. And the writing’s a part of it, but I don’t think about this part because it’s too hard.
Question: What did you think when you went to the set? I mean how often did you go first of all?
Stephanie Meyer: I think I went about four times and all…
Question: You were on the set in Arizona?
Stephanie Meyer: No, I was never on the set. It was actually California and Portland. I was in Portland about four times, in and out, and probably a total of about two weeks altogether.
Question: And what did you think of the filmmaking process?
Stephanie Meyer: That was one of the coolest things that agreeing to do a movie gave me. You know, because I’m right in the middle with this, I had two book tours this year and all kinds of crazy stuff going on. The movie was just fun. I found it fascinating. One time I had my brother with me for a couple of days and I know he was bored stupid. That poor kid, he was just like, ‘Huh, how can they say the same line again for the sixteenth time?’ And for me every time, that was with the humans that week, and every time Anna Kendrick said it she added a new little twist or her eyebrow raised just a little bit differently, and the nuances were fascinating to me, and that’s because it was mine. I don’t know if I’d be that way on another film but I was riveted on the edge of my seat looking at the monitor and, ‘Oh I love that,’ and just thrilled.
Question: Did the cast embody your vision?
Stephanie Meyer: Yes. I mean if someone had pulled me in there and said, ‘Okay, we’ve got a roomful of your characters. Let’s see if you can pin the names on them.’ Oh it would have been cake. It would have been so easy. They were so clearly who they were. And, really, I think the acting in this movie is something special. It’s amazing. Here’s all these people, really people you haven’t heard of yet, I mean some of them to an extent, but a lot of these kids are new and they’re so good. I mean they’re just so believable and you feel like yes, you’re just sitting there with a bunch of kids from high school because this is how they sound. It didn’t sound like people acting. It sounded like people being people.
Question: So what is the status of Midnight Sun?
Stephanie Meyer: Oh Midnight Sun is not on my schedule right now. It’s part of my writing process that for me to really write a story, and like I was saying before, I can’t think about what other people want and what other people are thinking, and what the editing is going to be and what the expectations are when I’m writing. Because it’s paralyzing to do that, you really can’t put a word on the page. I have to be very alone with a story. It has to be just me and what’s happening, and I just can’t feel that way about it right now. And it’s a weird thing and I’m not sure what it’s all about but I think that, you know, this is going to die down. This is like what, two months old? People are going to forget about it. It’s going to go away and that’ll be, you know, the time when I sneak back in and give it a try again. But it’s going to have to be after everything is, it’s not writing in a fishbowl because I can’t work that way.
Question: It’s a given that the rest of the books are going to get made into films, which one do you expect to be the most challenging to adapt?
Stephanie Meyer: That a given, huh?
Stephanie Meyer: We’ll see. If it were a given that every one of these will be made, book four without a doubt is the hardest thing to do and there’s a really simple reason for that. You have a character in that and you almost have to do a CGI. And while CGI can do dragons and it can do almost anything in the whole world. The one thing that I’ve never seen is a completely realistic CGI human. So that’s something that either groundbreaking technology will have to develop in the next couple of years or it will be impossible. One or the other.
Question: Which character is that?
Stephanie Meyer: Nessie.
Question: There’s a very critical moment in the film when Bella said I’m thinking radioactive plasma and Kryptonite, did you sort of think it would be tough to switch the team pop culture away from the superhero and back towards the supernatural or did it not feel like, did it feel like something kids were going to be into?
Stephanie Meyer: You know, I never worried about that for a second. I was into it and I am much more drawn to superheroes than I am to vampires. And I really think there’s a closer connection with my vampires, between superheroes and them than traditional vampires and who they are. So I really, with my writing, what it comes down to was I getting a kick out of this? Then, ‘Okay, we’ll go with it.’ And if somebody else is not clicking for them, you know, that’s why there’s forty billion books in the world, because there’s something for everybody.
Question: Has your writing process changed since you’re first dream prompted you into writing?
Stephanie Meyer: It has. It’s gone through some evolutions as I experiment with different ways to do things. With Twilight, I didn’t know it was going to happen when I wrote it. It just was writing to find out the answer. With the others I had to start outlining. I had to be more careful because I knew when I started the sequel, New Moon, where it was going to end, so that takes a lot more work to tie up the threads. And I’ve experimented with a couple of other things on the side, so I haven’t really consolidated what I do. The biggest change is that when I started writing I had three kids under the school age all day. All my kids are in school full-time now so that really has been the biggest change in my writing style.
Question: How old are your kids now?
Stephanie Meyer: My kids are eleven, eight and six. And if I could freeze them there, I would because they’re perfect.
Question: How did you find time to write the book?
Stephanie Meyer: I lost sleep to write. I mean you had to give something up and I wasn’t giving up my time with my kids and I couldn’t give up the things I had to do, so it was sleep.
Question: Was there a certain song on the soundtrack that specifically spoke to you in a really personal way? I know it sounded fantastic but I was wondering what particularly inspired you.
Stephanie Meyer: Aside from the Muse song, which was already part of what I listen to all the time, these songs were all new for me. And I have to say the Iron & Wine song was really the one that just made me an instant fan. Probably because the first time I heard it was when I watched the movie and in that scene it’s just so perfectly melted in with the feeling. And so that was when it got me.
Question: Can you talk about shooting your cameo?
Stephanie Meyer: Yes, but it’s painful. It was not my idea to do the cameo. They talked me into it. They thought it would be, you know, cute for the fans because most of them would recognize me. I was thinking it was going to be more like a Where’s Waldo thing. Like I walk by for one second in a crowd and if they can find me, cool. That’s the one scene in the movie I would happily cut, the first five seconds, and the one that I had to watch like, I mean like this, ‘Ah, is it over yet?’ It was really hard for me.
Question: How many takes?
Stephanie Meyer: Well I did however many takes they were doing. It wasn’t about me. It was about the actors and such.
Question: Well what’s your cameo, for those of us who have no idea?
Stephanie Meyer: Oh didn’t you recognize me? Really? No, it was in the scene when Bella and Charlie are at the diner and the waitress is asking them, you know, what’s the news about Waylon’s murderer. There was a woman sitting at the counter and for some reason the camera focuses on her for like a good five seconds, and you’re like, ‘Why are we looking at this person?’ And that was me.
Question: Is the series over now for the books, are you done?
Stephanie Meyer: It’s done for now. I mean I can’t promise that I won’t get lonely for the Cullens and come back to them in ten years, but right now I feel really satisfied with where it is so I’m not planning on doing anything with it but, you know, no guarantees.