Chris Weitz’s grandmother, Lupita Tovar, appeared in the 1931 version of Dracula. So it seems fitting that the director now is helming The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the second movie in the Twilight franchise, about the romance between a young girl named Bella and a vampire called Edward Cullen.
When he was approached about doing the movie, Weitz was unfamiliar with the novels, and immediately read the books and went to see the first film.
At the press junket he spoke about his experience.
Can you talk about the arc of this second movie?
The stakes are higher. Now it’s not just Bella’s existence that’s in danger, but Edward’s existence as well. In terms of the story’s world, we get a look at new areas and corners of the mythology, and as the mythology expands, so does the movie.
Sure, we’re telling a story about vampires and werewolves and the supernatural. But beyond that it deals with these very basic human feelings of love, longing, need, loss, attachment and friendship. It deals with the danger that you put your heart into when you fall in love.
As Bella says in Twilight, she’s not afraid of Edward because he’s a vampire, she’s afraid because she’s so in love with him. And there’s a kind of love triangle that develops in this movie, which is really very relatable and appealing.
Did your work directing the young cast of American Pie help you adjust to working with this young cast in any way?
Not in the way you would expect, because even though the cast of this movie is quite young, they had all been in quite a lot of stuff before, especially Kristen Stewart. With American Pie most of them were first timers. So I didn’t feel like I had to do any hand holding with our young actors.
Edward disappears in the book. Because of the popularity of the character you needed to have him in the movie. Can you talk about why you did what you did?
It’s tricky. You don’t want too much of Edward because then you lose the really important sense of missing him. On some level you don’t want too little because everybody loves Rob (Pattinson).
The important thing about it is reading a book takes between 13 and 17 hours and a film that lasts two hours, actually Rob is not out of the movie for terribly long.
The crucial difference between the book and the film is that when Bella hallucinates Edward’s voice, she also sees him. That’s a nice little flavoring, a little dose of Edward when we need it. I was very keen that when we presented it visually, it be as subtle as possible. It was kind re-imagining the ghosting effect and trying to come up with something quite special for it.
Was there a real possibility you would have cast someone else to play Jacob other than Taylor Lautner?
I would say there was a big possibility that could have happened, but I was always convinced he was going to be able to do it. Doubts came up because he had very few scenes in the first movie, and because he is described as being 6-foot-5 in the second book, so there was some reasonable facts we had to come to grips with.
I like the sweetness of his character in the first movie. I knew it was easier to take an actor in the direction of anger and rage than it was to find some sort of hunk-ster Native American and some how turn him into that very sweet nature that Taylor brings out.
Your grandmother was in the original 1931 “Dracula.” Did you feel like this was destiny?
To be honest, about a week before this was offered to me I was saying to a friend of mine, “Why are they making so many vampire movies? I just don’t get it.” I don’t feel fated to have done this.
The vampire thing is not what appeals to me about this series of books. It is the characters and Bella especially. And the chance to work with these young actors, especially Kristen who I think is extraordinary.
I have actresses in my lineage and I respect what they do. The fact they played vampires is a strange coincidence.