Seven hundred and fifty-four pages.
Bill Condon had a tall order and a lot of content to cover when he signed on to direct The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2, the fourth and fifth films based on Stephenie Meyer’s novels. But he was up for the challenge.
“Well, I think the biggest challenge is that these books are so beloved by so many people that you want to make sure that obviously it’s your take on the material but that it doesn’t betray people’s expectations and yet still becomes a full cinematic experience,” Condon said.
The cast was a big help to Condon. Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward Cullen; Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella Swan; and Taylor Lautner, who plays Jacob Black; have been in these roles for several years and helped Condon get a better understanding of these characters. In fact, the four of them spent two weeks before filming began talking through what had happened in the previous films and what was coming for their characters.
“At a certain point, when an actor starts to embody a role, they know it better than you ever will. And certainly that was true here,” Condon said.
After working together for so long, the cast has become close – particularly Pattinson and Stewart – and Condon was happy to work with their chemistry.
“It’s crazy, you know, just how close they are. It’s wonderful. I feel as though, because they’re more relaxed with that, it added something to the movie because obviously this is the part where they are together, and that’s something they didn’t have to act,” he said.
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Of course, with that much content, some of it had to be cut, even with two films.
“It’s all about the rules of visual storytelling,” he said.
In this case, the visual storytelling initially did not hit a PG-13 rating. Scenes from Edward and Bella’s honeymoon were changed to achieve that rating, but Condon says that “it’s not very different from what you see now.”
Breaking Dawn does take on adult topics – marriage and motherhood – and Condon feels that fans are ready for that.
“I think they’ve gotten older, too,” he said. “I think that it’s important that the series grow with them. These concerns are not the same concerns Bella had when she moved from Arizona.”
For the most part, these stories were filmed in Vancouver, Canada. But for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2, the cast and crew traveled to Brazil to film honeymoon scenes and spent four months filming in Baton Rouge, La.
“We know that we have to be in the Pacific Northwest and Canada for Forks, Wash., and all the exteriors. We knew we had to go to Brazil for the honeymoon. It just worked out that we could shoot all of our stage work in Baton Rouge and then go up to Vancouver when it came time to shoot all of the exteriors,” producer Wyck Godfrey said.
Now that the film is finished, Condon is looking forward to the reaction of fans.
“It’s exciting to be able to work on something where every decision is going to be studied and reacted to by a large group of people. It’s something that means so much to people,” Condon said.
Krista Richmond blogs at Killer Film.