1. No one wanted to adapt Twilight, the first in the series of Stephenie Meyers' vampire novels.
"Every studio rejected that movie," Catherine Hardwicke recently told BuzzFeed News. "Paramount put it into turnaround, Fox didn't want it — nobody wanted that movie, no one thought it could make any money."
Hardwicke, a former production designer turned director, had made Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, and A Nativity Story before she was attached to Twilight.
"We tossed out the script that Paramount had — when I went to my first meeting, I said, 'This is going in the trash. I could never make a good movie out of this. We're going to rewrite it more similar to the book,'" Hardwicke said. (Melissa Rosenberg went on to write all five Twilight Saga screenplays.)
Though Twilight is horror fiction, Hardwicke primarily thought it was about "first love." "That first crazy dizzy stupid love — Stephenie captured that in the book," she said. "Can I do that in film? Can I just make everyone in the theater feel what it felt like to fall madly in love with somebody no matter how stupid it was? And wonderful. I wanted to see if I could capture that."
2. To make the fantastical story feel real, Hardwicke said she "did what I do on every movie: try to get really grounded."
When it came time to work with Kristen Stewart to build the character of Bella, Hardwicke said, "There's the book and the script, but there's also the moments before."
When Bella moves to Forks, she's leaving her mother to reconnect with her father, Charlie (Billy Burke), once more. He's also basically the only person she knows in the town — but they're estranged.
Hardwicke said she, Stewart, and Burke worked on that awkward dynamic. "How was your relationship with your dad even when you were 10 years old? Were you there when the parents fought a lot? So that the moment she comes to Forks and starts living with her dad, that would be a loaded moment — they would have a history. Billy Burke, Kristen Stewart, and I, we improv-ed going to Disneyland three years before — we improv-ed 10 other scenes not in the movie; they'll never be in the movie."
To create Bella, Hardwicke said, "We made a life. She was a real girl — a real person, with a real history."
3. But Hardwicke also took liberties with some of the characters in Meyers's novels.
"With the kids, they're a bit more fleshed out than they are in the novel," she said. "They had personalities and quirks. Anna Kendrick — I combined a couple of characters in the novel and made Anna's character."
4. Having cast Stewart and Robert Pattinson, Hardwicke watched the "frenzy" that developed around them feeling somewhat "guilty."
"Not guilty for the fact that they now have $40/$50/$70 million!" Hardwicke said with a laugh. "But guilty for what it did to their private lives. Of course we did not expect that."
"Of course I loved Rob and Kristen, and their indie nature and their beautiful spirit," she continued. "They're both quirky and weird and like unique things. They're odd. And obviously, Kristen was only 17 when I started working with her, and that's a very tender age, when you're starting to figure out what you love."
"I wish they could have had the experience without that paparazzi mania," said Hardwicke. "But I think they're making wise choices now, and really trying experimental things — trying to get back to what they love, and find their heart and soul. So I applaud them."