“I’ve experienced verbal abuse, male directors coming in unprepared, with no shot list, or drunk. They’ve even brought prostitutes onto the set.... I cry after a tough day and people can’t handle it.”
TWILIGHT directed by Catherine Hardwicke, written by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer, with Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Cam Gigandet. 120 minutes. A Seville release. Opens Friday (November 21). For venues and times, see Movies.
Los angeles - Given the screeching teenage girls camped out for days in Toronto at MuchMusic awaiting the arrival of the cast of Twilight, you could be forgiven for thinking the new vampire romance pic is strictly for kids.
But director Catherine Hardwicke won't be among those forgiving types.
"Shakespeare wrote Romeo And Juliet and the lovers are 15, but do you think he wrote it for teenagers only?" she asks pointedly, sitting in a hotel room in L.A. looking a bit like a hippie throwback: tons of bangle bracelets, high suede boots, hair à la Joni Mitchell in the 60s.
"Stephenie [Meyer, author of the original series of novels] didn't write it for teenagers. They forced her to make it adult fiction. I know book clubs of 70-year-old women, and this is their book this month."
Twilight is Hardwicke's fourth feature, and they all have one thing in common: teenagers rule.
"It's a fascinating age - first time you have boobs, first time you can smoke, drink, drive a car, figure out what kind of person you are. Among teenagers, there are more suicides, more car accidents, more murders, more unplanned pregnancies. Every statistic increases at that age, which makes it more dramatic."
Hardwicke's films also boast impressive performances, from new heartthrob Robert Pattinson in Twilight, to Keisha Castle-Hughes in The Nativity Story, Evan Rachel Wood in Thirteen and, famously, Heath Ledger as very strange mentor in the skater flick Lords Of Dogtown.
"When I heard that Heath wanted to play the role, I thought he was much too beautiful," Hardwicke says, bangles jangling as she gesticulates. "But he did a full-on physical transformation.
"He left us and started filming Brokeback Mountain eight days later. You'd think it would have taken him eight months to figure out how to get into the saddle. But he had that fluidity in his body so that he could become each person.
"I still can't believe he's gone. I still read a script and think, ‘Heath would be good for this....'"
Over 21 years, Hardwicke's made her way up the Hollywood hierarchy, starting out as an art director before making it to director. When I ask if the movie industry has become more open to female directors, her answer is a clear no.
"I've worked with 20 directors, and 18 were male. I've experienced verbal abuse, male directors coming unprepared, with no shot list, or drunk. They've even brought prostitutes onto the set.
"I have one thing that's considered a flaw: after a tough day I've turned away and started to cry. Now from producers I get ‘She cries on set.' Directors have been sued for sexual harassment, but that's cool. I cry and people can't handle it."
Hardwicke is hoping to step up to action flicks, but she's getting resistance about that, too. "They say I don't do CGI, but I was trained in CGI. I've done stunts, too. If they can promote Chris Nolan, Bryan Singer, Sam Rami, why not me?" she wonders.
Though Twilight ends with an obvious lead-in to a sequel, Hardwicke's not so sure that will happen.
"The next book is about twice as expensive to make. There are werewolves, a lot more CGI, more locations, more stunts. The sequel depends on how the first movie does."
Based on the crush outside MuchMusic last week, the prognosis looks pretty damn good.
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