Bill Condon is probably the best thing that could have happened to the Twilight Saga. However you feel about the series, Condon’s work on the franchise has made the series seem much more self-aware, and honestly, a bit more fun. His approach was what the series needed to appeal not only to its most loyal fans, but the unfortunate boyfriends that will be dragged to theaters over the weekend. Hopefully they’ll have enough sense to walk on over to Skyfall.
We were fortunate enough to sit in and listen to Bill Condon discuss the series, how he feels now that it’s over, and what his favorite vampire film is.
Do you have a sense of closure on the film, and what other challenges did this present?
I thought the real challenge was to make sure it was a satisfying climax. I was very aware of not only the two films I had made, but the three that came before it. We open with kind of this overture and then, at the end, kind of pay tribute to the whole series. I started this two years and eight months ago, so I’d say I’m happy.
What was your approach to bringing some of the more mental vampire powers (i.e. – Bella’s shield) to the screen?
Early on, I thought it can’t be something that’s just suggested, but I wanted to make Bella’s power as subtle as possible. It really feels like something that feels a part of her, but I didn’t want it to be a bubble around her. So it all presented specific challenges. For instance, Alex’s power, we really tried to present like a horror movie. We really went for it as a really, nasty thing. Yet, I still feel like we were going for subtlety.
The cast has grown in this picture. How was it for you to give these characters enough time to get to know them?
Part of the turn on for me is that each director has had the chance to introduce new characters, and this is the film where I got to do that. Part of the casting process was that everyone had to pop in a very short time. By the time you got onto that field, you knew who everybody was and what they could do. It was a very interesting challenge because you had no idea what they could do until forty minutes into the movie, and then a half-hour later they have their final scene. I attribute that to the gifts of the actors. They all took it so seriously, they all had complete backstories that they brought to their moments, and I think they successfully managed to make their characters pop.
Could you talk about the arc that Bella goes through and the performances you got from Kristen Stewart in the latter stages?
Bella’s arc wasn’t that big across the first three movies. And part one of this movie, she’d fallen in love with a guy and was going to marry him. We’d made this as one movie, and if you look at these two movies together, it really speaks to the achievement of Kristen Stewart. She starts as the Bella we know from the previous movies. She then becomes pregnant, initiation and loses her life, and rebirthed as a vampire. It’s important for people to remember that we shot all of this at the same time, so she would go from being this badass, warrior in the morning and she’d be initiated in the afternoon. It really was an incredible thing to watch. I think she so embodies the character, and she is really so focused when she is in something. This was her chance to play the vampire, and she looked at everyone and said ‘I can do that better,’ and she got to prove it.
Talk about the duality between the two films, as this one seemed more self-aware with more humor. How did you do that?
It’s not about a wink, it’s about remembering that this is young adult fiction and that it’s not the world of Batman. It’s got a different tone you know, and I think Michael Sheen perfectly embodies that. He’s perfect, crazily scary, but there’s something lovable about him. The whole plot that takes over with the reintroduction of the vampires, as opposed to the first movie, and it becomes this epic action movie, and some of it has to be funny because they’re so strange.
You’ve mad some great independent films. Can you talk about the difference of making a tentpole, franchise movie as opposed to those smaller films?
When you’re actually making it, it’s the same experience. It’s about working with the actors and collaborating with the actors, and making the movie the best it can be. But first is the fanbase, and they’re always aware of how you’re putting it together. I’ve been very aware on this movie on this movie as opposed to other films that you’re making it for people who love it. In production, these movies are made on fifty day schedules, and Summit is more scrappier that the bigger studios.
What has the effect of these films been on your career?
I would say it’s not different. I’m about to do a movie that’s really at the same scale as the movies I’d done before, so so far, nothing.
And when asked what his favorite vampire movie is…
Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Breaking Dawn: Part 2 opens tomorrow, but Twi-Hards will be there tomorrow at midnight.