‘Breaking Dawn’ Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg on How She Wrapped Up ‘Twilight’: ‘What Would Be the Most Dramatic Thing to Happen?’
Although Stephenie Meyer is undeniably the creator of Twilight, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg shepherded the book series to the screen just as much as Meyer: she adapted all four books into now five films, and helped audiences see what they only imagined on the page.
Even for audiences skeptical of the films, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is a surprisingly satisfying finale for the franchise, offering both a rousing, action-packed climax and a decidedly quieter, more romantic payoff. Gratifyingly, Rosenberg came up with that ending working directly with Meyer, who at one point wasn’t even sure if she wanted Breaking Dawn to be brought to the screen.
Rosenberg spoke with Celebuzz earlier this week via phone to talk about their collaboration, and to reveal the ideas and inspirations that helped her wrap up one of the most successful and famous film series in recent memory.
Celebuzz: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 really felt like it existed so much to satisfy the fans who had been waiting so long to see Bella and Edward get married and go on their honeymoon. What sort of challenge was there to really indulge that and then to know that you were really going to have to accelerate things to create this really epic finale?
Melissa Rosenberg: The second half was actually a great deal less challenging than the first because it is very languid and it didn’t have a lot of a story engine to it -- it’s very much a character piece and a relationship piece. It was trying to bring conflict, to really dramatize conflict within the story of the character piece. Whereas in the second one there’s so much story and so much drive in that storytelling that it just really sort of naturally lends itself to a great, action-heavy, fun movie.
MR: Oh, I’m so glad. I’m so glad. When Stephanie and I came up with that we were at a steak dinner in Vancouver. Neither of us really knew how to end Four and she was debating whether or not she would even let the book be optioned, and we started talking about the end and it was one of those sort of great conversations where we just batted around some ideas and I’m not even sure who came up with it. But it was that moment of inspiration -- we both kind of went, “Wait a minute. Is that good?” “I think so.” And we were both really afraid that audiences would feel sort of tricked by it as opposed to taken along for the ride.
CB: The thing about that finale is that it’s so intense, and the series has obviously been sort of delicate about the particulars of vampirism and werewolves. How careful did you have to be in conceiving that? Did you come in with a very specific idea of how much would be shown or how much could be followed through on without either compromising the rating or turning the film into like a straightforward horror movie?
MR: I learned this from Dexter -- you don’t need to show buckets of blood in order to evoke that. But when I was writing it, it was no holds barred for me. I mean, I just sort of looked at it as, “Okay, what would be the most dramatic thing to happen?” And after that first thing, all hell breaks loose. So I just sort of started telling people and then it was certainly up to Bill and our stunt and effects people to make sure that it was not pushing the boundaries. But I still think it was pretty violent, wasn’t it?
MR: That scene with Charlie and Jacob was probably one of my favorite scenes ever to write, and it was exactly that -- that sort of play on the fact that he’s always got his clothes off. I loved that. It was probably the most fun moment in the movie for me to write, because the books are all told from Bella’s point of view, so as a screenwriter I get to actually write that scene and that’s a really fun territory to play in. And yeah, the Bella slouching and all that, I may actually have gone a little bit further with it the script. I think Bill pulled that back so much, but I was just having so much fun with it.
CB: How much did you orchestrate the evolution of these characters as each film came along? I know the idea is to think about them individually as films, but at a certain point when these films were made it became a foregone conclusion that they weren’t going to stop making these movies before the books were all adapted.
MR: Well, the one who has the largest part is Bella. The movies are all kind of driven by her pursuit of her own desires and her pursuit of her own self-realization. And the fifth movie is really the embodiment of that, and her final battle to seek to achieve her goals, which is to be a vampire, to be with Edward, to experience her power. It’s like who she is and what her power is and how to use it. I mean, it’s literally an empowerment movie, and that’s a very distinct arc throughout all five movies. I mean, she just gets stronger and more specific about what she wants as each one goes along.
MR: The thing that was the most significant for me was the creative collaboration with Stephanie, with our producers and with the studio Summit, which I’ve done six movies and they’re always fun and with Eric Fry, who is president of it. And with the directors, you know, particularly Bill Condon. It’s just like those kind of creative collaborations don’t happen all the time. The chemistry and the work style, it’s just a really rare thing in our business. So that’s what I’m going to miss the most.
Watch Celebuzz' video review of Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 below.