Dialogue: 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn' Director Bill Condon on Adapting the Steamiest Chapter in the Saga

Dialogue: 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn' Director Bill Condon on Adapting the Steamiest Chapter in the Saga

Jul 22, 2011

Yesterday our resident Twilight expert, Laura Byrne-Cristiano, gave us a first had account of the highly anticipated The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn panel at Comic-Con.  Today she brings us an exclusive chat with the film's director, Bill Condon.

Twilight Breaking DawnMovies.com: Today is your first time at Comic Con , and your first exposure to the Twilight fandom at large. What was going through your head on that dais?

Bill Condon: I was praying that nobody booed at the clip, that they would be accepting of it, because that’s like crazy.  I’ve been in the editing room, and it’s so cocooned. We haven’t had any test screening. So to show scenes, six to seven minutes of the movie, my heart was beating definitely. But it felt good. I thought it went well.

Movies.com: Some people might say that Breaking Dawn is a departure from your usual work. Do you see it as a big departure from what you’ve done previously?

Condon: No. It’s just that I started out making horror movies, and I like different genres. I’m not saying this is a horror movie specifically. I don’t know why I do key into these characters, and especially Bella, in my own way. I don’t know if I can describe it any better than that. It doesn’t seem so different to me.

Movies.com: You mentioned your history in the horror genre, I think a lot of fans my not associate you with horror so much as Dream Girls or Kinsey.  Which of the horror films that you have worked on is your favorite?

Condon: The first thing I wrote, Strange Behavior, it’s got a very off-beat tone. It’s like a mad scientist movie from the 1950’s, but it’s the 1980’s. I have a real fondness for that movie. Everything is done with a skewed approach and a wink to it. Which I think, when I made God’s and Monsters, so much of that movie is a riff on The Bride of Frankenstein. Strange Behavior was in its own way too. So I don’t know it all comes back to that same movie.

Movies.com: Maybe you have a calling to The Bride of Frankenstein. You can do the next revamped Mel Brooks version.

Condon: [Laughs] Exactly, exactly.

Twilight Waterfall

Movies.com: You showed two clips today.  For the clip that was of the honeymoon scene in the secluded island getaway, the thing that struck me was that there is so much silence. There isn’t a lot of dialogue. That could result in intended awkward silences or just unwanted awkwardness, can you relate how that choice came about?

Condon: That’s very intriguing. I was looking because we started to do a temp mix on the movie, and the whole last reel it’s 20 minutes long and there are only 59 lines.  So maybe that’s a thing. I don’t know. But there, there is this incredible elephant in the room, and it’s called a bed. It’s between them, and it’s almost comic how much this has been anticipated. Forget about the fan anticipation, but just the anticipation of these two characters. So inevitably, it’s about what’s going on between the lines.  The two actors just captured that so well. Part of it is its awkwardness is funny too, but in a very real way.  

Movies.com: In other words the audience is laughing with Bella not at her as she’s flinging all these skimpy outfits out of the suitcase?

Condon: Right, right.

Movies.com: In the Hall H panel, you talked about how you feel that there is no bigger Twilight fan on the set than Kristen Stewart. Can you expand on that?

Condon: Right from the beginning she was a real collaborator. When I sit down with her with and a draft of the script and she says, “God I miss this part not being in,” most of the time we put it right back in. I think she never loses sight of what it was like for her the first time she read Breaking Dawn. She’s reading it as a fan, but also with the responsibility of giving and living up to what is expressed in the books about what Bella is feeling. She becomes an important voice to listen to in all of that. As I said we’d talk about it, then we’d rehearse it, then we’d block it, then we’d come to the day and we would still find some nuisances that we’d want to explore having reread it again the night before.

Taylor LautnerMovies.com: The other clip featured Taylor Lautner with the wolf pack and also with Carlisle and Esme Cullen. You mentioned in the Hall H panel that some of the scene was book-based and some was original. Did you have any chance to collaborate with Taylor Lautner the way you did Kristen Stewart?

Condon: Yes, totally, absolutely! He is equally devoted to the book. It was funny today someone asked him on the panel  if he felt as if he was as heroic as Jacob? He hemmed and hawed. I’m not talking about his heroism, but I do feel like there is an openness of heart to him. It is so much right in line with Jacob that he was really intent on holding on to all those moments. And again he very much felt the responsibility of interpreting what was going on with his character. He would refer to the book absolutely.

Movies.com: We also saw brief clips of Peter Facinelli and Elizabeth Reaser as Carlisle and Esme Cullen. Do we see more of the Cullens functioning as a  family unit  in this movie?

Condon: You know it’s interesting because you get to see them at the wedding obviously, and it’s something that Alice has thrown, but there’s not a lot of conflict there.  Once Bella comes back from her honeymoon people take sides. There are people for the idea of keeping that baby, and those that are against. So there is this conflict between them all  that really has come to the surface.  It’s interesting because we have never seen that much before. Obviously they voted on Bella’s fate, so they each had a point of view towards that, but it’s never been as sharp before.  There’s Esme just shutting down a conversation, Rosalie screaming at Alice, and stuff like that. So that a fun development.

Movies.com: When you read the source material the first time, what was the scene the you envisioned the clearest?

Condon: I think the love making oddly enough, and how to approach that.

Movies.com: Did you know right away where you were going to go with that?

Condon: I sort of had an idea as I was reading it which was what I turned out to do. It’s fun when that comes to you. You take it through the steps of meeting Stephenie Meyer and pitching it to her. Then eighteen months later it’s exactly what’s on screen.

Movies.com: The two films Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2 were shot concurrently.  You’re obviously working on part one right now. Do you have any downtime before you hit part two?

Condon: I have things like this.  Going to openings and talking about the movie, in a weird way, will be a down time. It’s certainly something different to do. In the fall I’m also going to London to record the score so that will be a nice little break.

Movies.com: Do you know what new projects you’ll be working on after this concludes?

Condon: No it’s just too far down the road . I have a year still with this. I’m starting to think about things, but nothing set up or anything.

Categories: Interviews, Comic-Con
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