Interview: 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn Pt. 2' director Bill Condon
"Part of what drew me to these movies is that they're an old Hollywood genre -- romantic melodrama ...'
In wire-rimmed glasses and with the smile of a particularly beloved Guidance Counselor, "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" director Bill Condon -- who filmed both installments of the finale -- director Bill Condon is the man behind the curtain, bring the finale of Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" books to the screen as two films. We spoke with him in Los Angeles about the challenges faced in making the book into a film, simple moments of pleasure among the spectacle, and the ultimate end of the saga ...
MSN Movies: As a director, it's got to be rare to have the chance to do the finale of a saga boiled down to an entire film, which in its way is all a big finish. But how do you make sure it has an ebb and a flow and a life to it beyond that build to the finale?
Bill Condon: Right, well I think part of it is the first half hour of this movie is kind of the completion of Bella's story, you know? When she finally incorporates her father into her life, then you know she's figured out a way to be a vampire and to be happy. So that had its own rhythm to it that was similar to the first movie, and then the story starts about this misunderstanding that brings a great threat to them and then brings vampires collected from all around the world. So that has its own kind of rhythm.
Mr. Pattinson was saying that filming the climactic fight scene involved basically being on a flat piece of ground surrounded by green screen for about three months. What was that like to prepare? It's got to be like going to war almost.
It was, absolutely. We put it all on a film, a pre-visualisaton, which was much longer than what's actually in the film; we shot a lot more. But it was massive, yeah. There was no question -- elaborate stunts, so many people working so hard. And then the interesting thing is that when we finished, we pulled it all apart and started all over again in the editing room so it actually doesn't really resemble what we shot so much.
The other thing is that, these are beautiful films in their way, whether it's the opening credits or shots of the terrain. Is that important to…
You know, part of what drew me to these movies is that they are, it's like an old Hollywood genre, you know, romantic melodrama. And you think of those movies from Minelli and Sirk and all that, and you do get to play that arena here with a lot of visual splendor.
Yeah, absolutely, yes.
How imperative is the production design? Because it's got to look like a slightly heightened version of the real world.
Is there stuff you find yourself dialing back to keep yourself from getting too vampire-y?
No, I think that that Richard Sherman (Production Designer) stuck exactly the right note. For example, a big thing in the book is that they are given, as a gift, a cottage. Bella and Edward were given a cottage to live in, you know? And making that some kind of ideal version of a cottage -- a bit fairytale but also real and also kind of cool, you know? That's the kind of thing that was a challenge in this film, and Richard did it beautifully.
Did this process increase your taste for big moviemaking, that kind of epic canvas?
I don’t know. I really like to mix it up, so I think after awhile I think I'm really probably doing something that's smaller and more realistic.
What to you was the thing you were happiest about in the final film? It doesn't have to be a huge moment. Often we get satisfaction from those little things. But what for you was the one moment that just closed a button on it?
Right. There were so many of them, but I think it's the moment that is so beautiful in the book where Bella lets down her shield and lets (Edward) see inside her and see what she's always thought about him, you know? I just think we were able to find a visual way to do that that I found satisfying.