Diane Kruger Discusses ‘The Host,’ Desert Hiking, and the Joy of Radishes

It’s a chilly evening in New York as I greet Diane Kruger at the restaurant of the NoMad Hotel, a sceney new destination in the recently-made-up NoMad (“North of Madison Square Park”) neighborhood, where midtown suits supposedly mingle with downtown denim. Kruger has just arrived back in the States from a two-week vacation in South America, one of those life-affirming adventures with her longtime partner, actor Joshua Jackson, that involved desert trekking, mountain climbing, and long, quiet moments beholding the vast beauty of the natural world. It was a welcome break from her hectic schedule, as the German-born veteran of such films as Troy, National Treasure, and Inglorious Basterds has been working nonstop. After completing work in The Host, a film based on the book by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, she immediately moved on to the Terrence Malick-helmed The Green Blade Rises, and shot a pilot for FX called The Bridge. But tonight, she seems relaxed and happy to be back in New York, looking cozy and gorgeous in a white patterned sweater. She’ll soon fly back to her house and vegetable garden in Los Angeles before alighting once again in Paris, where she keeps an apartment, and, apparently, her heart. But, for now, we’ll share some radishes and thoughts on acting, gardening, and the meaning of home.  

Waiter: Can I get you something to drink?

Diane Kruger: Can I get the Riesling? Is it dry?

It’s a bit dry.

A bit dry? 

It’s quite dry.

I’ll try it. 

BlackBook: Mad Men’s back soon. I thought Season 4 was the best season.

I’m really good friends with January Jones, so I hope to see her more in the show.  She said when she signed on that her character didn’t even have a name. She was “wife of.” [Drinks arrive. Clinking glasses.] Cheers, nice to meet you. 

Waiter: The menu goes from the raw vegetables here to the meatier components. These radishes are dipped in tempura butter. I don’t even like radishes normally but I love these. 

I’m for the radishes.

BlackBook: Let’s radish it up.

The food here is very good. Funny enough, I’m actually going to the Fat Radish later tonight. I love radishes. When I have a dinner party I always have radishes.

You cook? 

I do.

I gave up on cooking a few years ago and never looked back. What’s your special dish?

I don’t really have one. I just love the process of cooking. And I’m obsessed with cookbooks.  I collect cookbooks and I love to just pick a recipe and spend a day cooking it. It’s my way of unwinding. I’ll go to the market on Saturday and buy everything fresh. It really takes my mind off everything. We just started a garden, so we try to grow as much as we can. It’s so satisfying. Beets, tomatoes, and cucumbers. So much food. Now I’m pickling stuff, which I’ve never done before in my life.

Beets?

They grow like wildfire. It’s so cool having a garden.

Tomatoes are the best when you grow them yourself.

Bizarrely, our tomatoes didn’t turn out as good as we’d hoped. We bought the tiny plants and I felt like they were watery.

(Waiter arrives with what looks like a hat box with radish hors d’oeuvres on top.)

Tell me about your trip to Chile. Was that a vacation?

Yes, it was great. We were there 14 days.  We flew into Santiago. It was my gift to my partner, Josh (Joshua Jackson). He just finished a project and it was his lifelong dream to go to Chile. Have you been to Patagonia?

Not yet. I’m a northern hemisphere guy.

We hiked every day. (Shows some pictures on her phone.) We went to the Atacama. It’s an elevated desert. We hiked up a mountain and summited at 18,600 feet.

That’s pretty hardcore. You’re not lounging on a beach.

There’s so much space. It was different than anything I’ve ever seen.

Was it warm down there?

Yeah, Atacama was really hot, it was 85 degrees. Patagonia was cooler.

I’ve never been to South America at all.

I’ve been to Argentina, Uruguay …

Our photo editor, Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez, is Uruguayan. 

Yeah, from where?

Uh, I’m not sure. In the middle somewhere. Uruguay City?

That’s funny.

And she’s a vegetarian. She says it’s impossible to be a vegetarian down there.

And on a diet, forget it. All they have is meat.

How’s the Riesling?

It’s very nice. I love wine. Every two or three years I try to go on a wine tour. Go to vineyards and buy some wine. 

I write about booze but find wine difficult to describe.

It’s very difficult to describe. I find it hard to tell people why one wine is better than another. And you read descriptions in Wine Spectator like “chocolatey.” What does that mean?

No idea. Tell me about The Host. Looks like an interesting story.

It’s a sci-fi. I personally happen to be a big sci-fi fan. I love Star Trek and Star Wars and all those. No one’s every offered me to be in that genre, so I was hesitant at first. But my character was very liberating to play. In sci-fi most characters are larger than life. Your imagination can really break free. You can create something that is out of the norm. Also, in The Host, the aliens have a human body, so it doesn’t involve prosthetics.

Your character is the Seeker. Are you good or evil or what?

The jury is out on that. Earth has been invaded and the alien souls are going into human bodies. Usually in sci-fi movies the aliens are always evil. They take over earth and destroy everybody. But in this case they’re actually better than human beings, because there are no wars, there’s no competition, nobody gets killed and so forth. The flip side of that being the human spirit gives way to the alien that enters their body. And there are pockets of human resistance that don’t want to be taken over by this alien force. What’s striking is that the aliens are very peaceful. They don’t use guns. They just want to live in peace with each other.

Were you offered this role or did you go out of your way to ask for it?

They offered it to me. I had just finished being Marie Antoinette in a French movie called Farewell, My Queen, and this was the total opposite of what I’d been doing. I’m a big fan of (Host director) Andrew Niccol—Gattaca is one of my favorite movies ever—and (author) Stephenie Meyer is a big draw. (Actor) Saoirse Ronan being attached to the project was as well. There’s a gravity to her that adds something to this genre. For half the film she has two people living inside of her. Andrew actually recorded the other person’s dialog and played it in her ear while we were doing scenes together, so she had to talk to me while she had this voice in her head to make her believe in the scenes.

What else do you have lined up?

I did a pilot for FX called The Bridge. I play a girl that has a mild version of Asperger’s, so she’s socially awkward. That was a lot of fun to do and we’ll see where it goes. And immediately after this movie I made a black-and-white film with Terrence Malick, called The Green Blade Rises. It’s about Abraham Lincoln as a child. I play his stepmother. She gave him books and convinced his dad to let him go to school. It’s Lincoln as a five-year-old, six-year-old.

You work in every genre, act in every language? Even comedies?

Pretty much. I made a comedy last year. A French comedy. It’s challenging to go back and forth.

You’ve been so many things. You were a ballet dancer in London, a model in Paris, and an actor all over the world. What’s your next career?

The older I get, the more I realize that it’s about being creative, pushing yourself to extremes, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. When you’re young you have open eyes. The older you get, the more closed off you get to the world. But with acting, and also directing, it’s your job to be as open as possible. I find it freeing to know that I can still feel that much, the extreme emotion.

It’s good to keep an open mind as you get older, but it takes a lot more work than when you’re young. Still, it bugs me when I hear people my age complaining about culture today, like “there’s no good music anymore.” I’m like, do you remember some of the stuff we listened to in high school? It was terrible.

Oh me too. In The Bridge, there’s a scene where I drive this car that belonged to my sister, who was killed in the early ‘90s. There’s a cassette stuck in the player, so it plays the same songs over and over. The writers were asking “What should we put on the tape?” And I was like, I don’t know, Journey, Britney Spears? They were like UGH! 

The small town that you’re from, Algermissen, is in what was once West Germany?

Yes, It’s an hour and a half south of Hamburg. It’s called the Lower Saxony area. But I left Germany so young.

You left home at an early age, and you’ve traveled and worked all around, lived all over the place. Do you have an idea of home, or are you comfortable wherever you are? 

It used to be worse when I was younger and modeling. Now I have a green card so America is a big part of my life—there are so many things I love about this country. But I think I’ll always be connected to Paris. Germany for me is like a homeland, but, other than my family, I don’t have a lot of attachment to Germany, other than culturally. Paris, to me, is home. In America, I want to say New York is more home than LA, but given that my job’s there I had to give up my New York apartment. But I’ll be back.

What language do you think in? What language do you dream in?

Usually English, but when I’m in Paris for a long time I dream in French.

Your dad was a computer specialist?

I think he was. I haven’t seen my dad in a long time but I think he worked with computers.

So much for basing questions on your Wikipedia page. Is there anything you’re sick of being asked in interviews?

What do you identify being? Because there’s no good answer to it. I get asked that a lot.

And I couldn’t help myself. Okay, what director would you like to work with?

My dream role would be with Darren Aronofsky.

It could happen.

I know!

You have plans after this?

Yeah, dinner. Josh is going to come pick me up. And here he is. This is Josh.  (Small talk. Nice to meet you. Can you take these magazines up to the room. See you in five…)

I like him, he seems nice.

(Sweetly) Yeah, he’s alright.

Were you always confident and glamorous?

It was different when I was little. I was definitely an outcast at school. I did not fit in. I was a ballerina. I was little and dainty in Germany where all the girls are six feet tall. I went to a Catholic school and was rebellious. I just never felt like I fit in at all. I hated school. I dropped out when I was pretty young.

Do you fit in now?

Not really, but I’ve learned to make it work.

Do you have any enemies?

There are people who don’t like me very much, but I’m not sure they’re enemies. But I do think there’s a bit of a double standard. As a woman, when you have something to say, often you’re labeled difficult. But if a guy does it he’s labeled as passionate about his work. So, you like radishes now?

Image via thehostthefilm.com 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for The NoMad Hotel, The NoMad Restaurant, The Fat Radish; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter

Pop-Culture Parody Musicals Are as Meta as We Get

Growing up in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, I had really weird taste in music. Sure, I liked whatever the Top 40 pop hits were, but I also belted out showtunes, and I had every word memorized of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s song parodies. Through his ode to food “Eat It,” I learned how badass young Michael Jackson was. Likewise, I would never have known what “MacArthur Park” without the cheeky "Jurassic Park.”

In a 2003 interview with NPR, Yankovic mused on how his fellow artists would respond as he prepped each album of song parodies. “At this point I’ve got a bit of a track record,” he said. “So people realize that when ‘Weird Al’ wants to go parody, it’s not meant to make them look bad… it’s meant to be a tribute.”

While it seems as if “Weird Al” has hung up the accordion for the time being, there are plenty of creative teams who have adopted that same motivation of writing silly lyrics to poke fun at pop culture and elevated it to the next logical incarnation—the musical. In the past few years, more and more pop culture parody musicals have popped up on the Internet, in universities, and even off-Broadway. They’ve launched the careers of stars like Darren Criss (who played the starring role in A Very Potter Musical), and even famous folks like Joss Whedon (with Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog) have joined in.

Pop culture has passed into an incredibly self-reflective and meta phase. We can’t watch a TV show or political debate without immediately reacting through GIF form and then scrutinizing our reaction. We’re compelled to interrogate the highbrow and especially the lowbrow works that capture our attention. But it gets boring and one-dimensional to use the same medium that we’re discussing in our analysis. We’re constantly turning our opinions over and over, seeking out the smart new angle that someone hasn’t thought of. Enter this new breed of musical.

We’re lucky that many of these productions have tested the waters in New York City, where you can stage an outrageous parody for even just a weekend. In the past year, I’ve taken in four shows that probe the boundaries of good taste and challenge the books, actors, and even religious institutions they mock. Last Christmas, I joined the throngs of theatergoers laughing so hard they were crying at Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s The Book of Mormon. Since the, I’ve also giggled my way through song-and-dance parodies of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, its offspring Fifty Shades of Grey, and the ‘90s thriller The Silence of the Lambs.

Whether each show’s attack is sweet or snarky, there is indeed that sense of tribute that Yankovic mentioned—cheeky nods to the genre of musical theater itself, or a hat tip to the impact Clarice Starling or Anastasia Steele has had on pop culture. In fact, 50 Shades! The Musical pokes fun less at Ana’s whirlwind romance with Christian Grey, and more at the way Americans have gobbled up E.L. James’ erotic fanfiction.

“I think anything that is so popular that everyone knows about it, you can start to home in on certain details,” said Emily Dorezas, one of the 50 Shades co-writers. “That’s why, as soon as the presidential election starts, everybody can laugh at the same things about the different candidates. Fifty Shades of Grey is just this brand that doesn’t go away. Even if you know nothing about it, you know everything about it. Part of what we’re doing is making fun of the phenomenon of it. [Audiences] can laugh at that because they’ve seen it in their house, with their wives and girlfriends.”

Twilight: The Musical employs a similar shorthand: They’re betting on audiences’ familiarity with the movies so that they can skewer not only Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, but also Robert Pattinson’s insanely dramatic delivery and Kristen Stewart’s penchant for lip biting. The more layers you can work through, the better you’re rewarded, like when Edward and Bella’s literary contemporaries Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger pop in to declare a wizards-versus-vampires war.

When you’re addressing the young adult fiction booms of the past fifteen years, of course you have to poke fun at the consumers who waited in line at midnight for the new books and movies. But how do you mock a solid film classic from the ‘90s that’s entirely straight-faced and even rather terrifying? You make it self-aware.

What most struck me about Silence! The Musical (which has existed online and onstage since 2002) is that it follows the movie beat-for-beat. I was especially aware because I had watched the film for the first time just a few weeks prior. Aside from the addition of a lamb chorus—paralleling the ancient Greek chorus and performing the same duty of commenting on the action onstage—the musical starts and ends where the movie does. Watching it, you’re delightfully surprised to realize that it is kind of ridiculous to start a movie with Jodie Foster huffing and puffing through the woods near Quantico, and that most of Anthony Hopkins’ dialogue is snarky one-liners. The cast turns even the most innocuous phrasing into a punchline; currently, Pamela Bob amps up Clarice’s unfortunate lisp to an art form.

The decision to do a shot-for-shot spoof had less to do with the movie itself and more with how co-writers Jon and Al Kaplan write all of their parodies. “We’re very detail-oriented,” the brothers said of what began as a collection of songs and evolved into a screenplay. “We focus on details and blow them up. It’s meant to be a love letter to the movie; we want to tailor it to people who are big fans.” It helped that Hunter Bell, who wrote the book for the stage show, and original director Christopher Gattelli had the same M.O.: “They love the movie and wanted to focus on the details—sometimes different details [from us].”

To be fair, the brothers were wary of audience reaction to some of the songs. But when the original movie brings Lecter and Clarice together after another inmate comments on her vagina, how can you not give Lecter a love song called “If I Could Smell Her Cunt”? However, it wasn’t until Book of Mormon opened in 2010 that the Kaplans felt more secure about their bawdier musical numbers.

“I think we’re proudest of Lecter’s song,” the Kaplans said. “It’s not the typical song you would expect from him, the ‘liver and fava beans’ number. It’s the moment where the audience really has to buy into the concept or not buy into it. It has to be well performed; Lecter has to really sell it as a love song. We’re also proud of Buffalo Bill’s song ‘I’d Fuck Me’ because it came late in the game. We felt like we had already written our Buffalo Bill songs.”

”I’d Fuck Me” represents perhaps the closest adherence to the source material. Our audience was on the edge of their seats during this swirly burlesque number because we all knew the iconic sequence from the film and were waiting with bated breath to see if David Ayers would attempt the infamous dick tuck. When he did, that prompted the most cheers out of any point in the show. Honestly, we wouldn’t have respected the creative team if they hadn’t included that moment.

Each of these shows has unlocked a new take on the source material through the medium of the musical. The visual nature of a stage show has been most beneficial for 50 Shades! The Musical. One of the book’s most ludicrous elements was Anastasia’s “inner goddess,” the subconscious manifestation of her repressed horniness. Sadly, she was absent from the New York production, but Dorezas said that she showed up in Chicago in “a scene with Christian and Anastasia, [where] the inner goddess comes in and basks to have this whole moment to herself,” and that she’ll appear in future iterations.

Some of the most fun that the 50 Shades! The Musical cast and creative team had was subverting the audience’s expectations of the characters’ appearances. For the past year or more, fansites have cast achingly smoldering types like Ian Somerhalder and Alexis Bledel for Christian and Ana, but what makes Chris Grace and Amber Petty’s portrayals so refreshing is that neither are stereotypical beauties. They play up the comedic contrast between the prose and their onstage looks and behavior.

“It was totally a conscious decision,” Dorezas confirmed. “I don’t think anybody’s gonna be 100 percent satisfied with whatever Christian Grey they choose [for the movie]. We just wanted to go the complete opposite direction, but Chris plays it so sexy, and he owns it! There’s a certain point where it’s like, ‘This is our Christian Grey, and everyone in the audience is sold on it.’

”It’s always my favorite when he walks onstage for the first time, ‘cause you see the audience pointing at each other like, ‘Oh my God, this isn’t what you said!’ I know they think Ryan Gosling is gonna come out there. I think in Chris’ mind, he thinks he’s Ryan Gosling. And Amber as Anastasia—she’s so funny. We wanted it to be more of a wink at these characters, not the actual characters. I think if we went for super hot and sexy, we’d lose funny.”

Similarly, the writers grappled with the first draft because if they gave in to the temptation to absolutely skewer James’s admittedly ridiculous novel, they wouldn’t be able to keep an audience. “I think the first round, we felt like there was just too much punch and not enough heart to it,” Dorezas said, citing their shared experience in the comedy world. “We wanted the audience to want these two people to be together outside of a bondage/S&M situation.”

The parody can’t just be about the content; the creative teams must also consider conventions of musical theater itself. One of the first big laughs in The Book of Mormon is “Hasa Diga Eebowai,” a seemingly joyous African chant that brings to mind The Lion King’s “Hakuna Matata” but actually translates to “Fuck You, God.” Mocking religion was one thing, but dragging the esteemed medium of musical theater into the mix? That’s when audiences realized that no one was safe.

In the New York production of 50 Shades! The Musical, the inner goddess got sacrificed in favor of a big, Les Miserables-esque ensemble number. “We just had to find another place for the inner goddess, ‘cause we all were like, ‘Ah, we want this moment where everyone’s having doubt and not sure what to do,’” Dorezas said. “There’s a nod to Phantom of the Opera in the show, as well. We definitely put little things in there that even if you’re not a fan of Fifty Shades of Grey, if you’re a fan of musicals you’ll appreciate the moments as well. If some of the moments are too insidery—you don’t know who Jose is when he walks in, you don’t know Christian is against type—there’s still something for you.”

The Kaplan brothers’ nods to musical theater occur more in the fabric of the musical’s choreography: “It’s just integrating little homages here and there. There’s A Chorus Line in ‘In the Dark with a Maniac,’ [with] the dance move that Clarice does before she shoots Buffalo Bill. There’s also [elements from] The King and I.”

Now, a lot of the musical theater greats are dead and can’t defend themselves against this mockery. But how about the creators of the books and movies parodied? Despite the hard-R nature of Silence! The Musical, the Kaplans said that several of the people involved with the movie found it uproariously funny.

For one, director Jonathan Demme decided to celebrate his twenty-year crew reunion by going to the show. “We sat behind them, and they were laughing their heads off,” the Kaplans said. “It was a real kick… We thought he was gonna be a really serious guy, just sitting there scowling, but he’s got a real sense of humor.” They can’t vouch for Jodie Foster’s reaction, since she attended a different show. However, “Anthony Heald, who played Dr. Chilton, was very enthusiastic, said he would love to play his character in a future reincarnation of the show. Anthony Hopkins, as far as we know, hasn’t gone.”

”We did look toward Silence! The Musical a little bit in terms of what they were able to get away with,” Dorezas said. Because the original production of 50 Shades! The Musical debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, they’ve been caught up with UK copyright laws, combined with the reaction from James’ people. “For the UK opportunities that we are currently discussing, we could change some things around with the show that would make it fall under safe parameters,” Dorezas said. “If the parody laws change in our favor, then we would not have to do that. We have an idea of what we can do, but we’re kind of waiting to see how it changes.”

Musical parody reinvigorates seemingly played-out stories because it’s such an unexpected medium. It’s likely that the first time you saw Clarice Starling or read about Christian Grey, you never dreamed that either would break into song. These pop culture parody musicals crack these seemingly solemn characters and give them the added dimensions to ensure their endurance in the zeitgeist, whether they’re twenty or two years old. As the Kaplans confessed, “We never thought we’d be talking about this eleven years after the fact.”

Follow Natalie Zutter on Twitter.

Kristen Stewart Thinks Your Critiques Of ‘Twilight’ Are All Wrong

Okay. So. In fairness, Kristen Stewart said this stuff while sitting next to Twilight series author Stephenie Meyer in a promotional event for Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part Two. That’s not the ideal time or place for a substantive critique of the material. But as Stewart defended Bella and Edward’s relationship as "entirely equal," I had to wonder whether we had read the same books and watched the same movies.

As quoted on Jezebel, Stewart responded thusly to a question about whether the intensity of Bella and Edward’s love affair was sending a bad message to young women: 

Flop the roles. If Bella was a vampire and Edward was the human and you changed nothing but the genders, none of that criticism would exist. It would be ‘Wow, he just laid everything on the line for her. It’s so amazing, and it must take such strength to subject yourself to that.’ Also, the relationship is entirely equal.

Side-eye, right?

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve seen all the Twilight films thus far and read most of the books. Thus, I do think that an argument can be made in defense of Stewart’s comments if you look at the themes in the books conceptually, rather than in specifics. Conceptually, the books are about two young lovers who sacrifice everything for each other. In that way, they are equal. Bella is a resolute and passionate character and I do think she is at times unfairly criticized as "weak." 

But there are numerous specific incidents in the stories in which Edward’s behavior towards Bella is problematic — not just because it is controlling, but because it is controlling in ways men have historically controlled women. The gender dynamic between them does matter. Numerous times in the movies Edward physically prevents her from doing things, he is possessive and jealous around Jacob the werewolf, and he withholds sex from her (despite her insistence she is not physically harmed by it) because he knows what’s best. All of those are items you most definitely could find on a "cycle of abuse" chart in any domestic violence counselor’s office. And if we’re going to loop Jacob into the critique, I found it extremely disconcerting how  involved he got in Bella and Edward’s sex life in the latest film, as well. Men being possessive in their protectiveness of women is most certainly an overarching theme.

It’s not so simple to just "flop the roles," as Stewart insisted. To "flop the roles" suggests men and women have always been completely equal. It ignores the centuries of male domination which are the reason people find aspects the characters’ behavior problematic in the first place.

I personally don’t look to Hollywood actresses for critiques of gender. But in this incidence, I’m disappointed in how off Kristen Stewart got it. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Watch Trailer for ‘The Host,’ Stephenie Meyer’s New Movie

Apart from the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer has written just one other book: The Host, which is appropriately getting adapted for the big screen now that the Twilight engine is winding down. Starring Saoirse Ronan, it’s about a race of aliens who survive by taking over the bodies of human beings, and one of them who begins to get a little guilty about the whole body snatchers act. There’s a teaser trailer, via Yahoo!, and judging solely from the imagery it looks like a combination of The Ring, Melancholia and every Internet conspiracy about lizard people ruling the world.

Andrew Niccol (Gattaca, The Truman Show, Lord of War) is heading this one up, and Ronan will be joined by William Hurt and Diane Kruger in key roles. With such a solid creative pedigree, it should at least be presentable — that is, if the Meyer connection doesn’t throw you off. Some people have never gotten over what she did to vampires, but there are too many types of aliens in pop culture to get snitty about whether or not they should have feelings. The Host is out on March 29, 2013, which is quite some time away.

‘Twilight’ Screenwriter Cautious Not to Kill Stephenie Meyer’s Child

By now you must have seen it in the air or heard it in the wind — a preview, a poster, a blog, an Entertainment Weekly cover (or ten), hysterical girls, a Today Show appearance, and women, from their early teens to late thirties, flailing and wailing at the mere mention of the name Edward Cullen. It’s Twilight mania, and it hits full fury this weekend — as if we had to tell you. We caught up with the film’s screenwriter and Dexter producer Melissa Rosenberg, who had the daunting task of adapting author Stephenie Meyer’s sprawling saga to the screen, without losing the book’s appeal or inciting bloodlust from legions of fans.

Did you have any idea how passionate and massive the fan base was when you agreed to do the adaptation? I didn’t know. I could see they had a fan base, and I went online and tried to check it out, and I kind of got a hint of it. But the minute I got a taste of it, I was just like, “Oh, I don’t want to know.” I just didn’t want it to make me nervous, so I kind of shut that out.

Are you in California right now? Did you go to the premiere? Yes, I was at the premiere, and it was an amazing scene.

Were there a lot of teenage girls screaming everywhere? Teens came, and moms, and some guys as well. The volume and pitch level was quite extraordinary. My hearing is just only now coming back.

Do you feel like it’s more of a teen movie, or is there something for everyone in there? Oh, I absolutely think there’s something for everyone in there. And it’s funny because, knowing the people that went to the premiere, some of them had never read the book, didn’t know anything about it, there were men over 50, guys in their 30s or 40s, and they all really loved it. So I have to say, it was quite a surprise. And I had a friend come up and say “Well, that was great.” So clearly, not just for girls.

Do you think you’ll pay much attention to the reviews that come out, or is that something you try to stay away from? I have someone pre-read them for me. And they’ll let me know if I should read it or not, because if it says something negative, I just get too wounded too easily. I think one must be careful of what one takes in. I know when I was writing the script, and after I went in to a few fan sites, and they’d be discussing whether or not I’d do a good job. And so I’d go in and I’d read the first ten, and they’d be like “Oh my God! I loved Step Up (which she wrote) and Dexter is so amazing, and she’s gonna do a fantastic job!!” And it’s like, “Oh, this is great.” And then I get to number eleven, And it’s someone going “Ugh, I hated Step Up, I hated it, and she’s gonna just destroy it and ruin it”. And that was it, I get to eleven and then stop. And of course, that was the only one I paid attention to, so I had to just stop reading them. You know, it was just way too sensitive.

Did you find this project particularly more challenging than creating your own fiction? Nothing is more challenging than creating your own fiction. The challenge here was for Stephenie. She had to create this world and this mythology, and had to be a complete bull, that I could play around in. And starting with a blank page is the hardest thing that anyone, I think, in this industry does.

What was your relationship with Stephenie throughout this whole process? It seems like there has to be a certain level of trust between you and the author, because as Stephenie has said, this is her baby. One of the most important things for me was that Stephenie not feel like I killed her child. That would have been devastating, if I was the one who killed not only her child, but the beloved book of so many fans. So one of the most gratifying moments of my career was when Stephenie expressed how much she loved the screenplay. But with Twilight, it all kind of happened so fast, because we were fighting the writer’s strike deadline, which was October 31. I was really just writing it in record time. So I had met Stephenie and she was really, really helpful in terms of giving me some insight into Bella’s character, and some of the other characters and relationships. But I did my draft mostly bouncing off of Catherine (Hardwicke, the director) and her giving me instant feedback. Then I slammed the draft to the studio two hours before the strike deadline, and then I was on the picket line. So Stephenie’s notes for Twilight went through Catherine, and I just kind of heard them after the fact. But then moving forward, Stephenie and I became extremely tight.

So you guys kind of had each other on speed dial then. Yes. And she’s a tremendous collaborator. She’s not precious about the work. I was afraid going in that she was going to limit me in some ways, and she is such a celebrity writer. I thought, “Oh my gosh, you know she’s going to completely overshadow my own creative process, it will get drowned out.” I was worried about that. But she was tremendously respectful of my process and is a tremendous collaborator, and is really the best partner you could have.

And your relationship with Catherine Hardwicke, did she have to jump in while you were out on the picket line? Well she’s a Writer’s Guild member as well, so she’s acting as a director on the set but she wasn’t able to write on the set — no one was. So they did some dialogue changes, and they had the rehearsals for the actors, and the actors would kind of improvise, so we would change that kind of stuff. Then after the strike was over, we’d do adjusting for Stephenie’s stuff as well. The changes were very subtle but important.

The book is written from Bella’s perspective, and there’s something very self-deprecating about her self esteem when she first moves to Forks, and throughout the book. Will the movie follow closely to that perspective? Absolutely. It was interesting. I initially approached it thinking, you know, I’m not going to do any voiceovers, because oftentimes a voiceover can be used as a crutch, but then Catherine was actually the one who said, “I think we’re going to need to do a voiceover.” And so I said, let me try it without. And so I wrote fade in page one, and thought “Oh my god, we need a voiceover!” And so we threw some in there. She thinned it out and then we actually ended up putting more in there throughout the actual movie. But it’s more than a voice over; it’s seeing the world from her point of view, and managing to externalize her internal life. And Kristen (Stewart) just really conveys that so delicately and beautifully.

In the book, Edward is extremely attracted to Bella’s smell/scent, and it is a huge part of her appeal for an otherwise “ordinary” girl. How did that translate to the screen along, with Edward’s ability to hear thoughts and his ice-cold touch? How does the person sitting in a movie theater experience that, as opposed to the reader? I think the actors did a beautiful job, and they just did a really spectacular job of conveying that their senses were at work. There are the scenes in there where they’re using their senses, and there are really cheesy ways of doing that, or there are really artistic ways of doing that, and they did the latter.

It was such a young cast, but they brought a certain professionalism to the table? Yes, they’re very, very talented really, and I give them all the credit. And Catherine for finding them, and picking them.

You didn’t have a hand in casting, but did the actors fit closely to your vision of who would play Edward, Bella, or Jacob? For some, I didn’t have a specific idea, but absolutely the two leads, and mostly with all of them, I thought it was just perfect. I had not imagined anyone specifically, but then when I saw them it was absolutely right.

So are you Team Edward or Team Jacob? Well, it’s interesting. When it comes to the writing of it in Twilight, it’s Edward. But in New Moon, it’s taken over by Jacob, so we have to see more of him. Jacob is certainly fun to write I would say … he’s just so irreverent and fun. But of course, there’s always an appeal of the bad boy (Jacob), but then there is also the appeal of the elegant, artistic intellectual (Edward).

Speaking of New Moon, will you be on board for that project? Yes, it was leaked in the press … not my doing, but it was announced in the Hollywood Reporter that I will be doing both of the two sequels.