After the success of Twilight last year, New Moon — the latest film adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s book series — is one of the most hotly anticipated movies to be released this year. Leading the production is director Chris Weitz, who is taking his first stab at the franchise.
Q. How does it feel to take over directorial duties of such a successful franchise?
A. On the one hand, it’s exciting to take over a successful franchise. On the other, it’s daunting. There are so many fans who have high expectations for this film, but it’s made easy by the fact that I inherited this amazing cast who are certainly very talented. So half of the time, I’m just overjoyed to be a part of this and the other half, I’m nervous that I’m going to be hunted down and killed by a pack of 14-year-old teenage girls in about a year’s time!
Q. “Twilight”, the first installment of the series, received some criticism for not being 100 per cent true to the book. Are you addressing some of these issues?
A. It’s impossible to be completely faithful to every single page of a book because movies don’t have enough time. So you end up cutting things and combining things. But I would say that we’re definitely using the book as our bible. My take on this film is the film is the book and Stephanie Mayer is my main resource for everything in this. I’m constantly checking with her to see if it’s something a character would do or a detail is right. You can never absolutely please everybody but my main intention is to satisfy the fans of the book.
Q. You’re a very visual director. What’s your vision for New Moon?
A. We’ve got an amazing visual effects team. The whole idea is to use the full palette of colors, to have our shadows be very dark and to have our colours be very rich so that we can experience the full range of emotional texture. The idea is that this will look like a Victorian narrative painting in a way, with those medieval jewel-like colours as well as very glossy deep blacks, and for the composition of the frames to be classical. In some ways, this is going to be a rather old-fashioned film. There are elements that incorporate the latest technology and there are things that are very dynamic in the action scenes. But it’s more Dr. Zhivago than Iron Man.
Q. Is the music very important in this kind of film?
A. It is. The book itself is a very internalized narrative and music can be extraordinarily helpful in conveying those kinds of nuances of emotion which otherwise what you would rely on is voiceover or people flat out stating what they feel, which they never, ever do. So it helps you avoid exposition and it can make it intro a really gorgeous nuanced affair. Films enjoy more senses that almost any other art form, so music is going to play a tremendous role in this.
Q. Could you tell us about New Moon and how it’s different from Twilight?
A. I think we get an opportunity to sort of expand our scope -- from the confines of the forest to Italy. Your sense of mythology of this world is deepened so that the story that underlies what was going on in the first movie becomes more and more clear. And there are a lot of secrets that were set up in the first book and the first movie that come to light in the second movie. So there are a lot of surprises in store.
Q. How do you keep the continuity of the story?
A. Well, we try to maintain a coherence so that nothing seems unrealistic or bizarre. One of the strengths of Stephenie Meyer’s books is that they manage to convey the normalness of people’s lives and the normalness of the main character, and yet feeds on all those supernatural and extraordinary elements. When we go to Italy [to shoot], we are dealing with this 2,000-year-old order of vampires. The key is to cast it and to design it in such a way that it doesn’t fall completely from the story, but it’s a beautiful and intricate part of the whole thing, while at the same time, giving you the sense that you’re opening up to this much bigger world. That part of the story is a reversal of the usual rules. Bella goes to save Edward. It’s not the guy saving the girl; it’s the other way around.
Q. Can you comment on some of your casting choices, like Dakota Fanning?
A. Dakota Fanning is playing Jane, who’s the most dangerous and evil of all of them. And it’s a part where she plays against type because you don’t think of Dakota Fanning as either evil or dangerous. But she’s an extraordinary actress and we’re lucky to have her. Michael Sheen plays the head of the Volturi, who are the law and order of the vampire world. I think he’s an extraordinarily accomplished actor and I just feel, again, fairly fortunate to have someone of his calibre.
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