Joined: 13 September 2010
TREADING DARK WATERS
|DIRECTOR Catherine Hardwicke on HOW SHE WENT GOTH WITH THE CLASSIC FAIRY TALE OF RED RIDING HOOD|
The massive box-office success of 2008's Twilightchanged the fortunes of its three young stars, propelling them on an upward career trajectory and transforming Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner into household names. Yet not so much changed for the film's director, Catherine Hardwicke.
A respected production designer who transitioned to the director's chair with the acclaimed 2003 low-budget indie Thirteen, Hardwicke, 55, earned praise for her films' kinetic energy and visual stylings, but not even wearing the mantle of the female director with the highest-grossing opening weekend in movie history dramatically improved her fortunes in Hollywood.
"Nothing is easy," Texas-born Hardwicke said recently over a vegetarian meal. "You have a big success, and it's still not easy to make a movie. I had a bunch of other projects that I worked really hard on after Twilight, and the magic just didn't hit."
After spending the intervening years readying various projects at different studios — including a radical interpretation of Hamlet and an adaptation of the bestselling young adult novel If I Stay — she's hoping to recapture that magic with Red Riding Hood,which opens this Friday.
A gothic retelling of the classic fairy tale, the new film covers familiar territory for the director. It centres on a teen girl, Valerie (played by Amanda Seyfried), who falls in love with a brooding bad boy, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). But Valerie's plans to run away from her village with Peter are sabotaged after a werewolf begins to terrorise the enclave, and her mother (Virginia Madsen) reveals her plan for her daughter to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons).
A teen-targeted supernatural romance with a headstrong young woman torn between suitors, it's safe to say, doesn't seem like much of a departure for Hardwicke, who insists she turned down an offer to direct New Moon, the second movie in the Twilightsaga, despite Internet reports that suggested she was fired from the project.
But Hardwicke, whose other directing credits include 2005's Lords of Dogtown and 2006's The Nativity Story, said her interest in making Red Riding Hood had nothing to do with her connection to the franchise adapted from Stephenie Meyer's vampire-werewolf saga.
"I could go my whole life and say I'm not going to do anything with a love triangle, but whenever you have a romance there has to be some obstacle, and even the dumbest romantic comedies have a love triangle or something," Hardwicke said. "As for the werewolf aspect of this, people have been fascinated with werewolves way longer than Twilight."
Red Riding Hood was shot in 45 days on a budget of $42 million, with a significant portion of that money going toward the creation of a CG werewolf. To bring the film in on target, Hardwicke said she "had to be laser precise". Despite a demanding schedule, Hardwicke still brought her free-form bohemian sensibility to set, according to Seyfried.
"She absolutely stands out from other directors — her energy is really different," Seyfried said. "She is high-octane, buzzing like a rocket. You would think that would get in the way, but it's a focused rocket and it's hard for you not to absorb it. She is also really easy to connect to. Thank God. It's sad for her to be known just for Twilight… because she can do so much."
Hardwicke blames sexism for some of the challenges she's encountered in her career. "There is an inequity," she said, comparing how a male director with a similar grossing film as Twilight reaps many more rewards than she did. "For his next movie, they gave him double the budget, for my next movie they gave me $5 million more. That's all. Why is it so hard? He had three movies that kinda worked, yet they gave him a permanent deal at the studio."
With Red Riding Hood charging into theatres and two projects she's actively developing, including an adaptation of James Patterson's Maximum Ride teen novels and James Dashner's young adult sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner, Hardwicke hasn't lost her connection to her biggest success. The director fondly recounts how she recently ran a bus tour in Portland, Oregon, for 200 lucky Twilight fans who paid good money to see each of the film's locations in real time.
"It was mind-blowing," said Hardwicke, who tested the fans on random bits of Twilighttrivia and even crashed a Twilight wedding held at the location where the movie's prom was set. "There were two busloads of people that came from literally around the world to visit the locations. As a director, we work ridiculously hard on every detail and we do everything to the billionth degree, and mostly people notice nothing. With Twilight, they love and appreciate everything."
|Nicole Sperling (Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service) |
Red Riding Hood releases this Friday
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