There is a common link between the sparkly universe of Twilight and the sociopath exploits of Showtime’s Dexter, and her name is Melissa Rosenberg. The screenwriter and Emmy-nominated television producer has been juggling the two franchises since 2007, which is when she scripted the first Twilight film from Stephenie Meyer’s novel. Following the film’s enormous success, Rosenberg became Summit’s go-to writer for the series, and she’s since written two sequels including this month's New Moon and next summer's Eclipse.
FEARnet spoke exclusively with Rosenberg from her home in Los Angeles, where she had recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Rome to unveil new footage for Italian Twilighters. Among other topics, Rosenberg discussed her favorite new scenes and explained how that proposal scene will be split between New Moon and Eclipse -- and that, if she were to write Breaking Dawn, the subject matter wouldn’t be a problem.
FEARnet: Summit seems to reward the Italian fans with juicy world-exclusive clips that the rest of us salivate over!
Melissa Rosenberg: They get a lot of clips - they saw a lot of the show! It was good; they were so receptive and wonderful.
Have you seen the final cut of New Moon yet?
I saw an early cut of it, yeah. Some of the special effects weren’t there, stuff like that. But I have to tell you, it’s funny because for writers, and for me – I often will dread a director’s cut. As a writer, you have already seen the movie in your head. And the movie in your head costs a gazillion dollars; you can’t actually make the movie in your head, but you’ve seen it. And so, a director’s cut is almost always a disappointment because it’s not what you’ve seen in your head. It can be a major adjustment, it’s not what's in my head but this one’s different, but as good.
When I saw Chris’s cut, about ten minutes into the movie I started smiling. I thought to myself, I get to put my name on this. It was just so thrilling. It’s really good. I have to tell you, in all sincerity, it’s really good.
I saw you last on a set visit to New Moon’s Vancouver stages, and you had just arrived to watch the dailies. You seemed really pleased with what you were seeing from the Volturi scenes in particular.
Yes, and that was on a sound stage. The big screen version really lives up to it. It just looks lush and beautiful; it looks like a big movie. And the budget didn’t increase that significantly. Harry Potterbudgets are what, $150-200 million? This is half of that, at least.
You’ve added a few scenes to New Moon that weren’t in the book, like the one where Jacob gives Bella a gift of a dream catcher. Can you tell us about that?
Actually, I got the idea from a writer friend of mine. I was searching around for that moment... You had to establish the relationship between Bella and Jacob; he can give her gifts and Edward can’t. The sort of easy friendship with the two of them, and yet also, show that Jacob actually has feelings for her. He sort of casually presents the dream catcher, but really he’s shopped around for it for quite a while. I wanted it to be something that was special to him and his culture, and it was so thematic to Bella; the movie is laden with her dreams. Her dream life is a very rich part of the film. So thematically, it really blended well. I thank my friend for coming up with that.
What’s one of your favorite new scenes or extended scenes that you’ve written into New Moon?
One of my favorites is actually the end, when they go to Volterra and confront a couple of Volturi. In the book, the conflict in that scene is verbal; there is an attack on Edward by Jane, and it works in the book, it’s beautiful in the book. It’s never acted out; it never explodes. For the movie, because it’s a visual medium, I felt like I wanted to externalize that conflict more, turn it into more of a battle. So it’s the same scenario, it’s just enacted and externalized. We get to see an actual fight.
We see that fight between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Felix (Daniel Cudmore) in one of the latest trailers, and with its slow-motion elements it looks great.
I’m telling you: Chris and his stunt guys and the DP are just fantastic. Daniel Cudmore, who plays Felix, did a tremendous job. I love Daniel Cudmore! Not only is he terrific in this role, he’s also just the greatest guy. Funny and charming.
In your script for Twilight, you wrote in a number of direct quotes from Stephenie Meyer’s book. Can we expect the same in New Moon and Eclipse?
There are definitely some quotes sprinkled throughout. In some cases I’m paraphrasing, but I do try to include as many as I can. It’s very important. It brings the flavor of the book into the movie, so I definitely try to.
Fans want to know: Did the proposal scene make it into New Moon?
The proposal comes into the end of New Moon, and that is the first proposal. Absolutely in Eclipse, the proposal when they’re on the bed, yes -- to me, that was a quintessential scene from the book. When Edward gets on his knees, with his mother’s ring, and she says yes -- that was one of the most romantic scenes that Stephenie wrote in all four books.
There are so many specific scenes and events in the Twilight books, it doesn’t seem like you could take them out and still remain true to the story.
Yes. There are several that are so essential to the storytelling that you absolutely must put them in.
Wyck Godfrey specifically said that if Breaking Dawn was made, it would absolutely be a PG-13 film, so it seems that staying true to that story’s specific events while making it suitable for younger audiences would be challenging.
Well yes, you have to know your audience. And... there’s no reason for it not to be. It could be PG-13.
Is there a sense that on the one hand, you have to temper the increasingly mature content in the Twilight scripts for a younger audience, but with Dexter you’re free to go as far as you want to?
Well what’s really true is that there isn’t a lot of tempering going on with Twilight. I don’t write the movies for a young audience. I write them for an audience of all ages. I write them for myself as an audience member; I’m the first audience the script gets, and it’s not going to be entertaining for me if it’s geared toward a young audience. You’re writing character and you’re writing emotion, and that is ageless. The major difference between the two is language and some graphic violence. If you took away the foul language of Dexter and you took away the actual... well, you see some bloody stuff inTwilight, too. No one is tempering anything.
As long as the characters’ arcs and the emotional story is genuine... I have to say, I don’t feel held back or restrained. It’s just not necessary to see gore; gore is much scarier if you don’t see it.
Obviously by the fourth book in The Twilight Saga, there will be subjects and events that do seem unsuitable for the younger side of the Twilight audience. How would you tackle that challenge?
If I were to be writing that, I think there are many things that probably are inappropriate, and there are probably other things that can be implied. I don’t think that it will be a problem.
You've been writing the Twilight films while also writing and producing Dexter. How tough has that been on your schedule?
Dexter is on hiatus now, but yes – the entire Twilight series has been juggled with Dexter. So the last three years have been busy, but I’m not complaining. I feel blessed. I am a little tired. [Laughs] October, actually, has been a break for me. I’ve managed to kind of futz around and do nothing.
Do you have any projects on the horizon that don’t involve Twilight?
At the moment, they are on hold. I am contemplating a lot of things, but I haven’t latched on to something yet. I want to choose carefully.
When you started writing, did you ever imagine that you’d be writing about serial killers and vampires and werewolves by now?
Really, you never know what you’re going to have to write about. Vampires, I had always hoped to write about. I’m a huge fan of the Buffy series; I tried to get Joss Whedon to hire me early on, on that or Angel, but that didn’t happen. So I was a fan of the genre. I hadn’t seriously thought about it, but once it was presented, it was like, absolutely. But I certainly never anticipated this kind of good fortune.
Personally...I hate this woman. I don't understand how the same person that wrote the "Better hold on tight, spider monkey" line can possibly write something as awesome as Dexter. Boggles my mind. Thoughts?
btw...i still think it's hilarious that Chris AND David rewrote her scripts.