New Moon Director Chris Weitz Spills Juicy Twilight Details

A chat with director Chris Weitz reveals a LOT about the upcoming Twilight sequel.

When Rotten Tomatoes visited the Vancouver set of The Twilight Saga: New Moon in May with an exclusive group of online outlets, director Chris Weitz was wrapping up key scenes before production crossed the Atlantic to film for five days in Montepulciano, Italy. There, the medieval hillside town would stand in for the city of Volterra, home of the ancient Volturi vampires in Stephenie Meyer's novel, as filming concluded with the book's final set piece.

During our visit, finicky weather had forced the shoot to jump between soundstages to film two separate scenes from New Moon: in the first, Bella (Kristen Stewart), Edward (Robert Pattinson), and Alice (Ashley Greene) met the Volturi leader Aro (Michael Sheen) in the crisply decorated underground headquarters of the Volturi -- with dire results. Later, on a separate stage, we watched as Pattinson's Edward, appearing as a hallucination in Bella's mind on a darkened street, was filmed against green screens with an enormous tracking camera. That Weitz and crew moved from the first scene to the second in the span of a day demonstrated the speed -- and, seemingly, the smart planning -- with which New Moon was being filmed. (UPDATED: Read Part 1 of our New Moon set report, including interviews with cast members and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg!)

When we caught up with Weitz months later, New Moon's well-documented production -- during which predominantly teenage fans from all over the world flocked to New Moon's sets just to get a glimpse of filming -- was complete, and the soft-spoken director was in the thick of a long, complicated editing process. He spoke at length to answer every one of our questions, ranging from his interactions with the cast, to what rock bands might be on the soundtrack, to the rumors that he might direct the fourth Twilight film, Breaking Dawn.

But Weitz took pains to keep at least one scene under wraps: the infamous "proposal scene," in which Bella and Edward come to a tenuous agreement that has huge implications for the remainder of the series. Will it stay in the film, as written in Meyer's book?

Read on to find your biggest, burning questions answered!

ON THE LOOK OF NEW MOON, AND EDWARD'S NEW "SPARKLING" EFFECT

Weitz is still developing New Moon's computer-generated effects -- including a new take on Edward Cullen's "sparkling" effect, which drew criticism in the first film -- and is just weeks away from delivering a first cut.

"I am about two weeks away from showing my director's cut to the studio," Weitz told us. "I've got some wolves with fur, and some wolves are still invisible, basically. And some wolves are kind of like...what look like Claymation versions. We are still in the late R&D phases of what Edward looks like when he's hit by sunlight, what the vampires look like when they're hit with sunlight, the diamond effect, and also the hallucinatory effect that Bella has when she hears Edward's voice and she imagines him there."

Upon Stephenie Meyer's insistence, New Moon's werewolves and vampires will be grounded in reality -- the Wolf Pack's transformations will pop, and the Volturi will remain true to Meyer's descriptions.  

"Our aim was to make them look like what it says they look like in the book, and not to be too fancy about it," Weitz explained. "You know, it was very important to Stephenie that, for instance, the werewolves transform very quickly and that they look like wolves, that we not have this kind of magical, Lon Chaney-esque long transformations, and I think the reason behind that is to give a sense of their reality."

"I think that was important for the Volturi as well; they're not levitating above the ground, they're not surrounded by mystical auras, they are creatures who actually exist and they're very specific, they're very stylish, they're very elegant, they're very dangerous. Essentially, it's really faithful to the book.


HAPPY HALLOWEEN, TWILIGHTERS

Once his initial cut of New Moon is submitted, Weitz will have about three months to fine-tune his film. His due date to complete a final cut will come just weeks before New Moon is set to premiere:

"Ironically, I think it's the day before Halloween. I believe October 30 is our drop dead date when it's time to start striking the print, or we're in big trouble."


THE MUSIC OF NEW MOON: ALEXANDRE DESPLAT, BELLA'S LULLABY, AND...THOM YORKE?

Weitz has brought aboard familiar collaborators to work on New Moon, including Oscar-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat (who scored Weitz's The Golden Compass). But will Desplat carry over the fan-favorite "Bella's Lullaby" theme composed by Twilight scorer Carter Burwell, played famously by Edward in the first film?

"Alexandre Desplat has just started working on his music for the film, and we are just starting to put together what bands are on the soundtrack, so it's kind of like keeping ten plates spinning at once," Weitz said. "But it's all good, because we've got Alexandre Desplat, who I think is one of the greatest film composers living, and because of the strength of the franchise that I inherited, a lot of bands are really interested in working on the soundtrack."

When asked about "Bella's Lullaby," Weitz confirmed that it would reappear -- at least, in some form. "I think yes, because like any franchise, there are certain themes that become familiar. I suspect he's going to transpose it in some manner, and most of the music will be entirely new to the franchise because his style is somewhat different from Carter Burwell's. But I think that there is some value to having some kind of familiar leitmotifs running through the entire series."

Speaking about the music in New Moon, Weitz revealed that requests have flooded in from bands who want to contribute to the soundtrack; after all, the first Twilight film helped launch alt-rock band Paramore into the pop culture stratosphere. In talks to appear on the soundtrack are none other than Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Kings of Leon.

"Fortunately, I'm not at the stage where I have to turn anybody down yet, because everything is still kind of up in the air," Weitz shared, "but I am surprised at some of the bands that have said they're interested. It's kind of great. The criterion will still always be what's right for the movie at that given moment, but Thom Yorke is interested; we might, if we're very lucky, get Kings of Leon to do something... it's exciting to be able to have access to this kind of talent."


Next: Chris Weitz's favorite scene, changes from the book, if Face Punch will be made as it's own film, and the "Proposal" scene!

Comments

Carly B.

Carly B

YES! WE WANT CHRIS WEITZ TO DIRECT BREAKING DAWN. I honestly feel he is the only one who could do it justice. It has a lot of the same themes as New Moon and I think Chris' devotion to and understanding of the series, not to mention is intelligence, laid-back nature, and directorial talent, can be unmatched by any other director for this particular series of books. Additionally, he is a father and would most likely understand that element of Breaking Dawn more than someone who did not have children of their own. I hope hope hope they offer the job to him! He'd be perfect!

Jul 16 - 03:56 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Meh, we'll see I wasn't terribly impressed with The Golden Compass. Lets see what he comes up with for this one.

Jul 16 - 04:17 PM

Chris E.

Chris Eichhorn

Golden Compass was a great movie - why didn't you like it?

Jul 17 - 04:09 PM

Jake007

Jake Sundstrom

I don't think that most people enjoyed The Golden Compass (40 something percent on RT), so I can hardly call his views surprising.

I am still not a fan of the series and have yet to see a good reason to do so. The 'vampires' are dull, and this 'reimagination' that Meyer has given us is laughable at best. Kristen Stewart, as well as Pattinson both have potential - as we have seen in Adventureland and The Goblet of Fire respectively. However, whether it be the poor writing (and it is poor) or directing, or whatever it is that made them look so awful in the first film they're really going to need to make an effort to turn this series around.

Also, I think that it is arrogant to state that Twilight launched the success of Paramore, they were quite popular well before the release of the film.

The contracting of Alexandre Desplant is interesting though - I loved his work in Benjamin Button, so perhaps there is hope? And we do have Michael Sheen to cheer for... I am less than optimistic about the outcome of New Moon (especially based on that awful teaser trailer) but it would be nice if they were able to jump over the hurdle of the last film's lack of quality and put out an excellent film.

Jul 17 - 04:36 PM

Katie B.

Katie B

The only thing I agree to in your review is the fact that Twilight did NOT, in fact, launch the success of Paramore. Ever heard of Misery Business? You can't get on freaking Guitar Hero because you are on the Twilight Soundtrack.

Jul 17 - 06:58 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you, Golden Compass while I didn't feel it was a bad movie just felt mediocre to me. The agenda at the beginning was a bit heavy handed, I wasn't able to connect with most of the characters or their plight and most importantly I didn't get that sense of wonder that pervades all the really great works of fantasy fiction. It just felt a bit cold and sterile to me. With the exeption of the armored polar bear and flying witch archer scenes which were definately the highpoints of the movie. There just weren't enough of those scene's for me and I know it's wrong to badmouth a child, but I didn't find Lyra a compelling heroine at all. That in a nutshell is why I didn't like it. I thought it could have been deserving of a chance to improve with a sequal (It's certainly better than a lot of stuff that's gotten numerous sequals), but I'm not heartbroken if it doesn't. As I say I didn't hate it I'm just indifferent to it.

Jul 18 - 03:14 PM

alisonb

alison black

I'd rather a new director for Breaking Dawn. Juan Antonio Bayona would be my preferred choice. Certainly not Slade thats for sure. He's a crass heavy handed director.

I wish they'd stop trying to force feed us a love triangle. Any reader of the books will know there is no such triangle in New Moon so for that reason alone Weitz/Rosenberg and Summit arent exactly at the top of my xmas card list.

I love the choice of composer for New Moon. Desplat's work on Girl With a Pearl Earring is one of my favourite soundtracks. I have high hopes for his work on New Moon.

I hope the mid section of New Moon has been trimmed significantly. Endless motorbike repair scenes with Bell and Jacob will send me to sleep. Lets hurry up and get to Italy where the most interesting scenes will take place.

Jul 16 - 04:24 PM

Michael G.

Michael Garay

You hit it right on the head. I have the audio and am on my third reading/listening.There are four CDs devoted to bike repairs.I skip them and go to the cliff jumping section.Let's see, 4 out of 12 is 1/3 of the story can be omitted. Good call.

Jul 17 - 09:02 AM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Thom Yorke?

*cries* no. . . no. . . please no. . .

How about Duran Duran's "NEW MOON ON MONDAY" instead? That's a pretty cool song. . .

Jul 16 - 04:25 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

Tomwaitsjr! Nice reference. Tim Ryan actually made it the other day! My forthcoming New Moon column will be named on some variation of that...

Jul 16 - 04:31 PM

Kerry H.

Kerry H

GREAT article, Jen--I'm so glad to finally read the interview!

I think I'll agree with Weitz on this one--while the stills and teaser look great, I'd like to reserve full judgment until I've seen New Moon in its entirety. I have a positive feeling, though, and I really hope the final product lives up to that.

Everything he's said here makes me hopeful that he did a good job staying true to the books and what the fans want to see--it seems like he knows which parts are most important and he's paying attention to that. As long as he keeps that up, fans will be clamoring for him to direct BD!

Very much looking forward to hearing about the rest of the set visit!

Jul 16 - 04:36 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

I think this series more than most adaptions needs to be true to the books. The fans are so rabid if they deviated too far my moneys on someone getting ganked by a 15 year old girl who's legally changed her name to Bella.

Jul 16 - 04:47 PM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

Thanks Jen!

Everything I do, I do it for you!

Jul 16 - 04:48 PM

Tina P.

Tina Perez

We will see i guess!!!!!Can't wait~

Jul 16 - 05:39 PM

Shauna R.

Shauna Rutherford

I say to stay true to Breaking Dawn they are going to have to pull a Deathly Hallows and split it into two movies. I mean geez, Breaking Dawn has so much stuff going on! I think someone should start a petition. Who's with me?!

Jul 16 - 06:16 PM

JettaJameson

James Lowell

What is it with you fangirls and petitions?! So pointless. Move on.

I'm very excited for New Moon. I hope CW delivers a top-noch product.

Jul 17 - 11:30 AM

Michael G.

Michael Garay

New to RT. Great article by Jen Yamato. Thanks Jen. As to comments so far, I read many of the Twilight sites and comments. When Chris was named to replace Katherine, the huey and cry from fans was emotional. "He better not screw up NM", etc. When David was announced as Director of Eclypes, he antagonized most of the fans with foot-in-mouth comments about the Saga. Several critics feel that BD cannot be made; Reneesme (Nesi)cannot be recreated, the birth scene is to graphic, blah blah blah. Chris told Jen,"Yes, it's doable; anything is doable." I like his attitude. Shauna wrote in her comment that to stay true to BD they are going to have to pull a Deathly Hallows and split it into two movies. I just sat through Half-blood Prince. 2 hours and 48 minutes and it still left out many of the scenes from the book. I agree with Shauna.

Jul 16 - 09:49 PM

Michael G.

Michael Garay

What do you guys think of the news that Stephenie is going to co-write the screenplay? Is that good, bad or do you care?

Jul 16 - 09:59 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

Thanks for posting, all! I agree, Chris Weitz' attitude toward New Moon, and even Breaking Dawn, is downright positive. Makes it easy to root for him to succeed with his leg of the franchise. (I'll be posting detailed observations from the New Moon set Friday, by the way.)

Michael G.: thanks for coming here as a new reader. It's interesting, this idea that you and Shauna discuss, about splitting Breaking Dawn into 2 films. The problem I see with Breaking Dawn, however, isn't that too much happens in it (yes, a lot happens) but that the particulars of the events are difficult to depict on screen. I won't go into spoilers here, but you probably know what I'm talking about.

However, to address your second comment: I don't believe Stephenie Meyer is co-scripting any of the Twilight films. Melissa Rosenberg definitely scripted New Moon and Eclipse (which she discussed with us on set, in a forthcoming interview).

Jul 17 - 01:40 AM

kaushik i.

kaushik iska

yeah @ bigbrother goldent compass wasnt really impressive
lets see what he does to this flick.

Jul 17 - 02:24 AM

Alicia F.

Alicia Franklin

I am much more optimistic about the outcome of New Moon after reading this interview with Chris Weitz. He sounds like an intelligent and sensitive director who has a healthy respect for the source material. I am heartened that he seems to realize that the series is primarily an epic love story. If this is the case, I think he would be a great choice to direct Breaking Dawn. (Though, I still think BD would be better filmed by HBO as a season long series rather than a 90 minute theatrical movie.)

I am really looking forward to seeing New Moon now. Best of luck to the director and his crew in editing the film.

Jul 17 - 08:21 AM

Michael G.

Michael Garay

Interesting proposal to put BD on HBO. Do you think that Summit would have grossed over $350m in revenue if Twilight was on HBO? What about DVD sales? HBO has limited, albeit fanatic, following. Not everyone has HBO.Everyone can go to the theater. I saw Twilight 3 times at the cinema.I suspect that figure pales by comparison to 15 year-old girls with a crush on Edward.

Jul 17 - 08:48 AM

Michael G.

Michael Garay

Jen, your interview with Chris is all over the Twilight Blog world. You are getting much love. Good job. I am new to this forum. I did read where Stphenie was teaming with Melissa to write the screeenplay for BD but after researching the many sites, I cannot find the article. I will do a better job of documenting news for next time.You are in the mainstream, please find out if Melissa is doing BD. Many twifans have trashed her but I think she did a fine job with Twilight. Keep up the good work.

Jul 17 - 08:28 AM

Michael G.

Michael Garay

Interesting proposal to put BD on HBO. Do you think that Summit would have grossed over $350m in revenue if Twilight was on HBO? What about DVD sales? HBO has limited, albeit fanatic, following. Not everyone has HBO.Everyone can go to the theater. I saw Twilight 3 times at the cinema.I suspect that figure pales by comparison to 15 year-old girls with a crush on Edward.

Jul 17 - 08:48 AM

Michael G.

Michael Garay

You hit it right on the head. I have the audio and am on my third reading/listening.There are four CDs devoted to bike repairs.I skip them and go to the cliff jumping section.Let's see, 4 out of 12 is 1/3 of the story can be omitted. Good call.

Jul 17 - 09:02 AM

JettaJameson

James Lowell

What is it with you fangirls and petitions?! So pointless. Move on.

I'm very excited for New Moon. I hope CW delivers a top-noch product.

Jul 17 - 11:30 AM

acton acton

matt hall

Yeah why dont you get some bands that actually like vampires and have songs about them already, get rid of these teeny bop songs, look away from the MTV and get Blutengel or Unter Null. America is being dumbed down by listening to the only thing you play for them, Paramor? Patinsen? He is in the movie we dont need to hear his bad brittish voice and bad guitar playing, which brings me to my final point, guitars are dead, computers and EBM are the new age, hell we got it on such bands as any R&B, singers just need to get rid of the people that write these songs, 60 year old record execs. Industrial, EBM is the way to go, way more variety of sounds, voice processors to enhance or change ones voice, multiple drum sounds, all instruments can be played and distorted. Even guitars can be changed to sound like the future should be. .... the movie looks better and I believe will get better as they go on. Still, no fangs? Sunlight? I put up with the change but They really are not vamps, they are just immortal beings that happen to need blood to live. Lets call them zombies with brains. or simply put demons with feelings.

Jul 17 - 01:02 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Call me old fashioned, but I'll take Jimmy Hendrix or Jimmy Page ripping on their ax than someone typing away at their keyboard ala Poindexter from Revenge of the Nerds. The Guitar and it's music like rock and roll will never die.

Jul 17 - 01:22 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

"they are just immortal beings that happen to need blood to live"... what exactly do you think a vampire is?

Jul 17 - 01:24 PM

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