As the OG screenwriter speaks out, "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke explains why his work had "to go in the trash."
Can you imagine Bella Swan blowing away vampires with a shotgun ... while calling the bloodsuckers a far more NSFW word also ending with "suckers"? Well, had the first film script based on Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" actually gotten made, that's what we would have seen.
The crews involved with both MTV's failed version that never got off the ground and the series fans actually wound up seeing both appear on The Big Hit Show podcast's deep dive into the world of "Twilight." Hosted by Alex Pappademas, the first two episodes which dropped Wednesday start to dig into the early stages of adapting the immensely popular books, with new stories from those involved behind the scenes.
After producer Greg Mooradian read an unpublished, unedited manuscript for the first book, he brought it to MTV Films, before screenwriter Mark Lord was brought on to take a crack at adapting it. As the first book hadn't even been released to the public yet, MTV felt "there was a lot of freedom" for them if they were to develop the project -- and they certainly took some liberties from the source material.
Among the biggest changes in Lord's first script: Both Carlisle Cullen and Charlie Swan are killed, Bella takes on the vamps with a shot gun, before turning into one herself -- all in the first movie. Speaking with Pappademas, Lord said he was told to add more action "and give something more for the male audience" to grab hold of. "They thought they were going to lose the male audience with too much of a romance," he added.
Of the big changes, Lord says he was just going what he was hired to do and added that one of the biggest challenges was how to externalize Bella's voice -- as the book is mainly the character's interior thoughts. He also wanted her to be "a little bit stronger in this as a female character, as opposed to just mooning over this guy."
When asked if he really had "Bella blowing away vampires with a shotgun," Lord responded, "Probably, sure, it's bad ass!" He added he wanted "a big conflagration" at the films' finale -- saying, "I want that girl to shoot some vampires, I want her to blow some s--- away."
"It was the best we could put together for what they wanted," Lord said. "They were happy with it and then they exploded." According to MTV's David Gale, things got "pretty contentious" over the project and "there were some pretty hostile and angry people that wanted to make sure that we did not make this film."
Eventually, MTV and Paramount stepped away from the project entirely and it ended up at Summit, who would go on to make the whole franchise. Gillian Bohrer, who would oversee the series at Summit, said it "was clear something had gone awry" making the translation from book to script when reading Lord's draft.
Lord's work still made its way into Catherine Hardwicke's hands when Summit's then-Head of Production Erik Feig sent her a few scripts to possibly direct for the company.
"I read all five scripts. I threw every one of them in the trash ... but the next day I woke up, I thought, 'Well, that one about the vampire. I wonder if there's something there. Maybe it's based on a book,'" she recalled. After reading the book, she was hooked -- but Lord's draft had to go.
"I said, 'First of all, this script has to go in the trash. No good. You've got to make it like the book," said Hardwicke. "The original script literally had Bella on jet skis being chased by the FBI. She was a star athlete. nothing to do with the book."
With Harwicke on board, they still had to get Meyer to sign off the rights for Summit to make the movie. The company finally convinced her by having her write up what they called "The Stephenie Meyer Bill of Rights," or things they could absolutely not change from the book. Among the stipulations: nobody could have "canine incisors longer than those found in the average human being" and nobody could be killed off who lived in the books. They could, however, kill off new characters.
Melissa Rosenberg then took over the script -- and wound up writing all five films.
The rest of the second episode dove into Kristen Stewart's casting -- with Hardwicke knowing she wanted her after seeing "Into the Wild," a feeling which was solidified after an audition with Jackson Rathbone, who went on to play Jasper.
The first two chapters of the "Twilight" deep dive are streaming now on Spotify, with new episodes dropping Wednesdays.