Bill Condon is one of the greatest living directors, on the strength of Gods and Monsters, Kinsey and Dreamgirls. So why on Earth would he choose to film the ultra-weird conclusion to Stephenie Meyer's paranormal soap opera Twilight?
That's the biggest question that's been hanging over Breaking Dawn, the Twilight finale which Condon is adapting as two movies. And we got an answer, of sorts, when we talked to Condon at San Diego Comic-Con.
We heard from Condon at a special Twilight press conference first thing in the morning, and then again at the movie's Hall H panel. And it seems like he has two reasons for wanting to do these two movies: the love of outsiders, and the love of vampires.
I got the chance to ask Condon one question, so I asked about the theme of social repression, and people not being allowed to be themselves. That theme shows up in pretty much all of Condon's other films, so I was wondering how it might be expressed in Twilight: Breaking Dawn. And Condon responded:
It would sound really pretentious to say that, but I do feel like I am drawn to people who are outsiders that are yearning, and all these characters are. Jacob is yearning, all the time. Edward and Bella are trying to find a way to live the life that they were meant to.
So he feels as though the vampires and werewolves of Twilight have something in common with the alienated director James Whale in Gods and Monsters, or Jennifer Hudson's alienated singer in Dreamgirls.
And the other thing that Condon kept stressing was that he'd always been a huge fan of horror, growing up, and he'd always loved vampires. He was a huge fan of the supernatural soap Dark Shadows, for example, as he explained to the press conference:
I don't know. I was a kid and I would run home to see that show. There were all kinds of creatures, but it was mostly vampires and Barnabas Collins. I think it was growing up in a very intense Catholic household that makes you a little twisted. Whatever new vampires are around, I've always been interested in them, as I was with Twilight.
"I started out in horror movies," Condon told the panel in Hall H, referring to his early work on films like Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and various TV movies. He immediately "imprinted" on the material when he read the novel and an early script outline. "I loved it. It's all third act. All the other movies have been leading up to this." And he feels like the second half of the first Breaking Dawn movie turns into "a really cool horror movie," with the birth and the wolf pack attacking.
The note of Twilight as horror movie came from the film's stars as well — Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart talked about how they had an animatronic baby in the scene where Bella is introduced to her baby for the first time. And it looked like Chucky from the Child's Play movies, with hair and teeth, and eyes that kept moving around even after Condon yelled "cut."
If anybody can make the tail end of the Edward-Bella-Jacob triangle into a deeper story about outsiders who are trying to find themselves and create the lives they were supposed to have — instead of the lives that society says they should have — it would be the man who made Alfred Kinsey into a great cinematic hero. Let's hope he pulls it off.