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talking twilight and the difficulties of being a female director with catherine hardwicke

As she releases her new film, Miss You Already, we meet up with one of Hollywood's best directors.

by Samuel Fragoso
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14 December 2015, 11:37pm

In The Women of Hollywood Speak Out, Maureen Dowd's widely-read expose for The New York Times, director Catherine Hardwicke relays a familiar tale about how she broke into Hollywood. ''I worked for 20 directors as a production designer, most male,'' said Hardwicke, who sat on the sidelines, patiently, while she watched her male contemporaries realise their directorial dreams. Then, finally, she got her turn, directing three films before ultimately landing on the Twilight property in 2008. You know the rest. The teen vampire love drama exploded, catapulting her into the spotlight. In the interim she has helmed two features (Red Riding Hood and Plush), along with several television episodes. Now she's back with Miss You Already, her most intimate work to date, about best friends (Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette) whose friendship is tested when drastic life changes ravages their routine. In conversation, Hardwick spoke at length about how Twilight upended her life, the difficulty of maintaining relationships of any variety, and, most importantly, the overdue ascendancy of women in Tinsel Town.

What's harder to sustain: a good friendship or a good relationship, like romantically, like a good romance?
Like in real life or in the movies?

Real life.
Don't you think the romantic relationship is harder to sustain? It's interesting, when I met with Drew Barrymore for the first time, she said her favorite movies are like platonic love stories, because they can kind of last through anything.

"Platonic love stories"is kind of a perfect term.
Yeah, I love it too. Drew comes up with these great comments and questions in the movie, it's just like improv.

Do you prefer the improvisational nature to something more scripted?
What was cool about Toni and Drew was that they were fluid, they could go back and forth. They were very skilled in weaving in and out of the script, and a lot of the stuff they said is in the movie, and it's drop dead hilarious. That made it feel like a real friendship, real organic, like they would bounce off of each other. Those two actresses are very creative, out of the box thinkers.

Wouldn't you consider yourself an out of the box thinker?
I hope so! I don't wanna blow my own horn though.

If there's ever a time to blow your own horn, it's now.
Okay, then everything in the movie that was brilliant I did!

So you directed that small Twilight movie, some people have probably seen it.
Well, see in a weird way, what people don't remember is that nobody thought that was going to be a blockbuster or a franchise. That movie was done by Paramount, put into turn around, and no other studio wanted it. At the time, no one thought it was going to be a hit, I kind of had to make it like an indie movie, because the expectations weren't that high. I mean, they told me one day, Hey there's probably just 400 girls in Salt Lake City, online blogging about this, and that's all the people that care about this movie. That's what they told me.

How did you take all of that when the film exploded?
It was insane. I mean, the first time that it got crazy was when Robert and Kristen and I went to Rome and we had to go to book signings. We didn't have any bodyguards or anything like that, we just went into this bookstore, and we couldn't get out. We suddenly got mobbed and had to escape for our lives, and we were into the cobblestone streets, and we looked at each other and went, Holy shit, man. Shit is getting real.

That's madness.
I just remember that moment and I thought we were gonna die. I think we lost a lot of hearing from all that high pitched squeals, you know.

Did you think when you got into filmmaking that could be a potential outcome? That you would make a movie that connected with so many people.
Right, but for me, I never thought about that end of it. As a director, it's so hard to get to make a movie, to make any movie. Just like 24/7, every night, every minute, just crafting it, trying to get the details right, fix that, and do that, and you can only work harder. We're all workaholics, I guess. And so we're just trying to get to the finish line and get it done. I've never thought about the aftermath. I was shocked.

Would you say that you feel this movie is a step forward for you?
It's kind of exciting, there are very few movies made with a woman director and a woman writer, female actors and stars. And this is right in the zeitgeist right now, everybody's talking about, Why aren't there more diverse voices out there? How come it's all pale male gaze? I just got back from Rio de Janeiro Film Festival, and all the journalists down there were super excited about the fact that the tide is changing. We're finally gonna get on the right side of history. Having voices out there, and stop having the 4% or 7% women directors. We're going for 50/50!

To make up for lost time, I think it needs to be 90% women directors, 10% male directors.
Yes, I love it! Okay, you and Bradley Cooper are our gods now! Get the men around to this movement!

By the way, that's the first (and probably last) time I'll be compared to Bradley Cooper.
You guys are like our favorite, we love talking to you! But you and Bradley are early adopters. I think that's' great. Into the future. We like that. 

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Text Samuel Fragoso