With her beloved book finally hitting the big screen, Twilight author Stephenie Meyer sat down with EW for an in-depth interview about the Rob Pattinson casting controversy, Breaking Dawn‘s mixed reception, the deal with Edward and Bella’s big kiss, and what she’s working on next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First and foremost, what was it like seeing your story on the big screen?
STEPHENIE MEYER: I was terrified for days in advance before I saw Twilight for the first time. I was so worried that it was going to be horrible and break my heart. I’d seen things that were really good, but for all the time I’d spent on the set, I’d probably seen 10 minutes of the movie altogether. So I asked if it was okay if some of my friends watch with me because I have these great friends who are really positive and they love everything! I was really worried about it but we got in there and they put it on and I had my paper and my pen because it was a rough cut and I wanted to give feedback on things I felt needed to be changed. And I didn’t write a single thing down because I was so involved. The characters were speaking the way they should and the heart was there. I could have watched it all night in a loop if I could have.
Why did you demand that Edward and Bella’s big kissing scene be toned down?
The problem is if you’re going to continue with the other movies, there’s a very gradual build to their physical relationship. And what Edward is capable of when he first meets Bella changes very much by the time he’s become more committed to the relationship. They reshot the first kiss scene and actually added a special effect and some really cool things that added so much. And it’s the only kiss scene.
You also asked for some minor script changes and insisted on Kellan Lutz’s casting as Emmett. Did you always feel comfortable putting your foot down?
My personality is such that I have a really hard time being critical with other people. I can be critical of myself all day long. But I hate to step in and say, ”I really wish this was different.” But it’s been good for me just in general to have to speak up because I am so invested in this. I’ve forced myself, like with the Emmett situation, to take a step forward and say, ”I don’t like this.” And that’s hard for me, but I’m glad of every time I did it and I don’t think I stepped on too many toes and everyone seems to still like me.
What do you think of Rob Pattinson?
He’s a very mesmerizing person to be around. He’s got such a compelling personality. I don’t think you’d want him for a boyfriend. And you couldn’t just be his friend because he’s terribly sexy!
Were you worried when fans were outraged over his casting?
It broke my heart. Because I’ve had my tiny bit of celebrity, I’m aware of how hurtful those things can be. I apologized to him for ruining his life. He said his mom was sending him links like, ”Oh no, they called you a gargoyle!” They just raked him over the coals. The way he took it was a lot more positive than the way I would’ve handled it. He was like, ”I’m going to prove them wrong. I’m going to go out there and prove them wrong.” The movie hasn’t come out yet and he’s won over 99.9 percent of the people who didn’t approve of him as Edward. And when they see the movie, oh my gosh, there’s no way not to love him! It’s really too bad in some ways because Twilight is going to be limited by the fact that this is a vampire romance and it’s basically aimed at teens. If not for that, his performance in my opinion is Oscar-worthy.
NEXT PAGE: The Breaking Dawn reception and Midnight Sun controversy
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Backing up, have you recovered from the very split, very passionate response to Breaking Dawn?
STEPHENIE MEYER: It’s been hard. The book did so much better than I thought it would. So many more people read it than I thought would. And then the negative reaction was so much more than I was expecting. Everything was more! I knew that that was coming because I had read all of the expectations people had: ”If this doesn’t happen in the end, I’m going to burn the book!” I already knew the story so that didn’t affect what happened, it just made me nervous for it to come out. But in the end I just had to say, ”This is the way this story goes.” It’s almost like history to me. This is what happened! You can’t mess with what happened. But I’ve been surprised at how hard it is to have people in some senses turn on you. That’s weird for me. But it was weird to have people like me too.
Have you moved on?
It just got to the point where it was ruining my life to read these hate-filled, poisonous things about me. It was kind of horrifying. I really did have to learn to distance myself. I’m too negative of a person naturally, so I don’t need any extra negativity. I’m not an optimist. One hundred people can tell you, ”Oh, I love this, it’s so great!” and one person can say, ”I hate this, you’re stupid.” And that’s the one I listen to because that’s who I am. [Laughing] So I have to be careful.
Despite the negativity, was there some happiness for you after Breaking Dawn was published?
I didn’t feel the sense of completion when I finished the book. I felt the sense of completion when it was out there and knowing that the end capped the story. It’s real when it’s published. The whole story was there. Finished. Stand alone. And it wasn’t whether anybody liked it besides me — I’d done it. I felt a sense of crossing the finishing line. So that was really positive.
When you returned home after a grueling tour for Breaking Dawn, you discovered that your unfinished manuscript for Midnight Sun had leaked onto the Internet, and you released a statement saying you were permanently shelving the story. Do you still feel the same?
The funny thing about that statement is I didn’t actually write the majority of it. I wrote about three single-spaced Word document pages of just real pain — with sort of a laugh on the end so everything was kind of tongue-in-cheek. And there were lawyerly people who thought it just wasn’t a good way to do it. I didn’t want to feel misrepresented in the letter and other people didn’t want me to be too emotionally vulnerable. So in the end only the one or two sentences written by me seem really jarring, and people didn’t get that there was sort of a joke in there. For example the part that’s me is where I said, ”If I wrote it now everybody would end up dying.” But that was a joke! And it sounded so serious amidst all the lawyer talk and I think my fans thought, Wow, she’s threatening to kill everyone! [Laughing] I felt kind of bad about that. I never felt any anger, actually. Just a lot of sadness. I mean it was a sucker punch — like someone came up behind you and just hammered you in the kidneys and you had no idea it was coming.
NEXT PAGE: What’s she working on next?
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Is Midnight Sun still dead to you, or can you see finishing and publishing it in the future?
STEPHENIE MEYER: It’s really complicated, because everyone now is in the driver’s seat, where they can make judgment calls. ”Well, I think this should happen, I think she should do this.” I do not feel alone with the manuscript. And I cannot write when I don’t feel alone. So my goal is to go for, like, I don’t know, two years without ever hearing the words Midnight Sun. And once I’m pretty sure that everyone’s forgotten about it, I think I’ll be able to get to the place where I’m alone with it again. Then I’ll be able to sneak in and work on it again.
Do you have the energy to start working on a new book right now?
Actually, I think being able to write would be the best thing for me. I have two projects I want to work on. But the movie has been so time-consuming — all the publicity and the merchandise to approve. But I want to get in and write something totally different, a whole new world, and lose myself in that. I think that will be the most healing thing for me. So that’s my goal.
What stories are kicking around in your head?
I’m a little more hesitant to say what I’m working on, though, because people for some reason seem to take that as some kind of contract: ”You said you were working on this so now you have betrayed my trust by not doing it!” But I’m thinking I’m actually leaning towards the mermaids’ story right now. Years ago…I tried to write an epic poem. It was supposed to be, like, ”The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” right? And I couldn’t make it work, it was horrible. But I loved the story in it. So that has become part of the back story to this one. Some of the characters are mermaids. Though, again, they’re not mermaids like you’ve known mermaids. They’re completely different. And I’m not going to use the word ”mermaid” in the book — they’re sirens.
After all the incredible highs and lows of the past year, do you feel tougher now?
I would say that I am much more fragile now than I was in the beginning of the year. I am not tougher. Nooooo. [Laughing] In a way, I’m really glad about that. As an author, you have to live in a glass house. If you have walls up, you can’t see the world around you to interpret it into your stories. And when people start throwing bricks at your glass, you can’t fill in the holes with cement. You just have to put more glass in and it’s just more delicate than it was before. Being vulnerable and fragile is kind of essential to being able to translate your emotions into a printed work. On the plus side of not being tougher, I don’t feel jaded. I don’t feel like I’ve lost my wonder at the good things or my horror at the bad. That’s good, right? If I stopped really feeling things I wouldn’t be able to write anymore.