Catherine Hardwicke gives us a first look at her diary from the set of the vampire movie and talks about why she left a franchise she loved

By Karen Valby
February 13, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

She was having dinner in Paris when she got the dreaded phone call. Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke and her bleary-eyed actors, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, were unwinding after an exhausting day of promotion when her cell phone began to bleat. Hardwicke had been negotiating to direct the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s monster-selling sequel New Moon, and the talks had reached the breaking point. Hardwicke stepped out of the restaurant and into the freezing cold with her phone. Summit offered her a queenly sum to resume her place at the helm — ”more money than I or anyone in my family has ever seen,” says Hardwicke — but told her she’d be working with a tight deadline and a modest budget. Regretfully, she told the executives they needed to find themselves a new director. ”I was devastated,” she says today. ”I really did feel a strong connection to the people around the world that liked the movie — and to Stephenie and the actors. But I just didn’t think I could make a good movie under those circumstances.”

Before Hardwicke slips out of the Twilight zone, she has one last surprise for the fans. Twilight: Director’s Notebook (on sale March 17) was inspired by the on-set journal that Hardwicke scrawled in throughout the production of the movie, which has thus far grossed over $350 million worldwide. She and Meyer’s publisher first discussed the project last summer. ”When the movie made enough money, they thought it was worth it,” says Hardwicke. ”They said, ‘Now you have three and a half weeks to do it!’ And I was like, Okay, I’m just going to keep writing until they rip this out of my hands!”

Hardwicke’s book is not the only solace Twilighters will find in the coming months. The highly anticipated Twilight DVD hits stores on March 21. (Of the bonus materials, the director offers this simple pitch: deleted make-out scenes. The woman knows her audience.) Then, on March 27, fans will have to come to terms with the fact that Pattinson and Stewart are not actually Edward and Bella incarnate, but instead actors who will from time to time play other characters. Pattinson will play the great surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in the tiny art-house indie Little Ashes. (Fans can probably handle seeing Pattinson play a bisexual character, but that mustache may be another story.) Little Ashes was originally slated for November, but Regent Releasing bumped it up to March to exploit the actor’s It Boy status. As it happens, Stewart has her own movie, the ’80s summer comedy Adventureland, opening the same day. ”A happy act of fate,” insists Regent marketing manager Bryan Westbrook.

Meanwhile, fans continue to whip themselves into a frenzy online in anticipation of New Moon, which is already deep into pre-production under director Chris Weitz. (Hardwicke notes the irony that her replacement is enjoying a better deal than she’d been promised. ”I know the budget they were talking about with me — they’ve already gone way beyond that,” she says. A rep for Summit chose not to comment.) But she’s done nursing her broken heart. ”I’m optimistic that it’s going to be great, and I’m sad that it didn’t work out for me to do it,” she says. ”But I’ll do something else cool.” Just the other day, Summit called Hardwicke’s agent and offered the female filmmaker with the highest weekend opening of all time another young-adult novel adaptation. Until then, Twilighters can whet their insatiable appetites with our exclusive look at Twilight: Director’s Notebook, a peek into the brain that brought their beloved bible to life.