The adaptation of Ava Dellaira’s best-selling debut novel Love Letters to the Dead received an additional bona fide last week when it was announced that Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) will direct the project.
The movie already boasts the pedigree of Temple Hill Entertainment and Fox 2000, who together made last year’s hit The Fault in Our Stars. Love Letters follows along in the same oeuvre as Fault, addressing loss and family despair through the lens of 14-year-old Laurel, who pens letters to such deceased celebrities as Kurt Cobain, Judy Garland and Amy Winehouse, among many others, for an English class project, even as she grapples with the recent death of her older sister, May, and the abrupt departure of her mother.
“It’s a beautiful and challenging project about a very important subject,” says Hardwicke, who is currently in post-production on the Drew Barrymore, Toni Collette two-hander Miss You Already.
The director, who previously partnered with Temple Hill on the first Twilight movie, has a knack for understanding teen angst, and she also deserves credit for altering the trajectories of both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s careers after casting them as the leads in the massive YA juggernaut born from Stephenie Meyer’s novels. (It will be interesting to see the actress she and her partners cast as Laurel.)
The book, which deals with Laurel’s older sister’s suicide, is very relevant today considering the rise in teenage suicide. “I knew that somebody was going to do the pivotal movie about dealing with the rash of teenage suicide that has become something of an epidemic in our country,” said Godfrey. “This book was the most responsible way to deal with it, through the eyes of someone who’s been left behind.”
It’s a small $10 million movie that the producers hope to begin shooting in early 2016, after Hardwicke works on the script with author/screenwriter Dellaira.
“Catherine is perfect for it. She is the best person I know to put you inside the mind of a 16-year old girl,” says Godfrey.
Hardwicke, who hit a bit of a rough patch after the success of Twilight, seems to be on the rebound with a slew of projects in the hopper, including the new film Miss You Already that stars Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore. Godfrey got a look at an early cut of the movie, which centers on how two life-long friends cope when one gets breast cancer. “It’s a great comeback film for Catherine. She gets great performances out of these two women.” That film is just beginning to look for theatrical distribution.
Love Letters isn’t the only new literary-minded project in Hardwicke’s future, however. She also has also been hired to direct the adaptation of the best-selling novel The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.