The story, this time around, centers on Bella’s nuptials to Edward — she wants to be a vampire like him, his condition is that they get married first — and the life-threatening pregnancy that unexpectedly results from their first bed-splintering honeymoon encounter.
To bring such heightened material to the screen, Condon said he looked to both Vincente Minnelli and Alfred Hitchcock, hewing to tradition for Bella and Edward’s wedding and honeymoon, skewing more graphic when depicting Bella’s pregnancy, which is destroying her from the inside out. Through a combination of prosthetics and CG, Condon transforms his dewy brunet into a gaunt, skeletal version of herself.
“She needed to look like she’s dying or the story doesn’t make sense,” Pattinson said. “It was great that he went there.”
Pattinson says he felt a kinship with Condon from the moment the director came to visit the 25-year-old actor while he was shooting the period love story “Water for Elephants” in Los Angeles.
“I had my hair cut really short, and he said, ‘Oh, you should have your hair like this in the ‘Twilight’ movies.’ I thought, ‘OK, I already like you,” Pattinson said with a laugh. “Especially since so many people worried about my hair. It was all they cared about. The hair and a six-pack.”
Stewart too praised Condon.
“I wanted a director that I could trust enough that I could completely clear my head and know that all my preparation was going to find its way into my body,” Stewart said. “I didn’t feel that I was always looking over his shoulder making sure he was capturing it, or looking over his shoulder making sure he wasn’t missing some aspect of the book that I knew about and he didn’t. I already knew that we were on the same page.”
Condon had a particularly unique approach to Bella and Edward’s big love scene, which for fans is a culmination of years of repressed desire. Rather than do a straight-away shot of the young couple’s first night in bed together, he opted to show the majority of the scene in flashback through Bella’s memory of the encounter.
“It’s the reason I’m directing the movie,” Condon said of the sequence. “To me the memory of first sex — savoring the smell, the taste and the touch was more interesting. And it plays with people’s expectations. You don’t get much in the beginning and [people may think], ‘Oh, that was it?’ To set up a disappointment and then give them more seemed like fun.”
His decision seemed to go over well with the 7,000 people in the audience at the Nokia Theatre Monday night, where that soundtrack that Condon had been so carefully fine-tuning two months ago was often drowned out by the sounds of teen girls’ screams. It was a moment Condon says he won’t soon forget.
“It was so exciting to see,” he said by phone the following morning. “The way those fans anticipated the controversy [of the story] even before the characters know what’s happening was amazing. That was a relief.”