‘Eclipse’ Producer Wyck Godfrey on 3D, ‘Breaking Dawn,’ and More

FearNet Interview Producer Wyck Godfrey.

I like to picture the two-part Breaking Dawn movie as a NC-17 gynecology horror flick packed with pillow-biting sex and bellies ripped open, and guess what? I’m not alone. In fact, Twilight Saga producer Wyck Godfrey is the one who brought up David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers when we met to discuss this month’s Eclipse, in which Twilight heroine Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) finds herself torn between her vampire and werewolf beaus as an army of bloodsuckers threatens to kill everyone she loves. (He also told us he’d love to cast Stewart in his remake of the brutal French-language pic Martyrs. More on that here.)

But Godfrey knows his Twilight audience, so I asked him to set the record straight on rumors that the two-part final installment, Breaking Dawn, could go for an R-rating.  Over the course of a highly entertaining discussion, he explained why 30 Days of Night director David Slade was chosen to helm Eclipse, what made Dreamgirls razzle-dazzler Bill Condon right for Breaking Dawn, and how elements of horror filmmaking factor into the vampire romance franchise.

We discussed Bella’s newfound confidence in Eclipse, and how her infamous upcoming childbirth scene could possibly go down with a PG-13 rating. He mused on how 3D might be used to film part of Breaking Dawn, which begins shooting this November. He gave a compelling defense of Bella Swan’s problematic attractions to both Edward and Jacob, a love triangle that reaches a boiling point in Eclipse but develops new complexity as we move into Breaking Dawn. Most importantly, Twi-hards, Wyck Godfrey promised plenty of feathers.

Dive in for the full interview!

Why was David Slade the right choice to direct Eclipse?

Honestly, I loved Hard Candy. Ever since I saw that movie I was sending him everything I had. I loved the performances he got from Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page, I loved the filmmaking and the way he kept one small house, and many times one small room, alive and tense and exciting for an entire movie. And then, I saw 30 Days of Night and liked the genre elements of that, and how he had a real vision for how he wanted that world to look. That was kind of the perfect combination: his ability to tell a story and elicit amazing performances in Hard Candy, and to create a world in 30 Days of Night, which were sort of the combined qualities we were looking for in a director. So, coming off of Chris [Weitz], who is a really classic filmmaker and creates beautiful imagery, but very romantic imagery, we wanted to go in a little bit of a different direction and create something that had a little bit more anxiety and edge to it, as Bella really struggled with her choices, between Jacob and Edward, between becoming a vampire and staying human… we thought [David’s] style would bring a lot to all of that stuff.

Along those lines, what makes Bill Condon right for Breaking Dawn?

The themes and the story of Breaking Dawn are very mature; Bella and Edward are going through very adult things, from marriage to childbirth, motherhood, parenthood, and the evolution of their relationship into something that is a partnership, which is not the way Edward has viewed this relationship with her before. Bill’s a very mature filmmaker; he’s dealt with very difficult themes and stories in his career. He’s also gotten Academy Award nominations for actors in the last three films that he’s done.  And from a performance standpoint, Kristen’s going to be diving into stuff that she hasn’t been through. It’s one thing that she can remember first love and falling in love and being torn between two guys, probably, but the idea of dealing with some of these issues and having a filmmaker that can really help them as actors was vital to Breaking Dawn. Also, the visual nature of Dreamgirls made us feel like he could create something with a real scope and grandeur to it.

There’s also his earlier work: Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Sister, Sister

He’s a genre guy! That’s really exciting, that in some ways he’ll be coming full circle and utilizing his early roots with the stuff he’s been doing recently. I think that’ll be fun for him.

The whole idea of balancing horror and fantasy elements with a greater love story also comes up in Eclipse, which ramps up the genre elements considerably from the first two Twilight films. Was there ever an impulse to go even darker, to tip the balance more towards horror with this installment?

I think it’s not as mathematical as that. The core of the story is character based, and you have to nail that first — that’s why people love the franchise, but they also love the mythology and the genre elements of it. You want to make sure that you’re tracking Bella’s internal struggle along with the external conflicts of the movie, which is what’s happening in Seattle, what dangers are descending upon Forks and threatening both families she loves, the wolves and the Cullens. I think that’s something that we, Melissa Rosenberg, and Stephenie Meyer worked very hard on in the treatment stage and at the script stage to feel like we had a screenplay that represented both sides of that story.

The production notes quote you talking about the Eclipse production as a sort of summer camp, not without “the squabbles that families have.” Can you elaborate on that?

This is the first kind of true series I’ve been involved in, but usually you become a really tight knit family over the course of making a movie, and then you never see each other again, and that reminded me of summer camp as a kid, where I’d make these intense friendships and wouldn’t see some people ever again, and some people until the following summer. On Eclipse, having done two films together we all know each other really well; we know each others’ instincts, who’s in a good mood in the morning and who’s in a bad mood [laughs], but with that comes the ability to communicate more openly about things that you’re really pissed off about or things you want. You get that sense that we’re all back together, we’re all diving into it, but it is like a family in that you’ll have those moments where you’re not getting along. The good news is that you know, even out of that, you can sort of be back together afterwards and re-bond in different ways.

On the first film, when you’re first getting to know people, you’re guarded in a way that you’re not when you’ve known someone for two years. You’re guarded in that you may not say something you want to say to someone for fear of their repercussions, and now it’s just like, ‘You know what, you really pissed me off when you did that!’ And you just get through it.

Eclipse, very importantly, features a speech by Bella in which she asserts her confidence and her newfound maturity. Was that a response in any way to criticisms of Bella’s passiveness in the first two films?

No, I think it was a response to her journey in this movie, where you felt like if she starts the movie with the decision ‘I’m going to become a vampire, this is what I want,’ and you take her through a series of conflicts and obstacles that force her to call that choice into question, at the end of it she needs to have come to a place where she not only goes, ‘Okay, I’m going to become a vampire’ but also that she has a heightened understanding of what that means. We all felt that we needed to articulate that and make it clear, not only to Edward, but also to the audience.

Do you think non-fans who may not know and love the characters as well may reject both Edward and Jacob as unhealthy romantic choices for Bella, both not good for her in different ways?

I don’t know — what do you think? Is one of them a really bad boyfriend option?

Let me first say that I am firmly on Team Edward… but I think some might see him as being very controlling, while Jacob is emotionally manipulative in what he does, specifically in Eclipse.

I think the thing that is very relatable whether or not you’ve read the books is that men are completely flawed, one way or the other, and women have to choose the best qualities out of one man knowing they’ve got deficiencies in other areas. [Laughs] So Bella’s going through what every girl goes through.

Well, I can’t argue with that. Now, you and I have talked before about Breaking Dawn and how it would never go beyond a PG-13 rating, but recently rumors of an R-rating have sprung back up. Would you care to set the record straight again?

NC-17. We’re going full on X. [Laughs] Do they have triple-X anymore? I believe fully, I’m unwavering in my belief that these will be PG-13 movies. And really, I say that not because I know what we’re shooting but because I feel that they should be. I feel like the audience of the books and the movies, many of them are under 18; my ten-year-old son goes to these movies, I can’t make an R-rated conclusion to the franchise.

Is your ten-year-old son going to understand pillow-biting and feathers strewn everywhere?

By the time it comes out, he’ll be 11 and a half, and I think that’s all that was on my mind!

Fans around the world seem to have one big request, and that is: Feathers. Lots of feathers.

We have feathers currently being grown on geese around the world so that we can steal them for our pillow-biting feather eruption!

And then, there’s the birthing scene, which some of us horror fans fantasize about going down like a scene in a Cronenbergian horror movie…

Yeah! Dead Ringers. We should go full on! My wife’s an OB-GYN so we should bring her on set to make sure that if Edward is going to do an oral Cesarean, he really needs to make the proper incision with his teeth.

Needless to say I know that a gory Breaking Dawn isn’t going to happen quite like I envision it, but how close do you think it can come to evoking the sort of visceral goriness of what’s written in the novel?

I think the one thing that we’ve done that we’ve really done in all the films is keep them very subjective and keep them from Bella’s point of view. So the conversations we’ve had with Bill, is that we’ll try to do something similar here; you’re with Bella’s perspective and her point of view of what’s taking place in the rush around her, as she’s in intense pain. Not so focused, objectively, on her body and his body and that. So I think it’ll be something like that, in terms of trying to make the audience experience and feel the confusion, almost, of what’s happening to her.

Earlier today, Kristen said Breaking Dawn will start shooting in October — is that right?

November. She starts training in October. And we’ll probably shoot [the two parts] together, as one long story.

And how might you use 3D in either part of Breaking Dawn?

We have considered it, and everything’s being discussed, but I know that part of a way to differentiate the two movies would be to have one be in 2D, and when she becomes a vampire we move into 3D. But we haven’t really gotten far enough to decide what we’re going to do. I’m of two minds of it, frankly, and I think everyone is; I don’t want to chase the format if it’s not organic and appropriate. If we think it is, we will.

Lastly, how are you juggling the Twilight Saga with all of the other titles on your slate?

Well, my company has two partners — myself and Marty Bowen. The way we’ve always run things is we work on things together up until one’s going, and either I oversee a movie or he oversees a movie during production and we give each other our other points of view while we’re in post. So while I was doing Twilight and New Moon he was doing Dear John. While I was doing Eclipse he was doing Everything Must Go. During Breaking Dawn we have a couple of films that’ll probably go that he’ll be overseeing; one’s a Fernando Meirelles Janis Joplin movie with Amy Adams playing Janis Joplin. The other is a ten-year high school reunion movie that Jamie Linden, who wrote Dear John, is writing and directing, and hopefully Channing Tatum and a bunch of his buddies are going to do it.

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Posted on June 14, 2010, in Bill Condon, breaking dawn, david slade, Eclipse, interviews, Wyck Godfrey and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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