Evan Smith: Could you ever have imagined when you first saw the script for Twilight that it would earn $70 million in its first weekend—the highest-grossing opening by a female director in history? Could you have imagined that it was a phenomenon in the making?
Catherine Hardwicke: At the time there were only two books out in the series—there was this passionate fan base, but it was much smaller than it is now. Stephenie [Meyer, the author of the Twilight series] is such a crazy-fast, prolific writer that she churned out two more books in the last two years. The books got people excited about the movie, the movie got people excited about the books, and it just built and built into this frenzy. So I think it was kind of a magical convergence.
ES: It’s remarkable how not only kids but also grown-ups have responded. It really has cut across demographics.
CH: When Stephenie wrote the first book, she didn’t expect it to go into the Young Adults section. Someone else decided that’s where it should go. She and I joked that, yes, you’ve got Romeo and Juliet, the two young lovers, but it doesn’t mean no one else can appreciate the play. It started out with the teenagers, but then it expanded—you know, you have the Twilightmoms and the Twilight grandmoms. I’ve met tons of people older than teenagers who loved the book and confessed that they’ve seen the movie three times, four times. And I’ve met boys who’ve seen it. Some of them had to sneak in; they didn’t want to tell their friends.
ES: What’s that about?
CH: They didn’t know much about the book. They loved the trailer—it’s about a vampire—and were ready to go see the movie. But they got to thinking, “Oh, it’s based on a book that young girls love so much.” And then they got a little embarrassed: “Wait, am I supposed to like it?”
ES: The girls didn’t need to be convinced.
CH: We toured malls the week before [the movie] opened. When we went to Dallas, there were one thousand girls screaming like it was Beatlemania and yelling “I want to have your baby” at