LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Melissa Rosenberg already had a healthy career in features (“Step Up”) and television (“The O.C.,” “Dexter”) when Summit Entertainment hired her to adapt a vampire romance novel called “Twilight.”
Four years, three scripts, two movies and one billion dollars later, she is entering the home stretch of her wildly successful “Twilight” run and finally starting to think about a life beyond Bella, Edward, Jacob and author Stephenie Meyer.
With “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” poised to sink its teeth into the box office June 30, Rosenberg talked about splitting the next installment “Breaking Dawn,” murderous dreams and her new production company.
YOU PROBABLY KNEW ABOUT THIS ALL ALONG, BUT SUMMIT FINALLY PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED THAT “DAWN” WOULD BE TWO MOVIES. HAD YOU WRITTEN IT AS ONE MOVIE ALREADY? IS THIS A HUGE PAIN? OR HAD YOU BEEN WORKING ON IT AS TWO FROM THE BEGINNING?
Rosenberg: When we started, everyone was a little bit unsure. So it kind of came down to me looking at the book and going, Are there two movies in this? Which is a hell of a lot of pressure! Sure, we all wanted it to be two movies, but we had to look at it and see, Is there enough material for two movies? We all agreed there was probably too much for one movie, although I guess it could have been an incredibly long movie. So when I started getting into it I started to see, Yeah, we’ve got two movies here. Everybody agreed and I started approaching it as two movies. And then it came down to, Are the actors available for two movies? So there were a lot of things that went into this decision.
MAYBE YOU HAVEN’T GOTTEN TO THIS POINT IN STRUCTURING IT YET, BUT CAN YOU ALLUDE TO WHAT THE CLIFFHANGER OF THE FOURTH MOVIE VERSUS THE FIFTH WOULD BE?
Rosenberg: We’re kind of still deciding that. I’m doing first drafts now. But I think it comes down to Bella as human and Bella as vampire. (“Breaking Dawn” director) Bill Condon may give you a different answer, but I think it’s a natural break. There’s her as a human with the baby and everything and then there’s her as a parent and a vampire.
JUST HOW LUCRATIVE HAS THIS BEEN FOR YOU? DO YOU HAVE A PIECE OF THE BACK END? (PROFIT-SHARING)
Rosenberg: Not the back end. I don’t have points.
SO IT’S ALL STRAIGHT FEES AND THEN WHATEVER YOU GET FROM RESIDUALS.
Rosenberg: I don’t know. Because it will go on for years. But the DVD market is coming down some. I mean ... I’m building a house.
AS LONG AS YOU’VE BEEN IN THIS UNIVERSE, DO YOU DREAM “TWILIGHT” STUFF?
Rosenberg: (Pause) I have a recurring dream that I’ve committed some heinous murder. And the interesting thing is that, in the dream it’s not that I’m guilty about the murder. I actually have absolutely no remorse whatsoever. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, I’m not sure how related it is! What I’m concerned about, what consumes me in the dream, is my life will end. I’m going to go to prison, everything will be stripped from me. And I have to do everything I can to get out of this situation, even kill more people. I’m not sure what that’s about. In some ways I think it’s about the pressure, the fear that they’re going to be coming after me with tar and feathers for whatever I produce. The fans are going to hate what I do and basically say I’ve butchered them. But I think the other side of it is a fear that I will have done so terribly that my whole career will end, that it will all be stripped away and I’ll lose everything, and all standing will disappear. Ah ... that was a very personal revelation!
HOW READY ARE YOU TO BE OUT OF THE WORLD OF TEENAGE MELODRAMA?
Rosenberg: They’ve been very comfortable, these books. I know them. I have confidence, there’s a level of security in writing these voices and writing these characters. And with that comes the ability to let my imagination go a little bit and invent for them. So it’s a comfortable world. And as with any big change, it’s a little scary to leave. It’s like, What else is out there? And am I going to succeed anywhere near as well as I did on these? But the other side of it is I’ve kind of decided to see what else is next. I will not be doing any more teen romances.
HAVE YOU BEEN WORRIED AT ALL ABOUT THE EQUIVALENT OF TYPECASTING?
Rosenberg: Not yet. The “Dexter” of it helps.
Rosenberg: I’m not sure how much “Dexter” registers with people. And it’s also a little hard to have those be in the same universe for some people. It’s funny, I was just talking to Kim Masters on NPR, and she said, “It’s really unusual for a writer to have a publicist and to be doing all this.” I said I very consciously chose to hire a publicist, I chose long before I had any success, and I knew I was going to do this, because it’s all about branding yourself. It’s all about putting yourself in front of a movie. Because when you have a profile, when you have some weight behind you, you have a little more possibility of having control. And in features, for a writer to have any control is unusual. Summit has been so great with me. That’s the other thing: If I leave Summit, if I go work with other studios, in some ways I’m dreading it. And other times, I’m like, Maybe it’s time to get out and meet some new people.
ARE YOU GUYS BREAKING UP? OR ARE YOU JUST SEEING OTHER PEOPLE?
Rosenberg: Seeing other people. They would love for me to do nothing but work with them, and frankly I’d kind of love that, too. But I should probably go out and see what else is out there ... One of the things I really want to do moving forward is form my own production company.
Rosenberg: It’s called Tall Girls Productions. I want to bring up some young writers and work with some of my contemporaries, with a bias toward young female writers. The charter of it, if there is one, would be to create some strong roles for women. I’m not talking the sort of ghetto that we’ve been in of the romantic drama or the fluffy romantic comedy of which there have been so few good ones. I’m talking about some kick-ass flawed women. Comic book heroes. The female Batman, the female Tony Soprano. It will require a lot of work on my part, but I know it’s what I want to do. I’m hoping to parlay whatever this bizarre success is into something that’s going to last for a while.