LOS ANGELES — No matter how many times they have read the last book in her supernaturally popular “Twilight Saga,” Stephenie Meyer expects even devoted “Twihard” fans will be shocked when they see the ending of the big-screen adaptation “Breaking Dawn — Part 2.”
After all, the movie's third act even took her by surprise when she saw the finished film, opening Friday in theaters.
“It does feel very surprising. I still, watching it, have that (moment) where I go, ‘Oh, oh, right. We did that, didn't we?' So definitely there's something new to see. But to me, it doesn't feel like it's going like hugely off the page at all,” said Meyer, sitting between producer Wyck Godfrey and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg during a recent news conference.
Before they even knew that “Breaking Dawn” — the fourth and final book in the record-smashing “Twilight Saga” — would be split into two movies, Meyer, who also served as a producer on the two-part finale, and Rosenberg, who took all the “Twilight” novels from page to screen, sat down in a steakhouse to plot out a satisfying cinematic conclusion for the blockbuster franchise.
“I wouldn't call it an alternate ending,” Meyer told journalists gathered in the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom. “The end was something that we knew had to be cracked. And we sat there and hashed it out and ... in a way, I feel like it's kind of off screen in the novel because we only see what Bella sees. And this was just a way of making visual what some of the other characters might have been seeing.”
“Breaking Dawn — Part 2” picks up immediately where its predecessor left off, with heroine Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) experiencing her first moments as a newly transformed vampire. While her immortal husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), reintroduces her to his coven, Bella also reunites with her werewolf pal Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and meets the half-human/half-vampire daughter, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), she carried and birthed as a human.
As Bella adjusts to her new life as a vampire, wife and mother, the Cullens face a new threat when the ruling clan the Volturi accuses them of an unpardonable crime.
Transforming Meyer's last “Twilight” book into two big-screen adventures wasn't easy. Since the debut of the first film in 2008, the author, 38, had fretted about the cinematic portrayal of Renesmee, who not only has supernatural abilities but also grows at a rapidly accelerated rate. Eventually, Mackenzie Foy, who turned 10 during the concurrent filming of the “Breaking Dawn” movies, was cast to play Renesmee through all her developmental stages.
“We looked at younger actresses, but you needed this person who could have meaningful conversations with her parents, who we would believe in these really hard scenes,” Meyer said. “I think it turned out; the emotion is there.”
Godfrey added, “Because Renesmee is kind of supernaturally wise in some ways, having an actress who's 9 playing all the articulations of Renesmee from, you know, looking 6 months old 'til 10 was great because we could performance capture with her and then sort of de-age her on to kind of the proper scale. But it was challenging.”
Another challenge was casting the roles of more than a dozen new vampire characters who are introduced in “Breaking Dawn — Part 2” as the Cullens seek out allies from around the world to help defend them against the Volturi's false allegations.
“Lee Pace actually stood out as someone who really just was so much fun and really looked the part,” Meyer said, referring to the Chickasha-born actor who plays Garrett, an American vampire who fought in the Revolutionary War. “They did a really good job of sort of matching the descriptions this time.”
For her next project, Meyer is working as a producer on the 2013 movie “The Host,” an adaptation of her best-selling alien possession novel starring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger and William Hurt. But the writer has no firm plans for the future of her global phenomenon-spawning “Twilight Saga.”
“I'm not into permanence, so I wouldn't say no absolutely. I'm not gonna do it today. I don't know how I'm gonna feel in five years,” she said.
“I had planned out where it would go for a couple more books. So I know exactly what would happen. I mean, there are other characters that I think would've had a lot of voice in those coming stories. I don't know, maybe someday I'll write it out just for myself. We'll see.”
Travel and accommodations provided by Summit Entertainment.