Casting Issues Arise for “New Moon”

If you haven’t read book two in the "Twilight" series – "New Moon" keep in mind there are some spoilers in this post.

chris_weitz__1_According to a few different websites – Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, American Pie, About A Boy) will take the reigns of "New Moon" – the follow up to the  incredibly popular "Twilight." Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, has grossed more than $141 million so far, but Hardwicke had clashed with the studio during production. It was announced early this week that she would not be making New Moon. Weitz has a solid relationship with Summit’s top brass; he’s considered easy to work with and has experience with special effects.

Some people are "iffy" about this change because the series is pretty much the epitome of a female fantasy (do you agree?) – so how can a man direct it and still keep it very women-oriented. Personally, I believe he is a great director and I think he will do New Moon justice. Even Stephanie Meyer herself is happy about Weitz’ directing. I figure – if the author (who in this case seems to have a lot of say in the way her books translate to movies) is happy about the new pick then why can’t we all be happy?

Chris wrote the following letter to his fans:

Dear fans of Twilight, New Moon, Bella, Edward and Jacob,

In the past few days I have been involved in a whirlwind romance with Stephenie Meyers’ extraordinary books.

And I am very grateful to have received her permission to protect New Moon in its translation from the page to the screen.

For fans of the books and of the film of Twilight, this may come as an unexpected twist. So I want to write briefly to try to put you at ease, and to give you reason to hope for and expect the best.

For the last decade of my career as a director, I have chosen to make adaptations of complex and involved works of literature. This has always begun with the love of a book and its characters, story, and theme; and it has always involved a respect of and responsiveness to the feelings of other people who loved those books.

When I saw the film of Twilight, I was alternately entranced and left hungry for more. I was also struck by the extraordinary passion for the characters, story and theme that was evident in the people sitting in the seats around me. My job is to live up to that devotion.

Like many of you, I am a fan of Catherine Hardwicke’s work. I can’t really say much about why she is not doing New Moon because I wasn’t involved in those decisions. But I can say that I will devote myself to making the very best and most faithful version of New Moon that can be brought to the screen. To those who doubt that as a male director I can capture Bella’s experience, I can only say that emotion is universal and that my work has often involved working with some of the most talented actresses in the world.

For the rest, the proof will have to be in the pudding. But I promise to remain responsive to your hopes and fears.

I thank you for this opportunity and for your faith.

Very best,

Chris Weitz

taylorlautnerjacob_lIn addition to the directorial changes for New Moon, rumor has it that Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black in Twilight) will not be reprising his role in New Moon. Like I said – it’s only a rumor right now – but according to Hollywood Insider two sources have told them that the studio doesn’t want to rehire baby-faced Taylor, though his agent has apparently reached out to the imaging company behind The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in an attempt to demonstrate to Summit how a digitally bulked-up Lautner could work. (Summit says it won’t make a decision until a new filmmaker is on board.) There’s also the matter of finding a cast of Native American actors to play Jacob’s werewolf clan — a difficult challenge Hardwicke was also faced with before settling on Lautner, who isn’t completely ­Native American. And with a slightly increased budget of $50 million — much of which is assumed will go to leads asking for heftier paydays, location shoots in Italy, and ramped-up F/X — Summit will have to scrimp somewhere.

A fellow Twilight fan and I were talking about this soon after the movie originally came out. How can Taylor – who is pretty short and not at all "bulky" bulk up enough to play a 6 foot werewolf? In the book he’s described as pretty much hitting a huge growth spurt – but can it translate to screen? I don’t particularly like when such big casting changes happen between movies (he is a main character) – but I’m sorry, he cannot play the past "as is" in my opinion. But if the studio can digitize him and make him look the part I’m all for keeping him in the cast – simply because he really does facially look the part.

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