After leaving the world of Twilight behind, director Catherine Hardwicke was ready for a new challenge. Specifically, Hardwicke was looking for an empty canvas where she could fill in all the cinematic blanks with her own imagination and she found it with Red Riding Hood, starring Amanda Seyfried.
The Twilight universe was firmly ingrained in the minds of fans, as well as the specific vision of its creator, author Stephenie Meyer. When the Red Riding Hood script landed on her desk, Catherine Hardwicke knew she had the project she was seeking that would let her create a world completely from the ground up.
The director first enthralled audiences with her debut picture, Thirteen, for which she received the Directing Award from the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. She then went on to direct Lords of Dogtown and The Nativity Story before landing the director’s chair for the pop culture sensation Twilight.
Hardwicke sits down with us for an exclusive chat about going from Twilight to Red Riding Hood and how the director is set for her new adventure starring Amanda Seyfried while updating the classic fairy tale for the big screen.
Catherine Hardwicke exclusive Q&A
SheKnows: When you first got the script for Red Riding Hood, what were your first impressions of it?
Catherine Hardwicke: I loved that David (Leslie Johnson, screenwriter) had taken this little very short tale and how he wove all these characters, secrets, lies and family ties things and then built in that layer of paranoia of being suspicious of everybody. As soon as I read the script, I could see myself making it [laughs]. I knew that I would be making something truly new visually. I wanted to actually make this world, make this world that I have no idea what it looked like.
SheKnows: Was that professionally inspiring for you to be able to work from a palette from scratch? With Twilight, you kind of had your hands tied.
Catherine Hardwicke: Yes, I loved that. I wasn’t so fixed on Twilight [laughs]. This is a real one. Twilight had to feel like a real high school. These vampires in Twilight had to fit into a real high school and wear what regular kids wore and the like. Making Red Riding Hood, this one was a lot more liberating. I could completely draw from my own imagination. We have it in our fairy tale world and we determine what it looks like. It’s not France in 1437. It’s our interpretation of a fairy tale.
SheKnows: Also what struck me too was the score, it just added a whole other layer of haunting. When you gave your composer the task and then he came back with those haunting chords and melodies, did you just want to hug him?
Catherine Hardwicke: Yes, but it wasn’t that simple [laughs]. I actually hired this first-time composer, Brian Reitzell — who’s also a music supervisor and composer — before I even started the movie. I wanted that big song in the festival. I wanted to create that song. Brian works with bands. He works with Air. He’s this really interesting collaborator, plus he’s a music producer and he knows how to get those cool sounds. He does all this innovative stuff because I just did not want this to sound like anything I’ve really ever heard of. I was just kicking their butt to not have something traditional for the score. It needed to be mysterious and soulful, and not too sentimental [laughs]. We really delved into it in a big way.
Red Riding Hood killer cast
Catherine Hardwicke: I was scared because I’m very hands on with the casting. I act out things with the actors. They come to my house. We do things over and over. I combine everybody. I’ve never cast anybody without meeting them and spending a lot of time with them. But Julie, that was scary for me because she was in the mountains in Spain and I only got to talk to her on the phone. I was quite terrified, what if this doesn’t work out? I like to know the person and be sure I can work with them. Of course, she’s a legend from Darling, Shampoo — all these films, it’s like ridiculous. I talked to a couple of recent directors that she had worked with and they said she’s lovely. So, I thought, “OK, I’m going to take a chance. It is Julie Christie.” Then, she couldn’t come out for rehearsal in advance. So she came over to my house one Sunday in Vancouver. Of course, she’s majorly focused — sharp as a tack — and funny hardcore. Everything she said was right on. Then she was just lovely on the set too.
SheKnows: Then, of course, Red Riding Hood herself, Amanda Seyfried, can you just talk a bit about working with Amanda Seyfried and the promise she has for the future?
Catherine Hardwicke: She’s charming, she’s sexy. What can’t she do [laughs]? For me, I felt like we had a pretty aggressive schedule. She’s in almost every scene. I’d say, “Amanda, we have two minutes.” She was always ready. She focuses in that exact moment. She’s right there. You feel what she’s feeling. You feel for her. She’s got “it.” She allows herself to be a child and to play. She’s a professional. Thinking of Julie and her, they both never complain no matter how drastic the situation is. She’s not a diva in any way, shape or form. I hope she can keep that beautiful side.
SheKnows: Talk a bit about working with Gary Oldman, what a force of nature. After seeing the movie, I can’t see anyone else playing his part.
Catherine Hardwicke: No, I can’t either. A lot of other actors wanted to play this part because it’s a pretty fun part. Immediately, I was thinking that this character talks a lot. He really has that way with words and that verbal capability to keep you spellbound while he tells a story. Gary Oldman was perfect. He’s a risk taker. So, when I heard he was interested in the part, I was thrilled! He’s got that wicked sense of humor. He keeps you on your toes. You have to know your stuff.