Now that the cast of the “Twilight” series is done with photography on “Breaking Dawn,” they can really start to focus on life after this enormous franchise and what that will mean for them.Â Both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart emerge from the series instantly recognizable on a worldwide level, but it’s still unclear if you can call them movie stars or not.Â Can they prove themselves as draws away from the characters of Edward and Bella?Â Do audiences care about them, or was it just this one series of films?Â Taylor Lautner is getting ready to put that to the test with his new film “Abduction,” which almost seems to have been designed in a lab to give him the best possible shot at being a star.Â Pattinson has tried it a few times, most notably with “Water For Elephants” this spring, while Stewart seems determined to stick to smaller indie-minded films for now.
Actors always depend on the material that is available to them, and they are often at the mercy of larger forces in Hollywood.Â Ultimately, the fates of Pattinson and Stewart and Lautner will come down to their collaborators and their opportunities.Â What I’ve been most curious about has been the fate of Stephenie Meyer after the “Twilight” films are done.Â Like Jo Rowling, Meyer is known for this one story, this one cycle of books, but the difference to me seems to be a matter of innate talent.Â Rowling strikes me as a rich and interesting writer who got better from book to book, and who I believe will eventually create more stories that resonate on that same massive cultural level.Â
Meyer, on the other hand, strikes me as someone who managed to ride some crude archetypical material to major success and whose work does not seem to have matured or gotten better over each new book.Â If anything, I’d say success encouraged her worst habits, and I have trouble believing she’s ever going to make the same dent in pop awareness as she did with this particular set of books.
“The Host” will be a major test of the ability to sell a non-“Twilight’ title on the strength of her name.Â Andrew Niccol as writer and possibly director is a step in the right direction.Â I may not love everything Niccol has done, but I think he’s got skill and style, and he has taste in a way that Meyer does not.Â He can only help in terms of making her book work onscreen.Â This new project is about an unconventional type of alien invasion in which humans find themselves systematically wiped out by aliens called Souls which take over human bodies, erasing the original personality completely in the process.Â Word today is that Saoirse Ronan, one of the most consistently interesting young actors working, is signing on to star as Melanie Stryder, a human whose personality is so powerful that when she is invaded by a Soul called Wanderer, the Soul can’t erase her, instead deciding to explore what it means to be human.
None of that sounds like a bad thing, but I really couldn’t stand the book.Â For me to be interested in this film, they’re going to have to make it work as cinema.Â That’s where Niccol becomes a provocative choice.Â That’s where casting Ronan helps.Â It’s interesting that this is not a studio movie, but rather a package that Inferno is taking to Cannes to raise money for, and until the end of the festival, we won’t even know if this is happening for sure.Â Meyer is attached and involved in a major way, and in the end, because her control of the material is such a public part of the deal, this will be a test of her commercial instincts.Â If this works, her Hollywood future may indeed last well beyond “Twilight,” but if it fails, then the sun sets on her with “Breaking Dawn,” and she’ll just have to cry herself to sleep on a stack of thousand dollar bills every night.
Either way, it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.