Production designer Richard Sherman chats with AD about the sets for the fourth movie in the vampire series, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner—with a cameo appearance by a house featured in our January 2011 issue
AD: Basically the whole series has been building toward Bella and Edward’s wedding. What was your approach to designing such a momentous scene?
RS: The way Stephenie has written it in the book, it’s a very pretty wedding—it has the white path and the white chairs that are covered in white fabric. But Bill [Condon, the film’s director] and I thought, How can we make this truly special and unique? For the people who know the books and movies, this is the wedding of the century. So we created this very organic, whimsical, fairy tale–like atmosphere—A Midsummer Night’s Dream kind of thing—with benches and seating made of branches that came out of the ground and were covered in moss and flowers. The whole forest floor was covered in moss. The ceiling was dripping flowers.
AD: Were some of the sets recycled from previous movies, or are they all new?
RS: Bella’s house is the same. But we rebuilt the whole three-story set of the Cullen house in Louisiana on a soundstage, and we remade its exterior in the woods of Vancouver. We changed the interior decoration of the Cullen house subtly but completely. If you remember the original house well, you’ll notice that it is completely different. This has the same tone, but it’s a lot prettier. The other huge change is the castle of the Volturi, a group of vampires from the Roman Empire. The sets from the other movies kind of looked like—no offense to those art directors—the Four Seasons Hotel, with marble columns and sconces. So we built an old castle on stage.
AD: Did you worry about the perceptions of the fans?
RS: You have to keep your fan base in mind, because they’re the real critics. They know the story so well, they know what happens, and they know the environments and the atmosphere. You hope that your sets coincide with what the audience and the fans expect. The producers, studio, director, and I were all very conscious of that.
AD: What was it like on the set?
RS: Everyone had a good time. The three main actors are all very fun to work with. Kristen is quite serious. Rob and Taylor are a little bit wild. Rob and Kristen are actually a couple in real life. When he’s with her, he’s a little more restrained. When she’s not around, like most guys when their wives or girlfriends aren’t around, he’s a little looser. Taylor’s a kid—he’s 19—so he was bouncing all over the place.