Happy birthday to Catherine Hardwicke! Today is an excellent day to look back at Catherine’s incredible career.
Catherine began her career as a production designer, getting the chance to work with many esteemed filmmakers like Cameron Crowe, Richard Linklater, and fellow female filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko. During her time as a production designer, Catherine was able to learn a wealth of valuable information about filmmaking from the artists she worked with.
Having learned so much already, Catherine was well-equipped for a successful debut feature when she made Thirteen (2003). She co-wrote the script with Nikki Reed, the thirteen-year-old daughter of someone she’d previously been in a relationship with. Continuing to spend time with Nikki every few months after her break up, Catherine noticed the striking emotional resonance of Nikki’s particular life stage, and used her as inspiration for the film.
Thirteen depicts the treacherous and profound loss of innocence of a young teenage girl, when she arrives at a new school and makes a new, more “advanced” friend. Catherine and Nikki completed the script in just six days over Nikki’s Christmas break, and Nikki then starred in the film alongside Evan Rachel Wood. With Nikki at the center of the film, portraying the exact life stage that she herself was in and contributing to the story using her own experiences, Catherine was able to craft a truly authentic and deeply poignant portrait of adolescence with Thirteen.
In 2006, Catherine took on the iconic Twilight. Adapted from Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling novel, Twilight introduced audiences to the epic love story between high school newcomer Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen, played by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. As the director, Catherine was able to capture the novel’s essence and craft an addicting-to-watch romance that would truly become a cult classic. Also, a fun fact: Twilight continued Catherine’s collaboration with Nikki Reed, who played vampire Rosalie Hale. As FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner said in her review, “this isn’t a film about fangs & blood, it’s about feeling overwhelmed by new passions dimly understood.”
Catherine then reimagined a timeless classic when she created Red Riding Hood, a dark fantasy thriller inspired by the classic fairy tale, starring Amanda Seyfried. The gripping and fresh portrayal of Red Riding Hood, absolutely nailed by Amanda, solidified Catherine’s genius in creating young female characters. As FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner stated in a review of the film, “I left the theatre aesthetically and emotionally satisfied, convinced once again that no one knows my inner teenager quite as well as Catherine Hardwicke.”
In 2019, Catherine departed from the world of adolescent females when she created Miss Bala, which is a remake of the 2011 Mexican film of the same name. The film stars Gina Rodriguez as Gloria Fuentes, a young makeup artist from Los Angeles who travels to Tijuana, Mexico to help her friend compete in a local beauty pageant. But that all changes when Gloria becomes unintentionally embroiled in the world of Mexican drug cartels. Though venturing into the world of the action thriller for this film, Catherine continued to play to her strengths, creating an authentic and sympathetic female lead to captivate audiences through the film.
From vampires to reimagined classics, Catherine has taken part in many of the most iconic stories of our time. A Catherine Hardwicke marathon to celebrate her birthday today will not disappoint!
© Julia Lasker (10/21/23) FF2 Media
LEARN MORE/DO MORE
Read Jan Lisa Huttner’s review of Twilight here.
Read Brigid Presecky’s review of Miss Bala here.
Read Lisa Cholodenko’s SWAN of the day post here.
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Featured photo: Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan in the film TWILIGHT (2008). Photo Credit: TCD/ Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: PP2E5D
Middle photo: Amanda Seyfried in the film RED RIDING HOOD (2011). Photo Credit: AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: 2JD8K1G
Bottom photo: Director Cartherine Hardwick on the set of TWILIGHT (2008). Photo Credit: Imprint Entertainment / Maverick Films / Summit Entertainment / Deana Newcomb / Album / Alamy Stock Photo. Image ID: TRTY09