Catherine Hardwicke

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Catherine Hardwicke
Catherine Hardwicke & Madison.JPG
Hardwicke at the Twilight DVD premiere on March 21, 2009
Born Helen Catherine Hardwicke
(1955-10-21) October 21, 1955 (age 59)
Cameron, Texas, U.S.
Occupation Film director, production designer, screenwriter
Years active 1986–present

Catherine Hardwicke (born Helen Catherine Hardwicke;[1] (1955-10-21)October 21, 1955) is an American film director, production designer and screenwriter. Her works include the Academy Award-nominated independent film Thirteen, which she co-wrote with Nikki Reed, the film's co-star,[2] the Biblically-themed The Nativity Story, the vampire film Twilight, and the werewolf film Red Riding Hood. The opening weekend of Twilight was the biggest opening ever for a female director.[3]

Early life and work[edit]

Hardwicke was born in Cameron, Texas,[1] on October. 21, 1955, the daughter of Jamee Elberta (Bennett) and John Benjamin Hardwicke. She has a brother Jack, and a sister Irene Hardwicke Olivieri, who became an artist. She grew up in McAllen, Texas, on the U.S.–Mexico border, where her family owned and operated a farm along the Rio Grande, and was raised as a Presbyterian. She said the border area was wild: in high school, "her principal was stabbed three times. A friend's father was shot in the back, and another friend was murdered. And yet life could be wonderful at the same time. 'It was a Huck Finn life, too,' she said."[4]

She graduated from McAllen High School[5] and went to the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a degree in architecture. Among her post-graduation projects was designing the solar townhouse complex built around a man-made lake on the 20-acre site, complete with waterfalls and swimming pools. The property was owned by her father.[4]

Finding limited, Hardwicke moved to Los Angeles, where she studied at UCLA film school to explore her creative talents. Hardwicke made her first short film for her brother Jack who was getting married to Nicolette Cullen.[6] During this period in the 1980s, Hardwicke made an award-winning short, Puppy Does the Gumbo. Her knowledge of architecture has contributed to her career as an art director.

She became a production designer,[4] working with film directors such as Cameron Crowe, Richard Linklater, and David O. Russell. She was influenced by them, gaining experience in their techniques, and learning informal aspects from professional conversations. She talked to some about her desire to be a filmmaker, and received advice and tips.[7]

Film career[edit]

During the 1990s, Hardwicke worked as a production designer, on films including Tombstone (1993), Tank Girl (1995), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), The Newton Boys (1998), and Three Kings (1999).

In 2000, she worked as production designer with director/screenwriter Cameron Crowe and actor/producer Tom Cruise on Vanilla Sky (2001). That and Three Kings were noted for their original use of color-manipulation techniques to complement the narrative.

Hardwicke began working on her own film while helping a friend's daughter, Nikki Reed, who as a teenager had become involved with a rough crowd at school.

Thirteen (2003)

Hardwicke's first film as director was developed by her in collaboration with then-fourteen-year-old Nikki Reed, who wrote a screenplay that reflected some of Reed's teenage experiences. They completed the script in six days during Christmas break. Evan Rachel Wood was contracted to star in the movie alongside Reed. The film tackles difficulties of contemporary teenagers. A young teen loses her innocence in a rapid spiral of events, with disturbing portrayals of drug use, sex, theft, and dropping out of school.

Reed and Hardwicke wrote the script from the point of view of Tracy, a "normal" 13-year-old who begins at a new middle school. There she meets Evie, who she thinks of as more advanced and whom she wants to impress. She hopes Evie will give her entree to what she thinks is an exciting "crowd." Tracy's single mother Melanie, played by Holly Hunter, has tried to be a friend to her daughter and does not know how to deal with her changes. The film features female friendship and the difficulties of adolescence. Hardwicke has developed these as recurring themes in her work. The film received critical acclaim and had praise for its stars and Holly Hunter was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[8] Thirteen earned Hardwicke the directing award at Sundance in 2003.

Lords of Dogtown (2005)

She went on to direct this fictionalized account of skateboarding culture. The film is based on the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys by Stacy Peralta, whom Hardwicke had worked with.[9] As she lived near Venice Beach and knew most of the Z- Boys well from surfing, Hardwicke drew on personal experience in directing the film.

Lords of Dogtown explores the young Peralta, Tony Alva, and Jay Adams as they revolutionize the world of skateboarding. Hardwicke has said that the drama film was not intended to compete with the documentary, but to express the perspective of people as they lived the events, rather than later recounting them. The technical work was acclaimed, from the skate tricks to the tricky camera work. Lance Mountain, legendary skater, cameraman and long-time friend of Peralta, shot the action while riding along behind the skateboarders.[10]

The Nativity Story (2006)

In 2006, Hardwicke directed this biblical film for New Line Cinema. At first she was reluctant to take on the project as she worried about finding a fresh approach to the story at the heart of Christian culture. She began to consider Mary as a young girl faced with an incredible task, and also incorporated a psychological approach to Joseph and his issues. She put it in a context of contemporary teenagers. Hardwicke tried to dramatize the account of the Bible. Hardwicke wanted to cast a young actress as Mary, traditionally held to be about 14 or 15 at the time of Jesus' birth, given the age of marriage of girls in that culture. She wanted an actress who at least appeared to be Middle Eastern. She cast as her lead Keisha Castle-Hughes, the Oscar-nominated New Zealand actress of aborigine descent, who starred in Whale Rider (2002).[11]

Twilight (2008)

Her direction of the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novel, Twilight, was an international commercial success.[12] The film is the first in the series produced by Summit Entertainment based on Meyer's four books. Twilight is the story of a teenage girl named Bella Swan dealing with her parents' separation, and living with her father after years of having little to do with him. They live in a small town in Washington where she tries to adjust to a new school. Her typical teenage trials change character as she develops a crush on an attractive young vampire. The film and its leads attracted fans all over the world.

Hardwicke shot the film in 44 days on a budget of $37 million, which was reduced because of rights issues to do with the book. As her main actress, Kristen Stewart, was a minor, she could work only five and a half hours per day. This significantly slowed down shooting for the project. Hardwicke was willing to deal with that difficulty, as she believed that Stewart was perfect for the role as Bella. Casting for the character of Edward Cullen was more difficult. The character had to look like a high school student but portray a cultured persona and the learning of a long life. Hardwicke found Robert Pattinson unique, with his own wide range of interests in art, literature and music; she thought him deep enough for the part.[13] Its $400 million global success made her the most commercially successful woman film director.

Amid rumors of a rocky relationship with Hardwicke, in 2008 Summit Entertainment announced that she would not direct the Twilight sequel, New Moon.[14] Hardwicke said it was her decision, although a blog reported she had been fired by Summit. She said, "I couldn't even be fired, that's what's so funny," she says. "In my contract, I had the first right of refusal." She turned down the second film, she says, because the studio wanted to rush it out. "I do not regret it at all, thank the Lord," she says. "The truth is I liked the first book the best." Hardwicke went on to direct Red Riding Hood for Summit.

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Her following film was not a commercial or critical success. Doing an adaptation of the classic fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood", Hardwicke makes this a coming of age story, exploring the theme of adolescence growing into adulthood and sexual awakening.[4] As in Neil Jordan's 1984 film The Company of Wolves, the wolf is a werewolf who lives as a human among the townspeople. The village becomes turned on itself as everyone is suspect. Gary Oldman arrives to help solve the mystery. Red Riding Hood is played by young actress Amanda Seyfried, with supporting roles from Max Irons and Shiloh Fernandez as the love interests.

Plush (2013)

Hardwicke's next feature came in 2013 when she directed the erotic thriller Plush.[15] Following a young female rock musician and her band Plush, the film starred Emily Browning, Cam Gigandet, Xavier Samuel and Frances Fisher.[16]

Reckless (2013)

In 2013 Hardwicke also directed and executive produced the pilot for the CBS hour-long legal drama Reckless starring Cam Gigandet, Shawn Hatosy, Kim Wayans and Adam Rodriguez. It was ordered to series for the 2013-2014 season on May 12, 2013.[17]

Other endeavors[edit]

Hardwicke has worked with many of this generation's tween idols: Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen), Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown), Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner (Twilight), who each got big breaks in her highly successful films. Hardwicke's films have been considered "dark" in story and tone. In 2009, she was awarded the Women in Film Dorothy Arzner Directors Award.[18]

In 2012, Hardwicke helped create a public service announcement for the National Women's History Museum. Hardwicke came up with the idea for the announcement and contributed to the script.[19]


List of films directed
Year Title Role(s) Notes
2003 Thirteen Director
  • Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Directing Award
  • Deauville Film Festival Jury Special Prize
  • Directors View Film Festival Dorothy Arzner Prize
  • Locarno International Film Festival Silver Leopard Award
  • Nantucket Film Festival Award for Best Feature Screenplay
  • National Board of Review, USA Special Recognition Award
  • Nominated—Bratislava International Film Festival for Grand Prix Award
  • Nominated—Deauville Film Festival for Grand Special Prize
  • Nominated—Gijon International Film Festival for Grand Prix Asturias
  • Nominated—Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature
  • Nominated—Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Screenplay
  • Nominated—Locarno International Film Festival for Golden Leopard Award
  • Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Screenplay, Original
  • Nominated—Satellite Awards for Best Director
  • Nominated—Satellite Awards for Best Screenplay, Original
  • Nominated—Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize(Dramatic)
  • Nominated—Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards for Best Screenplay, Original
2005 Lords of Dogtown Director
  • Nominated—Golden Trailer Awards for Best Drama
  • Nominated—Teen Choice Awards for Action Adventure
2006 Nativity Story, TheThe Nativity Story Director
Executive producer
  • Heartland Film Festival for Truly Moving Picture
  • MovieGuide Awards Epiphany Prize for Film
2008 Twilight Director Young Hollywood Award
2011 Red Riding Hood Director
Executive producer
2013 Reckless Director Pilot episode of upcoming TV series
2013 Plush Co-writer, director, producer
2015 Miss You Already Director


  1. ^ a b According to the State of Texas. Texas Birth Index, 1903–1997. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. At
  2. ^ "Thirteen Movie - Evan Rachel Wood, Nikki Reed, Photos, Trailer, Credits, Review". 2003-08-20. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  3. ^ "'Twilight' debuts in No. 1 slot at box office". CNN. November 23, 2008. Retrieved November 23, 2008. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d Setoodeh, Ramin (27 February 2011). "Not Your Grandma’s ‘Red Riding Hood’". Newsweek. Retrieved 7 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Greydanus, Steven (November 22, 2006). "Joseph Gets His Due". National Catholic Register. Retrieved November 25, 2006. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (September 2003). "Profile: Catherine Hardwicke". The Independent: A Magazine for Video and Filmmakers. 7 26: 19–21. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  8. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (December 5, 2003). "Friday Review: Screen Review: FILM OF THE WEEK: Teenage Kicks: Peter Bradshaw Applauds Catherine Hardwickes Tough, Hyperactive Story of Female Adolescence: Thirteen 4/5.". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2012. 
  9. '^ Thrashin at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ Rea, Steven (June 5, 2005). "Dogtown Director Drew from her World; Catherine Hardwicke Knows the Z-Boys Surf and Turf". The Record. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  11. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (November 24, 2006). "Mary is Cast as an Adolescent; Spotlight on: Catherine Hardwicke". The Baltimore Sun. 
  12. ^ "Twilight series | Twilight | Twilight the Movie". Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  13. ^ Portman, Jamie (November 21, 2008). "From Holy Scripture to Vampires, Twilight Director Delivers; Catherine Hardwickes Films Deal with Adolescence, an Age She Finds Fascinating". The Vancouver Sun. 
  14. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (December 8, 2008). "Twilight Director Won't Shoot Sequel". Reuters. 
  15. ^ "Catherine Hardwicke's Erotic Thriller 'Plush' Finds Financing". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  16. ^ "Frances Fisher joins Hardwicke’s ‘Plush’". Variety. 2012-08-28. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  17. ^ "CBS Adds Catherine Hardwicke Legal Drama Series 'Reckless'". 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  18. ^ "Past Recipients". Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  19. ^ "About - National Women's History Museum". NWHM. Retrieved 2012-11-08. 

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