The kinky wolf is no match for Hardwicke herself, who wears sexy leather boots and once gave a member of her crew a dominatrix costume as a present. Not to worry, Mom and Dad. Hardwicke’s kinkiness is decidedly PG-13. “It was a tasteful dominatrix,” she says. Hardwicke has a knack for taking the traditional girl-in-peril tale and teasing out sexual tension without crossing the line. She became the most commercially successful female director in Hollywood with Twilight, a film that radiates heat even though Edward and Bella never even get to second base. Now she’s heading to Grandmother’s house with Red Riding Hood, an adaptation of the fairy tale with a bodiced Amanda Seyfried. Julie Christie plays her bohemian grandmother.
Like the late John Hughes, who discovered the teenage actors who became the Brat Pack, Hardwicke has created many of this generation’s tween idols. Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen), Emile Hirsch (Lords of Dogtown), Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner (Twilight) all got their big breaks in a Hardwicke film. She dishes about them like an older sister; how Hirsch was too lazy to do sit-ups and drew abs on his stomach with mascara or why Pattinson had to pluck his eyebrows. “They were a bit bushy,” she says. “We needed to see some eyes!” Seyfried says Hardwicke, 55, is “a child herself. She’s so connected to that youthful essence. She still walks around with a backpack and sneakers.” But unlike Hughes’s films, her movies are very dark.