- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Catherine Hardwicke is not bitter.

She did, after all, direct the first episode in the blockbusting “Twilight” series in 2008, which went on to make an impressive $400 million at the box office.

But since then, Hardwicke’s been at the helm of just three features, each low-to-modestly budgeted.

There was the 2011 fantasy-mystery “Red Riding Hood” with Amanda Seyfried, the 2013 indie thriller “Plush” and, now, the Toni Collette-Drew Barrymore tearjerker “Miss You Already,” which distributor Roadside Attractions is offering up this weekend as counter programming to the Bond spectacular “Spectre.”

Upon arriving for a recent interview, Hardwicke’s energy instantly filled the room. And with it, the buoyant and bright 60-year-old could have taken the visit anywhere. But given the director was invited to talk about Hollywood’s gender gap, that subject is where the conversation quickly headed.

Hardwicke’s acknowledged that the last eight years are not what she had expected, not after serving up the first “Twilight,” which paved the way for men, and only men, to go on and direct the series’ remaining four megahits.

Hardwicke said she mistakenly thought that after “Twilight,” landing big-budget action films would be easier.

“The self-perpetuating myth,” Hardwicke noted. “I’ll go out for a job, but somebody will say, ‘I’ll have somebody who has five bigger action movies than you do.’”

Her response: “But how are we ever going to get those five bigger action movies if you don’t hire us to do them?”

While Hardwicke continues the battle for gender equality in Hollywood, she has also cheerfully moved on. Earlier this year, she directed the widely acclaimed short film for Lady Gagnd Diane Warren’s harrowing ballad “‘Til It Happens to You,” dealing with the pain of sexual assault.

Hardwicke recalled, half-jokingly, that Gaga “basically put a gun to my head and said, ‘You’re doing it.’”

Even while filming, Gaga and Warren’s message about abuse was already making an impact, Hardwicke said. “Everybody on the crew, every single woman, came up and told me a personal story: not one in five, not three in five __ five out of five.” And, Hardwicke reminded, men suffer from abuse, too.

Hardwicke’s “Miss You Already” follows best friends whose lives are at very different points. One of them (portrayed by Drew Barrymore) is trying to get pregnant, while the other (Toni Collette) battles breast cancer.

The director wants to make it clear that the movie is not a morbid melodrama, but an often comedic celebration of living. “I’ve literally had people talk to me and say, ‘I did not want to feel anything. I didn’t want to like it. I did not want to cry.’”

And then they thanked her.

The film also tips the hat to Hardwicke’s father, who died at age 83 in 2007 after a battle with cancer. “Actually, there are several lines that my dad said that are in the movie,” Hardwicke noted, with a warm chuckle and smile. “I definitely did it for him.”

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This story has been updated to correct spelling of Hardwicke throughout.

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www.missyoualreadymovie.com

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Mike Cidoni Lennox at www.twitter.com/@Cidoni Lennox

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