Host leads discuss roles, relationships

Photo Courtesy of Open Road FIlms

The Host is the next epic love story (coming out on March 29) from Stephenie Meyer, author of the world-renowned Twilight saga. In this film, parasitic aliens have invaded the Earth and have begun to retain and control the minds of humans. Melanie Stryder’s (Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones) body has been occupied by a soul named Wanderer, but Melanie resists giving the soul full control of her body. Eventually forming a mutual agreement with Melanie, Wanderer leads the body to find Melanie’s loved ones. Jake Abel and Max Irons, who play Wanderer’s and Melanie’s love interests, respectively, sat down with the Technique to discuss the dynamics of The Host and what it was like working with Stephenie Meyer.

When you’re entering Stephenie Meyer’s territory, you don’t know exactly how big a project is going to get. Did you in any way have to prepare for a massive cult that could explode with this?

“It’s always the script and the director, and this one was special and unique.”

JA: No. Not at all. I think, it’s all about the work and all about the material of any film you decide to do, for both of us. It’s always the script and the director, and this one was special and unique. Andrew Nichols is a fantastic director and writer. Saoirse Ronan is an incredible actress, and there’s something to be said about the way Stephenie Meyer is able to touch a massive audience. It’s fantastic.

MI: And also, Twilight. I heard a story about Robert Pattinson being chased by loads and loads of girls before he started filming the first one. That hasn’t happened to either of us (chuckles). I know that there’s a lot of people who love The Host, which is great, but it’s not quite on the same scale.

JA: It’s a little more grown up, in the right ways. It’s a sci-fi flick. Yes, obviously romantic undertones, which is important, but I don’t think it’s pigeon-holed itself into being a Twilight crossover. I would completely, in full confidence, recommend this to my brother, who is a 32-year-old guy. I think that’s great for Stephenie, and it’s great for all of us, in a way. It broadens the demographic.

How was it working with Andrew’s adaptation of the book? Could he give you more insight on what he wanted from the acting?

JA: He worked really closely with Stephenie, actually. We’re very lucky because this is one of the first things he’s adapted. Andrew’s been so lucky. He gets to write his own material. The film doesn’t deviate a lot from the book, in fact, which I think the fans will like. It’s just a condensed, tightened version of it. Characters are still as developed as they were in the book. The plot is still as developed as it was in the book. What really gave us the insight that we needed were the two weeks of rehearsal.

MI: And we were allowed to put ideas forward, through Andrew, to Stephenie, so it felt collaborative, which is so rare, because often, it is the studio system. Frankly, all the ideas come from one direction and you just have to swallow, whereas this was really wonderful.

This is a science fiction film, but what are the other dimensions of the film that will attract fans of different genres?

JA: Well, the romantic undertone, obviously, but what will surprise the audience the most is that it’s not all about us two fighting over a girl.

“There’s a dramatic tale in there, of loss and coping and what it means to understand your enemy.”

MI: (whispers) It is a bit. (chuckles)

JA: It is, but there are more relationships than that. She has a relationship with herself, with the alien in her head. There’s a scene at the end, in which, by herself, she is speaking out loud to the voice inside of her, and I had to remind myself halfway through that she was doing a scene by herself. She also has a relationship with her little brother and with her uncle, played by William Hurt. So really, there’s a dramatic tale in there, of loss and coping and what it means to understand your enemy.

MI: It’s also a story about survival. Everyone’s trying to find and questioning the best way to survive. Unlike most alien invasion films, there aren’t spaceships blowing up. This is a benign, almost an intervention. Another species is taking over, which brings up an interesting question. You gotta ask yourself if they did successfully take over.