“The Host” opens on Friday, March 29th. Based on the Stephenie Meyer novel, “The Host” is about aliens that have invaded Earth and have taken over the minds and bodies of most of the population. Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) sacrifices her own body to let her boyfriend and brother escape from the aliens. Now Melanie’s body/mind have been taken over by an alien named, the Wanderer, but to the alien’s chagrin, Melanie hasn’t given up. It turns out that Melanie is sharing her body, mind and memories with the alien, an experience that will change both of their lives.
Recently, I was a part of a round table interview with the two male leads of the film, Max Irons, who plays Jared Howe, and Jake Abel, who plays Ian O’Shea.
What scene in the movie are you most excited for people to see?
Jake: I quite like the chase scene.
Max: It’s quite good.
Jake: There is a chase scene where it’s Aaron and Brandt who are two of the humans that are with us. They are out on a raid and they get made, they get found out. And there is a really great chase sequence that ends rather tragically. I was surprised on how much it affected me when I saw it.
Max: Yes, when they get cornered and have to make a choice between letting themselves be taken or to take their own lives, it’s a tough choice.
Jake: Andrew Niccol’s, the director, films a great action sequence.
This is not your first time with this type of genre, but when you enter into Stephenie Meyer territory, you don’t know exactly how huge this film will be. Did you prepare yourself for the massive hype that might surround this film?
Jake: No, not at all. I think it’s all about the work, it’s all about the material. Any film you decide to do, it’s all about the script and the director, and this film was quite special and unique. Andrew Niccol is a fantastic writer/director and Saoirse Ronan is an incredible actress. And there is something to be said about how Stephenie Meyer is able to touch a massive audience.
Max: With Twilight and Harry Potter as well, there was such a hype around those books. I heard a story about Robert Pattinson was chased on the streets of London by loads and loads of girls before even they started shooting the first one. That hasn’t happened to either one of us.
Jake: Thank God!
Max: And I know that a lot of people really like “The Host” book but it’s not quite on the same scale as those books.
Jake: And it’s a little more grownup in the right ways. It’s a sci-fi book with obviously romantic undertones, which are important. But I don’t think it’s pigeonholed into a being just a Twilight crossover. I would completely and with full confidence recommend this film to my brother, who’s a 32 year-old guy, because I think he would really enjoy it.
Max: Well the thing is that, thank God, we are all really good friends. So we were able to be light about it, not take it too seriously. We didn’t see it as competition between the two of us.
Jake: And everyone was really professional about it. It’s always a little strange when it’s the first time to kiss your co-star in front of a hundred people. But, once you do it once or twice, you just sort of go with it.
Plus, you two were in love, kind of, with two different people.
Jake: Yes, because there are two people inside of her.
Max: I think if you look at the whole thing from an outside point of view, it’s quite confusing and complex. But if you look at it from our characters viewpoint it’s quite simple. To my character, she is Melanie, who has been taken away from me.
Jake: And to my character, she is just an alien. And it was complex for Saoirse, too, she had to do all the hard work.
With Andrew writing and directing the film, do think it was easier for him to make the film, where he might be able to give you more insight into what he wanted from you?
Jake: Andrew worked really closely with Stephenie. We got very lucky because this is first time that he has adapted someone else’s work. The film doesn’t deviate very much from the book, which I think fans will like. It’s just a more condensed, heightened version of the book. The characters are still as well developed as they were in the book. I think what really gave us the insight that we needed was two weeks of rehearsal.
Max: And we were allowed to put our ideas out there through Andrew to Stephenie, which made it feel collaborative, which was so rare because usually with the studio system, the ideas only come from one source. But this was just wonderful.
Jake: Very democratic. It was nice.
You guys have both done fantasy/sci-fi films before. Is it something you are attracted to?
Max: I, personally, am really into science fiction, so this was great for me, plus to work with Andrew Niccol, was really cool.
Jake: I haven’t looked at this genre. It’s just what’s being made right now for young actors. I think we are both very picky about what films we do. What is happening is a shift with this type of movie. It’s no longer the cheesy, quick, just throw it out there type of film. These are now films that are hiring actors like William Hurt, who is in this movie. They are now surrounding these films with really talented actors and directors. It’s changing the face of what it means to be a film that is based on a Young Adult adaptation.
Tells us about working with Mr. Hurt.
Max: We kind of had a cave mentality, especially on that set where we were all together day in, day out. William, like he is in the film, was our spiritual leader, kind of a professional tutor. It was just amazing just watching him.
Jake: And I have never seen someone standup so much for the actors as he did. His ways may be a bit peculiar at times, but he really protected us. If something wasn’t going right on the set, he would speak up about it. He was the reason that we did those two weeks of rehearsals, which was important to making this film. It would not have been the same film without it.
While this is a sci-fi film but what other dimensions make up this movie?
Jake: Well, there are the romantic undertones of the film. But what will surprise audiences the most is that this film isn’t just about the two guys fighting over the girl. There more relationships than that. She has a relationship with herself, the alien that has taken over her body, that is quite touching. She has a relationship with her little brother and her uncle, played by William Hurt. There is a dramatic tale in the film of coping with loss, one of trying to understand your enemy.
Max: And it’s also a story of survival. Everyone’s finding out and questioning the best way to survive. What is different with this film is how it deals with an alien invasion, rather that blowing up the White House, this is a more benign kind of invasion, one that is peaceful and is almost like an intervention. Mankind is destroying themselves and the aliens come in, take over, almost to the betterment of the human species. Which is an interesting question, if the aliens take over the whole world, would it be a better place?
Did you guys have any interaction with Ms. Meyer?
Max: We did ask about our own characters and again, she kind of trusted us. She would say, you’re doing okay, if you weren’t, I would tell you. She would tell us to trust our instincts, that we are our characters now.
Jake: I think she was surprised by the fact that we, as actors, influenced her visualization of the characters. With the Twilight series, the books were already written, so the actors were kind of locked into the characters. But there were a couple of times where she said she liked watching us portraying her characters because she was finishing up the second book and she would go, oh, I need to include that in the next book.
Thanks and much success with the film.
“The Host” opens in theatres on Friday, March 29th. http://thehostthefilm.com/