they asked Stephenie Meyer about her cast beyond just the three lead actors: Saoirse Ronan, Jake Abel, and Max Irons: William Hurt, Frances Fisher, and newcomer Chandler Canterbury. As fans of the novel realize, the story is intended as a trilogy and those characters play key roles in the current story and likely the future sequels.
Hypable: You have some wonderful powerhouse actors in this film, such as William Hurt as Uncle Jeb and Frances Fisher as Maggie. What do they bring to the table in bringing these characters to life?
So much, oh my god. It’s really amazing. I mean, Frances Fisher has a smaller role than William Hurt, but she’s really fantastic in everything she does. But William has major role and gets to be the thoughtful center of the movie. He’s the person who’s been around the longest, seen the most, and has come up with a philosophy on life. And every time he’s in a scene it’s just like – “ahhh!” – angel like. It’s amazing. I really think people are just going to adore him as Uncle Jeb. I think that might be the most true to the novel role – the look, the sound of his voice. I think people are going to be like, “yes, no one else could do this but him.”
Hypable: Recently you have had the opportunity to work with some very young actors who play key roles in your story lines. Mackenzie Foy played Renesmee in ‘Breaking Dawn – Part 2′ and Chandler Canterbury plays Jamie in ‘The Host.’ Both are really pivotal roles. What was it like working with these young actors?
He’s fantastic. We’ve been so lucky, because – they always say never work with children or animals. But we keep doing that. Both of those two young actors – who’ve actually worked together before – we ended up getting these little adults who are very serious about their craft and completely understand what they’re doing. It’s not a situation with stage parents, these are kids who love acting and really enjoy it. And Chandler, he’s adorable but he’s also very very gifted. You just buy him and his feelings. They’re there.
There’s a scene with him and Wanda and the relationship between them feels so real. I remember Andrew [director Andrew Niccol] was just amazed because he was crying in the scene, and he said, “It’s like that kid can actually control his teardrops and make them stop on his cheek at the perfect spot.” He’s just extremely talented and it’s wonderful to have him in this post-apocalyptic world where everything is very serious. Having a child puts everything in perspective. For me, as a mom, it makes you take their situation so much more seriously when you see a child, and a child suffering in this world that they live in now. So I’m really grateful we found someone as good as him and he wanted to do it, because he’s amazing to have.
Hypable: You could’ve set this alien invasion tale anywhere – why Louisiana and the desert in Arizona?
I actually – it was never set in Louisiana in the novel. That was something we did in the movie that ended up being a really good choice. Louisiana is the place to shoot these days. They’ve got the facilities and it just makes the most sense on your budget generally. And we could have – that part of the story [in the book] takes place partly in San Diego, some of it in the Southwest, and we decided to embrace the location rather than try to hide it and pretend we’re somewhere else. It ended up being fantastic because we were able to celebrate the unique, the beautiful things about that area. And then we shot the desert parts in New Mexico. We got some really stunning locales. We were really fortunate, it was so beautiful.
When I wrote my other series, a lot of it was about fantasy for me, so I wrote about a place I’d never been to. I always wanted to grow up in Washington, I thought that’d be great. They have stream beds that have water in them instead of being full of rocks. I was always fascinated with that world because that’s where I grew up, that was my home and that’s what I was used to. When I wrote ‘The Host,’ it is about my home in a lot of ways. It is a place that I know and that I’m comfortable in, so the story is closer to home for me because it is my genre. I like science fiction, that’s my favorite world, and so then I also set it in my physical world that I live in and it felt like the right thing to do. In some ways it’s a lot more personal for me.
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