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Hey y’all, we had the joy of being reunited with the excellent and fabulous, Saoirse Ronan on the occasion of her new movie, The Host, based on the book by Twilight author, Stephenie Meyer.  We sat down with Saoirse and Stephenie, along with the lovely Max Irons and Jake Abel for a lovely chat, wherein LMD received a personalized reading recommendation from the queen of teen fantasy lit herself.

Dig it!


The Host

Saoirse Ronan and Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer:  I like your hair!  Do you read Laini Taylor, by any chance?


The Lady Miz Diva:  No I haven’t.

SM:  You need to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  The main character’s name is Karou and she has bright blue hair.


LMD:  Thank you for the suggestion.

SM:  You’re welcome.


LMD:  Well, while we’re on the subject of books, I understand there’s another book adaptation that you’re producing?

SM:  Down a Dark Hall {by} Lois Duncan.  That was one I loved when I was actually probably too young to read it.  My sister and I bought that one together and it was my favourite of all the Lois Duncan novels.  Some of them have been made; they made I Know What You Did Last Summer into a movie.  They’re all taken, not all of them are made, but they’re all taken and my favourite one came up just briefly and we snatched it up, so that’s what we’re developing right now.


LMD:  What was it about Saoirse that made her your perfect hybrid?

SM:  Originally, I was looking at actresses that were closer to 30 because we’d just done Twilight and the age thing, I wanted to differentiate.  But we needed an actress who could not only play this role, but make it look natural so that you don’t question it and that’s easier said than done unless you’re Saoirse Ronan.  So, what it came down to was the best actress was Saoirse and she happened to be 17, so I overlooked her sad youth so she could give us the best performance that we were ever going to get.  We were very grateful to have her.

Saoirse Ronan:  Awww… (Hugs Stephenie Meyer)


LMD:  Saoirse, what were the logistics of this performance? Did you do the voiceover first and use that to guide your reactions through the scenes, or were you reacting purely to directions in the script with the ADR added later?

SR:  Well, that was something that we were trying to figure out during rehearsals, really.  So for a while, we weren’t sure.  We knew that the lines needed to be played on the day, but we weren’t sure whether they would be read by the script supervisor, whether we’d get an actor in in order to get the beats right and kind of have that actor instinct, or whether we would just record my dialog in advance, or have nothing.  So there a few different options and it made sense for us just to go into the sound studio a couple of weeks before we started shooting.  And still it was only kind of the rough video at the time, but it was enough for me to react to.  So we recorded that and then it was just played in a little earpiece for me whenever I was on set.  And I wasn’t sure how it would be; I thought it would be kind of difficult to get used to that, but it really wasn’t.  It was quite a natural thing to react to your own voice, I dunno, cos I talk to myself a lot anyway.  Honestly, I think cos I really do talk to myself a lot, it’s a bit weird, but I think just because of that I found it quite natural to do that.  And also, as well when you know what the line reading is gonna be each time, you know it’s gonna be exactly the same and what way Melanie’s line are gonna be said, it frees you up to try different thing and to really play around with the scene, so it was great for me.


LMD:  But do you talk to yourself in two different voices?

SR:  Sometimes, yeah, sometimes.  Honestly.


LMD:  So when you were creating her, it was always clear to you that this one was Melanie and this one was Wanderer?

SR:  Well, I think that was already outlined in the book pretty clearly and pretty definitely: Wanda is a very soulful, positive, serene-type character and Melanie’s very feisty and very much a human and she’s a fighter and she’s always on the run, so with the result, she’s always got her guard up for quite a lot of the time whenever we see her.  So that was in the book already and was very well written and adapted to the script, too.  So it was really just about me reading these two different adaptations of the story and bringing whatever I could to it.


LMD:  Saoirse, I understand you had a little input in the casting of those two horrible-looking young men you’re working with.

SR:  I know… I didn’t pick those ones actually.  I was involved…

SM: {Laughs}

SR:  Yeah, it was really nice cos I’ve never done anything like that before and it was lovely to be asked, because in this case especially, the chemistry needed to be there between me and the boys and when I heard that Max and Jake were gonna audition, I was delighted cos I had met them both briefly before.  A few years before Jake was in The Lovely Bones and I had met Max during this weird audition that we did a few years ago, so we had all met each other and we knew each other a little bit.  I mean, really what was most important for all of us, I think, was, yes, they needed to be attractive, of course, but they needed to be good actors and I think when any man is a good actor, that’s what most attractive about them.  That’s what was most attractive about these two guys when they came in is that they were able to really bring it, you know?  I remember Jake’s audition; he came in and he did something that nobody else did.  He just had the perfect balance of being tender and sensitive, but also still having that kind of authority that you want in a man. {Laughs} This is like a dating show!

SM: This is we want! {Laughs}


LMD:  These are your first big kissing scenes. Did having that rapport with the guys starting out make it easier or was it still terribly, horribly uncomfortable?

SR:  It’s never been really uncomfortable.  I think the very first time I did a kissing scene, it was very uncomfortable for me when I was about 11…

SM:  You’re too young to be kissing anyway! {Laughs}

SR:  I know, I know, it was Amy Heckerling, right; there’s always something like that in her films.  But I went up to her and I said, “Okay, Amy, this is how we’re kissing?” She’s like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, you just go in and do it.”  He was about 14, so he was a few years older than me.  I said, “How long do you want me to kiss him for?”  She said, “I dunno, a few seconds,” I said, “No, no, no, I want specifics. I wanna know how long?”  She said, “I dunno, like five seconds.” And I said, “That’s a bit long.”  She said, “Okay, three seconds.”  So, I went in and every single take, I would be like, “One... two… three,” and then just pull apart.  So I’ve kind of moved on from that a little bit.  I was too young, you’re right. But it was fine.  In a way, I think it did make it easier because we did it so often that it really was just like another scene, you know?  It’s just one of those things as actors that you have to get on with you have to accept that you’re gonna do that kind of stuff, you know?  So it was fine.  And as I said, I’m comfortable with both of them, so that makes it so much easier when you can have a laugh.


LMD:  Stephenie, all your fans are interested in what’s going on with you next.

SM:  I’m working on the sequel to The Host right now.  Well, not right now, but when I get home.  Hopefully, I can really lock myself in a room and get to work in a very serious way. It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to shut everything down, so we’ll see.  Stop calling me, Saoirse!  I want to work!

SR:  I can’t! I can’t handle being away from you!


LMD:  Saoirse, you’ve got a dozen projects you’re listed as being attached to.

SR:  For me, I’m just about to do a film with Ryan Gosling.  It’s his directorial debut, it’s called How to Catch a Monster.

SM:  I’m coming to see you.

SR:  See, there ya go!  I’m not putting any pressure on you, but…

SM:  I have to work, but I want to come and see you.


LMD:  What’s the deal with either Mary, Queen of Scots and/or Cinderella?

SR:  No Cinderella; I’m not involved in that.  Mary, Queen of Scots, I mean, it’ll go at some point.  I don’t know if it’s going to be this year, if it’s going to be the end of the year.  This is the thing, for the last few years, really, projects have been very, very unstable, and the biggest projects with a hundred million dollars as the budget can still fall apart at the last minute.  So, it’ll go at some point.  It’s Focus {Features} that’s behind it and they’re a great production company, and they have Suzanne Bier who’s going to direct it, who’s wonderful.  So, hopefully, we’ll do it at some point but we don’t know when.


Max Irons and Jake Abel

The Lady Miz Diva:  As Saoirse was really playing two characters in one body, did each think out your performances dealing solely with either Melanie or Wanda, or did you keep the duality in mind?

Max Irons:  No, I think she had the challenge of creating two separate characters and we just had to interact with her as humans would with the knowledge that our characters had at the time.  If we thought she was Wanda, then we treated her as Wanda, but when we learned Melanie was in fact there, that we could communicate with her, we adjusted, but it was Saoirse that had the challenge.

Jake Abel:  My character, Ian, never knew Melanie, so he only had Wanda to respond to, which made my job even easier.


LMD:  I wondered if having Stephenie Meyer, who created your characters, on set as the producer contributed to your performances or if you went to her with questions?

MI:  I went up to Stephenie on the first day sort of panicking because you often get those last-minute nerves, ‘Am I getting this right?’ especially when there’s a book out that describes these characters in such detail and people out there in the world wide web have said, ‘This is what we want from this guy,’ and ‘This is who we don’t want playing the part.  There’s all this kind of pressure.  And I went up to Stephenie and said, “Am I taking Jared in the right direction? Am I getting it wrong? Tell me. Save me.”  She said, “Listen, we cast you for a reason. We cast you for your instincts. We cast you for your interpretation of the character. Go ahead and do it, cos you’ve got our support.”  And she came up with the guys.  The fears evaporated.

JA:  Yeah, you don’t really feel her presence on set.  She kind of hangs out at the village and if you wanna go visit her, you’re more than welcome.  She’s not stomping on the set saying, ’Oh, you’ve done this wrong.’  She really just lets you have free rein.  And that’s what we did in two weeks of rehearsal, too; we would have ideas, Andrew {Niccol, director} would take them, and if they’re big ideas, Andrew would take them to Stephenie separately and they would have at it.  It was very democratic.  It worked out really well the whole time.


LMD:  Jake, between the Percy Jackson series and I Am Number Four, you’re the veteran at YA book adaptations.  Why are they become such a popular property for studios to grab?

MI:  That’s an interesting question.

JA:  I’m not sure if anybody knows.  I think everyone’s just trying to get in on it.

MI:  Someone over at Summit Entertainment knows something.  They know something.

JA:  Yeah, they know something.  I think what it is is that Young Adult just doesn’t belong to young adults, anymore.  It doesn’t just belong to - what’s that range? - between like 12 and 18?  It really now belongs to 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds, 40-year-olds.  It’s much like Pixar, what they did for animation; animation’s no longer for children.  You can go and there’s things hidden for adults that they can enjoy.  I think maybe that’s it, it’s now that the demographic has been expanded so exponentially.  We’ve seen it out in book signings and stuff; kids of all ages, parents, moms, dads…

MI:  Really old people…

JA:  Yeah, really {Laughs} Geriatrics coming in… *mimes walking with a walker*

MI:  He jokes…

JA:  ‘You make me feel young again!’ {Laughs}


LMD:  I understand Ms. Ronan had a bit of a say in the casting of you both?

MI:  I hear she did.  Well, we had chemistry tests.  These weren’t as terrible as they sound, uncomfortable as they can be sometimes.  We just had to get in the room and do a couple of scenes and then it’s down to our elders and betters to decide if that chemistry is right.


Jake will be seen next in Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters in August 2013.  Max will be starting publicity for the BBC production of Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen, seen in the US on Starz.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 26th, 2013





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