ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So tell me about Ian.JAKE ABEL: Ian’s one of the last remaining humans, part of the human resistance that’s trying to survive this alien invasion. He and his brother escaped being captured together and found Jeb’s cave out in the desert, and that’s pretty much where he’s resided ever since. He’s been struggling to survive along with the rest of the people in our colony. When Wanda comes, there’s the initial mistrust and fear. But through her actions, she slowly starts to teach us things that we weren’t aware of, and because of that my feelings for her start to change.
It’s kind of like a love quadrangle.
Yeah, a love box [laughing], between my feelings for Wanda, the alien inside the body, and Jared’s feelings for Melanie, the human who he’s known, whom Ian has never known. Ian has only known this alien.
What is that like to play? I know that’s tricky for Saoirse, but you’re dealing with essentially two different characters. I was really lucky. It was much easier for me than for Max and Saoirse, because my scenes with Saoirse were mostly with her as Wanda. So the physicality we created for both of us was just that: For me, that entity was just Wanda. Andrew Niccol and I [discussed] that Ian was much more evolved than most people in the cave, second to Jeb. His biggest muscles were his heart and his brain. He’s able to understand that yes, Jared may love the human, but he hates the alien. [Ian] has grown to understand [the alien], and through understanding, grown to love her.
When you signed on to the film, were you the kind of actor who, if you hadn’t read the book, you devoured it, or did you want to stay away from it so you built your own character? This is my fourth or fifth film that’s been an adaptation of a book, and I hate to admit it, but this is the first one I’d read before filming the movie. Usually I kind of keep the script [as] the bible and base everything off of that. But I think Stephenie probably had a big hand in Andrew’s adaptation of her book. I knew that they were going to try to keep as close as possible and I knew the book would give me much more backstory — just because of the capacity a book can hold — than the script could give me. So I did just crash through the book in a few days. I learned some stuff, and then some stuff changed in the movie, and it all came together, and I was really happy with what we came up with for Ian.