Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Exclusive: Q&A with Jake Abel, Max Irons & Stephenie Meyer from the Miami Screening of 'The Host'

I was lucky enough to attend the screening of The Host in Miami on Monday and even luckier that I was allowed to film the Q&A that followed the movie. Jake Abel, Max Irons, and Stephenie Meyer talked about their favorite scenes to shoot, covering up accents, and why the villains are not all that bad. There are some spoilers in the answers that I was asked to leave out, but I hope to share the answers with you once the movie is released. Check out the full transcript after the break.





Audience question: Stephenie, what did you do to capture the same audience as the book readers?

Stephenie Meyer: Most of it was Andrew Niccol, who also did the screenplay, is a genius. So, from the beginning I felt like I was in really good hands. It wasn’t too much what I had to do besides just sort of be a part of the conversation, what we were doing and talk about how I wanted the feel of it to be. I really liked what he was able to glean as he sorted it down, which I can’t do. I can’t abridge.

Moderator: What is it like to see your story come to life on the big screen? I image you were pretty involved with the production and the creation of The Host?

Stephenie: I was for this one. It’s a really interesting process because there’s stuff you lose with a book this long when making it into a movie. But so many of the things we were able to do really had the heart of the story. And I was so pleased. The casting is always such a big deal and if you can get that right then things tend to work out. I felt like the cast was just amazing on this. They did such a good job. It always makes me cry.

Audience question: What was it like writing The Host?

Stephenie: The Host was actually a really great experience. I wrote it while I was editing Eclipse and I was kind of overwhelmed with vampires and red ink and a lot of people having expectations of what they wanted for the next book and knowing I wasn’t always answering those. So I kind of needed a private place and that’s what The Host was. It was just my own story again and no one knew about it and I didn’t really know if I was ever going to publish it. And it’s kind of back to my roots; it was out in the desert and that’s where I grew up. I enjoyed my time in it for sure.

For Max, having your father be in this industry, what is the most valuable lesson he taught you?

Max Irons: Well, initially he told me not to be an actor. He reminded me that it’s very difficult. It’s not easy, but then once he saw that I was serious, he said “be prepared for the ups and downs, the good, the highs and lows." 

Jake Abel: He did say, "Be prepared?"

Max Irons: But once he saw I was serious, he supported me. 

Moderator: Jake, I have a question for you. This isn’t the first time you’ve shared the screen with Saoirse Ronan, right? The Lovely Bones I believe, you guys go back to that.

Jake Abel: Yeah, briefly. It was nice to actually get to do a scene with Saoirse rather than just be in a scene Saoirse’s in, so that was a real treat. I’ve been waiting to have something like this ever since then.


Moderator: That was probably a relief to know that you are working with such as seasoned actress. I mean, essentially she’s playing two in one. You just mentioned Stephenie the importance of the cast. That must have been a big one for you as well.

Stephenie: That was really huge because we knew were going to ask someone to play two characters. And initially this was a very complicated independent movie, this wasn’t done with a studio because a lot of studios just didn’t understand how you are going to make that clear. And the director and I always felt like it was just a really great performance, this isn’t going to be special effects and we just knew we had to have a really great actress. Then we got Saoirse and we were al very, very happy.

Audience question: Stephenie, how did you get started as a writer and what do you suggest for people who want to be writers (something to that effect)?

Stephenie: I got started really by accident and I got really involved with this story in my head and I wanted to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it. I guess a lot of me being a writer is due to my children who erased my memory when they were born. I can’t remember anything and so I wrote them down. I loved the process of writing and I really enjoyed myself. So when I talk to wannabe writers, there’s a difference. Some people want to write and some people want to have written. They want to be authors, but the actual writing process isn’t their favorite thing. If that’s the case, then I say skip it and find something you love. But if you love to write, I always tell people you don’t think about being published, don’t think about other readers. In the beginning, just write for yourself and love it for yourself and if you love it, that’s the first step. Then, when it’s finished, when it’s done, when you’re really happy with it, then bring someone else in, but don’t spend the whole time thinking about the market you’re writing for or who you’re going to show it to, just please yourself.

Audience question: Was it difficult to cover up your accent? (To Max)

Max: Yes, it was. I’m terrible at accents. Everything I do comes out back to front. Lots and lots of repetition. Did it sound ok? (Lots of yeses from the crowd.)

Audience question: Did you guys read The Host before?

Jake: Yeah, I did. I think I read it in three sittings.

Max: Three sittings?

Jake: Very long sittings. I didn’t move. Maybe it was a week, it was so long ago.

Max (to Stephenie): It’s a big book!

Moderator: Stephenie, you’ve been getting a lot of comparisons with Twilight and The Host. I mean, two completely different babies for you, right?

Stephenie: For me, they are so separate. But there’s always, because I wrote them both, they’re always going to have that since Twilight was this big deal. There’s always going to be comparisons, but I wish that we could separate them a lot more because I feel like it’s something so different. And what these gentlemen have done, what Saoirse has done is just this really amazing thing and I wish we could do it in a vacuum, but of course it’s not possible, so we’ll just deal with what we have.

Moderator: Would you guys agree that this is a more grown up story as well, compared to Twilight? We love our werewolves and vampires, don’t get me wrong, but aliens are kind of cool too, right?

Audience question: Was there a scene you were particularly excited about filiming?

Stephenie: Stephenie's answer is a bit of a spoiler, so I was asked to to include it here.

Max: It’s not a very sophisticated answer, but the fight scene where I got to attack Kyle and Wes and Jake was fighting Saoirse. I like that because that kind of thing rarely happens to me in life and it sort of flatters the ego a bit.

Jake: Before I saw the film on Saturday, I always thought it was Ian and Wanda’s first date scene, when he finally takes her outside. That was one of my favorites to film, but one of my favorites to watch was the whole chase scene. I was really surprised. I had no idea how that was going to turn out and I was on the edge of my seat.

Audience question: The Host was meant more for an adult audience. How do you feel about it being more towards a younger audience, like for your Twilight fans?

Stephenie: I think that the people who invested in the movie would be really excited if all the Twilight fans came out to see it. I think that would be great for them. I just hope it reaches a broader audience. This is the one that my dad likes to read. My uncle just saw it yesterday. It’s a little more guy friendly. The other books are all about romantic love and that’s it. And it’s from a very female perspective, so it’s just about falling in love with a boy, which doesn’t work for everyone. And these are about so many different kinds of love and loyalties and a much broader story, so I hope it finds a wider audience than the last one.

Moderator: To add to that Stephenie, I would say as a viewer that was here in the audience, it also shows spirit, the human spirit surviving. At one point in the film we’re barely surviving, but it shows that the human spirit can go on. That’s a great emotion as well, an old emotion.

Stephenie: Well, when you’re a teenager in love, it feels like everything is life and death, but this is actual life and death, which is kind of more fun.

Jake: Not to mention all the explosions and gun fire.

Audience question: Your books contain all these complex worlds. What’s the writing process like when you are coming up with all these ideas?

Stephenie: Coming up with the ideas is the easy part. This story started with three characters, two bodies. I had the idea of two people in one body in love with the same person and that was the seed it started from. Once you have an idea of your characters, all the rest of it just sort of grows around that. I’ve never had a problem fleshing it out; my problem is going too long. So keeping it a nice tidy story is not my gift; being complicated is a lot more of what I do.

Audience question: A common thread in your books is that the villains are not really bad; they are just embodying their species. Was this a conscious decision?

Stephenie: My life has a lot of really good people in it, so I tend to look at people and try to understand their motives. I think people act in ways that seem reasonable and right to them, but this doesn’t apply to everyone. In this I don’t have a lot of real bad guys because the aliens are super nice, kind of like Canadians and polite all the time, so they’re not bad except that they’ve wiped us all out. It just depends on where your priorities are. With the other series, there are different levels of evil and different levels of how sick some of them get, but I like to think the world is a good place, full of good people. I get proven wrong a lot, but I guess I’m still hopeful. 

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