The Host‘s Max Irons and Jake Abel were in Atlanta recently to talk about the new movie which opens today, and will be first film in the next trilogy (hopefully) from Stephenie Meyer. FanBolt was able to sit down with the two charming lads and ask them our questions along with a few questions our readers submitted! Check out the interview below!
What scene that’s from the book that’s in the movie are you most excited for fans to see?
Jake Abel: I quite like the chase scene. There’s a chase scene where it’s Aaron and Brandt, and they’re two of the humans with us, and they’re out on a raid and they sort of get found out, and there’s this really great chase sequence with them that ends rather tragically. And I was actually surprised how much I got affected by it. It’s good.
Max Irons: They get cornered and they have to make the choice whether to let themselves be taken or to take their own lives, and they make the choice. That’s quite moving.
Jake Abel: Andrew Niccol films a good action sequence.
This is not your first venture into this kind of genre, but, when you’re entering Stephenie Meyer territory, you know how huge this thing will blow up, and what kind of fans will form up around it. Did you have to weigh your decision based on the potential for this to explode?
Jake Abel: No, not at all! I think it’s all about the work. It’s all about the material. Any film you decide to do – I think for both of us – it’s always the script and the director, the filmmakers. And this one was special and unique. Andrew Niccol’s a fantastic director, writer. Saoirsse Ronan’s an incredible actress. And there is something to be said about the way Stephenie Meyer is able to touch a massive audience. It’s fantastic.
Max Irons: And also, Twilight maybe was the first (maybe Harry Potter as well) – There was such a hype around those books. I heard a story about Robert Pattinson being chased through the streets of Paris by loads and loads of girls before he even started filming the first one. That hasn’t happened to either of us. Thank God! And I know that there’s a lot of people who love The Host, which is great! But it’s not quite on the same scale.
Jake Abel: It’s a little more grown up in the right ways. It’s a sci-fi flick with, yes, obviously romantic undertones, which are important. But I don’t think it’s pigeon holed itself into just being a Twilight crossover and that’s it. I would completely and in full confidence recommend this to my brother, who’s a 32 year-old-guy. I really think that he’ll enjoy it. I think that’s great for Stephenie, and it’s great for all of us. Broadens the demographic.
I’m sure this was your first time sharing a love interest with another actor. What was the relationship dynamic on and off screen?
Max Irons: The thing is we’re all such good friends, so we were light about it. It’s not too serious; there wasn’t too much tension. There’s no competition or anything like that.
Jake Abel: And everyone’s so professional about it. It’s always strange whether you’re sharing each other or not. The first time you go in and you go in and you’re going to kiss your co-star or whatever. Yeah, it’s always strange, but when you do it once or twice, you just kind of get on with it.
But also, there are two different characters, essentially, that you are in love with.
Jake Abel: In a way, yeah, because there’s two people inside of her.
Max Irons: I mean, I think if you look at the whole thing from an outside point of view, it’s quite confusing, it’s quite complex. But from our point of views, it’s kind of simple. They’re different point-of-views, and that causes us to have a bit of a feud. To me, she’s Melanie that’s been taken over, and I need that thing that’s taken her over to be gone.
Jake Abel: She’s just the alien to me.
Max Irons: Which he cherishes. So it’s simple to us, but complex to you.
Jake Abel: More complex for Saoirse, too. She had all the hard work.
With Andrew both writing the script and directing it, do you think it was easier for him to do it this way instead of working with someone else’s words? And did this allow him to give you more insight into what he wanted from the characters?
Jake Abel: I think he worked really closely with Stephenie, actually. We got very lucky because this is one of the first things he’s adapted. Andrew’s been so lucky he gets to write his own material and make his own material. He and Stephenie worked pretty closely together. The film doesn’t deviate a lot from the book, in fact, which I think fans will like. It’s just a more condensed, tightened version of it. Characters are still as developed as they were in the book; the plot was still developed as it was in the book. I think what really gave us the insight we needed was the two weeks of rehearsal that were gifted to us in the beginning, which never happens.
Max Irons: And we were allowed to put ideas forward through Andrew through Stephenie, which would come back through Stephenie to Andrew to us. So it felt collaborative, which is so rare because often it’s the studio system. When, frankly, all the ideas are coming from one direction, and that’s above down to you, and you just have to swallow them, whereas this was wonderful.
You both have done fantasy movies before, and now this is sci-fi. Is that a genre you’re attracted to?
Max Irons: I’m personally much more into science fiction than fantasy. And to be working with Andrew Niccol, it’s kind of a dream.
Jake Abel: I haven’t hunted out the genre films solely, that’s just kind of what’s being made right now for young actors. And I think we’re both very picky about what we do. And what’s happening is that there’s a shift in these young adult adaptations were they’re not just these cheesy, quick, slap it together and throw it out there films. They’re not hiring people like William Hurt to be in these movies. I think Kate Winslet’s about to do one. They’re now surrounding these films with really talented actors, really great directors, and they’re changing the face of what it means to be a young adult adaptation. And that makes a lot of sense to me right now. Being a young actor and being able to act with someone like William Hurt, who I might not have ever had an opportunity to work with.
Max Irons: I think Christopher Nolan has probably got a lot to be thankful for in regard to reminding people that audiences want to be challenged and want to see beautiful pictures, as opposed to just another title out a year later, you know?
Tell me about working with William Hurt. As you said, it’s not an everyday opportunity. I have to imagine he bring some serious weight to that set that a hungry, young actor could feed from.
Max Irons: That was sort of it, wasn’t it? We had the cave mentality, very much so, especially when we were in the studio. We were all there together, day in, day out, and William was our spiritual leader, and our professional kind of tutor. You just watch him and you learn.
Jake Abel: I’d never seen someone stand up for the actors as much as he does. His ways may be a bit peculiar sometimes, but at the end, we were the most protected people on set. Because if a scene wasn’t going right, he would throw his foot down and say, “This isn’t going right!” And he would demand that we do whatever it took to get there, and it would be frustrating and hard, but by the end of it, we would be thanking him. There’s a method to his madness completely, and he was the one that requested two weeks of rehearsal beforehand, which was integral to making this film. I really stand by this film, and I think that is from two weeks of rehearsal. And, as William called it, “We interrogated the scrip for the truth.” That really stuck with me.
I read that you listened to an audiobook of The Host during a dental appointment.
Max Irons: I’m dislexic, and it’s a long book.
Do you feel like that environment affected how you perceived the book?
Max Irons: Jared’s character’s full of pain. I was full of pain that day. Maybe there’s a connection there? But yeah, it was a four hour dentist appoint, so I got at least two hundred pages done.
This is a sci-fi film, but you think there are aspects of the film that will attract fans of other genres?
Jake Abel: Well, the romantic undertone. But what’ll surprise the audience the most, is that it’s really not about these two m***********s fighting over this girl.
Max Irons: (It is a bit.)
Jake Abel: It is a bit, but there are more relationships than that. She has a relationship with the alien in her head, which is really quite touching. But there’s an end scene where she has a scene by herself, the camera is on top of her, and she’s speaking out loud to the voice inside her head, which we hear through voice over. And I had to remind myself half-way through that she was doing this scene by herself. She also has a relationship with her brother, with her uncle (played by William Hurt). So there’s a dramatic tale in there of loss and coping with loss and what it means to understand your enemy.
Max Irons: And it’s also a story of survival, and everyone’s finding out and questioning the best way to survive, and, indeed, should they survive. Should we, as a species, survive? And I think that’s a question we can take away. Unlike most alien invasion films, which involve lasers and space ships blowing up the White House, this is a benign – it’s like an intervention. We’re destroying ourselves, they’re going to come to our rescue, and, for the betterment of the planet and our species, take over. Which is an interesting question. You’ve got to ask yourself, “If they did successfully take over, would the world indeed be a better place?”
If there was to be a sequel, what would you like to see happen with your characters?
Jake Abel: I want to shoot a gun!
Max Irons: Yeah!
Jake Abel: I’d like to drive a car. I would like to do something a little bit more manly.
Max Irons: See, I heard a rumor about the sequel that Ian plays a bit of guitar. A bit of singing.
Jake Abel: That’d be nice, too. A little dancing! Actually, Antonio Pinto wrote something for me to play in the film, and I started to learn it, and then halfway through, Stephenie was like, “Not yet, not yet, not yet!” So, apparently, there is something…
Did you guys have any interaction with Stephenie Meyer and get pick her brain about some of the interesting subtexts she likes to infuse in her romances?
Max Irons: I don’t know about interesting subtexts. I think we sort of avoided that. We did ask about subtexts about our own characters, but she was, again, she kind of trusted us. She said, “No, you’re doing OK. If you’re not doing OK, we’ll tell you. But trust your instincts. You’re Jared now; you’re Ian now. Go with it. Make him yours. Don’t take it from me.” It was nice.
Jake Abel: I think she was probably surprised by the fact that – since the second book may technically not even be finished written, and the third book that she wants to do – I think we, as actors, started to influence her visualization of these characters. With the Twilight series, they were already written, and so the actors had no room to inspire her. But I think she had said a couple of times, “I like to watch you guys because it’s giving me things! ‘Oh, I didn’t think about that! Jared’s like this; Ian’s like that!’ ” And I imagine that was probably really interesting to her to see what happened. She’s very open to that; she’s very collaborative, and that’s very, very lucky, because all authors aren’t that way. Rightly so, too; it’s their babies.
Do you believe in aliens?
Max Irons: Definitely!
Jake Abel: Absolutely!
Max Irons: Why would we be the only ones?
Jake Abel: It’s a numbers game; it’s an odds game. And I think when you have billions of universes –
Max Irons: The odds stunningly against you.
Jake Abel: – there’s got to be something. And who knows, maybe they’re little ribbon like creatures. Usually we see them as big eyed, very human like. And I like that she took a different approach, and says, “Well, maybe they don’t resemble humans at all. Maybe they can take the form of any and all things.”
I know you said you haven’t had any crazy fan experiences yet, but have there been any memorable moments involving fans of the books?
Jake Abel: I think the most gratifying part is the young kids that come out, and they get really excited about these books.
Max Irons: We had a book signing yesterday, which was sort of exhausting. But you see some of the face, and even if just for a moment or an hour, it might make them happy. It’s nice to do the little that you can, and it is very little, but if it makes them that little bit happier, it’s nice.
Jake Abel: These series that Stephenie writes becomes life to some people, and we do have a certain duty to nurture that in its own way? I don’t know if that’s the right way of saying it. But it’s nice to have them come out.
Max Irons: And they seem to like what they see, which is good.
Jake Abel: Yeah, and not say, “I don’t like you as Jared! You’re horrible!”
Max Irons: “You’re too skinny and English!”
Jake Abel: That hasn’t happened yet.
Max, I’d imagine that throughout your life, your father [Jeremy Irons] has given you a lot of advice. But your father is currently entering a space in which you have more experience. Have you given him any advice on how to deal with teenagers?
Max Irons: No, I never really did. I wouldn’t dare to, frankly. But he finds this unusual, the fact that I’m here doing this. The amount of press. He finds the idea of Twitter and the Internet and Facebook and that kind of marketing, which is a lot of what happens now – he finds that very peculiar. So I have to explain that kind of thing to him. He can barely work his mobile phone, which is still from the 90’s. I’m not even kidding. Still. It’s unbelievable. But, you know, I’m his son; he’s my dad. He doesn’t give me advice too often. He sort of knows it irritates me, even though I probably should take it.
The Host is in theaters today!