The movie industry would be nothing without young adult films targeted at preteens and young moviegoers. So what does the industry need? Another movie about a girl living a seemingly normal life who uncovers dark secrets about herself — in this case, in a world of angel-human, demon-killing Shadowhunters whom she teams up with after she finds out she is one after the disappearance of her mom.
You know Snow White from the film “Mirror Mirror,” aka Phil Collins’ daughter? That’s Lily Collins, who will play main damsel in distress Clarissa “Clary” Fray from the first film adaptation of “The Mortal Instruments” book series by Cassandra Clare: “City of Bones.” Alongside her, meet Jamie Campbell Bower: the British stud you will undoubtedly recognize from both “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” and as the upcoming Shadowhunter Jace. Let’s not forget “Gossip Girl” cast member Kevin Zegers, who is ready to play Alec in this book series turned movie franchise.
Coming into this project, the book series is well-beloved. What kind of pressure is there to play those character roles adequately?
Lily: “Coming into this situation, I was a fan of the book before I was cast, and as a reader I have certain expectations of how Clary should be played. I have to separate myself and honor the way Clare [author] wrote Clary. But I had to take it on as my own as some of Lily, too. I try not to think of pressures to play this role ‘cause it would distract me. I don’t think any of us think of other pressures except the ones we put on ourselves.”
Jamie: “We can’t please everybody, but we were cast in the movie. We take what everyone has said as well as our guide — the books — and take it under consideration.”
For someone who doesn’t know about the books, what about the story threw you guys in and told you that you wanted to do it?
Kevin: “I hadn’t read the books like Lily, so she had reason why she wanted to do it. I just read the script and thought it was really good. To be honest, I found myself really surprised at how character-driven it was. The supernatural stuff is in there, but it’s not reliant on it. Any preconceived notion you’d have, it was still just a good film.”
Jamie: “There are no empty characters. What I was excited about was changing the image. Throughout recent history we’ve seen the male superhero or love interest as this big beefcake and untouchable, kind of like Kevin, and I was excited to kind of redefine that and be like a wily rock star, and that’s what I think I was able to do. In my experience, that’s what teenage girls are into.”
Lily: “This was the first time I felt like reality and fantasy were married together so well. It has realness. Yeah, there’s romance, but it doesn’t define what this book is. There’s drama and action — some of the best action I’ve seen in a long time, let alone in a teen franchise. Doesn’t matter that it’s geared toward teenagers, it would be just a good film.”
What does this mean for your careers that you have to invest in these characters for another few years at least because of the franchise?
Lily: “What’s great about this for us is that it’s not our first films. So we’ve done stuff before, and we don’t have to be typecast. We have been able to show different sides of our personalities, and it goes so many different places in a series. I signed on ‘cause I wanted to play Clary as long as I could. It’s an honor to continue to play Clary and experience this as her.”
Kevin: “It’s a little more difficult when you’re introduced to people, and they haven’t seen you in anything besides that one film. The good news for us is we love this story, and the longer we get to be a part of the franchise is great for our careers. This is not intended to be a last thing that any of us do — we’re young and ambitious. Jamie has music, and Lily and I have so many things. As a 28-year-old guy, I saw the film a couple weeks ago and was impressed. It’s not just for 14-year-old girls, and the two hours watching it flew by.”
Jamie: “What’s great for all of us is this is hopefully not going to pigeonhole us in a way. But I could be totally wrong. If this is going on for five or six years, it means I get to work with my best friends again. I look forward to it. I’ve done movies where I thought it was going to be more, but you always have to prepare yourself for no.”
Would you say the fantasy genre really attracts you?
Jamie: “I’m English so I’m always cast as the weirdo or as something wrong with them (chuckles). That is how my career has gone. Let’s be honest: You look at the movie industry and it is in a little bit of trouble. They have to make movies people want to see, so doing a movie with a book that has over 22 million readers is a pretty safe bet. I feel lucky ‘cause there have been adaptations not as good as this. People like fantasy because they like to be taken away from mundane elements of life.”
Lily: “I love fantasy; that’s why doing ‘Snow White’ previously was a big deal, but this movie is edgier and darker and sexier — something I didn’t find in the other ones. Taking people away into fantasy: That’s like my job.”
Given so many adaptations of so many books in the series, closing in on seven books of the “Mortal” series, are you committed to commit to them?
Jamie: “Yeah, we committed to be committed (chuckles). We have to be. When I got into this, I obviously was aware that it could go on. We have to focus job by job or movie by movie, and if we do go on, who knows how many we’ll have to do. I don’t know if I can play Jace, who’s 19, when I’m 34. If I could, great, but I doubt it. In that sense, we have to focus job by job.”
Kevin: “There’s a funny saying: We plan, god laughs. All I know now is we’re on this press tour, and I’m hanging out with good friends. We’re starting filming for the second movie in September. Who knows, they could hate me in the second one and re-cast. I think we all come from the same place, and that we’re all grateful.”
Lily: “As long as people will have me as Clary, I’ll do it. It would be a shame to stop prematurely. I don’t want people to feel they’ve been gypped of certain things.”
Jamie: “Do we have any say? Some of us, but it has to be that connection, ya know?”
Contact Melissa Kahan at email@example.com.