Last week, the fansites were given the rare chance to have a phone interview with Stephenie Meyer about The Host. She talked about the actors characterizations, moving forward in the series, and even shared a hilarious, but somewhat horrific, story from working on the set! Read the whole interview below:
Alice (Edward’s Meadow): Do you have any funny stories from being on the set of “The Host?” And if so, can you relate one?
Stephenie Meyer: Okay, I’m trying to think of one. Most of the funny stories are with people that you don’t know. And so it’s kind of hard, it’s like ‘oh, this person you don’t know, we had this funny nick name for them that makes no sense ‘cause you can’t see them.’ Can I think of one that would be accurate that I’m allowed to tell? (Laughs) That’s the other problem, there are competent, you know. Being on set is a lot like being in confessionals. There are some things that are just sacred that you don’t talk about. You know what, Saoirse’s dad, Paul, is incredibly funny and this really great storyteller, and so at some point, we… I need him to tell the story about the solar lights and pawing on the lights, which makes no sense to you. But, you know, you sit around and talk a lot and we had some really good storytellers, it was fun… Those night shoots, often, you get a little bit weird on. I have my partner in crime over here and she probably remembers more stories than I do. Am I missing one?
Megan (Stephenie’s partner in crime): I don’t think any that you can repeat.
Stephenie Meyer: Okay. They’re not repeatable. Sorry guys. I’ll try and think of one. If I get one by the end, I’ll tell you.
Elena (Fangirlish): With adaptations, we often find that screenwriters and directors have to make allowances and take their own liberties when putting something on screen and I was wondering if you consider this a relatively true adaptation of the book or if there were a lot of liberties taken to make it more visually appealing.
Stephenie: I feel like this one is probably the most true to the book of any of my work that has been adapted. Of course there’s the huge liberty being taken of shortening it down to 120 pages and so there are all kinds of scenes that I love, little scenes, big scenes that you just have to peel away to be able to do this as a movie. And that’s the first event, the great big hurdle at the very beginning. And after that once we got down to the core story everything felt true to who the characters were. Some of the little changes were actually things that I loved. I felt like Andrew had such a good sense for the world that he came up with stuff that I wished I had. Like his seakers, they don’t use guns. Diane eventually gets there because she’s sort of having a breakdown but his Seakers just use a spray that sort of knocks people out and I was thinking “of course that’s what they would do!” My book was all about them having this inner struggle to have to use human weapons. I was kind of bummed I hadn’t done that. But mostly at this point it just felt really how the book feels to me.
Melissa (Strictly Robsten): In my opinion, much of Twilight’s success lends itself to Rob [Pattinson] and Kristen [Stewart]’s chemistry. Would you say that the boys [Max Irons & Jake Abel] and Saoirse [Ronan] have that same kind of chemistry and would you say that that was key in making the decision for casting them for each of their respective roles?
Stephenie: Absolutely! Chemistry was the number one thing we were looking for when we were auditioning. Once we knew Saoirse was in, it all became about who is going to complement her on the screen, how is it going to make you feel. The interesting thing is that there are two different relationships happening here because it’s not Saoirse with Max and Saoirse with Jake; it’s Wanda with Jake and Melanie with Max. She’s two different people and she’s so amazingly talented—it’s very distinct. We actually had to have two very separate kinds of chemistry because Wanda doesn’t fall in love the same way that Melanie does. That was really interesting and I think it worked out fantastically. I remember watching their auditions, and that’s the first thing Andrew [Niccol] told me about Max—because I wasn’t around for that one because it was in London—and he said “wait, the chemistry, you can cut it with a knife in that room!”— and it was totally there. And then Jake, who I have always loved as an actor and he just has that leading man charisma, I was really nervous to watch his audition because I thought he was going to be really great for it. And then it was totally there! Oh man! I still remember this hug that he gave [Saoirse] where it was the shape of them suddenly was something new and really interesting. I was like Oh! So there! That was the part of it; that was how we cast and I feel like it really came through.
Bekah (That’s Normal): We were wondering if you find yourself protective or defensive of The Host when the movie and the fandom and all the expectations are going to be compared to Twilight. Do you feel an extra protection of The Host that you might not have felt had Twilight not existed first?
Stephenie: Absolutely. You really nailed it. It’s hard because it’s such a different book for me. And it’s my favorite book. Twilight has a passionate following & also a passionate hatred attached to it. You know it was very double sided. For all the good there was equal negative. And I feel like the negative is coming into play a lot here & it makes me really angry- like when someone picks on your kid at school. Because this kid hasn’t done anything wrong. This kid is TOTALLY innocent. And these performances these actors gave us– the caliber that we have going on here. William freakin’ Hurt comes in & owns this movie. and then you got Andrew Niccol and his amazing, beautiful vision. And it is so not fair to judge this movie. And then on the other side of it– would it have gotten made if Twilight hadn’t been a big deal? Probably not so I just have to take the good with the bad. But I totally get defensive of this one & very mother hen on it!
Stephanie- (The Host Movie Fans): Can you tell us a little about your Austenland experience and specifically what it was like to work on something that wasn’t taken from your own work?
Stephenie: It was actually really awesome and so much easier making those changes and those little things when you didn’t conceive of it, then it’s a lot more fluid and things can change. Also, like a good example for me, because Shannon Hale was there all the time and she loves changing her stuff. She’s like, “What if we change this? What if we did this new thing?” She adores reworking the entire story, which is so foreign to my nature and I’m like “okay,” watching her, learning, but it was really cool. The other factor was this was a comedy and it was such a different experience to be on the set where the biggest challenge is not laughing while we’re doing the takes, cause you know, Twilight is really angsty and everything is very serious and the actors kind of have to be in this mode and you would never want to intrude on that. And here we have people just cracking up all the time and it was just so much fun and at the end of a really long day your stomach hurts from laughing. You’re like, “This is not working. This is like being in a really good comedy club all day long for a month and a half.” You know, it was a very, very fun experience. Also, we were filming on a manor in England and it was gorgeous every day, so it was kind of like a fantasy camp rather than work.
Stephanie- (THMF): Sounds like fun.
Stephenie: It was. It was so much fun.
Sarah (The Host Movie News): The Host obviously involves romance, but were there other, larger messages you were intending to say through the novel? If so, what were they and what will be the larger message behind the sequel you are currently working on?
Stephenie: Well, I never write in messages. I write out problems. I find a complicated situation and I write to see what would happen with it. But I do feel like there is a romance aspect, but it’s so much – for me the book is really about love in all of its forms. You’ve got the romantic love, but you’ve got the mother love, and you’ve got the family love, and you’ve got the my-species-that-I-owe-a-great-deal-to love, and then my-new-species-that-I’m-adopting-that-I-love-and-want-to-protect. It’s just that much more real – our human experience isn’t as – you can’t boil that down to just loving one person. There’s so much more that ties you. And I also feel like there was a lot I got to explore with the idea of – the kind of easy answer, “What do you wish for?”, “Oh, world peace”, and I got to look at could humans ever have world peace and what would we have to give up and in this version of that future, we’ve been taken out of the equation, but that’s kind of the point, like, our individual likes and dislikes, the things that we would die for, the things you’re passionate about, all of that has to be erased for there to be this total peace and is that too high a cost? I think maybe some people say, “There’s no such thing as too high a cost for perfect peace and health and comfort for everyone in the world”, but if we had to all give ourselves up, I don’t think we’d do it, either. So there was a lot more in it for me. As far as the sequel, all of these insights into the novel come after it’s done. [laughs]. Right now the sequel is just about kind of these exciting things that happen. It’s just an adventure story for me, right now and I’m sure I’ll find the bigger picture when I have it finished.
Chloe (The Host Trilogy): The landscape in The Host is pretty much as far away from Twilight as you can get, with so much of it taking place in the desert and underground. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind that and how it affects the story?
Stephenie: Well, I mean, this is my home. I’m a desert person. I grew up in the desert, and as a child, I always dreamed about – I mean, I’d never actually been to Washington before I wrote Twilight, and that’s what I dreamed about – green places where it rained all the time and there was water in the streams. So when I was writing Twilight, I was writing this fantasy version of this place I’d always kind of wanted to live; when I wrote The Host, I wrote what I knew and where I lived – except for the underground part, I don’t live underground. But that was kind of the fantasy element, creating this underground world that doesn’t actually exist. But the desert is something I’m very familiar with and much more going like back to my roots, and I think that’s part of this book sort of being more meaningful to me in a lot of ways.
Lori (Twilight Lexicon): About the future of the series: When the Twilight films were cast and made, you had completed the series. Now you’ve finished the first Host film but the series isn’t finished. How much do you think your writing is going to be influenced by the actors and the set and what has been played out on the film?
Stephenie: I imagine there might be a little bit of bleed. But I don’t think it will be too bad because I had the sequels outlined before we started making the film. It’s one of those things that’s been back burnered for so long because obviously there was Twilight stuff that had to be finished. And you know filming all these movies has taken a whole lot of time. So it’s been pushed into the back. I’d love to get it done soon enough that it would all make sense moving forward with movies, but I don’t think it will change too much because I have – You know what changes is that life changes. It’s funny! I had the characters all kind of laid out and as I was working on the sequel, another character, who’s kind of inspired from another part of my life, suddenly cropped up that was new and is suddenly affecting the story which is interesting. If I had written the story three years ago, it would be a different story than it’s going to be. And if I wrote it five years from now, it would probably be somebody else that would pop up into it. So it’s interesting just how your own life comes into play, but I don’t think that the actors will affect me too much.
Lisa (Twilight Moms): Will we get a glimpse of any of the previous worlds or lifeforms that wanderer or any of the souls had before?
Stephenie: That’s a… that’s a sad question because the answer is no. And that makes me really sad. We had some really great ideas but this was actually an independent film. This wasn’t done with a studio and so we the budget was, I mean, it was a big budget for an independent movie, but it was really tight and we were making decisions like, ‘ok we can only afford one helicopter in this scene so we have to write it back from three.’ And we actually filmed the very last, there was… the last scene of the movie was in the script and then we took it out we had to sacrifice it to pay for some other things, and then we ended up being able to save enough money that we did go and shoot the last scene. Right after the Twilight Premiere of Breaking Dawn 2 we actually didn’t get to sleep for like three days straight there. [laughs] And so we, I mean even the last scene in the movie which, when you see it, I don’t think you’ll be able to imagine it without that but there were a lot of sacrifices that had to be made and unfortunately seeing those other worlds was one of them. But the good part of that is that in my head I see a really… I know what the bears planet looks like and what they look like and its amazing, but there is that fear that if somebody else would do it and it wouldn’t be as amazing. And what if it was cheesy? What if the bats looked ridiculous and ugly? And then that kind of ruins it for people so at least now peoples’ imaginary worlds aren’t going to be tainted.
Evie (Twilighters Anonymous): Music was such a huge part of The Twilight Saga, both with your playlists for the books and then the movie soundtracks. Do you see music as being a big part in the film adaptation of The Host? And in addition are you finding any particular band inspiring as you work on the sequel to The Host?
Stephenie: You know it’s interesting (laughs), ‘The Host’ is, I feel like a more grown-up story, and even though our actors are not too different in age because of Saoirse, because we wanted her, we knew she was the right person, so everything got aged down a little bit. It doesn’t change that the movie is more mature, and the music just wasn’t really ever a big discussion because it just didn’t fit. The movie will mostly be score. And oddly enough, and I don’t think it’s connected but maybe it is, I’ve actually been listening to a lot of score as I’m writing now. I’m mostly listening to a playlist I have of just really good movie scores that I’m into, like 28 Weeks Later – I love that one right now, and that kind of thing. So I’m not sure how much is life imitating art, vice versa, whatnot. But we do still have the cool Imagine Dragons song – will be featured, and that’s awesome, I love that band. I just saw them perform live. If you ever get the chance to do that, do so, they’re fantastic.
Evie (TA): Great, thank you! It’s interesting that it has changed for this movie and your work as you move forward.
Stephenie: It has such a different feel in so many ways. We were talking about comparisons before, and I think when someone sees the movie, it won’t remind them of Twilight. it just doesn’t have the same feel. Megan (Interview Coordinator): It looks like, if it’s okay with you Stephenie, that we have time for about two or three more questions?
Stephenie: Oh, hey, you know what, I want to go back because I was passed a note of funny stories from set.
Alice (Edward’s Meadow):Yes!
Stephenie: So I’m going to go back to that one and I will tell you one of the funniest days I had. But again, it doesn’t really involve any of the actors or anything. We were, for the last day of shooting, we’re on top of Horseshoe Mesa, which was an extreme climb to get up there. We didn’t even know if we were going to make it up there alive. It was a little bit of a scary drive. And we were there all day long. Now, legally, I’m pretty sure you have to have bathrooms close by. It’s at least an hour drive back down to camp, and they didn’t want to make that drive again because it was so treacherous. So there were no bathroom facilities atop the mountain. Most of the people working on a movie set are men. For them, not that big of a deal! For those of us few women, it was quite a long shoot! So somebody had, they brought up some kind of portable toilet, which was a tent and a bucket, basically. But nobody thought to set it up. So at the end of the day, it was kind of like okay, we’re just going to do this; we will set up the toilet. So myself, my partner in crime, Megan, and then Ali, who is Jake’s girlfriend, we’re like ‘this is happening.’ And we found a secluded – as secluded as we could get, although they’re still shushing us the whole time because, you know, we couldn’t stop giggling. We’re trying to set this up, and it’s really windy, and it keeps blowing over. We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to use it without being, you know, revealed or knocked over. It was horrific. What we had to do, eventually, was stand and hold the tent post and the tarp closed around it while the person inside was trying to pee with some level of dignity, but there was none. And it was really…we were dying laughing. I mean, we couldn’t stop. And we kept getting in trouble ‘cause we’re over there giggling and peeing. And they’re like ‘shh, were filming a movie!’ We’re like ‘you don’t have bathrooms for us!’ So, it was funny and also scarring.
Megan (Interview Coordinator) – It looks like we’re out of time now, so I just wanted to thank everybody, and thank you Stephenie, this was wonderful.
Stephenie: Thank you, that was really fun, you guys ask the best questions.
Fansites: Thank you!