We may be in a Hunger Games lull, but it’s still all about young adult book-to-film adaptations and the New York Comic-Con spotlight is on Beautiful Creatures.
Stemming from Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s source material, the film focuses on Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a newcomer to the town of Gatlin. Lena meets and falls for Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), but as a Caster born into a family with a Dark heritage, he may not be able to keep her from going Dark during the Claiming on her 16th birthday.
Just before gracing the stage at their very own New York Comic-Con panel, writer-director Richard LaGravenese, producer Broderick Johnson and stars Alden Ehrenreich, Emmy Rossum, Thomas Mann and Zoey Deutch took the time to field some questions at a press conference. Check out the highlights from the event below.
-- Adapting the Book: LaGravenese was on the hunt for a mythology book when Beautiful Creatures came his way. Trouble is, when you adapt a mythology book the need for a significant amount of exposition comes with it. “The experience reading a book is interactive… but when you’re making a film, it’s literal.” In an effort to not have characters reciting the rules of the world, LaGravenese combined elements of the book and made the piece shorter, and steered clear of things we’ve seen before.
-- Thomas Mann as Link: Even though Link is buddy-buddy with Ethan, he’s still a little out of the loop. Mann explained, “What I love about Link is that while all this insane stuff, all this supernatural stuff is happening, it starts out, he’s completely oblivious to it.” Link’s mother (Emma Thompson) is on the conservative side and, paradoxically, Link responds to it with humor. “Richard was really great at writing in a lot of subtle comedy so these things don’t take themselves too seriously, which I think is really important for a movie like this.”
-- Emmy Rossum is Ridley: Rossum steps in as Lena’s cousin Ridley, a Caster with the power of persuasion. “I get to play a badass, dark heroine witch, but who’s elegant and classy and really chic.” Rather than go with the pop-culture, girly version from the book, LaGravenese and Rossum took the character to an old-fashioned, sensual and dark place.
-- Alden Ehrenreich is Ethan Wate: Ethan’s a guy who’s left in a dark place after the passing of his mother. However, deep down, Ethan is a romantic and idealist, which makes him willing to fight. Ehrenreich pointed out,“[Ethan] has this restless quality that I really liked about him. That he just wants more. He wants more out of life.”
-- Zoey Deutch is Emily Asher: Deutch calls Emily “Ethan Wate’s crazy cuckoo ex-girlfriend.” Emily’s your typical spoiled brat so when Ethan rejects her, she doesn’t take it very well. Deutch tries to put it in a more flattering light, explaining, “She doesn’t have the right tools to deal with a broken heart.”
-- Rossum on Going Dark: “I’ve always found darker characters more interesting.” Rossum continued, “And for me, the most interesting thing is to explain where that evil comes from.” Rossum had the opportunity to indulge in Ridley’s backstory through a flashback, offering a look at her own Claiming, something Rossum describes as a “painful, weird, physical awakening.”
-- A Different Kind of First Person: While Ethan is the one that takes us through Beautiful Creatures, like the book, we’re in Lena’s shoes in the end. LaGravenese noted, “I’ve never seen that before where it starts with a first person narrative and then the first person changes at the end.”
-- LaGravenese on Fan Expectations: “I never read anything on the Internet and I don’t tweet and I don’t Facebook and I don’t do any of that stuff.” LaGravenese continued, “If I knew all that stuff, I’d be paralyzed.” LaGravenese actually didn’t even read the other books in the series so he could focus on making the best version of the first. “As a writer, I know me, and I tend to get a little over-responsible and over-reverential of other writers because I know what they go through.” When adapting a book, it’s key for LaGravenese to allow himself to invent and re-create. “I had to do the best I could with what I thought was important to the story.”
-- Teen Talk in Movies: “I’ve read so many scripts where you get teenagers and they’re saying like, ‘Hey, bro! Let’s go to the neat-o place and hang out with the bros!’ It’s a turn off.” Of LaGravenese’s work Ehrenreich highlighted, “He made these teenagers people.”
-- Ridley as Rita, Marilyn and Doris: “I’m a huge film geek. My favorite films are from the '30s through the '70s... my golden period. It’s a big one. And so we decided to have some fun with Emmy’s character and every time she incarnates as a siren, I said to my costume designer, Jeffrey Kurland, I said, ‘Let’s have fun with it. I don’t care if the younger generation gets it or not.’ I said, ‘Let’s make her a film icon, someone that we love.’ So in one, she’s Rita Hayworth from Gilda, in another one she’s Marilyn Monroe from River of No Return and in another one she’s Doris Day because she’s trying to be safe and nice.”
-- Ehrenreich on Getting the Part: “I got the part at eight in the morning and I was in a car at four in the afternoon on the way to the airport,” Ehrenreich recalled. “A week later we started shooting, so a lot of my preparing for the role was trying to realize, ‘OK, I’m in New Orleans and I’m in a movie.’”
Beautiful Creatures hits theaters on February 13, 2013.
Geek out on the rest of our New York Comic-Con coverage right here