The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones hits theaters this Friday, and in anticipation for that I got a few moments to chat with not only the author of the YA series its based on Cassandra Clare, but the stars of the film Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower as well.
What I surprisingly found out was they were not only just acting in the newest YA fantasy phenomenon, but they were also big fans of the genre.
So if you’re a fan of the series you will probably really enjoy this interview. But if not after reading this you might actually be a bit curious to check it out after reading it. I know I will be after chatting with these folks.
First off, Cassandra how hands on were you during the adaptation process?
Cassandra Clare: They definitely invited me to be part of the process; I was very hands on with the casting. I had a veto vote, which as very unusual.
I was very involved with the production design and the look of the movie. I was somewhat involved with the screenplay, though less so than with other aspects of the film. So I do feel I know the film pretty intimately. They definitely invited me to be more of a part of it than they were required to; I am not a producer or anything like that.
Lily, I read that you were a fan of the books before you were cast as Clary. Did that help you prepare for the role at all and what do you think you have in common with the character?
Lily Collins: I was DEFINITELY a fan of the books before I was cast. I read the first one and then when I read they were turning it into a movie, I sent out every email I could. I called and asked how I could get involved producing and directing it and it organically kind of happened that I got the movie.
So I got to play a literary heroine that I already felt I knew pretty well and it was a total dream and a huge honor.
What I loved most about her and associated with her the most was her relationship with her mom. I am so close to my mom. For a book to portray a somewhat typical mother daughter relationship and then have it progress to where her mother is taken and she will stop at nothing to get her mom back, I found that something I really connected with.
Clary is feisty, determined, compassionate and never victimizes herself.
Jamie you’re no stranger to the young adult fantasy genre and you’ve been in Harry Potter, Twilight and now you’re about to be in another successful franchise. What would be a franchise you would like to be in if you could pick another?
Jamie Campbell Bower: That is a very loaded question isn’t it. I did the pilot for Game of Thrones like many, many years ago, just before I did a show for the stars network called Camelot. They asked me to go back and re-hash my role for 3 episodes. I was like “look I got to work, I need something that is going to tie me over, because right now I am basically on the streets in a few months time”.
This will sound quite cheesy and generic but I would love to keep doing this. I am 24, 25 and stoked to go to work. I still find it ridiculous someone would pay me to do this, I just want to continue working.
Jamie have you felt the fanbase has accepted you more as Jace now that they have been able to see the trailer? I know for a while there they were a bit unhappy with your casting.
JCB: I can’t comment on that entirely, purely because the film has not come out yet. Obviously the reaction when I was cast was somewhat negative. I was incredibly aware of that and when I say somewhat, I mean incredibly. (Laughs) The majority was negative reactions.
But I think there is always going to be a preconceived notion of a literary character or a historical figure; you know that people are going to have in their mind. Rob didn’t suffer quite as much as I did at the time, because Robert Sheehan looked beautiful and I looked like I had just eaten 1000 burgers.
Which I had, and they were delicious.
I guess I have seen a more positive reaction. We’ll see when the movie opens. I hope I made them somewhat proud, but I know I am not going to please everyone.
LC: That is part of what I am most excited about, because I met Jamie years ago at a Harry Potter premiere. I gave him a little tap on the shoulder, because he was sitting in front of me and I said something about his hair not being washed or something.
JCB: Which is nonsense because I always wash my hair.
LC: I have always followed his career. When I was cast as Clary and we were talking about Jaces, he immediately came to mind and I put him down as one of the top people I wanted to read with. I didn’t know they had already auditioned him.
It’s been cool for me to step outside and see everyone’s reactions building, because it’s starting to turn.
JCB: Both of these folks were incredibly influential in me being a part of this.
You guys all seems like such fans yourselves, what was a book to film adaptation you were most excited about?
CC: Lord of the Rings are my favorite books. Which the people from Unique Features, Bob Shay and Michael Lynne, they were actually producers on Lord of the Rings and that’s why I sold them the rights, because they did that and did a good job. So I was like OK, they know fantasy.
LC: Harry Potter all they way! I wanted to be Hermione SO BAD. But I think with that cast it was just perfectly cast. The depth of it, the feel of it, the production value, everything was actually how I planned it in my head.
I waited in line for those books!
CC: I did too!
JCB: My adaptation would have been Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, for me it was a seminal novel. I love to read and I never got into American literature. Then I read On The Road and it was insane and when they made a movie I said I had to be a part of this or I hope they do well. It was great.
We hear a lot of folks saying we need more strong women in leading roles. Lily did you take that in account when you were playing Clary and Cassandra were you thinking about that while you were writing the books?
CC: I didn’t take into account that people were wanting stronger female characters, so much as I took into account that people needed stronger female characters. In some ways I was somewhat unsure that in writing the book I would be able to have a successful franchise that was centered around a girl. This was before Twilight came out and the biggest thing in YA fiction was Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, which are centered around male characters.
I wanted to do something like that, an epic coming of age story, with good vs. evil, but I would like to do it with a girl at the center, because that is something I didn’t have growing up. When I was first trying to sell it people told me teens didn’t want to read about vampires and werewolves. (Laughs)
Then, when I was trying to sell the movie rights I was told no one wants to see movies about girls. I was asked, would I consider selling the rights if they were going to flip the gender and make Clary a boy and I was like ABSOLUTELY NOT!
LC: I would be down to play a guy too. (Laughs)
CC: You would look great in drag…
LC: In general I am attracted to roles where I find the strength in the women, even if they are incredibly weak. It’s not like I just look for strong girls. Clary in the beginning is just a plain teenage girl from Brooklyn and she finds herself in a situation where she can either sink or swim and it is born in her she will never be a victim.
Like I said, I was a fan BEFORE I was cast and I wanted whoever played Clary to show that strength, but also weakness and have it be ok to show weakness. Everyone is weak at times, everyone is confused at some point and we all have an identity crisis especially when we are young. Teenagers growing into adulthood and especially a young woman, whether its body image or its your personality, guys or your family we all go through that.
It was very important for me, to make her someone everyone thought they could be. It’s less about being a role model and saying everyone can be Clary.
JCB: I just want to say, I agree. (Laughs)
LC: I am waiting on a new script, I am so excited about that one.