“The Host” is a riveting story about the survival of love and the human spirit in a time of war. Our world has been invaded by an unseen enemy. Humans become hosts for these invaders, their minds taken over while their bodies remain intact. Most of humanity has succumbed.
Alicia Malone caught up with actress Diane Krueger to speak about the film.
Q: What were your first thoughts when you read the script? I imagine it would be, ‘how is this going to work?’
Diane: Yes that for sure. I did read the book afterwards. I think Andrew Niccol – when I talked to him on the phone about the project he sort of explained to me how he was imagining the two voices and so forth which made it clearer.
Q: How was it to play the bad girl?
Diane: It was fun. The jury is still out if she’s the bad guy or who is the bad guy – the human or the alien I guess. It was neat to be able to play two completely opposite characters, the way we thought that that alien because they’re perfecting our world and everything is so nice now, that she would have perfect posture and speak very properly and all that and then humans who are so messy and emotional and that would be who she becomes.
Q: Did it help to have Stephenie on the set?
Diane: It’s great to have the radar on set because we don’t really know what’s going to happen in the second book especially for my character. I think it was important to know some guidelines because you don’t see that much of it at the end of the film. So to get some guidelines of what the human is like – the human I am is like.
Q: Would you like to play the human version if there was a sequel and it went that way?
Diane: I don’t know. It would depend on the storyline. I think if she’s just there then no. But if there is something cool to do with it then yeah sure. I’m very excited about the film. I think the book is really, you know, it’s fun for me. I don’t make this kind of movies usually. I feel like I’m part the cool kids club.
Q: You were saying that you don’t do this kind of movie usually, are you talking about sci-fi?
Diane: Teenage, you know, that sort of thing. I have never done a sci-fi film. I’m a huge sci-fi fan.
Q: I was about to ask you that because usually girls don’t really like sci-fi.
Diane: I think that’s a myth. I know a lot of girls that love sci-fi. Not everything just like I don’t like every romance movie either. I think the world is so heightened. I’ve definitely gone to Comic-Con on a Darth Vader mask.
Q: Are you serious?
Q: You did that as a fan?
Diane: I was there with my partner. I wanted to see it because I think it’s so freaking cool like these people are nuts. I love it. I think it’s such a different world. I love it. It’s heightened.
Q: Just as a follow up, you’re talking also about the teenage movie, it’s such a craze. What do you make of that? The fans are lining up at Comic-Con for those movies are insane.
Diane: Oh my God, yeah. Honestly, that’s what I mean. You feel like you’re part of a club, a secret club. I didn’t really quite understand the magnitude of it. I knew Twilight was big but I’ve never been to a fan club or…We did a poster signing at a mall here in Los Angeles a couple of days ago and thousands of people showed up. It was actually really neat the devotion of these people. It’s very sweet and therefore for us because we are the embodiment of these characters. It was so sweet. I get presents. I got asked out on a date. It was just so [fun]. I thought it was super cool. Also, I’m not – Saoirse and the boys obviously are the center of the craze. We laugh at Max because he was just – I don’t think he expected that either, you know, the girls and crying, “Oh my God, I love your accent.” It was just so funny. I love it. Already. They haven’t even seen the movie. You know what I mean. It’s so great.
Q: How did you keep the white outfit clean?
Diane: That’s a good question. I did not. Our costume designer, I was yelling at her because I was like, “This is impossible! Did the aliens figure out how to do laundry perfectly in the desert?” This is ridiculous. It was impossible to keep it clean. It was getting old.
Q: Were you a fan of Gattaca?
Diane: I was. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to be part of this. I love that moment when Jude Law was in the cubicle and he’s like scrubbing himself clean. That’s very much how Andrew was like. His sense of aesthetic is very sterile like this. He’s very involved in that.
Q: What kinds of things did he bring to the film that you wouldn’t have been able to imagine when you read the script?
Diane: The whole world. The white suits, the cars, the Seeker especially are described totally different in the book. Yeah, the whole world. He’s very involved in costume materials. Like I said, he helped me create the characters well or how he saw it. He’s definitely very hands on. He’s also a writer. That helps.
Q: What about the chrome aspect of it? Every machine is silver and looks so cool.
Diane: He is a guy right? Ridiculous in the desert, a shiny chrome Lotus… I felt like Justin Bieber. I swear to God.
Q: Just for fun, who are the most interesting – vampires or aliens?
Diane: I’ll let you choose. I don’t know. If you think of vampires at least they live forever. I don’t know. Aliens are pretty cool. I wouldn’t want to be a bacteria though. You would have to be in a body.
Q: How do you explain the popularity of the vampires, the zombies, the aliens, basically anything that’s radically different from us? What is it that we love so much about that concept?
Diane: I think precisely what you said because it’s so different. You can’t imagine it. It’s dangerous, the vampires. I don’t know. It’s sexy I guess. Not zombies so much. I don’t get the whole zombie thing. I got to be honest. Not for me. I don’t like horror. I always wonder if these people are okay. Because how is it okay to see someone be eaten alive. I don’t get it.
Q: Was it difficult at all to play a character that has to be quite emotionless?
Diane: I wouldn’t say emotionless. I would say just perfectly poised. I think she’s just always pleasant. It is weird to say some very mean things, and if you just say it matter-of-factly that’s scary.
Q: At what point did you know that you wanted to become an actress?
Diane: I think I was moving to Paris. I used to model and I moved to Paris. My favorite actress when I was little was Romy Schneider. I don’t know if you’re familiar with her. She lived in Paris for a long time and made a lot of French films. I discovered them and I moved to Paris and started to speak French. I didn’t know that you could become an actress. I come from a very small rural village in Germany. I always thought you had to be discovered or born into an artistic family. I just couldn’t even imagine how you would become an actor. I come from ballet so I loved being on stage and then I was in Paris and I met a couple of actors and I saw her films. I thought I could work here with an accent. They love the German accent in French. I went to drama school like classical theater school in France. It was like the moment I knew that’s what I was going to do. It’s amazing.
Q: Do you have some advice for youngsters who also want to become actors?
Diane: You really got to want it. You hear no more often than yes. It never stops even today. It’s like you hear no so much more than yes. I would bet you that even to Brad Pitt’s level that continues. Maybe not 80% no. It’s such an artistic thing. The director doesn’t necessarily see you in a part or you want to be in a movie and the movie is not going to happen. Or, you’re in a film and the movie comes out horrible. That’s the worst actually. You got to really, really want it.You have to have a lot of integrity because I think it’s much more challenging these days than it was maybe 30 years ago. There is a whole other layer of pressure especially for women in this industry.
Q: How so?
Diane: I think so. Every time you step on the red carpet, every time you go to the supermarket it’s, what does she wear? It’s so ridiculous. She looks fat. Who is she dating? There is no sense of mystery. Not that I want to be mysterious but I feel like I’m just an actress. I didn’t sign up for having people see me buy toilet paper. I don’t really understand that. I accept it because it’s part of what it’s become but I don’t know if you would have ever witnessed Mae West coming out of a supermarket with toilet paper like there is a weird disconnect.
Q: How do you keep self-esteem up in that environment?
Diane: That’s another thing. It’s really difficult because you get rejected so much. The critique that is so silly and unrealistic really. You have to be a very strong personality. That’s why a lot of actors have really toughed up because it does some really strange thing. Everybody thinks they know you and they really don’t. What’s really perverse is when you act you allow other people to see you in very vulnerable states. I feel actually I can’t watch my movies anymore very often because every time I have to do an emotional scene I feel like everybody knows what I was going through. Even though you give it freely because that’s what you do but it’s a weird perverse way of going through life.
Q: How do you stay grounded? Did you get some good advice from the specific people in your life?
Diane: I think it’s good advice from older actors and then you have to have your head straight on. I really believe that you have to. It took me way too long to figure out that I’m never going to have a better part, a more beautiful challenging part than my own life. But it takes you a long time to realize. There is so much anxiety especially in this city – the next gig, what’s the next job, who’s the next hot thing. Everybody is just looking at their own navel basically and tapping themselves on the shoulder. Everybody wants to be an actor, a writer, a director. I don’t understand how you can even try to bring a character to life that it goes through… I don’t know… losing your mom or losing anything in life if you sit in the fucking Chateau Marmont sipping cocktails every day. I don’t get it. It’s not realistic to me.
Q: I take it you don’t live here.
Diane: I live here part time but I choose… I had to make that decision one time like who do I want to be; do I want to be an accomplished person or do I want to be another actress. Maybe it’s also too, you know, you meet your partner, you meet somebody important in your life. I choose my life over any part.
Q: When you see a young actress like Saoirse who seems quite brave with her emotional choices, does that impress you?
Diane: It does. She is wholly totally different – if I could have been as brave as she when I was 19 I don’t know, I would probably be a different person. She grew up in front of the cameras. Both her parents are actors. I think she’s a different breed of human. You look at her, I mean, I see that she’s a young woman but I could probably sit down and have dinner with her and don’t feel like there is actually an age gap between us if that makes sense. Which is a little scary but at the same I can only plod her for it because she’s probably going to have a much better chance surviving in this business than the angst ridden teenage girl that they just pluck from oblivion.
Q: She’s a little bit like a Jodie Foster.
Diane: Yeah I think. You look at Jodie Foster and you can see she’s become a real person.
Q: Are there any actors working today that you look up to?
Diane: Many. I admire a lot of actors actually. I’ve also learned that no career is ever going to be the same. The choices one person makes you might never get the opportunity to make those choices. The scary part is you don’t know.
Q: Would you create your own material?
Diane: I’m trying. It’s hard. I’m trying, the biography to Hedy Lamarr. If you know who she was. I’m trying to make that into a mini-series actually. We just found producers Gene Kelly who does Boardwalk Empire, is going to help me hopefully put it together.