Max Irons & Jake Abel

“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 actors Max Irons and Jake Abel to speak about the film.

Q: When you first read this script were you wondering how it was going to work with the inner monologue?

Jake: The way Andrew wrote it – he’s a very talented writer obviously – the way he wrote it in the script, I thought it was pretty clear. It was voiceovers so we knew it was always going to be in our head. To see it it’s a bit jarring at first because it’s unexpected. I was surprised about how well it sort of blends in.

Max: What was interesting is Stephenie took it to some quite major studios before it came to Open Road. That was always the sticking point for them. They couldn’t quite get it. They suggested a couple of suggestions. Natalie would be there and suddenly the wonder of CGI sort of shadow would appear in the scene. There was another option which was sort of like the Matrix, like an empty space with two people existing in this space interacting. Stephenie always insisted that it was just a good actress was required.

Q: Did you read the book before filming?

Max: Yes.

Jake: Yeah. After I was cast I locked myself in a room and read the pages. It’s a long book. It’s a thick book. It’s a weapon.

Max: It’s a great resource to have because a scene, which was maybe half a page, might be told over six or seven pages in the book.

Jake: Or in Stephenie’s case 35.

Max: So you can take what you want which is nice.

Q: Was it easy to fall in love with an alien Jake?

Jake: Yeah but that’s all because of Saoirse. Any other actress I don’t know – that I know of – it would have been as easy. But look at her. I’m sure you’ve all talked to her. You fall in love with her just in the room just talking to her. So a pretty easy day to go and kiss her.

Q: You weren’t daunted by having to kiss the same girl one after the other?

Max: It was unusual.

Jake: It was unusual yeah. Luckily, I got to kiss her first.

Max: Someone threw out the expression sloppy seconds today for the first time.

Jake: It’s not surprise it was the first time.

Max: It was like the elephant in the room.

Jake: Yeah finally.

Max: But you know he’s got the minty fresh breath.

Jake: Always. It’s one thing I don’t know if you know about Americans, we always have minty fresh breath.

Max: Whereas the English we have terrible smoking breath.

Q: Did you guys relate to that situation of being in love with the wrong girl, I guess like someone that your parents or friends or whoever don’t approve of?

Jake: Yeah. I brought home a couple of girls and I later found out my parents were like, “I don’t know about that one.” And then the break up happens and they’re like, “Good.”

Max: Me too. Exactly the same, but then with a bit of time you realize that it was a close escape. Do you know what I mean?

Jake: Now I think about any of the girls that we’ve ever dated in our lives if they hear this, they’re going to wonder if it’s them. Name one.

Max: I have a bad habit of naming…

Jake: He has a bad habit naming people.

Max: I’ve named a lot people.

Q: Has that ever gotten you into trouble?

Max: No. I’ve been careful with that. It’s usually good things I’ve named people before… except one guy Michael Volkens who was a bully. {laughing}

Q: Were you bullied?

Max: I was.

Q: What were you bullied for?

Max: I had quite an unfortunate stage in my life where I had double vision as a kid. In those days, I had to wear these glasses – normal glasses are flat, they sit on your face like this. These ones stuck out. They were also yellow. I had really bad teeth. I had teeth sticking out of everywhere and big long hair. I spent a lot of the time playing in the bushes by myself. This kid Michael discovered that I was a bit of a bottom feeder. He used to meet me after school. I used to roll around in the school playground to make myself sick so I could go home early. As far as I know Michael is in prison now. Look who’s laughing now.

Q: Be careful because he can be out of prison someday.

Max: {laughing} Water under the bridge.

Q: How are the Twilight fans treating you so far? How is it getting into the fan base of Stephenie?

Jake: They’ve been great. They’ve been showing up at the book signings. Some of them they’ve had to cap off at a thousand people which is really shocking. They’ve all been very, very positive. A lot of the TwiHard celebrities as they are, the ones that are known had like the websites and blogs that are like famous in the community, they’ve been so nice and supportive of Stephenie’s work.

Max: We did meet one girl who had filed her own teeth down to be like fangs.

Q: What would someone do for this?

Max: I don’t know.

Jake: Tattoo her eyeballs obviously.

Max: Hopefully seek professional help.

Q: Diane told us there were a lot of girls crying and people loved your accent, Max.

Max: Diane’s got a chip on her shoulder about my accent. She doesn’t like it. It’s the German-English thing… we’ve never got on.

Q: How are you prepared if it goes like with Twilight and takes off completely

Jake: I don’t think you can prepare for anything like that. I don’t think those boys were able to prepare for anything like that because you can’t ever tell when it’s going to happen. My God that would be hard.

Max: Yeah, it would be impossible. However, I had stories of Robert being chased in the streets of Paris by French girls before they even started filming the first Twilight. That hasn’t happened to us.

Jake: But we haven’t been to France.

Max: Yeah. We were just speaking to a French journalist who said there are girls waiting in France for us.

Jake: Which Max is very excited about.

Max: I’m sort of excited about that. We’ll have to wait and see. If you think about that kind of thing too much; the superficial, the consequential side of what we do, I think it can drive you nuts. If it happens it happens. You roll with the punches. But just focus on what’s important which is making films.

Q: Would you both be willing to return if it becomes a sequel?

Jake: Absolutely. I believe we made somewhat of a gentleman’s agreement and everyone is I think pretty excited about the possibility.

Max: And I think it would be the same team, the same producer, same director. At least that’s what we’ve heard.

Jake: That’s what we would hope for.

Q: It would be interesting to see Wanda played by different actors.

Jake: Yeah. The girl that got to do it in The Host is…

Max: That’s out there isn’t it now?

Jake: Sort of but it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be a surprise I guess but she did a phenomenal job of taking what Saoirse did for three months and coming in two days early to watch dailies and pick it up and run with it.

Q: When did you get your glasses off?

Max: At 10 I got the glasses off. That didn’t really help. I still looked like a little freak. I got a haircut and braces when I was 13 and then I got my first girlfriend very soon after. A little bit superficial I suppose. Acting at 16 when I was at school. I did plays at school.

Q: Where did you go to school?

Max: A boarding school called Bryanston down in Dorset in England.

Q: How did your father [actor Jeremy Irons] react? Was he pleased?

Max: He was anxious for me, nervous. I think he recognized that Hollywood is quite a difficult place for actors of our age at the moment. You can be shot up in terms of fame and pay perhaps disproportionate to your talent – and I include myself in this. Unless you can sustain that kind of thing, you can be thrown under the bus, and there are a hundred people ready to take your place. So I think he’s anxious. I think the model for success is change since his day. They could fail in private. I think we fail very publicly.

Q: I imagine the audition process for this must have been huge, must have been a lot of guys wanting these roles.

Jake: I’m sure there was but it was…

Max: I did hear a thousand.

Jake: Yeah. But to be honest, I am still kind of concerned and shocked about how – it’s not easy but when big films like these usually you can go on four times or more and you have to do chemistry tests. There is a big studio going, ‘no, we don’t like him.’ Someone else is like, ‘but I do’ and there is a big fight. I’m convinced this is the only way to make movies. It’s technically a large budget independent film. Open Road is not a studio. It’s an independent film company as well as Nick Wechsler’s company. They hired a filmmaker that they trusted to make a movie and they let that filmmaker make a movie. It does not happen in the studio format unless you’re a Christopher Nolan or Guillermo del Toro or David Fincher. Unless you’re one of those guys it does not happen. Everyone’s got a finger in the pot. I forget my original point but I’m happy I said what I said.

Q: You said it was in a big casting process…

Jake: Yes thank you.

Max: I think we had two.

Jake: Yeah two which is shocking because my first one was for Jared and my second read was for Ian with Saoirse. That’s really unheard of with a film of this caliber and this much attention surrounding it.

Q: Who are more interesting vampires and aliens and why?

Max: Aliens.

Jake: Aliens because they can actually exist.

Max: They do exist. The alien thing in this story makes us ask some interesting questions of ourselves and how we’re conducting ourselves as a species. The Host is a lot more than a romance novel. I think it’s science fiction but it also poses those philosophical questions which if you want to hear them, take them away when you leave the theater, you can. If you just want the romance then that’s that too. Whereas vampires it’s just vampires. It’s just a sexy metaphor.

Q: Aliens have pretty eyes.

Jake: Yeah. And we have those dirty cave people and dirty cave love. {laughs}

Diane Kruger

Saoirse Ronan