Within the often puritanical world of young adult fiction, The Mortal Instruments offers a uniquely complex portrayal of sexuality – embodied by the character of Magnus Bane, played by newcomer Godfrey Gao. First appearing on screen like a polyamorous Hugh Hefner in make-up, a robe and boxer briefs, Gao’s presence is initially shocking, particularly given the main character Clary’s decidedly understated representation of her own sexuality, but Gao imbues the character with dignity as he deals with the particulars of character and plot in a starkly un-flamboyant way.
Collider sat down with Gao at the Los Angeles press day for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, where the young actor talked about the great opportunities he enjoyed working on the budding franchise as part of its dynamic acting ensemble. Additionally, he offered some brief insights into the work he did to prepare the character for future installments, and discussed the often unique costumes that character have to wear when they’re part of secret, supernatural societies like the one in the film.
The best fantasy material explores a deeper theme of some kind – and given that criteria, Jared Harris insists that The Mortal Instruments fits comfortably into the ranks of classic series. The story of a young woman named Clary who discovers that she’s a key player in a supernatural world that hides from the real one she knows, the bestselling book series by Cassandra Clare has already won millions of fans and become a beloved property that allows its readers to transport themselves to a different time and place. Harris, meanwhile, plays Hodge, a mentor figure for Clary who holds the secrets that bind her to these two worlds, and he offers his expertise both as a character and an actor to give the film its drama.
Collider sat down with Harris at the Los Angeles press day for The Mortal Instruments, where the actor talked about the opportunities he’s enjoyed in playing so many different roles in as many different kinds of projects. In addition to talking about the challenges of working on one film which seems destined to become a series, he talked about the grounding influence of practical production, and reflected on the deeper ideas that City of Bones explores which he thinks will resonate with its viewers.
Although Lily Collins made her Hollywood breakthrough playing Snow White, she wasn’t content to play a damsel in distress – and Tarsem’s film of the same name rebranded the iconic fairy tale character as a heroine to be reckoned with. In her latest big role, in Harald Zwart’s adaptation of The Mortal Instruments, she continues that trajectory of imperiled young women who end up rescuing themselves: she plays Clary, an average New York teenager who finds herself fighting evil forces after discovering secret powers – as a “Shadow Hunter” — that she inherited from her mother.
That said, the formidable leading lady has some equally strong counterparts to keep her company on screen, played by Jamie Campbell-Bower and Kevin Zegers, two seasoned Shadow Hunters who help her get oriented in the world of supernatural forces that lurks beneath our own. Collider sat down with the trio of young actors at the recent Los Angeles press day for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, where they revealed a few details about the secret society their characters are a part of, and offered some insights on playing roles that they know – or hope at least – that they will be reprising for years to come.
Harald Zwart has been working steadily in Hollywood for more than a decade, but when he enjoyed enormous commercial success in 2010 with his remake of The Karate Kid, he put that box office muscle behind a passion project. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is the first film in a proposed series of adaptations of Cassandra Clare’s novels, and he undertook the project in order to give his daughter a big-screen heroine she could look up to – in the process doing the same for millions of other young women around the world.
At the recent Los Angeles press day for City of Bones, Zwart talked with Collider about the inspiration for undertaking the series, working on releasing one film while already being in the process of preparing its sequel, and about a few of the surprises and easter eggs fans might get to see when it hits home video.
“It’s a man on a mission with something that everybody wants,” Allen Hughes said of the story for The Book of Eli, his forthcoming action film starring Denzel Washington. “It’s pretty simple. One man is trying to get something somewhere.”
In late March of 2009, Collider visited the New Mexico set of the film, and we were met by torrential waves of dust and debris that filled every last nook and cranny in about five minutes. Unfortunately, we were there for about ten hours.
Hughes, who is co-directing with his brother Albert, explained how the film’s postapocalyptic world came to look quite so unhospitable. “We allude to a nuclear war, he said. “We also talk about what happened environmentally; it’s a combination of a lot of things – diseases, famine, war. It started with a war and now the whole system’s collapsed.”
Albert, meanwhile, detailed the story’s origins. “[Gary Whitta] is from the video game world, and he probably liked a lot of the post-apocalyptic movies,” Hughes said. “I thought it was interesting, the kind of spiritual or religious angle he had on it. It’s not based on any particular thing that I know of, [but] I mean, it does hint towards a lot of other movies.” When asked whether the film had a Western influence, Albert indicated that they were shying away from direct references to films, much less familiar genres. Much more after the jump:
Six months ago or so, Collider enjoyed the rare opportunity to visit the set of The Book of Eli, Allen and Albert Hughes’ postapocalyptic thriller about a laconic hero (Denzel Washington) who battles a shrewd but ruthless mercenary (Gary Oldman) and picks up a plucky barkeep (played by Mila Kunis) while walking across country to deliver a mysterious book. The day we were on set, however, there wasn’t a lot of book-bringing; rather, a massive firefight erupted outside a rickety, dilapidated house as we huddled inside a wind-whipped tent, futilely attempting to shield ourselves from billowing, violent clouds of dust. In fact, the weather was so unhospitable that Eli himself, Denzel Washington, couldn’t get over to us to sit down (or even huddle) for a quick chat.
A few weeks later, the small group of attending journalists caught up with Washington via telephone, where he offered a few explanations about what we saw (and mostly couldn’t see), and revealed a few details about who Eli is, why he’s doing what he’s doing, and how it felt to work with heavyweights like Gary Oldman. Hit the jump for more:
Given the wealth of remakes, adaptations and updates on studio release schedules these days, movies made from original screenplays have become a rare commodity, at least for folks disinterested in Alvin and the Chipmunks. The Book of Eli was written by Gary Whitta, a newcomer with only one other credit to his IMDB resume – the forthcoming live-action version of Akira – and as directed by Allen and Albert Hughes, it promises to be more than the exception that proves the rule. Starring Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis and Gary Oldman, the film follows a lone warrior (Washington) as he navigates a dusty, violent, post-apocalyptic landscape, and Collider was recently invited to check out its fantastic, futuristic, and most of all dusty landscape.
The film was shot in New Mexico, the production location for several other recent blockbusters including Observe and Report and Terminator Salvation. The set we visited was a short distance from the Albuquerque airport, but by the time we arrived at the razed landfill where shooting was to take place, virtually all remnants of civilization were forgotten: tumbleweed (seriously) and dusty plains were the only sights for miles in every direction. Except, of course, for the set itself – a dilapidated house built especially for a big action set piece, some of which we hoped to watch as it was shot.