Set in contemporary New York City, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones tells the story of Clary Fray (Lily Collins), a seemingly ordinary teenager who discovers that she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret organization of young half-angel warriors in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. Adapted from the book by Cassandra Clare, action-adventure fantasy also stars Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Lena Headey, CCH Pounder and Aidan Turner.
While at Comic-Con to promote the film and share footage with fans, actor Jamie Campbell Bower (“Jace Wayland”) spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about what initially drew him to this role, getting to live out a bit of a rock star fantasy playing Jace , that he had a mood board with pictures in his trailer to help him get into character, how proud he is of the finished film, how pumped he was to work with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and that they’re looking ahead to the second film, which has already been greenlit. Check out what he said after the jump.
JAMIE CAMPBELL BOWER: I know, right?!
Now you can actually show a little more of the film to people.
BOWER: I can actually enjoy it. I can talk about it now. Even by the time we started shooting, I’d already felt that I shot the movie. I got cast two and half years ago, so this has been a two and a half year process for me. It’s crazy to think about it that way. It’s a really long time.
With no end in sight, now that the second one’s already been greenlit.
BOWER: Oh, gosh, don’t say that! You’re going to give me anxiety. I’ll have a panic attack. But, I get to play a really cool dude.
Did Jace feel a bit like living out a rock star fantasy, especially with his look?
BOWER: Well, that’s something that I wanted to bring to the table when I was working on Jace. We had a lot of discussions, as to whether to make him big or small. Originally, we were going for the big jock type, but I was like, “I don’t know if I dig it.” I see him much more as a rock star. I look at my cousins, or friends of my brother’s – and he’s 19 now – when they were younger they were into like the damaged rock star. It’s attractive. And I’m bored of seeing a fucking jock. I have to say, I’m bored of it.
It feels much more unexpected and dangerous, when you don’t know what someone is capable of.
BOWER: Yeah. And I did everything that you see, so there. No matter how it is that I look, I’m pretty strong now. Yeah, I’m lean, but I’m pretty strong. You can look at me and think that I can’t do any of it, but I did it all.
Have you had any break between having played this character on the first film and going into training for the second film?
BOWER: Yeah, I had a bit of a break. I took myself away on holiday, in January. I just needed to get out of this headspace. Jace pretty much consumed me. I needed to get out of that, so I went surfing and it was amazing. It was sunny, beautiful, gorgeous and lovely. And now. we’re promoting this, and then I’ve got a week or two, and then I go back. So, we’ll see.
BOWER: I’m still doing the same thing. I haven’t stopped training since the movie shot. Since the movie finished shooting, I have still trained. There’s a lot of stuff that Will Smith says, but Will Smith once said, “It’s better to be prepared than to get ready.”
Especially with something like this, where you really have a lot of physical work.
BOWER: Yeah. Before I was cast, I was slightly out of shape. It took a lot of effort to get to where I am now, so I like to keep that. I like to respect that. I thought I was in great shape, until I started training. I was not in good shape, at all. I could barely run. I could barely walk.
Does it get easier? Can you ever get comfortable with it?
BOWER: Yeah, absolutely! I can push myself further and further, every day. Before, 30 minutes on the treadmill would kill me, but right now, 30 minutes is a warm-up. I’m on for an hour and a half, and then I’m doing weights. I start off at 20s, and then I’m moving on to like 40s. It’s sick. I love it. I always find myself just going, “I can’t believe I just did that!” It’s not like I’m proud of myself, I’m just a bit shocked like, “Oh, that just happened!”
When you first got the sides and you read about this character, what was it that initially drew you to him and made you want to play him? And now that you’ve done the film, does it feel like it ended up anything like you thought it would, when you went into it?
BOWER: What I first saw in Jace was just this vulnerability to him, and I really connected with that. For me, what I wanted to push, more than anything else, is that vulnerability and that sense of loss and longing. That’s what I took from him. With the original sides that I got, there was a character description there saying that he’s a cross between Jim Morrison and Spider-Man, which I love. I love that rock star image, and that was something that stuck with me. I made a mood board, and I put up pictures on my mood board and stuck it up on my trailer, so that every day when I would go in, I’d see it and be able to connect to it. I’m not method, but I do need a reminder of what I’m doing, half the time.
BOWER: No, it’s the first time I’ve ever done that. This meant so much to me. It was so important that I got it right because of the fact that people love him so much. I wanted to do everything within my power to make this as good as possible.
Can you feel like you achieved what you wanted to with the film, or are you your own worst critic?
BOWER: Oh, I’m my harshest critic. I’m fucking English. I’m self-deprecating, at the best of times. Self-loathing is a normal day for me. I saw the final cut of the movie, for the first time, three days ago, and it’s embarrassing to say, but I’m super stoked. I’m so happy with it. I’m so proud of it. I’m so proud that I got to be a part of it, and I’m actually proud of myself. And saying that is difficult for me because it’s not what I do. This is a sick film. I’m really proud of it.
Was it fun to get to see it with all of the effects finished?
BOWER: Yeah, I think it’s exciting to see that, but we always had books that we would be able to go through and look at, to help us understand what it was that we were meant to be looking at. Harald said, “This is the institute, but just look at it and imagine a castle.” I was like, “Okay, what kind of castle?” Everyone’s got their own different vision, so he’d say, “This is actually what we’re going for, and you’d go, “Oh, wicked!”
When you take on something like this, that has pressure from the fans of the book, is it reassuring that there’s a group of you that are around the same age, that worked on the film together and can go through all of this?
BOWER: Yeah, of course! We formed a real connection, and all of us have this real bond now. So, yeah, absolutely! It’s lovely to have that with anyone.
There are some really cool older actors on this film, as well. Is there anyone you were most excited about working with?
BOWER: I was pumped to work with [Jonathan] Rhys Meyers. He and I have worked on separate things, but with the same teams. He did The Tudors and I did Camelot, with the same team. Our paths have always crossed, and a lot of people say that we look quite similar, so I was stoked to work with him. And he brought this intense thing out of me. When you see it, you will see what I mean. There’s this intense thing that he brings out of me, which I’ve never fucking seen in anything that I’ve done before. So, it was pretty cool to work with that.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opens in theaters on August 21st.