Based on the best-selling book series from author Richelle Mead, Vampire Academy tells the story of half-vampire/half-human guardian Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and her royal Moroi vampire best friend Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry). As two 17-year-old girls trying to survive the perils of Moroi society and high school, Rose will sacrifice everything to protect Lissa from those who are putting her life in jeopardy. From director Mark Waters (Mean Girls) and writer Dan Waters (Heathers), the film also stars Danila Kozlovsky, Dominic Sherwood, Sarah Hyland, Cameron Monaghan and Sami Gayle.
At the film’s press day, actress Zoey Deutch spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how she got involved with the film, how much insight she got about her character from the book, the dream sequence that’s been added, that it’s such a quotable film, the extensive training she had to go through, the scene she was most excited to see the final product of, and what it was like to work with co-star Lucy Fry. She also talked about her next film, Midnight Rider, about the Allman Brothers. Check out what she had to say after the jump.
ZOEY DEUTCH: I saw Mark’s name attached to it. I love Mark. I’m a huge fan of his. So, I auditioned for it, and I fell in love with Rose. It’s very rare that you get a part that you actually like. People have a misconception, whether it be because actors lie or because you’re reading interviews from giantly, massively famous actors, but you don’t just get offered parts, all the time. You actually have to work to get them. It’s a rarity to get one that you actually like, when you’re not already established. But, this was exciting because it was a great character and something that’s never been done before, and I also got it.
If you were going to do one of these young adult adaptations, especially one that is a vampire story, was it important to you that it be different from what’s already out there?
DEUTCH: I think so, yeah. It is important. And I do think it stands alone.
Had you been familiar with these books, at all?
DEUTCH: I had heard of them, absolutely. But, I hadn’t read them yet. I read some prior to filming.
Did it help give you added insight?
DEUTCH: Absolutely! It was a gift to essentially have Rose’s diary in front of me. It’s from the perspective of the character that I play, so before I filmed certain scenes that were directly taken from the book, I would go back and re-read them on set and remember what Richelle wrote about Rose’s through process and how she was feeling about certain things. It really helped.
When and how did you realize just how popular these books are?
DEUTCH: Pretty much the second I auditioned for it, I went online and Googled it, and I saw how passionate and avid these fans were.
During filming, did you try to avoid social media, so that it didn’t affect you?
DEUTCH: It didn’t really affect you that much. Yes, it’s vital and wildly important to honor the fans. I am all about that, and I think we did. But, we’re never going to make everybody happy. It would make us miserable to try, and it’s just not possible. I went to middle school in L.A., so I was nitpicked for every little thing I did and every way I looked. I was fully prepared for something like this to happen, funnily enough, from middle school. People not approving of me as the casting choice didn’t really affect me ‘cause I knew that I put the work in and I felt like I was portraying the character honestly. For myself, that’s the best I can do.
Were you worried, at all, about the film being a bit different from the book, or do you think that works to its advantage?
DEUTCH: I think the only difference from the book to the movie is a little bit of the tone. There’s a lot more humor in this. Also, there is one dream sequence that’s added, just to make the beginning a little bit more action-packed. In a lot of ways, that was brilliant of the people behind the movie because it doesn’t change the storyline, at all. It just adds another action sequence. There’s nothing that changes about the plot, so it doesn’t stray away from the story in the original book, which I thought was interesting.
Mean Girls and Heathers (which Mark and Dan Waters are responsible for, respectively) are two movies that have been quoted by countless people, and this movie definitely has some of that type of dialogue, wouldn’t you agree?
DEUTCH: Oh, I think it’s such a quotable film. There are so many crazy one-liners, and I got to say most of the fantastic ones. I was lucky. I loved them! It would be awesome, if that happens. That would be really cool.
Were you familiar with the previous work that Mark and Dan Waters have done?
DEUTCH: Yeah. What’s funny is that my two best friends are siblings, and their godfather is Dan Waters. My two best friends’ father was an alter boy with Dan and Mark, when they grew up together. They’ve known each other forever. So, I was not only familiar with their work, but I was also familiar with them.
What sort of training did you have to go through for this?
DEUTCH: I did about three months of gym training, jujitsu, krav maga and kickboxing. And then, I worked throughout filming, as well, during lunch and on my day off. That was definitely a challenge, but I’m so grateful for the experience because it was something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to take self-defense classes and I never did, for whatever reason. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was fear or time, or whatever stops people from doing things that they want to do. I’m not quite sure. But, it was fun. I definitely feel stronger and more able to protect myself.
Did you take to the physical work pretty easily, or was some more challenging than others?
DEUTCH: I didn’t necessarily take easily to the gym part. But, I’m a very persistent person. Once I start something, I go all out. I don’t really slack, when it comes to reaching a goal. So, I really didn’t like the gym aspect of the training because it’s boring and there are germs everywhere. I had never even set foot in a gym, prior to acquiring the role of Rose, which Rose would probably agree with. I think she hates that. But, the kickboxing and the martial arts is so fun. It’s like anything in school. You’re not going to retain information unless you’re interested in it, and I was interested in the kicks and the punches. I felt like I could utilize that in my real life, and not just in fake land. I’ve always done yoga for my breathing, and hiking for my mind, but I was also exercising, at the same time.
Was there a scene or sequence that you were most excited to see the final product of?
DEUTCH: The one I was most excited to see the final product of was the final fight sequence, with a certain reveal of somebody. That was a really brutal shoot. We had no time and it was exhausting, but I knew it was going to turn out cool. I could tell. And I loved that set. The set designer was amazing. It’s important to note that this is essentially an indie movie, in the franchise studio world. It’s being compared to these giant, $100 million and $200 million films, but I’m like, “This is an indie movie.” That’s one of the things that I loved about it. It wasn’t made for too much, and the sets were really unique and cool.
DEUTCH: I pretty much became friends with her, right off the bat. At the audition, I already started trying to protect her. She was going to take a bus from two parts of the city where I was like, “This is not right, at night. I’m driving you home.” So, our relationship immediately felt as if it mirrored Rose and Lissa’s, which is so nice. I’m not necessarily a fan of intentionally doing that. It can screw things up and make it a bit messy. But, it just happened.
What are you going to be working on next?
DEUTCH: I’m doing a movie called Midnight Rider, after the press tour for Vampire Academy. It’s about the Allman Brothers, and I’m an amalgamation of a bunch of different women in their lives. I’m the female lead of the story. I’m very, very excited. There are really great actors involved and a super cool director. It’s just very different from anything I’ve ever done.
Had you been familiar with the Allman Brothers, before this?
DEUTCH: I was, but it’s all I listen to now. I’ve got the autobiography of Gregg Allman. I’ve got every single album. I’ve got it all. Whatever you need. Any info. on them, I’ve got. So, I’m super excited about that. It’s more the kind of stuff I want to be venturing into. But truth be told, I want diversity and I want longevity, which I think sometimes go hand-in-hand.
Vampire Academy opens in theaters on February 7th.