Some attractive young actors would jump at the first opportunity to make a movie being pitched as the next “Twilight,” but Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich were not initially interested in a teen fantasy when they heard about “Beautiful Creatures” — not until they actually read the script by Oscar-winning writer-director Richard LaGravenese. All it took was a few pages and Ehrenreich, 23, and Englert, 18, were ready to play star-crossed lovers Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes.
Moviefone spoke with the two young stars, and while they both know that comparisons to “Twilight” are inevitable, Ehrenreich and Englert are confident that grown-up as well as teen audiences will see the differences and will appreciate the mature romance –- not to mention the amazing cast — in “Beautiful Creatures.”
Moviefone: Alice, I read that you initially said “No” three times before considering the movie. Why is that?
Alice Englert: I hadn’t read the script yet. Three times I had heard the briefs, and I had just been through a Hollywood screen test experience and was reluctant to go down a road again that I thought was going to be a dead end. But the more they pursued me, the more I thought they were kind of mad, and if they’re mad they’re my kind of people. It really worked out, once I read the script and loved it.
How familiar were you with the books before you were in the movie? Did you read them before auditioning?
Alden Ehrenreich: I hadn’t heard of the books before I got cast. I got the part a week before we started shooting and was looking for anything that could help expedite my process of figuring out who my character was, so I started reading the book. I found it insightful as far as my character goes and just enjoyed living through some of the themes of the movie and understanding the story a little better for myself.
Englert: I created the character from the script. I decided to work simply from the script and wait to read the books until after the process was over.
The authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl said they got to know you guys. Did you reach out to them to help get into character?
Englert: They were wonderfully supportive and such a great presence when they did visit. It was wonderful to meet them and talk with them. Blindly we seem to have found what they were looking for in the characters.
Ehrenreich: They said something to me, which I thought was really cool. They said that they looked at this genre — and I don’t know this genre really well but they do — and that there are a lot of stories about guys being jerks to girls and portrayed as these cool, aloof, laconic characters. They wanted to create a story in which a guy could be literate, courteous, and good, and project that notion –- especially for younger girls.
That’s exactly right. So many guys in young adult novels are jerks who supposedly have a heart of gold.
Englert: The sad fact about this is that in reality most guys who act like jerks really are jerks!
Yeah, the older you get, the less that seems attractive.
Englert: I think a lot of people want people who actually have qualities they don’t find attractive as a way of being able to change them. It’s fascinating, because people think if they can change the other person, they can change themselves. It’s a complex phenomenon. It’s a fantasy that’s actually about being able to come to terms with ourselves.
The movie seems to have more kissing and romantic scenes than the book, in which Ethan and Lena are stuck in “best friend mode” for much longer.
Ehrenreich: That was Richard’s contribution to the story. He didn’t want to have the teenage sexuality aspect of it so minimized that it was unrealistic. He felt that these were two very passionate people seized with incredible passion about their relationship, willing to fight against supernatural forces, and if they didn’t have passion for each other, it wasn’t realistic. And it certainly wasn’t what I remember about high school.
Speaking of romance, chemistry is such an X-factor when it comes to actors. How did you work together to secure it, especially since you came on so late?
Ehrenreich: I think it’s a testament to Richard’s vision that he brought together so many people who are so like-minded. When Alice and I got into a room, we both knew that we had both been initially reluctant to do a film like this and were both convinced once we read the script and talked to Richard. So there was this mutual respect that Richard had gotten people together who were all on the same page — that we were going to do this genre movie but that it was going to have intelligence and wit and humor and some real ideas to it. Because of that, Alice and I had a real respect for each other when we first met, which broke the ice and could be relaxed and playful with each other.
When you’re working with not just an Oscar-winning screenwriter, but also Oscar-caliber actors, is there a sense of awe or intimidation?
Ehrenreich: All of that. When you initially hear that you are going to work with people of that caliber, it’s really exciting and a little intimidating. Once you meet them you realize all of them are so gracious. They were all kind to us and supportive and when you’re working with people at that level, it feels like you’re playing in the pros, and it feels more supportive than intimidating.
Do the constant comparisons with “Twilight” get old?
Ehrenreich: I think it’s understandable considering this is one of the first films being made on this level from this genre since “Twilight” ended. “Twilight” opened up this genre to a much larger audience, so I get it. But, I was saying I’m sure the first superhero movie after the original “Spider-Man” was called “Is this the next Spider-Man?” and now we just accept that there are lots of different superhero movies.
I think that’s what will happen with this genre. Young adult stories are such a popular literary trend, which I think is great, that it will continue to be a popular movie genre too. And there then will be so many of these films, that people will start talking about them with real adjectives instead of just holding them up to “Twilight” and other movies.