The Mortal Instruments Cast Interview
The Mortal Instruments Cast Interview
The cast of epic action-fantasy The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, talk to View about the pressures of working on a highly anticipated feature, some of the otherworldly sets included in the film, the tense love triangle between characters, and which superpowers they would choose in the real world.
Harald, you've directed coming-of-age stories before, usually featuring a male as the lead. Was the idea of telling a coming-of-age story with such a strong female character in the lead role one of the things that attracted you to this film?

Harald Zwart

Yeah, you could say that Karate Kid was good for my son, and this one was for Stella, my daughter, who needs some good role models. She's way too young to see the movie, but she saw it before the monsters were added, so she loved it then. Now I think she's going to be terrified.
Because it really doesn't pull any punches. The demon dog at the beginning, that's something out of a nightmare...

Harald Zwart

People ask me, 'Didn't you consider your audience?' and I just wanted to make a really great movie that I loved to watch too. To dumb things down just because people are young, I don't think we need to do that. I think they can take quite a few things. Audiences today are much more sophisticated than when I was young - which isn't that long ago, by the way.

I think people like to be scared. I was constantly thinking, 'What would I show my own kids?'. I think as long as there's not too much gore and blood, that speculative action, or actually girls in jeopardy, which I think is a little boring after a while, they need to stand up for themselves. I think they can absolutely take a few good jumps. I was inspired by The Exorcist, and the original Thing, I love the idea of something cracking apart and trying to reassemble itself. I try to make it as realistic as possible.
While we're on the subject of a female character who isn't in any way the damsel in distress - Lily, I imagine your character is a dream for an actress to play because she is that rare thing, a really strong female lead character in a film. Is that what attracted you to the part?

Lily Collins

Yeah, I guess the fact that Clary is very normal. She cries, she's confused, she's going through an identity crisis. Which I know I sure did, I don't think anyone really ever fully gets over [that], but she embraces that, and she finds the strengths and her weaknesses. She ends up kicking major butt and hanging with the guys. But all the while, still having those very feminine, young girl moments that make her very real. It's this journey that she goes on, but never losing sight of how she actually is very normal as well. It's too easy to play it very superhuman, but that's not relatable to the normal person. That's what drew me to her.
On the subject of kicking butt - and she does kick butt - Jace is a cool guy, he's like the guy most guys would like to be. He's a mysterious stranger who turns up, is incredibly charming, and can slay demons with one hand tied behind his back. He must have been a fun role?

Jamie Campbell Bower

He's everything that I'm not, basically! Performance is always a very cathartic process for me. I'm not particularly cool, put it that way. He was a great character to play. It was tough. I put a lot of work and a lot of effort into it. A lot of the characters that I've played beforehand have been fairly, let's say, soft. Or rounded...physically.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, whichever way you look at it, you have the book, and there's a guy there with his shirt off and he's looking pretty buff, and I had to get into that physical shape. I've always liked to push myself, I've always liked to challenge myself in some way. Without that, I'd be getting quite bored, I have quite a short attention span. It was fun, and it was difficult. Learning how to hone my skills in terms of stunts and fighting was a real joy. I did come out of it the other side going, 'Oh, thank god it's Christmas'.
The other character out of the triumvirate is Simon. He’s kind of the eyes and ears of the audience, to this fantastical world. He deals with seeing a lot of this stuff in a very funny way. I loved the line, 'The werewolves are coming to save us. I never thought I'd say that'. Was he a fun character for you to play, or did you want a sword in your hand and to help with the demon slaying?

Robert Sheehan

There's always comedy to be juiced from being the guy at the back of the group who's not doing any of the slaying. He's doing all the cowering. Also, tumbling into this world and being the normal eyes in this very abnormal world, makes you frown and ask, 'What the hell is going on?', every five or ten minutes. It's true, the audience do need someone like that, and it is myself, and it's also Lily's character Clary, who's very much the normal character tumbling into this crazy world. It was lovely fun.

The good thing about Simon and about keeping that was Harald saying, 'Look, it's got to be real'. My instinct tends to be toward performance and towards gesticulating wildly in every direction. You may have seen it in my other work! But it was very much Harald reigning me back and going, 'It's got to be real, it's got to be absolutely real, this guy is very normal, somewhat elitist, somewhat bookish'. It was a new discovery for me, and it was real fun. Really really enjoyable.
You filmed in a lot of amazing sets, is there one you enjoyed filming at particularly?

Lily Collins

The first one that I remember, my jaw dropped, and very reminiscent of the scene actually - Jamie opened the door to the institute library for me to see it for the first time, and I just stood there with my mouth open, just like Clary. I was a huge fan of the books before I was cast, so you automatically picture what you assume it's going to look like.

For me it was hands down exactly how I pictured, if not even better. The depth of the sets, and the intricacy of all the props that you never even saw. There were bookcases of books, you'd think was just the spine of a book, but it was complete novels you never really knew existed. And all the weapons and the things that were made for it. So really that set to me was just pure magic.
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Content updated: 23/02/2020 01:15

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