Meet The Rising Stars of ’Beautiful Creatures’
With the five movies of "The Twilight Saga" making more than $3.3 billion in worldwide box office to date, Hollywood studios understand that there is a huge market for films of the Young Adult genre. Teenage girls identify with their female protagonists, while gay men are lured by their often shirtless men as eye candy and campier aspects. As "The Twilight Saga" sees the last rays of light in the theaters, various projects are underway to tap into this demanding market. The first installment of four "The Hunger Games" movies exceeded expectations with a $408 million domestic box office that ranked it only behind "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises" in the U.S. last year.
Now comes "Beautiful Creatures," adapted from the novels by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It is a supernatural love story about a teenage girl, Lena, who discovers her special powers and has to decide which side, the light or dark, to cross over as she turns sixteen. Lena moves to a small town in Louisiana with her uncle before this important transition. Ethan, the high school jock, however, has been having recurring dreams of being struck by lightning whenever he gets a closer view of an intriguing woman in a Civil War battlefield. Being the odd new girl in a small town makes her the target of Bible-quoting girl bullies, while her first crush with Ethan will potentially have an impact on her destiny.
Alcon Entertainment, is pulling all the stops to raise the film’s pedigree, employing Richard LaGravenese ("Living Out Loud," "P.S. I Love You") as the director and filling the supporting cast with Oscar winners and nominees like Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Viola Davis. At the film’s core are two promising young actors: Alice Englert, daughter of director Jane Campion ("The Piano," "The Portrait of a Lady"), and Steven Spielberg discovery (at a bar mitzvah) Alden Ehrenreich. Englert stars with Elle Fanning in the upcoming British teen drama "Ginger and Rosa," as well as stars with Josh Hartnett in the epic romance story "Singularity" (out in May); while Ehrenreich was featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s 2007 indie "Tetro" and in Woody Allen’s upcoming "Blue Jasmine." Both actors are already signed on for the next two movies if "Beautiful Creatures" indeed makes a splash this Valentine’s Day.
Early reviews are favorable. Peter Debruge of Variety describes the film: "Southern goth-chic gets a swoony supernatural makeover... a feverishly enjoyable guilty pleasure, unapologetic in its mass-market rebel ’tude." The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy praises, though somewhat reservedly, "Nicely cast and made with as much conviction as can be brought to something so intrinsically formulaic... and adequate, if less exotic, substitute (for the "Twilight" series).
EDGE talks to the movie’s two young leads, Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich, about their roles in the hopeful franchise starter.
EDGE: What appeals to you the most about your character?
Alice Englert: What I love about Lena was she wasn’t just your typical teen -- antsy, a cliché; which I think is generally just what people write if they forgot what it was like to be young. But there is wisdom in youth and passion, nor is she written in a condescending manner, or just to be cool. These are just people with all their faults in place.
Alden Ehrenreich: Sometimes when you read scripts about teenagers, there were a lot of like, "Hey Bro! Let’s skip on down to the flip side!" All that slang that makes it hard to relate to.
Alice Englert: They would not say "skip."
Alden Ehrenreich: No, that’s just a word I made up. Well, my character Ethan, has this restlessness in wanting more out of the world than what is provided for him. He lives in this small town. He looks around this small town and hates living there. I just like that dissatisfaction, I guess I like wanting things to be bigger and better and clearer.
EDGE: You feel that it’s something you can relate to?
Alden Ehrenreich: Yes. Within the first three pages of reading the script I knew I wanted to do the film. Because my character narrates the story, I could tell what his point of view, and attitude about the world, is. It’s like you meet somebody and you have chemistry with them. I just had chemistry with his point of view and I liked that.
Laugh is the thing
EDGE: As young actors, what qualities do you bring to your characters?
Alice Englert: That’s a new question! Youth, maybe? It’s funny, I wonder. I think what I was able to bring to her was, what I really understood was the "moving" thing (Lena was constantly being uprooted from one place to another). Those barriers that you put up when you do not spend a lot of time in one place. I understood her idea of saying "hello" was the beginning of saying "goodbye." That’s just how it is. You meet and you leave. I understood that and could relate.
Alden Ehrenreich: The authors told me that they felt that all the guys in the young adult romance genre, (jokes) which is different from adult romance...
Alice Englert: Adult romance is a lot more raunchy, right?
Alden Ehrenreich: Right. In the young adult romance genre, these male characters were these cold, aloof, mean guys, bad boys basically. What they (the filmmakers) wanted was a character that people can relate to -- a good guy who read books and was nice. So that’s what I like about the character, I found him admirable. He had good character and was a good guy. He was upbeat. I try to bring some ’upbeatness’ to it. I’ve a very upsetting and disorienting laugh that people in restaurants turn (breaks into a squeaking high pitch laugh). So I bring more of that.
EDGE: What is the scene that is most memorable to you?
Alden Ehrenreich: Mine was a scene that was cut out of the movie (both laugh)
Alice Englert: Which one?
Alden Ehrenreich: The swamp. We shot in this swamp. I got to be in this boat by myself with an oar in this incredible environment with all these creatures and insects and alligators and stuff like that. It was amazing.
Alice Englert: We sat in these cinema seats that were put on a hill during this civil war flashback that they were having in the storyline. It was a scene that again, we didn’t use (in the final film). So these memories, we will just remember.
Alden Ehrenreich: We could just be making this up!
Alice Englert: They sat us there with popcorn and Coke, and we just watched Civil War re-enactments!
"Beautiful Creatures" is in theaters.