One of the things I’ve been most jealous of since reading the script is Daniel Waters’s hilarious dialogue! Man, I wish I’d written some of that. When you guys actually get snippets of scenes and the characters talking, you’re going to love it. It’s so funny at times…and so serious and poignant at the others. He’s a master.
But on to your actual question about visuals. I LOVE what they did. There are so many things that they just took and made visually bigger and better than my initial imaginings. I can envision a lot of things, but my main focus when writing a book is character, dialogue, and emotion. And I can get away with describing my settings in minimal detail because you, my readers, do some of the work for me with your imaginations. But the set designers have to take care of every detail. They don’t have the same outs that I have. Fortunately, visuals are their specialty. Whatever I can imagine, they imagine a hundred times more. One of the most stunning sets in the whole movie is the chapel attic. What’s especially amazing about it is that they actually built it. Some scenes, like the classrooms, were filmed on location in real places. But they made the chapel from scratch, and it’s breathtaking. When you put Lissa and Christian into that for their first meeting…well, I can’t even describe how powerful that is.
+(Read more from our exclusive interview underneath!)
Teasers for other films usually don't show as much footage or key scenes as this one did, so we were pleasantly surprised to say the least! We were lucky enough to get a glimpse of several characters (Victor, Queen Tatiana, Mia, Kirova, etc.) From what we saw, what are your thoughts on the way they've presented these characters and what did you like the most?
I love what they did with these characters. Those four are among the trickiest characters in the story to write, and what I like best is that the moviemakers cast people who are capable of pulling off the dark and light sides within each of those four. Tatiana is particularly complex. We all want to punch her for a lot of the series…and yet, can she really be all that bad when we know Adrian loves her so much? She’s got her bitch side and her soft side, and it takes a very, very skilled actress to manage that. So, it’s a dream come true that they got someone like Joely Richardson who can make that happen. The director and casting director made very smart decisions in choosing everyone. Sami Gayle brings that same duality to Mia, which is incredible because she’s also the youngest actress in the main cast. She’s a minor, and her mom had to be on set every day. How she can pull off Mia’s feistiness and vulnerability at such a young age is beyond me. And I think it’s so neat that they cast Kirova younger than I wrote her. Too often, there’s this stereotype that young, attractive women can’t be powerful leaders. Olga Kurylenko clearly proves otherwise, and she definitely does a great job in that sometimes-Rose’s-enemy-sometimes-ally role.
As for Gabriel Byrne…ah, Gabriel. Can I say right now how jealous I am that VA graphic artist Emma Vieceli got to meet him when she visited the set? He was done with Victor’s role by the time I made my visit, but she said he was a perfect gentleman! So. Jealous. I’ve been a longtime fan of his, and when I heard he was cast, well…let’s just say there was a lot of fangirling here at Casa Mead. He only got a quick glimpse in the trailer, but I’ve seen footage of him as Victor, and fans of the book know what a big range he has to play. I’m here to tell you: he owns that part. Just wait.There are a few things in the trailer that have stirred fans up. Most of the reactions have been positive, but there has also been a bit of skepticism. As we should expect, there will be additions and changes in the movie that weren't exactly in the book. Now that people have settled down and have been able to look at it more in depth, are there any prevalent concerns you would like to further comment on?
Well, I stand by what I’ve always said: this movie is incredibly true to the book. I know people sometimes don’t like any change at all, no matter how small, but it is absolutely impossible to not make adjustments when transitioning between two art forms like this. But if I asked you to make a list of all the most important points in the book, I feel pretty confident your list would match what’s in the movie. This isn’t one of those book-to-movie adaptations that’s unrecognizable from the original. When you see this, you’ll know it’s VA. I think people got confused by some scenes in the trailer because they were edited together in such a short time period and had no context. It’s going to make much more sense when you see longer trailers and, of course, the movie itself.
I think what astonished me the most was a fan who was upset because they thought Kirova and Christian were making out. I would be pissed off too…if that were in any way what was even close to happening in that scene. Believe me, it’s not. I know people really want to know the story behind the desk scene, but I can’t tell you. What I can say is it’s a very clever interpretation of a key plot point in the book that wouldn’t have worked so well visually if it had been imported straight off the page. It works in the book but would be boring on the screen. What they did with it is anything but boring (got your attention, didn’t it?) and still plays its essential role in one of the subplots. When you see it and realize what’s happening, trust me, you’ll say, “Ahh…I get it!”
Fans have eagerly awaited seeing Zoey, Danila, Lucy and Dominic in character for the first time. We loved how much chemistry was able to show through the teaser for their respective relationships. How would you describe the dynamic these four have built and what elements do you think they've brought to the characters?
What’s special about this cast and this film is the wonderful chemistry and closeness they have off camera. When I was on set, Danila wasn’t there during the first half of the day, and when he did arrive later, you should’ve seen how happy everyone was and how they greeted him. He and Zoey exchanged friendly kisses on the cheek and called each other darling. Then, between takes, I would see Zoey and Lucy sitting and talking together, just as closely as you’d expect best friends Rose and Lissa. I saw Zoey and Cameron banter like Rose and Mason. I heard Dominic make funny quips. Now, of course, these actors aren’t the characters, but they get them. They understand their personalities and how they interact with each other, and that is HUGE for me. And it’s going to be huge for you when you actually get to see some scenes being acted out.
Last but definitely not least, the highly anticipated lust scene. Most fans were blindsided (in a good—no, GREAT way) by the fact that it had already made it into the very first teaser trailer! Despite it being just a snippet, we were overwhelmingly pleased. Were everyone's reactions better than you expected and did you have any favorite fan reactions?
When I saw it was in there, I thought, “Oh, man. There’s going to be a lot of screaming forty-three seconds into this!” And I’m fairly sure I was right, based on the reactions I’ve seen online. Everyone seems to be pretty excited about that part, and I can’t blame them. What I secretly love about it is that Dimitri’s duster is in the scene! That’s so typical. Even half-naked, in the heated throes of passion, his trusty duster’s never far away…and those are the kinds of details this movie’s filled with. There are so many more little things like that that the moviemakers put in that just show how much they paid attention to the heart of the story and the characters, and I’m so excited for you to see the rest unfold!
CLICK HERE to see Kozlovsky Brazil's Interview with Richelle