THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES
When Clary witnesses a trio of Shadowhunters -- Jace Wayland and Alec and Isabelle Lightwood -- apparently kill a young man in a nightclub, it is the first time she gets a glimpse of what is happening in the Shadow World. She is as frightened and confused by the fact that she seems to be the only who can see them as she is by what she has seen.
"Jace, Alec and Isabelle are actually battling a demon," says Collins. "And they're quintessentially beautiful beings, fantastical people that seem a little unreal. The fact that she sees them, though, is a complete surprise to them as well as her, because she's supposedly a mundane."
Casting Jace was one of the tougher tasks the filmmakers took on, according to Carmody. "As written, he is incredibly handsome and extremely intelligent. Jace is wise beyond his years, because he's been killing demons for a very long time. He has a sardonic point of view about what he does, because he sees that he is protecting these humans from the stupid things they get themselves involved in. He's noble, but not that noble."
Millions of fans had very specific ideas about Jace, who is closely connected to Clary in a variety of ways throughout the six books. "We needed someone really special," says Kulzer. "We were lucky because Lily wanted to be involved in the casting and make sure they had real chemistry. We brought in Jamie Campbell Bower because he has a slightly ethereal, but still very dangerous, quality that we thought would be perfect. When he first read with Lily, no exaggeration, sparks were flying."
"The character of Jace is vibrant, endearing, mysterious and very cocky," says Collins. "You like him and you feel for him as well. He's not afraid to show insecurity. Jamie brought all of that to the table. He did all of his own stunts with a smile and was so genuinely proud of his work."
The character is cocky, agrees Bower, but with real justification. "He knows that his late father was a great Shadowhunter," says the actor. "And Jace is very good at what he does. He also knows women are drawn to him. But that cockiness is dangerous because it leads him to take too many chances."
Bower, whose previous credits include Caius in the Twilight Saga and the lead role of King Arthur in "Camelot," the epic television adaptation of the classic Arthurian legend, points out that Jace's vulnerability is always just under the surface. "He has a facade that is very strong. He appears to be the archetypal warrior, but he's still a boy. I enjoy his bluntness, which he uses to conceal his vulnerability. He's very sarcastic and hides behind his humor, particularly to deflect a situation that becomes awkward or hurtful to him."
"Jace is drawn to Clary by a kind of strength he's never seen in anyone else," he says. "Plus, she's smoking hot, which doesn't hurt. He's destined to fall in love with her. The fact that he initially believes her to be a mundane cements his fascination in a strange way. When he discovers she isn't one, that becomes even more intriguing."
That love story is what drew Bower to the script in the first place. "Of course I love the world of demons and Downworlders, but it's also touchingly real," he says. "I think that's what audiences want to see as well. I'm very proud to have been a part of it and honored to have been given the opportunity to work on a book that is loved by so many."
Once the filmmakers had Collins and Bower in place, they began to build the rest of the extensive ensemble. "The most important thing was to find really great actors," says Zwart. " It's a movie where you can get carried away in the special effects and the fantasy of it, but unless the actors are just superb, it just wouldn't work. For example, we really worked at taking the fantastical elements from the book and grounding them in reality to make the performances accessible and believable for the audience."
Jace may have been immediately fascinated by Clary, but his companions, brother and sister Alec and Isabelle Lightwood, are not as taken with the unusual young woman. Fearing she has a hidden and possibly evil agenda, they view her as a potential threat, but Jace impulsively brings her into their world.
"Isabelle has to be beautiful and have a strong physicality," says Kulzer. " Jemima West has an aristocratic air that is perfect for the character."
While West had not read the novels, the script itself was enough reason for her to get involved. "It was an incredibly cool story," she says. "And I knew they had great actors like Lily and Jamie attached. After I was offered the part, I read all the books and was completely captivated.
"When we did our first read-through as a cast, I was blown away by the rest of the actors," she continues. "Everyone was very focused on doing their best. When you have actors who are working hard and enjoying themselves, it can't get much better."
The character's sense of loyalty and family appealed to West. "Isabelle has such strong values," she says. "No one can come in the way of her family, which includes Jace, so she is so tough on Clary and Simon. I grew quite attached to her. She sometimes says things without really thinking them through, which gives her an entertainingly human side."
Isabelle has multiple objections to allowing Clary in the inner circle. "First of all, she thinks, 'what the hell is this mundane doing here?'" West says. "And not only is she a mundane, she's another girl. Isabelle is used to being the only girl."
Clare commends the actress' ability to bring both tenderness and fierceness to the Shadowhunter. "Jemima has all the warmth that Isabelle has, but she also looks like someone you wouldn't necessarily want to get into a fight with, especially if she has her whip with her."
Isabelle and her older brother Alec were raised with Jace after he was orphaned. As close as siblings, Alec and Jace fight demons side by side. The filmmakers chose Kevin Zegers to play the role.
"We did a film with him years ago called Wrong Turn," says Kulzer. "It was an incredibly hot young cast, but the line outside Kevin's trailer was always the longest."
Alec joins his sister Isabelle in her suspicions about Clary. "He doesn't particularly like anyone new coming into their situation," says Zegers. "He has much less patience for her prettiness and all that stuff that Jace finds so appealing. What they have going on works and has been working very well for a long time. Clary is a variable that nobody's fully considered and when she arrives everything starts to go badly for them."
The character has a secret that makes him a bit of an outsider among the Shadowhunters. "Alec is a pretty complex character," the actor says. "It's always interesting to play a guy that people can't really pin down. On a basic level, Alec is a killer and it's all he thinks about. His main life objective is to do his job and do it well. Some guys, like Jace, are just naturally very good. Alec has to work really hard at it."
Clare and her fans think he makes an excellent Alec, very much in keeping with the book's depiction. "He looks like Alec should look," she says. "He has a little bit of that elegant standoffishness that Alec has.
Zegers has a lengthy resume of lower profile projects, but The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones should send his profile soaring. "I've done so many things that not too many people have seen," he laughs. "This has a lot of the things I like to see in a movie, like a great story and fun characters. I think audiences will enjoy it as well."
When Clary takes refuge at the Institute, the Shadowhunters' home and training ground, she comes under the tutelage of Hodge Starkweather, a seasoned Shadowhunter who has been overseeing the education of Jace, Alec and Isabelle.
"Hodge is one of my favorite characters," says Clare. "I was so excited when they told me Jared Harris was going to play the role. I'm a big 'Mad Men' fan and his character, Lane, is one of my favorites. He captures Hodge's essential dilemma. Hodge is extremely conflicted about his life and what he believes the Shadowhunters should be doing about their ultimate destiny. If anyone can capture those shades of grey, Jared is the guy."
Hodge is still dealing with the consequences of ill-considered choices he made earlier in life. "He is essentially a good man, but he makes some bad decisions, which is always interesting to play," says Harris. "He has an inner life that is an integral part of the saga, so there's a lot of information available in which to ground the character. Working on this was not so different from playing an historical character."
Hodge's conflicted nature leads him to do things he later regrets. "But I don't think Hodge is evil," says Harris. "I've played other characters who were just out-and-out bad guys. Moriarty, whom I played in Sherlock Holmes, was evil. He simply didn't believe in right and wrong. But Hodge's moral ambiguity comes because he knows what the right thing to do is, and he doesn't do it."
For the last 18 years, Hodge has been confined to the Institute, prohibited from leaving the premises by the Clave. "Harald and I had the idea that the curse that keeps Hodge from leaving the Institute is a psychological effect, a sort of Jedi mind trick," says Harris. "But that doesn't change the fact that he is stuck and he wants his curse to be lifted. At this point, he's prepared to do what he must, even if he knows it's wrong."
Harris is confident the movie remains true to the spirit of the book. "Personally, I love the whole mythology," the actor says. "It reinvents a lot of stories that we're familiar with and throws in a good old-fashioned teenage love story at the center, with two people who are attracted to one another but discover there's an impediment."
Over the centuries, the Shadowhunters have divided into factions: those who believe they were meant to protect the world selflessly and those who believe they should be well rewarded for the risks they take. The movie's elegant and dangerous villain, Valentine, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, is in the latter camp and his machinations threaten to disrupt events in both the Shadow World and the mundane world.
"Valentine is not some drooling, evil character or incredibly wicked mega-villain," says Carmody. "His danger lies in his charm. He represents everything the Shadowhunters should not be. And yet he has managed to get all these people to follow him down a path of darkness."
Valentine's whereabouts remains hidden for most of the film, but his shadowy presence infects the atmosphere. "Just his name is enough to send a cold shiver down people's spine," says Kulzer. "As Clary starts investigating what happened to her mom, he comes up time and time again. That sets the stage for the moment when he finally shows up."
Clare says Rhys Meyers' brooding intelligence makes him an ideal Valentine. "I've loved Jonathan's work since I first saw him in Velvet Goldmine," says the author. "He gives Valentine a sort of evil reasonableness. Even though you know that what he's saying is fundamentally immoral, you want to agree with him. A number of theoretically good people became part of his Circle. When I first posted online that Jonathan Rhys Meyers was going to be our Valentine, a lot of people wrote back to me and said, 'well, I would join the Circle if he was running it.'"
Valentine made off with the Mortal Cup years earlier, only to have it stolen from him. He wants it back and will do whatever is needed to get it. "Valentine is undeniably charismatic, but most dangerous men are," says Rhys Meyers. "He has been at war for so long that he now only knows war. He's trying to save his people. He stole the Mortal Cup because he no longer believed in the laws of the Clave, which is the political arm of the Shadowhunters. His experiments with it have made him half-man, half-demon."
Each time Valentine drank from The Mortal Cup, the stronger he became. Valentine has acquired powers that set him apart from every other Shadowhunter in history. He can call up demons, travel through time and space, and perform magic that no other Shadowhunter can.
A wickedly inventive performer, Rhys Meyers constantly surprised his co-stars. "After we shot the first scene with Valentine, Jamie Campbell Bower said to me quietly, 'I'm a bit scared of him,'" says Kulzer. "And Lily came over and said 'he's great, but I'm a bit scared of him.' And I said, that's the way it's supposed to be."
"Even in rehearsals, his intensity was apparent," says Collins. "He's so alluring and that's what I imagined when I read the book. Valentine is the scariest, most frightening person alive to Clary, and he really captured that danger."
Valentine is aided in his search to recover the Mortal Cup by Emil Pangborn and Samuel Blackwell, two literally larger-than-life brawlers played by Kevin Durand and Robert Maillet, respectively. "Valentine doesn't get his hands dirty," says Clare. "He directs them to take care of the violence that he wouldn't sully himself with."
And they do it with gusto. "When I heard Kevin Durand and Robert Maillet were cast in those roles, I was really excited," Clare says. "I knew Kevin's work from the Resident Evil movies and I remembered Robert from his very memorable role in Sherlock Holmes. He was huge and terrifying. I think they are great choices for these characters. I wouldn't want to tangle with them in a dark alley."
Pangborn's sole purpose in life is to help Valentine find the Mortal Cup. "He's a dark character," says Durand. "I have played a lot of dark guys, so I wasn't sure about this. But once I got a chance to speak with Harald, I realized there was going to be room for me to create something that was beyond what was on the page. We've made him a little goofier, even though he's quite intense and focused on his task."
The 6-foot-6-inch Durand is used to physically dominating whatever set he is on, but when partnered with Maillet, who stands 7 feet tall, he felt almost petite.
"For the first time in my career, I am emasculated by another actor's size," admits Durand. "He's such a big man, which was cool. Someone had my back for once. We got close, comparing notes on the characters, as well as comparing notes on what it is to be a vertically gifted human being. When I walk down the street, people constantly comment, but when I'm with him, they don't even ask me those questions anymore. I got to feeling protective of him. Stop asking him how the weather is up there, because we'll rain all over you!"
Maillet describes Emil as the brains of the operation, while his character is the muscle. "Emil does most of the talking," he says. "I'm there to add presence to it all, which is kind of funny because he's a such big guy himself. But if he doesn't get his way, I'm the insurance. And we will do whatever it takes to get the Mortal Cup."
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